Korean MemorialKorean War & Korea Defense Service Veterans, Lake Co. (FL), Chapter 169

Korean War Story of Jimmy A. Corbet, Weapons Co, 1st Bn, 5th Reg, 1st Mar Div

In 1950, our reserve Marine Corps Unit, C Co, 1st Bn,  from Shreveport, LA, was on active duty at a Marine Training Center at Little Creek, NC.  The North Koreans jumped off into South Korea on a Wednesday afternoon and our unit was warned that when we went home on the following Saturday that they would be called up for the "war."

We were.  Most of us went within the next month.

When my train reached the West Coast, Camp Pendleton had been stripped of every available hand and they were short of many skills to run the base.  I had been a State Trooper in Louisiana so as a gunnery sergeant I was tapped to take over part of the traffic section with Town Patrol and on the Base.  When I re-enlisted I returned from leave to three sets of orders, but was sent to Korea in early February, 1952.

My ship debarked us at Inchon port and we were put on trains to go to whatever unit needed us.  The train took us to the corridor near Panmunjom.  We got there late and were told to stack our arms on the road and set up our shelter halves on the road.

In the morning we continued to an assigning station that sent me to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion,      5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division.  My skills were in Demolitions and Mine Clearance so I was assigned as the Platoon Sergeant  of the anti-tank assault platoon.  Part of our job was to blast caves, clear Unidentified Explosive Devices fom roads, trenches and anywhere found.  We helped the local populace with mines found on their property.

After a period in reserve, I was sent nearer to Panmunjom to participate in keeping the peace talkers      safe.  The UN talkers were not sent to the table until Weapons Company had manned the armored vehicles that were kept at the ready to go in to bring the peace talkers out in case the peace talks broke down.  My platoon had the job of mining the bridge back into South Korea where the talkers would be brought out and blowing it up to stop the North Koreans from catching them.  My orders read I was supposed to return to my unit in the most expeditious manner. (That meant I was on my own after blowing up the bridge.)

My next assignment was near Outpost 2, just East of Outpost 1, manned by a South Korean Marine unit.           

My job had me checking the line mostly at night as that when there was activity.  I met and became friends with a South Korean gunnery sergeant named Pak Ho Gan, who had the same job I had.  We met at the junction of our units every night.  With the difficulty he had in getting replacement parts, our unit kept him supplied with many needed parts.  Eventually, he was transferred to another unit. When we met that last night, we traded Marine rings.  I gave him my USMC ring and he gave me his ROK ring.  We heard later that he died about 2 months after he left.  I still wear his ring.  I wish it had the Marine emblem of the ROK marines because that broke off years ago.  My wife had a new stone set when she went to South Korea on a Temporary Duty Trip in the eighties, but she couldn't find an ROK emblem.

My job included mine clearance and demolitions during the stalemate.  Between time on the lines we would go into reserve and train the men in whatever new demolitions we had found.  One of the set-ups we did was visited by the leader of the Scottish Royal Highlanders, COL Rose.  He and his Sergeant Major came to see what training we were conducting for our men.  When taken through the course, Col Rose turned to my Col and said that the training was just what his men needed as none of them were familiar with demolitions.  At that, my COL turned to me and told me to take a set-up of the training field over to the Scots and train his men.  I spent two weeks with them. One week training them and a week out on the lines to reinforce the training.

While we were on the lines, our job was to set demolitions to deny the enemy a particular location.

One time we went out to set charges in a 20 bunker forward slope position that we were planning to leave and to which we would not return.  A LT, three of us and ten Korean laborers went out to the position under cover of darkness.  During the next day, we placed all the charges except for the blasting caps.  That night, when all the men left, we placed the caps and followed the men back to our lines.  I set off the charges and was the last man out.  I was welcomed back by COL Lou Walt, the Regimental Commander.  As a result, at a later Regimental formation, I was given a Bronze Star for that job and got the word that I was going to be made a Lieutenant.  I was sent home a month later in November 1952.

Korean War Story of Jimmy A. Corbet, Weapons Co, 1st Bn, 5th Reg, 1st Mar Div, Feb 1952-Nov 1952

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