While we sit around our comfortable fires, eating our Thanksgiving dinners, watching football and telling endless family stories, let us not forget it has not always been good for all Americans. In November and December, 1950 American Marines and GI's fought a horrific battle, called "The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir". It is America's folklore, the story of unbelievable courage and fortitude. It goes down with The Battle of the Bulge, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa in terms of raw courage and determination.
This holiday season I have been watching and re-watching a PBS documentary of that battle in the "American Experience" series... It may be the best documentary of a battle I have ever watched. What makes this outstanding, nearly all the commentary is by the veterans who endured it. It is accompanied by actual photography from the campaign.
The documentary is graphic and not for children or the faint hearted. I do not want to interject my beliefs into this documentary, so I have chosen to write quotes from the veterans who suffered through this.
“We got into a village called Yudam-Ni and it was the most desolate country you ever saw...”
“There were dead Chinese around us, so we stacked them to keep the wind off us...”
“Napalm is a new device.....You watched those areas where napalm was used, their bodies (Chinese) were split in two, with yellow fat oozing from their bodies and the smell lingers to this day…”
“The Army unit was on the east side of the reservoir and they were abandoned. They were holding out against an army that outnumbered them 10 to 1”
“And now back to the Marines at Yudam-Ni, the farthest north unit located on the west side of the reservoir.”
“To this day if I met up with a Chinese soldier that was there, I would hug him because I know what he went through.”
“I fought in many battles after that...........nothing compared with that battle.”