Chosin, or Changjin, is a reservoir of water that is located in North Korea, near the border of China. The land surrounding the reservoir is rugged mountainous terrain with few dirt roads that will only carry oxen carts - not vehicles. The reservoir is also known for its long winter nights and zero degrees below freezing weather.
What happened there?
The 31st RCT, was a full 3,000 men from various Companies and Regiments in the US Army and South Korean soldiers.They were ambushed by an an onslaught of Chinese soldiers numbering around 20,000. For 5 nights and 4 days, the 31st RCT were left to hold out, at any cost - on their own. Sleep and food deprivaton were minor compared to the extreme cold they faced. The odds were against the 31st RCT just to survive, knowing that you were completely outnumbered by the enemy. Many of the 31st RCT soldiers are still not home, but buried in a foreign place called Chosin. Many survivors of Chosin carry wounds from frostbite in the form of amputated arms and limbs, fingers and toes,or other physical problems. Then there are the psychological scars never seen by most -repeated nightmares and the questions of why they were left behind to live.
Maps showing Army 3,000 men(green)Marines 25,000 men(orange)Chinese 120,000 men(yellow) The orange concentration on the left hand side is Yudami, the concentration of Marines at the southern tip of the reservoir is Hagaru-ri
Why No Mention In the History Books?
Walk into any book store and library and look for information on the 31st RCT. THERE IS NO INFORMATION TO BE FOUND!! They have been wiped clean of the battle and deeds of heroism. The truth is slowly revealing the importance of the 31st RCT. Since the time of the Korean War, people and time have been treating the men of the 31st RCT unjustly. Overlooked back in the 50's for a very prestitgious citation award and even called cowards by some. Time has now told the truth. Due to China releasing documents about its part in the Korean War,China itself showed the world that the the 31st RCT took on an entire division and 1/2 of Chinese! This "insignificant force" gave the Marine forces in the area time to regroup and make their way to the coast. This "insignificant force" of Army men has earned its righteous spot as heros in the battles of the Korean War. Every man in the 31st RCT has truely earned the title of Hero.
Number of Men before and after Chosin?
Out of 3,000 men, 900 of the 31st RCT were evacuated from Hagaru-ri from a make shift airstrip. These 900 men had battlefield casualties and frostbite injuries. Trying to leave Hagaru-ri became bittersweet due to the Chinese shooting at the planes as they left the air strip and the Army waited while the Marines gave presidence to their dead and wounded. An additional 385 men were able bodied men. Able, meaning that they could walk and hold a weapon. The 385 men from the 31st RCT then fought with the 7th Marines as both the Army and Marines participated in the breakout from Hagaru-ri to the coast at Hungham. The 31st RCT then lost more men as the casualties increased during the breakout.
The Function Of This Site
Here's an excerpt from a letter that I sent to University Press asking for permission to use the material in the Book, EAST OF CHOSIN.
East Of Chosin is the only book that I have found about the Army at the Chosin reservoir. The book was written by Appleman so that the memory of the men who fell at Chosin would not be forgotton and that the survivors may one day be honored. Appleman wrote the book to honor the men of the Army who saw horror, death and when surviving was against all odds. My Father is one on the Army Chosin Few. East Of Chosin was written about my Father and his Army buddies - the 31st RCT. Dad's best friend was captured by the Chinese and died in a POW camp, and all the men who fell at Chosin - their bodies never did make it back home to the states.
I will only honor the men of the 31st RCT, and will continue to let others know the experiences that our Fathers, Uncles, Brothers have had in such a desolate, very cold place that is so far from home. I wish to honor all the men, just by listing the MIA/KIA who died at Chosin. We then cannot forget the men who survived that live with pains from frostbite and other physical disabilities, like lost arms or limbs. Above all, the mental scars that have taken a lifetime to heal, the nightmares never stop - all from 5 nights and 4 days at Chosin.
To order the military game - CHOSIN, that includes, the above topographical map of the reservoir, see Pacific Rim Publishing