The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 21

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Marine Corps cannon crewmen, bravo battery, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit endure the unforgiving heat as they intensely fire off over 200 rounds from their M777 A2 155 mm Howitzers during an artillery live fire range while deployed in the middle east May 11. This is only one of several training exercises the Marines of the 24th MEU have completed during their deployment throughout the middle east. They are a little over half way through the deployment and they have not slowed the pace since setting sail from the US in late January. Photo by By Lance Cpl. David Beall.

Massive artillery fire didn’t do a lot of good if it wasn’t accurate and American artillery in both the Army and Marines was extremely good as World War Two progressed and the men became more experienced. After World War Two ended, US military forces were drawn down so quickly that many of our men skilled in artillery were mustered out.

This greatly diminished the fighting ability of the US Army. In the beginning of the Korean War there were times when the Army had artillery in place and had the rounds to fire but the men were so new they did not have the training to aim and fire the artillery pieces in an accurate way. (Halberstam mentions an incident like this in The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War.)

The Marines being a smaller force, were able to hold onto enough skilled artillerymen. These artillerymen proved a life-saver in Korea. Working closely with Marine artillery spotters they could put a round onto a small Chinese bunker — even though the artillery piece itself might be ten miles back.

GIs and Korean service corpsmen stack up the enormous pile of empty artillery and mortar shell casings at a collecting point near the front, pointing to the huge amount of lead thrown at the enemy in four days of fighting for outpost Harry, June 18, 1953. (AP Photo/Gene Smith)

[Source: The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam. Images courtesy of the US Marines Website and the Boston Big Picture.]

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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: http://charlesmccain.com/

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