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'Faces of War'

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Gene E. McClure

ONE HELLUVA SOLDIER

His name was Albert Veenstra, 1st Sergeant of Company G, Fifth Regimental Combat Team, 24th Infantry Division. He was known throughout the 5th RCT as "Ranger," a highly decorated veteran of one of the ETO Ranger Bns during WW II. He was already;a living legend in Korea because of his fearlessness and renown as a smart, tough soldier. The date was 10 August 1950. A relief convoy of some 12 vehicles had been formed to go to the relief of our Heavy Mortar Company which was under attack. We were within a half mile of HM company when we ran smack dab into an NKPA ambush.

As firing erupted, everyone hit the ground.The sergeant who was in the same truck said for all of us to follow him. We had gone but a few yards when we heard Worth Koreans talking. The sergeant said in a low voice, "Hand me a couple grenades". Those grenades lit in the middle of the voices and we all opened fire. It was soon obvious we had bumped into more than we could handle. We found cover in the roadside ditch, established a fire base, and the fight was on in earnest. This was a close range fight never more than 60 yards, at times as close as 15 yards. The heaviest fire was coming from the rice paddy across the road. By now most of the vehicles on the road were burning, except a 3/4 ton personnel carrier at the end of the column, a jeep with its attached trailer. The sergeant jumped up on the personnel carrier which had a .50 caliber machine gun and began firing at the enemy in the rice paddy only a few feet away. I expected to see him cut down any moment since he was in a totally exposed position. I was only 30-40 feet from him firing my own carbine at the enemy. I could see the bullets strike the truck, yet he was not hit. In the light of flames from the burning trucks I could see him clearing a jam from the gun and heard him cursing it. Within a few minutes he had expended the first box of ammo with which the gun had been loaded. He called for another soldier to get him some more ammo, all the time cursing the gun, the enemy and fool who had set up the gun and not having ammo at hand. Like a man gone mad, he went on raving, killing everything in front of him. To this day I am still amazed that he was not killed then and there. I can't say if he was wounded that night. What I do know is that a brave man like the sergeant did not last long in Korea. It's not like the movies, where the hero comes out alive after having pulled an Audie Murphy. In real life, if you continue to expose yourself to flying bullets you will shortly catch one that will kill you. There were no supermen in my year in Korea from July of '50 to May '51, but "Ranger" was as close to one as they come.

A lieutenant in charge of the convoy had been wounded in the foot. Under fire, he managed to unhitch the trailer and load the jeep with wounded, some on the hood. He then left us like a bat out of hell. By now I was on my last clip of ammunition for my M-2 carbine. I had started with 120 rounds, two 30 round banana clips taped together in the weapon, two 15 round clip's in a pouch on the carbine, and two 15 round clips in a belt pouch. Ranger had gone through all the .50 caliber ammo, and with rifle ammo short, and grenades almost all gone, it was time to withdraw. We all began to drift away down the ditch, then off into the paddy fields in the direction we had come. One by one, including "Ranger," we straggled back to our units. When I showed up at 0900, the 1st Sgt said, "Good to see you, McClure. I had you MIA on the morning report. Get some chow and then rejoin your platoon. Some welcome home!

"Ranger" was killed 3 months later by the explosion of a land mine. His jeep was hurled over a 5 foot mound, landing in flames 40 feet below the road. He died on a day when we made a four mile advance without firing a shot. "It was a helluva way for the best soldier of us all to die," said Pfc Robert T. Beste, as he squatted in the snow of the gully, watching "Ranger" die. "He was the bravest man I ever knew."

KOREAN VIGNETTES

 

Order Information

Two years in research and two years in preparation, the book "Korean Vignettes, Faces Of War" is ready for delivery to readers who have an interest in American History and the events of the Korean War. It is a hard cover book, made with headbands so that it stays open as you read. Printed on acid free, heavy 80 lb matte glare proof paper, it is a book that has a shelf life estimated at 300 years. The dust jacket features an oil painting by Norma Strickbine in which she captures the exhausted, yet indomitable look of a survivor of the Chosin Reservoir battles in North Korea, November and December 1950. That gaunt, frozen, grim, but unbeaten look was described by a news correspondent of that era as 'The Thousand Yard Stare'. Today, historians describe those 17 days of unending battle as the 'Most savage struggle of modern times'.

You can view American History in the making as you scan the 287 real life wartime photo and read the 201 vignettes of soldiers and marines as each describes the most vivid memory of his own battle experience. Navy and Air Force service men also contribute to this historical panorama of America's "Forgotten War". Each contributor is identified by name and biographic data, by unit, company, regiment and division, by squadron and wing or naval ship.

There are 40 pages of 'military verse' which will tug at your heartstrings as you read, some of that poetry was composed in periods of quiet while on the battlefield.

"Faces of War" is a book of high quality printimg, a beautiful print-out in 488 pages which will grace the library of any bibliophile or military history buff. It shows war as it is, not as TV glamour or Hollywood hype. Through its pages you can gaze into the the fiery crucible in which heroes are molded.

Arthur W. Wilson
Editor, Korean Vignettes
Capt Inf AUS HM/31/7
Korea,1950/51


If you wish to order by mail, send your personal check to: Artwork Publications  Postoffice Box 25105    Portland, Oregon 97298

Korean Vignettes, Faces of War is $29.95 plus $5.00 Shipping and Handling.

A military service price of $21.00 plus $5 S&H applies to veterans, their families, and active duty military. Please allow 10 days for delivery.
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