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Charles Bielecki


7th Division, 31st Regiment, I Company

The Pistol

Survived Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, 1950


Army History and Newspaper Article Excerpt

As told by Charles
ENTERED THE SERVICE IN 1948 FEBUARY.... 17 YEARS OF AGE. BASIC TRAINING FORT KNOX KY. LEADERSHIP SCHOOL, WHILE WAITING TO GO TO THE AIRBORNE INFANTRY SCHOOL FT. BENNING GA. FROM FORT KNOX WHILE STILL WAITING WAS SENT TO CAMP BRECKINRIDGE KY 101ST AIRBORNE TRAINING DIVISION. 5 MONTHS THERE AFTER CHRISTMAS, WENT TO AIRBORNE INFANTRY SCHOOL. AFTER, REPORTED TO FORT CAMPBELL KY., TO JOIN THE 11TH AIRBORNE DIV. SPEND ONE WEEK WITH KING COMPANY 511 AIR. REGT. AND THEN WAS ORDERED TO THE 11TH AIR. M.P. COMPANY. AND FOUND A HOME THERE. IN MAY OF 1950 WAS HURT IN A COMPANY JUMP AND WAS IN THE HOSPITAL FOR ALMOST A MONTH. WAS THEN TRANSFERED TO THE 2118TH ASU MILITARY POLICE CO. 2ND ARMY. FT CAMPBELL. WORKED AS A CLERK IN THE MILITARY POLICE INVESTIGATION AND THE ARMYS CID. IN AUGUST OF 1950 WENT ON LEAVE AND WHEN I RETURNED WAS ON ORDERS FOR KOREA. HAD 6 MONTHS LEFT TO SERVE. LANDED AT INCHON 19TH SEPT. 1950 WITH CHARLIE COMPANY. IN OCT 1950 THIS WILL BE A SHORT STORY....... FOR SHOOTING A SOUTH KOREAN SOLDIER I WAS WAIT TO BE COURT MARTIALED. IT WAS LATER FOUND THE SOLDIER WAS A NORTH KOREAN,. THE INSPECTOR GENERAL AND DIVISION CHAPLIN SAID NO COURT MARTIAL OF THIS AMERICA SOLDIER. SO I CAME UPON HARD TIMES WITH THE CO OF CHARLIE COMPANY AND THE 1ST SGT. REQUESTED A TRANSFER AND GOT IT WITH THE HELP OF MY PLATOON LEADER. AND SO THE STORY GOES. WENT TO ITEM COMPANY JUST BEFORE THE ATTACK. I WAS A SGT IN CHARGE OF RADIOS AND RUNNING PHONE LINES. DURNING THE BATTLE WAS GIVEN A SQUAD AGAIN AND WAS A SQUAD LEADER UNTIL LATE JUNE OF 51 AND TOOK OVER THE 2ND PLATOON OF ITEM COMPANY. WAS THE ONLY PLATOON SGT WITH OUT A OFFICER IN CHARGE. JUNE JULY AND AUGUST. WHEN I WENT HOME. NOW AS FAR AS CHOSIN...... I WAS FIGHTING TO STAY ALIVE....PERIOD. ALONG WITH THE OTHER MEN THERE. NOT BOYS BUT MEN. THAT BATTLE TURNED US ALL INTO MEN.....I MUST SAY THERE WERE NO CRY BABYS....THAT WAS A REAL BATTLE, AND FOUGHT BY THE GREATEST SOLDIER THAT WILL EVER LIVE.. I REALLY BELIEVE THAT. ALMOST NOTHING TO EAT NOTHING TO KEEP THEM WARM, NOTHING TO FIGHT WITH AT TIMES. I DONT KNOW HOW MANY WEAPONS I HAD USED. I DID HAVE A PISTOL NEVER GOT TO FIRE IT THERE AND TOOK IT HOME WITH ME. IN FACT I GOT THE NICKNAME OF THE PISTOL. I ALSO BELIEVE EVERY SOLDIER THAT FOUGHT THERE SHOULD HAVE RECEIVED THE SILVER STAR..... I DONT CARE WHAT HIS JOB SKILLS WERE. AS FOR ME I DIDNT THINK I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT HOME. REALLY DIDNT CARE ABOUT THAT, I HAD NO HOME. I LOVED BEING IN THE ARMY, WANTED THAT WHEN I WAS 11 YEARS OLD AND COULDNT WAIT TO JOIN. I REMEMBER THE MOVIE IN 1942 BATAAN WITH ROBERT TAYLOR WHO WAS A MEMBER OF THE 31ST INFANTRY REGIMENT. AND WHEN THEY CALLED MY NAME AT CAMP DRAKE AND SAID, CPL CHARLES BIELECKI CHARLIE COMPANY 31ST INFANTRY, I REMEMBER THE MOVIE AND GOD I WAS SO PROUD..... AFTER THE WAR GOT MARRIED 1953 WORKED ON HEAVY MOVING MACHINES UNTIL 1959 AND WENT INTO LAW ENFORCEMENT..... UNTIL 1987..... BUT THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE WILL BE WITH THE U S ARMY.... I HAD NO PROBLEM WITH BEING SENT TO KOREA. MY WHOLE LIFE WAS THE FOUR YEARS I SERVED.......IN THEM FOUR YEARS I DID EVERYTHING I WANTED TO DO. AND SO THE STORY GOES AND BE VERY GOOD AND ALWAYS BE VERY SAFE
THE PISTOL.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Excerpts from 'One Grunt's Thankgiving At Chosin', by Judith Knight, From The Villager newspaper, November 2000.

Cpl Bielecki had been an MP for two years prior to his landing with the 31st RCT, 7th Infantry Division at Inchon, Korea, and felt ill-prepared for the position of Squad Leader, an obligation he was given at the death of the previous leader. But then, he was aware that most of the troops were unprepared to be where they were and doing what they were doing. Indeed, the majority of the divisions were undertrained,understaffed and poorly equipped..

***
Bielecki's squad had been the first in this company to win the coveted C.I.B., the coveted Combat Infantry Badge, considered to be the "mark of a man " and proof that enemy fire had been faced. So he was not without battle experience that November when he found himself on the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir.

Temperatures were dipping and still our troops were in summer uniforms with no winter underwear and shoe packs so ineffective as to cause uncounted cases of frostbite and amputation. At least the Thanksgiving dinner was hot. Roast turkey, mashed potatoes and even fruitcake.

Some troops reported thier turkeys which arrived frozen to be cooked, were dated 1943 - turkeys tht had perhaps been through an earlier war!

There was a lull in the fighting and a optimism that the war might be over. There was some curiosity when patrols spotted Chinese troops but the explanation was that they were volunteers with the North Koreans. There was no air reconnaissance and though Washington had been informed of massive build-ups of the Communist Chinese Forces (CCF's) and a threat that they would become involved if American troops crossed the 38th parallel, this was discounted as a bluff. But the bluff turned out to be much more than an idle threat.

**
On November 27th the Communist Chinese swarmed like ants and overran the troops. When the wounded were loaded onto trucks for evacuation, the Communist forces would set them on fire. Sgt Bielecki was ordered to remove wounded men from the burning trucks and found hiself literally face to face with the enemy. At one point only a machine gun stood between him and annihilaton. Though he had not fired one since boot camp, he did what had to be done and took out a number of the enemy just feet away.

***
Sgt Bielecki's squad had lost eleven good men but they moved on without replacements to yet another battle.

The Corporal who had thought he was unprepared to be a squad leader had undergone baptism by fire and learned to take care of himself and his men. He was now the wearer of a Bronze Star and a member of the Chosin Few.

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