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Frederick & Washington Counties’

Lost in the Forgotten War (Part 3)

by Priscilla Rall

PFC Dailey Francis Dye

In September 1950, while the United States was holding onto the southeast corner of South Korea, PFC Dailey Francis Dye was born in 1931 at Big Pool in Washington County. Joining the Marine Corps, he completed his training at Parris Island in October 1948. By 1949, he was serving with the 2nd Marine Engineer Battalion in Puerto Rico. The next year, he was transferred to Pearl Harbor. But with the onslaught of the North Koreans into South Korea, the Marines were sent to Korea, where PFC Dye was in Ammo Co. 1 of the 1st Ordnance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, led by the famous “Chesty” Puller.

After the invasion at Inchon, PFC Dye and the 5th and 7th Marines were ordered towards the Yalu and the 5th Marines were sent to the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, but were then replaced by Col. Faith’s 32nd Battalion. All of this was in anticipation of the scheduled offense that was to end the war by chasing the NKPA out of Korea into China. The 3rd Reg. of the 1st Marines was tasked with guarding the 78 mile-long Main Supply Route, MSR, from the coast to Hagaru-ri. At Hagaru-ri, located at the southern tip of the reservoir, PFC Dye and 48 other Marines were loaded into jeeps and sent up the critical East Hill that was protecting the vital airstrip that was in the process of evacuating more than 4,000 wounded men to safety.

PFC Raymond Tuttle, an 18 year-old from New Jersey, and PFC Dye were in the forward position the night of Nov. 30 when the Marines were overrun and forced off the hill. PFC Tuttle and PFC Dye were left to cover the retreat, and were last seen fighting the enemy back to back. PFC Tuttle was captured and died in a POW camp within a year. In the chaos of battle, PFC Dye was reported to be missing. His body has not yet been recovered. He was survived by his parents and a sister. According to the family, his mother could never accept that her son was not coming home.

Sgt. Norman Lawrence Reid

 The troops in the west were centered on Kunu-ri. Sgt. Norman Lawrence Reid, a 20-year-old from Braddock Heights, was with D/1/24, an all-black regiment. He was the son of Paul and Helen Reid, and a descendant of an enslaved woman, Fannie Craig, from Virginia, who was born in 1852. During the Civil War, when Fannie was just 13, she had a son she named William E. Reid. Eventually his descendants ended up in Frederick County. The segregation of African-Americans in white America was still in evidence with the segregated units in the Korean War.

The United Nations forces had been divided, never a good tactic. The 8th Army was in the west, and in the east, divided by a mountainous terrain with few roads, were the Marines and the 7th Div. of X Corps. All of the men, including their leaders, had heard the rumor that the first units to reach the Yalu would be the first units to be sent home…so the race was on! “Home before Christmas!” claimed Gen. MacArthur. The weather was increasingly brutal, and in the mad dash to the Yalu, the supply train was stretched to the limit and beyond. Only the Marines had the proper cold weather gear.

The 24th continued north, and by Nov. 21, they were along the Chongch’on River near Kunu-ri. As part of the point in the planned offense that was to take them to the Yalu, the 24th was placed in a forbidding terrain with few roads, and none going north/south. The men still had their summer uniforms, and the temperatures were rapidly dropping. The men partook of a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 23, but no one could really enjoy it with the coming battle hanging over them. That night the temps dipped to -15 degrees, and few men had insulated boots.

 Without warning, late on the night of Nov. 25 and into Nov. 26, the Chinese began their attack. There were many casualties, including SFC William F. Johnson, a WWII veteran from Maryland, who was taken prisoner and died in February 1951. The attacks grew in intensity the next day, as 30 men of the 24th fell, including 13 from Sgt. Reid’s D Co., including Sgt. Charles Owens from Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County. Sgt. Norman Reid lost his life on this tragic day, so far from his home in Frederick. Many men in the 24th were captured, including SFC William F. Johnson, born in 1923 in Maryland and a veteran of WWII. All of the captured men had died from neglect by May 1951. The remaining men of the 24th fought their way south in a chaotic dash to safety. Few made it. The “dash to the Yalu” had turned into a march through hell.

Sgt. Jacob Augustus Ely

The 89th Tank Battalion with Sgt. Jacob Augustus Ely was also at Kunu-ri where the battalion was to take the road south to safety. Sgt. Ely was born in Baltimore in 1916, but three years later the U.S. Census records “Jacobo” as being a “boarder.” Perhaps he had been orphaned or abandoned? By 1938, he had married Mildred Wiles, one of the 15 children of Vernon and Bertie Wiles of Mountaindale, and they were living in Brunswick. Jacob and Mildred’s first children, twins Leila and Millie, died at birth. They later had two daughters, and Jacob found work as a bricklayer and later was employed at Camp Detrick. They were living in Lewistown in 1940 when he was drafted. After seeing combat in WWII, he was stationed in Hong Kong, and later in Japan. When the Korean War began, he was serving as a gunner with A Co. of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion.

In November, the 89th was made part of Task Force Dolvin, and on Nov. 26, they were heavily attacked by the Chinese but bravely held their position. The next day, as Task Force Dolvin continued to be hit hard by enemy forces, they withdrew and Sgt. Ely’s 89th became part of Task Force Wilson which was tasked with covering the 35th as it crossed the Yongbyon River. As Sgt. Ely had experience in WWII with the M-7 long-range gun, he was promoted to the platoon leader’s rank. On Nov. 27, the Chinese were threatening to overrun the CP of TF Wilson. The next day, the Chinese, disguised as farmers, managed to infiltrate the American line, and created a roadblock at Yongsan-dong. A Co. of the 89th along with a company of infantrymen was sent to eliminate the roadblock and clear the route to the rear. In this action, two tanks were hit, including the one that Sgt. Ely was in. He escaped, but was hit by small arms fire. He did not return to his company, and was declared MIA. Mildred was notified the day after Christmas that her husband had been missing since Nov. 28, 1950. The 34 year-old trooper had not seen his wife and family for more than two years. His body has not been recovered.

 On Nov. 26, the 2nd Engineers were also in the midst of the huge Chinese offense near Kunu-ri. As the companies lined up to retreat from Kunu-ri, the engineers were placed last in the column. Their officers had pleaded for days to allow them to withdraw before the main column. At the tail end of the line, they had to cover the rest of the unit, as well as protect their heavy equipment from capture. They could do neither. Without the proper weapons, they were powerless to hold off the enemy, and their huge trucks and trailers could not move quickly enough to outpace the Chinese troops.

Sgt. Joseph Hayes Trail

Sgt. Joseph Hayes Trail was a water supply technician with the Headquarters and Servive Company in the 2nd Engineers, 2nd Div. Sgt. Trail was born to Clarence and Nora Viola Trail in 1932. After enlisting in 1949, he spent his last leave at home in May 1950. After arriving in Korea, his parents got a last letter written on Nov. 9 from Sunchon.

More than 100 engineers were either captured or killed including Sgt. Trail. His parents got the news that he had been captured just days after learning that his brother, Cpl. Burr W. Trail had been wounded at the Chosin Reservoir while serving with the Headquarters Co., 57th FAB, the same unit as Cpl. Carty. Sgt. Joseph Trail died of malnutrition in a POW camp on Jan. 20, 1951, and his body has not been recovered. His brother, Cpl. Burr Trail, survived.

MSG Ira Miss

MSG Ira Miss with Hqts Co. 3rd Bn. 38th Reg. in the 2nd Div. was another Marylander near Kunu-ri. The 3/38 ran the “Gauntlet,” losing five of their eleven jeeps and nine men. They were the last major element to get through the “Pass” and reach safety. MSG Ira Victor Miss was born in Frederick in 1927 to Ira V. and Lillian Burdette Miss. After his mother died in 1948, Ira Jr. enlisted in the army. Two years later, he found himself in combat in Korea, serving as a combat construction specialist. On Nov. 28, in the fighting near Kunu-ri, he was shot in the hip. After recovering in a hospital in Japan, he returned to Korea in early January, and was soon in the battle north of Hoengsong, called “Massacre Valley.” On Feb. 11, 1951, the Chinese attacked the ROK’s 8th Div., soon over running the South Koreans, thereby cutting off MSG Miss’s nearby 3/38. In Massacre Valley, the 38th Reg. lost 255 men KIA, and 213 of those captured there died as prisoners. It proved to be the second deadliest battle in the Korean War. In the chaos of the following day, Feb. 13, MSG Miss was captured by the Chinese. Although he was first reported to be missing, it was later determined that he was a prisoner, and died in June of 1951. Surviving MSG Miss was his father in Buckeystown, his wife, Jean Louise and their daughter, Linda Verna. MSG Miss’s remains were finally found and identified. He was buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Feb. 2017.

Cpl. Manville E. Dagenhart

Cpl. Manville E. Dagenhart from Myersville was also with the 38th Regiment. Serving with I Company in the 3rd Battalion. He was born in 1931 to Lawson and Catherine. He was captured near Kunuri on Nov. 30, the same day as Sgt. Trail. He died in a POW camp in February 1951.

PFC Raymond R. Flair

PFC Raymond R. Flair was born in Frederick in 1928 to William and Marie Flair. He was married to Ida Belle and they had a 6 year old daughter, Darlene. A member of C/1/19, he was killed in the Inchon-Seoul area on Feb. 9, 1951. He earned a Silver Star for his bravery there, and the armory at Ft. Detrick is named in his honor.

Cpl. Jack Dempsey Wallace

Cpl. Jack Dempsey Wallace was born in 1930 in Mt. Pleasant. He served in Korea with G Company, 31st Reg. He was wounded by missile fragments on May 29, 1951, and died of these wounds the next day. He was buried at Mt. Olivet in Frederick.

PFC Samuel “Buddy” Frye

PFC Samuel “Buddy” Frye was born in 1933 in Frederick, and he enlisted in the army at age 17. He was sent to Korea with A Co., 5th Cavalry in the fall of 1950. PFC Frye died in combat in April 1951.

SFC Virgil Lee Stambaugh

SFC Virgil Lee Stambaugh was born to Samuel and Pauline Stambaugh in Union Bridge in 1925. He went overseas in January 1951 with A/19/24. He married Ann Wivell from Emmitsburg. SFC Stambaugh was killed in action on June 3, 1951, and earned a Bronze Star.

Pvt. Paul James Sewell

A grenade accidently exploded on Dec. 22, 1951, killing Pvt. Paul James Sewell of New Market. He was the son of Howard and Violet and was buried in the Simpson AM Church Cemetery.

PFC Irvin E. Lanehart

PFC Irvin E. Lanehart of Frederick was killed in action on June 12, 1952, while serving with G/180/45. He was preceded in death by both of his parents and was buried in Mt. Olivet.

Sgt. Harold Edward Lugenbeel

Although peace talks were being held for more than a year, the killing did not stop. Sgt. Harold Edward Lugenbeel. with C/1/31 was killed on Pork Chop Hill in April 1953. He was born in New Market in 1929. He was married to Dorothy Anna, and she had a daughter, Rhonda Harold, after her husband’s death.

With North and South Korea in the news recently, more Americans can see the results that the sacrifices of the UN forces made in the two Koreas. Frederick County lost many good young men in that “police action,” and they should not be forgotten.

If you are a veteran or know a veteran who is willing to tell his or her story, contact the Frederick County Veterans History Project at priscillarall@gmail.com.

“Farm Boy to Combat Engineer”

by Priscilla Rall

Robert “Bob” Clifford Mount, the son of Clifford and Violet Mount, grew up milking cows by hand and plowing with a team of horses, named Dick and Queeny. He lived in a home without electricity, phone, or plumbing. Bob was a farm boy, born in 1931 in the Great Depression. He went to a one-room school and knew little about what was going on in the world, as the family could only use their radio when they charged its battery at his grandmother’s house.

In 1948, Bob left school when he turned 18 and joined the U.S. Army.

He went to Fort Belvoir for training at the Heavy Equipment Mechanic School. Then he was sent to Hawaii, where he was able to complete his high school classes and get his diploma. In June 1950, the Korean War erupted unexpectedly, and Bob was sent to Korea in July. His unit, the 72nd Combat Engineer Company, was in the Pusan Perimeter, where the Americans were desperately holding onto a patch of land on the southeast Korean peninsula. When the company was in review one day, the commanding officer asked if anyone could type. No one raised their hand. So, the commanding officer asked again, and this time, Bob raised his hand, breaking the first law in the Army: NEVER volunteer for ANYTHING!
Bob then raced to the camp’s office and yelled, “Does anyone know how to type?” He managed to get a book on learning to type, and he was ready in a few days to become the company’s regimental clerk! But, soon, the company was sent to make roads, sweep for mines, etc. They didn’t have a demolition man, and Pvt. Mount ended up with that job, too.

Once, when they were checking a bridge for explosives, they descended a ravine by the bridge and, without warning, became the target of North Korean snipers. The GIs promptly called for artillery, which quickly ended the snipers’ attack.

Another time, they were passing through a deserted village on a lane with stone walls on both sides when the enemy opened fire on them from behind the walls, resulting in several casualties. The danger was never far away, even in the Pusan Perimeter.

After the successful invasion at Inchon, near Seoul, the troops in the Pusan Perimeter broke out and headed north. Pvt. Mount’s company was part of the 5th Regimental Combat Team that worked with the Turks, the British, the Greeks, the South Koreans, the 1st Cavalry, and the U.S. Marines. Again, they were making roads and also building pontoon bridges. The troops were buoyed by the pronouncement from Gen. MacArthur that they would be “home for Christmas.” The soldiers made their way north with few difficulties until those in on the west side made it to the Yalu River, which divides North Korea and China.

It was mid-November and getting colder by the day. Bob remembers standing guard one night; in the morning, when he was relieved, he got to camp just as the chow truck got there with tasty hot pancakes—the best meal Bob claims he ever had!

Tragedy loomed as the Chinese crossed undetected into North Korea and attacked the Allied troops, just as the soldiers had finished savoring their Thanksgiving dinner. The soldiers located on the east of the Chosin Reservoir and the Marines on its west took the brunt of the enemy’s forces. The northernmost troops in the west were decimated as well. Frederick County lost Cpl. Paul Carty from Thurmont, Sgt. Roy Delauter, Sgt. Joseph Trail (who was captured and died in a POW camp), and Sgt. Norman Reid. Washington County lost PFC Herene Blevins, Cpl. Kenneth Ridge, and Marine PFC Daily Dye, all at the Chosin.

The Allied troops retreated in haste, and most of those killed in the north still lie in that frozen wasteland. Bob recalls that his general ordered a retreat even before MacArthur did. The 8th Army fled in confusion, as did all the Allied troops. His unit finally stopped in Seoul, and they built a bridge next to the destroyed one across the Han River. He could hear friendly howitzers firing north all night long. Ironically, another Maryland boy, Rupert Spring from Dickerson, was with a company illuminating the area to help the engineers building the bridge.

Finally, Bob was sent home and discharged at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, in August 1951. Unbeknownst to Mount or the military doctors, he had contracted a case of malaria that didn’t flair up for two months. Few local doctors were familiar with this tropical disease, and it was some time until it was properly diagnosed and treated.

Bob soon crossed paths with a beautiful young lady, Winnie, who he had known slightly before the war. They were married in March 1952 and had two children. The GI Bill helped them buy their first home. Later, they lived on Fish Hatchery Road. Bob realized that to get ahead in business, he had to get as much education as he could. With the help of the GI Bill, he took classes at several different colleges and eventually became the Senior VP Auditor with the Bank of America. Pretty good for a boy who grew up without even electricity!

Bob doesn’t regret his time in Korea. The GI Bill helped him in his career, and his ambition did the rest. Bob has been very active in the KWVA Chapter 142, and he and Winnie now live in Country Meadows, enjoying a peaceful retirement that they have both earned. Bob, thank you for your service!

If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is willing to tell his or her story, contact the Frederick County Veterans History Project at priscillarall@gmail.com.

Robert Clifford Mount

Blair Garrett

With nothing but an engraved Secretary of the Navy coin and a lot of questions, one man’s sit-down meal turned into a two-year mystery.

The decorative coin, which reads, “Gordon R. England, 72nd & 73rd Secretary of the Navy,” was the only piece of evidence to go off of, and Robert Cage, 88, of Hyattsville, Maryland, was left wondering how it ended up in his possession.

Cage, a Navy Veteran who served on the USS Chevalier DD-805 from 1952-56 during the Korean War, is proud of his service, and sought to find the mystery man behind the coin.

The date was May 7, 2017, at the McDonald’s in Thurmont. Cage had stopped in for lunch, as he frequently does when he passes through, but this visit had a unique and unexpected surprise.  

“I was just eating a hamburger, and the next thing I knew, somebody had come by and gave me a coin,” Cage said. “By the time I realized what it was and turned around, he was gone.”

The opportunity to meet in person with England may have passed, but it would not be the last time Cage heard from him. “I wanted to take a picture with him but he had left,” Cage said.

Cage frequently wears his U.S. Navy hat when he goes out, so it is not uncommon for other Veterans and the general public to recognize him for his service. He caught the eye of one Veteran in particular, though, and reeling for answers, Cage took to the internet to find out who may have left him this keepsake.  

They don’t make decorative Secretary of the Navy coins for just anyone, so Cage knew this person in particular must have been important.

After doing some homework, Cage learned more about England, who served as both the Secretary of the Navy and the Deputy Secretary of Defense over the course of his career.

England, a Baltimore native, graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in electrical engineering and received his MBA from Texas Christian University shortly after. He also worked as an engineer for the Project Gemini Space Program and as a program manager on the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft for the Navy.

England worked several roles in government preceding his appointment under President George W. Bush as Secretary of the Navy in 2001. From 2001 to 2003, he served in that role and, once again, served as the 73rd Secretary of the Navy after a brief stint as First Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

Cage, with the help of his nephew, Rob Dowling, was able to make contact with England via email to confirm that it was England who left him the coin that day.

“I do recall giving coins during some of my stopovers in Thurmont,” England said in an email with Dowling. “Your uncle was apparently one of the recipients.”

Outside of his career endeavors, England is an avid fisherman, who often takes fishing trips in Pennsylvania. On his way, he would sometimes make a pit stop in Thurmont for lunch.

“I would sometimes fly fish in Pennsylvania and stop by the Thurmont McDonald’s on the way,” England said. “After a few visits, I became acquainted with four or five Veterans who regularly congregated at the restaurant.”

Meeting with Veterans and acknowledging their dedication and sacrifices made for their country was not out of the ordinary for England. “As per my usual practice, whenever I had Secretary of Navy coins, I would introduce myself to a Navy Veteran and thank them for their service to the nation.”

England sent a personal letter to Cage in October, officially thanking him for his service. To this day, Cage still has the Secretary of the Navy coin kept safe at his home in Hyattsville. And, to this day, Cage is still proud of his military service, and proud to have connected with England once again.

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Veterans and Why They Mean So Much To Me

I was born in 1943. My father, James A. Houck Sr., was somewhere in Germany serving our country. I hadn’t met him yet, because he was deployed before I was born. I was three years old when I finally got to meet Dad. My mother, her siblings (there were thirteen of them), and her parents told me about Dad and showed me pictures of him. I was told that when he stepped off the train, I recognized him and ran straight to him.

When I was about three-and-a-half years old, my grandfather Wantz went for a walk in the woods behind his house—as he often did—and sat down on a rock and passed away. This was very hard on me, as he was like a father to me the first three years of my life. He was the one who gave me horsey rides and got down on the floor and played with me, and now he would no longer be in my life. Granddaddy was a railroad mechanic for the railroad that ran through Emmitsburg. Granddaddy was gone, and now my grandmother, Annie (I called her Nanny), was left to raise my aunts and uncles alone. Her son, (my uncle) John Joseph Wantz, was in the army, and since he was the oldest, he felt it was his job to now help Nanny raise the family. He asked for a hardship discharge and received one, and he came home to help support his mother and the family. He did a great job of helping the family survive, and the rest of the siblings and their spouses pitched in and helped where they could.

The Korean War broke out around 1951, and two of my uncles—David Bernard Wantz and James Edward Wantz—were old enough and were drafted into the army to fight in the Korean War. I can still remember my uncle Ed—he was the baby of the family and twelve years older than me—inviting Mom, Dad, Nanny, and I to Fort Indiantown Gap, where he was taking basic training, to watch him graduate. While we were there, he took me to the firing range and let me shoot a rifle. He then treated us to a movie at their post movie theater. That visit made quite an impression on me, and I thought that when I was old enough, I was going to join the army. I had quite a few uncles on my grandmother’s side of the family (Eylers) that gave service to their country in the armed services, and I would enjoy listening to their experiences while serving. I was full of questions; some would provide me with answers, and some did not want to talk about it, and I respected that also.

The men on the Houck, Blessing, Grabel, and Frounfelter sides served in the armed services, too. I had plenty of family members to keep me excited about serving our country. I wanted a good education, so I stayed in school until I graduated. I was going to enlist after graduation, but the draft was still in and they called me. So instead of enlisting, I accepted the draft. The day came for my physical exam, and I was on a bus to Fort Holabird. That day, I came back with probably the biggest disappointment of my life. I was classified 1-Y (in case of emergency only). I asked why and they said due to high blood pressure. I waited a few months and then tried to enlist, because I was told that even though I was turned down by the draft physical, if I enlisted, they would take me. Well, they didn’t, and that was another great disappointment to me.

My brother, Robert Dennis Houck, was drafted into the army about four or five years later and served. I have nephews, great nephews, and even a granddaughter who served, or are serving, their country in the military. I now serve the best way I know how by honoring our military Veterans in print, and by having the privilege of interviewing our armed service heroes and informing our community of their life in people’s neighborhoods.

I belong to several Veteran organizations (Sons of Men’s Auxiliary) and participate in every function for honoring Veterans that I am able to attend. Folks, I hope you enjoy the stories I write about Veterans as much as I enjoy writing them. I plan to write Veteran stories until I am too senile to control my thoughts (I have been told by a few that I’m already there).

I have received a lot of positive feedback about my column, and I appreciate it. So, if you should have any comments, send them to The Catoctin Banner, and they will see that I receive them.

The Reason I Write About Veterans and Why They Mean So Much to Me

This month’s column was originally featured in the February 2013 issue of The Catoctin Banner.

 

The picture to the right is me at a young age, posing with my grandfather, Harry Wantz, who is making sure the rifle and I’m holding didn’t fall over. This picture was taken in 1945, while World War II was still being fought. My father, James A. Houck Sr., was somewhere in Germany, serving our country. I hadn’t met him yet, because he was deployed before I was born. I was three years old when I finally got to meet Dad. My mother, her siblings (there were thirteen of them), and her parents told me about Dad and showed me pictures of him. I was told that when he stepped off of the train, I recognized him and ran straight to him.

When I was about three-and-a-half years old, my grandfather Wantz went for a walk in the woods behind his house—as he often did—and sat down on a rock and passed away. This was very hard on me, as he was like a father to me the first three years of my life. He was the one who gave me horsey rides and got down on the floor and played with me, and now he would no longer be in my life. Granddaddy was a railroad mechanic for the railroad that ran through Emmitsburg. Now Granddaddy was gone, and my grandmother Annie (I called her Nanny) was left to raise my aunts and uncles alone. Her son (my uncle), John Joseph Wantz, was in the army, and since he was the oldest, he felt it was his job to now help Nanny raise the family. He asked for a hardship discharge and received one, and he came home to help support his mother and the family. He did a great job of helping the family survive, and the rest of the siblings and their spouses pitched in and helped where they could.

The Korean War broke out around 1951, and two of my uncles—David Bernard Wantz and James Edward Wantz—were old enough and were drafted into the Army to fight in the Korean War. I can still remember my uncle Ed—he was the baby of the family and twelve years older than me—inviting Mom, Dad, Nanny, and me to Fort Indiantown Gap, where he was taking basic training, to watch him graduate. While we were there, he took me to the firing range and let me shoot a rifle. He then treated us to a movie at their post movie theater. That visit made quite an impression on me, and I thought that when I was old enough, I was going to join the army. I had quite a few uncles on my grandmother’s side of the family (Eylers) that gave service to their country in the armed services, and I would enjoy listening to their experiences while serving. I was full of questions; some would provide me with answers, and some did not want to talk about it, and I respected that also. The men on the Houck, Blessing, Grabel, and Frounfelter sides served in the armed services, too. I had plenty of family members to keep me excited about serving our country. I wanted a good education, so I stayed in school until I graduated. I was going to enlist after graduation, but the draft was still in and they called me. So instead of enlisting, I accepted the draft. The day came for my physical exam, and I was on a bus to Fort Hollabird. That day, I came back with probably the biggest disappointment of my life. I was classified 1-Y (in case of emergency only). I asked why, and they said due to high blood pressure. I waited a few months and then tried to enlist, because I was told that even though I was turned down by the draft physical, if I enlisted, they would take me. Well, they didn’t, and that was another great disappointment to me. My brother, Robert Dennis Houck, was drafted into the Army about four or five years later, and served. I have nephews, great nephews, and even a granddaughter who served, or are serving, our country in the military. I now serve the best way I know how: by honoring our military Veterans in print, and by having the privilege of interviewing our armed service heroes and informing our community about their lives. I belong to several Veteran organizations (Sons of AMVETS, Sons of the American Legion, and VFW Auxiliary), and participate in every function for honoring Veterans that I am able to attend. Folks, I hope you enjoy the articles I write about Veterans, as much as I enjoy writing them. I plan to write Veteran stories until I am too senile to control my thoughts (I have been told by a few that I’m already there). I have received a lot of positive feedback about my column, and I appreciate it. So, if you should have any comments (pro or con), send them to The Catoctin Banner, and they will see that I receive them.

God Bless America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.

One of the “Chosin Few”

by Deb Spalding

Russell “Russ” Delauter of Thurmont was born the only child of Willie and Hazel Delauter. His father was known as one of the top bulldozer operators in the country and often took new jobs wherever work was available. Therefore, the small family moved around a lot; Russ started at a new school every six to eight months.

They spent some time in the village of Ellerton near Myersville. When he was entering the eighth grade, the school wouldn’t honor his last six months of schooling and decided they wanted Russ to repeat the seventh grade. Soon after, at the age of twelve, Russ struck out on his own. He worked in a restaurant in McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania, then hauled equipment in Reading and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Times were very different then.

Though on his own, Russ said, “Everybody looked out for me,” adding, “I graduated from the streets of hard knocks.”

In 1948, at the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the Army. He trained in Texas and Georgia, and was then sent to Korea, just two months after the Korean War started. North Korea invaded South Korea in June of 1950 to start the war.

As an infantryman with the rank of Sergeant First Class, Russ was in charge of light tanks and half tracks.He had a crew of around forty men the entire time he fought there, from September 1950 to January 1952.

The main battle he participated in was the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, where approximately 120,000 Chinese circled and attacked 30,000 United Nations (UN) forces, later named the “Chosin Few.” It was thirty-five degrees below zero. Russ said, “It was a big battle; 2,500 soldiers were lost. We lost some Army, some Marines.”

“Korea was a different kind of place—between the Chinese and Koreans. First, the Koreans ran us down south, then the Chinese joined with them, and they took us out.” He explained that the U.S. Navy came in through HagNam and took Pusan on the extreme south end of Korea. The UN forces reorganized and went back up north into battle.

“The reason any of us got out of there is because the Chinese were not equipped with uniforms and shoes to battle the severe weather in battle. We survived the Chosin Reservoir because the Chinese soldiers’ feet were froze.” The Chinese uniform was thin and their footwear was similar to a tennis shoe. Russ continued, “We didn’t stop them; the weather stopped them.” UN soldiers wore shoe packs for warmth and heavy-duty overcoats. Russ said that even with the shoe packs, they were still freezing.

He explained that people back home often believe that a soldier is in danger 24/7. “They need to understand, in any war, you’re sometimes safe as you are when you’re sitting in church. But when times are bad, times are bad.” He added, “My body didn’t see water from October to February.”

The U.S. military forces were engaged in the Korean War with other UN forces and Korean civilians. The civilians couldn’t handle North Koreans by themselves, and definitely couldn’t handle them once the Chinese joined the fight. Russ explained that the Korean civilians were freezing and starving to death, but never complained. He had about six Korean soldiers who fought with him. “They don’t come any better than that.”

Russ talked about the lack of racism during his time serving with the military. People were very kind and supportive of each other, no matter what their nationality, and they were at war. One of the Korean soldiers who fought with Russ was a sixteen-year-old named Kim Kwang Joo. “He had more guts than anyone I ever saw.” Kim was still fighting when Russ left for home, but it is unknown to Russ whether Kim made it through the war.

Back home, Russ’ parents had moved to Thurmont while he was at war. Once back, he met his wife, Marlene Addison, in 1953, right around the same time that he and his dad started W.F. Delauter and Son. Russ and Marlene were married in 1954 and had four children: Keith, Kim, Kay, and Kirby. The Delauter’s son, Kim, was named after Kim Kwang Joo. Kim carries a picture of his namesake.

Russ and his father worked intently on the growing business, while Marlene was busy raising their children. “My dad and I built an honest business to earn a good reputation.”

As they dug in to keep the business going. Russ explained that building the business, “…was tougher than the war sometimes.” Tough, but enduring, the business is still thriving today, with son, Kirby, at the helm. About the business Russ added, “We did that [built an honest business and good reputation], but Kirby did it better. He’s doing a tremendous job with it.”

Russ feels very fortunate to have four children who turned out as great as they are. “They’ve raised good families, and they’re good people.” he said.

These days, you can find Russ, from the wee hours of the morning until almost noon, volunteering in the kitchen at Trinity United Church of Christ in Thurmont. He and a band of other volunteers bake some tasty treats for community members to enjoy.

As a kid, Russ went to the movies and watched war movies. He said he wondered then if he could do it. Then when he was on his way to Korea, he said to himself, “You’re gonna see if you can do it.” He did it.

Russ suggests military service for anyone. He thinks it’s the smartest thing you can do.

He feels that at seventeen or eighteen years of age, “…you don’t know what discipline is.”

After serving, he said, “You cherish the people, the memories, the thoughts.”

Russ grew up hating Japanese. But, when he was in Japan, he learned that they are good people. “They take care of each other with no animosity for anyone and act like the war never happened. People feel safe with no fear of others. Seeing them gives you a whole different outlook, an appreciation. The Koreans never complained. We [Americans] complain. They could lay there starving and not complain.”

Russ closed our conversation stating these words of wisdom, “We never fight a war in a good place.”

Russ Delauter, thank you for your service! May God Bless America and May God Bless You!

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Russ Delauter is pictured in Korea while serving with the U.S. Army and UN Forces in the Chosin Reservoir Campaign.