A Christmas Far from Home: An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival during the Korean War
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Led by the Marines, an overwhelmed X Corps evacuated the frigid, mountainous Chosin Reservoir vastness and fought a swarming enemy and treacherous snow and ice to reach the coast. Weather, terrain, Chinese firepower, and a 4,000-foot chasm made escape seem impossible in the face of a vanishing Christmas. But endurance and sacrifice prevailed, and the last troopships weighed anchor on Christmas Eve.
In the tradition of his Silent Night and Pearl Harbor Christmas, Stanley Weintraub presents another gripping narrative of a wartime Christmas season.
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Nevertheless, MacArthur was “satisfied,” according to Muccio’s notes, that “our Air Forces and our Intelligence” would have detected the movement of large forces across the Yalu. Covertly, MacArthur conceded, the Chinese might have managed to move “25,000, and no more than 30,000, soldiers across Upbeat Thanksgiving 45 the border.” He knew there had been exchanges of fire. He had even estimated enemy numbers earlier at 60,000, but the Chinese seemed to MacArthur to have had second thoughts
on his rounds as “erect and supremely confident, absolutely at his peak.” He was “walking history.” To the assembled officers at Corps headquarters, he began, “Gentlemen, the war is over. The Chinese are not coming into this war. In less than two weeks, the Eighth Army will close on the Yalu across the entire front. The 3rd Division will be back in Fort Benning for Christmas dinner.” No one questioned the logistical impossibilities, Austin told the historian Robert Smith decades later when Smith
cotton balls.” Even more desperate was the depletion of rations (“replenishments”) to resupply the few days’ diet of rice and gruel each man had in his pack to start. “They did not have beans and fried noodles to eat.” The hardy, peasant-bred Chinese would have to forage for dried corn and other edibles from the fields and plunder from the wounded and the dead. Japanese railway engineers had told Far East Air Force intelligence officers that Yalu River winter ice could support considerable
to Christmas as quickly as possible. At the Pentagon, the Army duty officer before dawn, Washington time, was Colonel John R. Beishline. He awakened General Ridgway, who asked that MacArthur’s frantic message about the Chinese be brought to his quarters at Fort Myer. While he awaited delivery, he telephoned the chief of staff, General J. Lawton Collins. After studying MacArthur’s lengthy appeal, Ridgway suggested in a second call to Collins that he thought the President and the JCS should be
the Chinese a bellyful of them. . . . This is the best way to dispose of it: give it to the enemy in the manner they like least.” When daylight came, Beall’s jeep driver, Private Ralph Milton, and a Navy corpsman, Oscar Biebinger, found dozens of “doggies” both alive and dead sprawled on the windswept ice. (Of the original 3,200-man task forces, 2,815 were either KIA, WIA, or MIA.) Braking to a sliding stop in view of the Chinese on the shoreline, the crew placed Beall’s sniper rifle, Milton’s