The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 14

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BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 18: Chinese leader Mao Zedong reviewing for the first time the army forces of the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” on the Tienanmen Gate rostrum on 18 August 1966. (Photo credit should read STF/AFP/Getty Images)

Mao sent back this message to General Song which would have pleased the Marines had they been able to read at the time:

The American Marine First Division has the highest combat effectiveness in the American armed forces. It seems not enough for our four divisions to surround and annihilate its two regiments. [You] should have one to two more divisions as a reserve force. The 26th Army should be stationed close to the front.

In discussions prior to Mao’s decision to invade Korea to counter the US invasion of North Korea, Marshal Lin Biao, one of the most experienced senior Chinese commanders, estimated that including artillery and mortars an American division had at least 20 times the fire power of a Chinese division.

THROUGH THE ROCKETS’ RED GLARE–US Marines launch a 4.5 rocket barrage against the Chinese Communists in the Korean fighting. (USMC photo)

[Source: Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea, 1950 by Martin Russ. Images courtesy of and the Leatherneck Magazine.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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