This November and December marks the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. There, about 30 miles below the Yalu River, the U.S. First Marine Division, two battalions of the U.S. Army’s 7th Division and a force of British Royal Marine Commandos comprising X Corps were surrounded by 120,000 Chinese troops.
The prolonged battle was fought in minus-30-degree weather beginning Nov. 27, 1950, with X Corps fighting its way through one roadblock after another walking 78 miles to evacuation on Dec.11 bringing along the dead, wounded and most of its equipment.
In this epic battle X Corps suffered 12,000 casualties, more than 2,000 killed in action and 5,000 wounded in action, plus hundreds of severe frostbite cases. The Chinese sustained more than 45,000 casualties.
A total of 17 Medals of Honor, 70 Navy Crosses, plus many Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded for the campaign, the most for any single battle in U.S. history.
Survival of the ground troops was due in large part to the gallant airstrikes by the Navy, Marines and Air Force fliers under the most adverse weather conditions.
This coming August, we veterans of “The Frozen Chosin” will be gathering in San Diego for our biannual reunion. We are all in our mid-80s now and realize that with our time running out, it might very well be our last.
But we will never ever forget the words of our creed written many years ago: “What we were in that frozen long-ago and what ever we are now, we are bound as one for life in an exclusive fraternity of honor. The only way into our ranks is to have paid the dues of duty and valor by being there. The cost of joining is beyond all earthly wealth.”
Patrick O’Loughlen, of Boise, has been a member of The Chosin Few for 23 years. He served as a Marine Corps rifleman in Korea for 13 months (1950-1951). He is also a 30-year retired social studies teacher.