Thursday, December 24, 2015

Task Force Faith: "The Forgotten Task Force of the Forgotten War."

"On the night of 30 November, LTC Faith, who had become the de facto commander of the force, realized that he couldn’t hold out another day. There was no reserve to speak of at all. Cooks, and headquarters personnel were holding the line. There would be no help coming from the Marines, who had problems of their own. Ammunition was in critically short supply, many troops with only one magazine left. He ordered a breakout attempt to begin at noon on the next day 1 December. . ."
Almost immediately when the break out started, things started going horribly wrong. Napalm was dropped on advancing elements of 1/32 which lead the formation, stalling the progress, and demoralizing many of the troops. Road blocks halted the column, as well as blown bridges. Trucks died, wounded were being shoved in ever more crowded trucks. Then the Chinese began firing on the trucks killing and wounding many.
By the time the convoy made it to hill 1221, where the medical company had been destroyed, darkness had fallen. 3/31 had essentially dissolved as a fighting formation leaving the truck column open to attack. Majors were now leading squads. Many riflemen didn’t have any ammunition, or their weapons wouldn’t fire in the -30 degree weather. With the darkness another problem arose, the air cover, which had been so essential, was gone. Hill 1221 was held by the Chinese and had to be taken if the convoy was to continue. It was attacked several times by groups with almost no coordination.
Now, try to imagine it at this point, if you’re one of the troops in this formation. You’ve been fighting for 5 nights and 4 days almost non-stop. You have almost no ammunition, almost everyone is wounded. All the officers and NCOs who you recognized as part of your chain of command are either wounded or dead. You’ve probably got frostbite, very little actual training, and you’re probably scared as hell. You’ve still got several miles to go to get to Hararu-ri where the Marine perimeter is, and officers are trying to organize units to attack this Chinese held hill in the dark.


pigpen51 said...

Many of the brave men and also women of our nation who have fought and died so that our country could continue to serve as a bastion of freedom are thought to be forgotten. Not so. Even though their names are lost to us today, their sacrifice has not been forgotten, by myself, nor by many thousands of patriots who would stand next to them today if need be. Some of us are no longer young, some of us have perhaps already served our country in war or peace. And yet the ideal of this task force rings true yet today. This nation, The United States of America, though bloodied from without and within, is not only strong, it will stand forevermore as the best country ever conceived by man and by God, as a bulwark of Freedom and Strength, for all those who yearn to be free.
That this is true, can be measured in not the tens, nor the hundreds, but in the thousands, and in the tens of thousands who will give their last breath to defend her for now and forever. And we are blessed to have as an example the brave soldiers whom history may have forgotten, but we have not forgotten. May those who have passed rest in peace, and may those who might still be with us somehow know that a nation is in their debt.

Dyspeptic said...

My neighbor of many years was one Edward P. Stamford, Major, USMC. I new him for as long as I can remember. I learned to swim in his swimming pool. He used to dress up as Santa Claus to deliver our presents when we were little kids.

At any rate, he was a Marine aviator (captain at that time) who was assigned to Task Force Faith as a forward artillery observer. He never once mentioned anything about his horrific ordeal until I read a book called "Chosin" which mentioned him several times. So I asked him about it. Wow, did he have a story to tell! He must have had more lives than a cat because he was one of the few survivors who wasn't seriously wounded.

He was actually captured by the Chicoms and almost had his head blown off by an idiot Chinese conscript who was poking him with the bayonet of his Mosin Nagant when the thing went off. While being marched north to a prisoner of war camp the Chicom officer in charge got into an argument with an NCO and during the heated exchange Captain Stamford and another POW jumped off the side of an embankment and ran into the bulrushes next to the reservoir followed by a hail of bullets. They walked across the frozen reservoir at night and made it back to Hagaru-Ri where the Marines had a forward base at the south end of the reservoir.

For his heroism he received the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart to add to his collection of war medals from his days as an SBD dive bomber pilot in World War II. The son of a Florida blacksmith, he joined the navy as a blimp tender in 1939 and ended up as a Marine Corp. Mustang aviator.

This amazing man eventually retired from the corps as a helicopter pilot and spent several years flying smoke jumpers into forest fires in Idaho and Montana. He eventually moved back to our home town of Tustin, California due to his wife's failing health, and became a machinist. It's been said before but I will say it again, they really don't make Americans like that anymore. He passed away several years ago and is sorely missed.

Dyspeptic said...

I guess my memory isn't what it used to be so a few corrections are in order regarding my previous comments concerning Captain Stamford. He received a Silver Star, not a Bronze Star as I had stated. Also, no Purple Heart, but a Distinguished Flying Cross from WWII. Additionally, he was a Forward Air Controller, not a Forward Air Observer as previously stated.

His contemporaries and fellow Chosin Few survivors seem to have the opinion that he was cheated out of a Navy Cross for his actions during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign. Being a proud, stiff necked and opinionated Welshman he had a habit of bucking the upper brass and not taking any guff from a certain kind of superior officer whom he contemptuously referred to as "desk pinkies". Maybe that is why he didn't get the recognition he deserved for his conspicuous valor and cool headed command under extremely adverse circumstances. He was the kind of Marine that Chesty Puller would have been proud to know.

Google his name and you will be treated to the fascinating story of a consummate Marine and a warrior's warrior.

Anonymous said...

Get a copy of the book "East of Chosin" to learn what really happened there. LTC Faith was awarded the MOH for his actions.