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Frederick & Washington Counties’

Lost in the Forgotten War (Part 2)

by Priscilla Rall

PFC Kenneth Lee Smith

In September 1950, while the United States was holding onto the southeast corner of South Korea by a thread, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was planning a surprise amphibious landing at Inchon along the western coast of Korea just west of Seoul. A shameless publicity hound, MacArthur’s PR men presented the invasion as “brilliant” and unparalleled in history except the plan was neither brilliant nor an extraordinary concept. It was standard army doctrine for peninsular warfare. In WWII, it was used at Salerno and Anzio. In fact, the Pentagon had produced plan SL-17 on June 19, 1950, that anticipated a North Korean invasion, a U.S. retreat to Pusan, and then an amphibious landing at Inchon! MacArthur’s headquarters requested 50 copies of SL-17 on June 26.

The invasion forces consisted of almost 70,000 men, including PFC Kenneth Lee Smith, from Cavetown in Washington County. who was a Marine with D/2/5. The amphibious attack began early Sept. 15. Lt. Col. Raymond Murray’s 5th Marines led the assault and landed on the northernmost Red Beach. After coming ashore, PFC Smith with D Co. marched inland. The next day, the 5th Marines were then ordered to drive through the southern section of Inchon. The 2/5 Marines led off that morning with D Co. Then, in the early hours of Sept. 24, the enemy began a counter-attack with their main effort aimed at the 2nd Bn.’s D Co. Unbeknownst to the Americans, they were facing 10,000 seasoned enemy troops. D Co. was hampered in their assault by a greatly diminished visibility caused by a combination of fog and smoke. Without warning, PFC Smith’s company came face to face with the enemy who soon had them pinned down. When D Company finally took the ridge, only 27 men of D Co. remained standing to savor their bittersweet victory. They had begun the battle with 206 officers and men. The fight had cost the company 36 KIA, 116 were wounded severely enough to require evacuation, including PFC Kenneth Smith, who died of his wounds two days later, on September. 26, 1950, after having been in constant combat since coming ashore at Inchon. He was buried in Rest Haven Cemetery in Hagerstown.

Cpl. Paul K. Carty,

Sgt. Roy Charles Delauter,

Cpl. Kenneth Lee Ridge

MacArthur was flush with victory after Inchon and taking Seoul and wanted to follow his victories up with an offense aimed to push out all of the North Korean troops north to the Yalu, the border with China. He discounted any intelligence which suggested that the Chinese were planning to join the North Koreans. With little thought, he divided his troops on the east and west side of the Korean peninsula with a high ridge of mountains between them. On the east was the large frozen Chosin reservoir. On its eastern shore were three soldiers with Task Force MacLean (later called Task Force Faith) from Western Maryland, Cpl. Paul K. Carty with the Headquarters’ Company, 57th Field Artillery Battalion; Sgt. Roy Charles Delauter with D/1/32; and Cpl. Kenneth Lee Ridge with M/3/31 who was born in 1930 in Hagerstown, the son of Melvin George and Mae Anna Funk Ridge.                                                                                                                 

Unbelievably, they had not been provided with wire, mines, or flares to create an effective perimeter with. At 9 p.m., a small Chinese patrol was discovered, and one enemy was captured. Col. Faith called a meeting of all of company commanders to review the offense scheduled for the next day.  While this was going on, the enemy attacked the 3rd Platoon of C Co. but were driven off.

At 8 a.m., the battalion took to the offense and managed to drive back the Chinese and recover most of the lost territory. During the day, Gen. Almond arrived by helicopter, and was told by Col. Faith of the Chinese attack. He discounted Col. Faith’s estimated size of the enemy forces saying, “Don’t worry. You’re only fighting remnants fleeing northwards.” About this time, the 3rd Battalion of the 31st Infantry with Ridge and the 57th Field Artillery Battalion with Carty reached their position four miles south of Faith’s 1/32. At 10:30 p.m., the Chinese again attacked. Sgt. Delauter’s D Co. held fast, holding back the Chinese. Finally, at 2:30 a.m., Nov. 29, the Chinese withdrew. Just one hour later, the battalion was ordered to withdraw south and consolidate with the 3/32 which had also been under similar enemy attacks.

As they struggled to ready the troops for the retreat, it began to snow furiously. The main withdrawal got underway at 5:30 a.m., Nov. 29. Soon MacLean was shot and captured; Col. Faith took command of the troops, now called Task Force Faith. They would need every ounce of faith to get them through to safety. He led his men in the attack of the unsuspecting Chinese encircling the 3/31. Finally, the Americans were together, hoping that they could fight their way south to Hagaru-ri. But the situation was dire. They were surrounded on three sides by the Chinese. Supplies were running low. The soldiers had been rushed forward with little preparation and few supplies. Their Medical Company had been destroyed in an ambush. As the troops were consolidated, Col. Faith’s drive and will-power strengthened the soldiers’ morale considerably. The Division Commander flew in to confer with Col. Faith. He was direct…there would be no help for Faith and his hardy band of men. They were on their own…written off by MacArthur’s high command. Worst of all, Faith did not know that the operation’s center of the 31st a few miles north of Hugaru had been hurriedly evacuated, without a thought given to Faith, who still believed that if they could get that far, they would find a haven of friendly troops.

Late on Nov. 30 at 10 p.m., the Chinese tried again. Then it began to snow, diminishing visibility and helping mask the American’s movements. Just after midnight, the Chinese penetrated the perimeter, and began to infiltrate many of the U.S. positions. Task Force Faith was fighting for its life. The medics were out of bandages and morphine. Few had eaten anything for two days. The cold was debilitating, particularly as the soldiers did not have cold weather gear. They had no first aid tents, so the medics slung a tarp over a railroad cut for shelter. They had no stoves to warm the wounded.

 While the Americans were finalizing their plans for the offense, Chinese attacked the Americans dug in around the inlet just after midnight, overwhelming K, L, and I Companies and the CP. Sgt. Roy “Bud” Delauter, with D/1/32, was at the northernmost point of Col. Faith’s position. From Wolfsville, he was the son of Roy and G. Rae Delauter and the husband of Shirley Viola Brown Delauter and was killed on Dec. 1 and is listed as MIA. His brother, Boyd was wounded at the same time, but recovered.

Cpl. Ridge and his Heavy Weapons Company was the only company that held fast throughout that first night. M Co. and a few small isolated units were not penetrated nor overrun. The Chinese withdrew at sunrise just as the battalion was near collapse. That night, the Chinese resumed their attacks. The next day, Col. Faith and his 1/32 joined the 3/31 and the 57 FAB. As Col. MacLean, who had been cut off with Faith, neared his position, he was wounded and then captured. Col. Faith took over the remaining troops. Faith led the soldiers through unrelenting enemy pressure south towards safety at Hagaru. The Army suffered terribly from the relentless cold, snow and winds. Unlike the Marines, the soldiers were not supplied with cold weather gear. From his heated headquarters in Japan, the army quartermaster decided in late October that “arctic items will not be necessary.” Contrary to the facts, MacArthur reassured the public that all those in the military were equipped with “suitable cold weather clothing.” In stark contrast, Gen. Almond on Nov. 17 wrote an urgent appeal for stoves and heated tents. “Soldiers are freezing for a lack of shelter.” On that day, the 7th Div. was short 6,700 mountain sleeping bags!     

As Col. Faith organized the final thrust to break through the Chinese blockades, the Air Force promised air coverage for the breakout beginning at noon, but they were one hour late. Just as the soldiers were setting out, the Marine planes came flying in, dropping canisters of napalm on the Americans! As many as 30 soldiers are believed to have been killed in this tragic act of friendly fire.

For the Ridge family, 1950 was a doubly tragic year. Kenneth’s older brother, Lauren Ridge, a Maryland State Trooper, was killed in the line of duty just four months before Kenneth died in Korea. TFC Ridge, an Army Air Corps veteran of WWII had survived Pearl Harbor, but died on the streets of Hagerstown, shot by a deranged man whom he was trying to disarm. TFC Ridge left behind a wife and 18 month-old son.

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

Kenneth Lee Ridge

Paul K. Carty

Photos Courtesy of Priscilla Rall

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!


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

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Danielle Bloxham
 E-4 Spec. (Military Police) U.S. Army

Born on June 12, 1983, in Red Bluff, California, to Dawn and Stephen Marsh, was a bouncing little tomboy they named, Danielle. Eventually, Danielle was blessed with three younger sisters: Desiree, Ronee, and Stephenie. Danielle grew up in California; her mother, Dawn, moved to Maryland in 1996 after Danielle’s youngest sister turned one year old, and a year later, she and her other sisters followed.

Danielle, being the oldest, went to school in California through the sixth grade and part of seventh. She then attended Maryland schools for the remainder of seventh grade through the eighth grade. Following eighth grade, Danielle went again back to California and finished ninth and tenth grades, and then came back to Maryland and got her GED. While in school, Danielle played softball and soccer—and just about every sport. She states that because she was a tomboy, she would travel with the boys’ basketball team to their games and keep the records for them. Her whole family was avid softball players and they still are; she said her uncle was in the Little League World Series in 1975 or 1976. She grew up around sports. She also loves to fish and hunt each year and gets a license for both. She was due to graduate in 2002, but she signed up for the military and left for boot camp before her graduation. Danielle was in 95 Bravo Military Police and went to Fort Leonard Wood Base in Missouri, because it has one-unit service training and is coed; it has different bays but the training is done all at one time and then they go to their assigned station. Danielle was there from mid-January until June. Afterwards, she had two or three weeks of leave, so she flew back to Maryland and then to California. Following her leave, she was off to South Korea.

Danielle was stationed in Buson, South Korea at Camp Hialeah in the second biggest city (also a port city) in South Korea, with Seoul being the largest city. Camp Hialeah has a perimeter of two miles, which makes it very small, but Danielle said that they would back-fill for other areas, so they would go all the way to Seoul to fill for other people. In the United States, it is a lot different being a military police officer, according to Danielle. In South Korea, one of the major job duties you do there is riot control; there are a lot of riots. In South Korea, they have to have permission to riot from the K&P; this is because of KATUSA (Korean Obligation to the United States Army). They are actually Koreans and instead of doing their military service with the Korean Army, they do their twenty-six months with the United States Army. The Korean Military Police are outside of the gate and the U.S. Military Police are inside the gate, in case people would try to breach the gates; the protesters would have to get through the K&P to breach the gate and then get through the U.S. Military Police.

Riot control is a big thing in South Korea. A few times, people would come close to breaching the gates by tossing Molotov cocktails. Danielle said that when she first arrived at the base, she would wear her uniform when riding the trains, but when she left a year later, they were not allowed to wear uniforms to travel in public. She was in South Korea from June 2002-July 2003.

During her time in South Korea, she met someone and put in a COT (continuing overseas tour), requesting to go to Germany. You usually come back stateside for a short period of time after a tour, before being sent overseas again. Being young, Danielle thought she would put in to go to Germany, but in the process, tried to stop her orders. She flew home and then went back to Korea for another six months, then orders came down that would make Fort Huachuca, Arizona, her next duty station. Danielle was at Fort Huachuca until she got out of the Army.

Danielle was released from the Army with a medical discharge in March 2005. While in Korea, Danielle had surgery in Seoul on her left hand for De Quervain’s disease, which is a painful inflammation of tendons in the thumb, causing pain from the base of the thumb that extend to the wrist. She also had surgery at Fort Huachuca on her right hand for De Quervain’s disease about a year and a half after her first surgery. While in Arizona, she got pregnant; she had her daughter, Jaiden, on April 10, 2004. When she got her discharge, they drove across country to Maryland; Danielle got a job shortly thereafter with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Frederick. She was an operations analyst. She worked for Wells Fargo just shy of ten years, when she decided to go back to school to be a vocational rehabilitation coordinator.

While waiting for her benefits to come through after arriving home, Danielle developed problems from an injury to her knee she received in the field in South Korea. The surgery was supposed to be a simple in-and-out procedure; she had it done at Martinsburg Veterans Hospital. Danielle said that three weeks later, she was still in a full leg brace and on high doses of pain medication. At one point, she woke up and was in so much pain that she could not even stand the light, so she had her sister come get her and take her to the hospital. They cleaned a lot of infection out and asked her where she had the surgery done and proceeded to tell her that she needed to go there immediately. They flew her to Martinsburg; she blacked out and when she woke up, she found out that she had a staph infection and had to have emergency surgery again. Danielle said she was out for a week and remembers waking up and the nurse saying, “Thank God you’re awake.” She was in Martinsburg for another week, and she remembers that the hospital was really getting to her and she just wanted to get out of there and get home to her two-year-old daughter. She got approval to get off the morphine drip and asked what she could do to get home. The infection was so intense that she had to stay on the medication for quite a while, so they put a pick line in her left arm for her to be able to give herself intravenous therapy (IV). She set up to have in-home nurses come to her home. She was a young twenty-three at the time, and she had to give herself IVs three times a day. Danielle did the IVs for six weeks and was on medication for about six months to make sure the infection was gone from her system, then she went back to work.

Danielle is now going to Frederick Community College, majoring in cyber security and is just one class short of graduating with her Associate’s degree. Danielle had a second daughter, Evie, on March 11, 2011. Both daughters like sports like their mother, and Evie is playing T-Ball this year. Danielle likes to reflect on the differences in weather in California and Maryland, and how she never owned a coat until she moved to Maryland in January of 1997. She said that thinking back, she remembers playing soccer in Woodsboro, where her mother lives and most of her family resides; Danielle and her daughters live in Thurmont. Danielle said that she and her mother and sisters worked or work at Trout’s Grocery Store in Woodsboro. She said that they would all joke with John Trout that there were more of their (Danielle’s) family working at the store than the Trout family. Danielle’s daughters go to school in Thurmont; Evie is in Pre-K and Jaiden goes to Thurmont Primary School.

Danielle is also a Girl Scout leader and has been since her daughter, Jaiden, was in kindergarten. Jaiden joined when she was a Daisy and is now a cadet after seven years as a Girl Scout. Currently, Danielle can’t give the required time for a leader since she is in night school, but another leader is now standing in for her. She is getting ready to enroll Evie into the Girl Scouts this fall.

Jaiden is very active in Thurmont activities, including softball and karate, and is in dance class and gymnastics; she took piano lessons and also loves fishing. Evie does T-Ball, dancing, and gymnastics, and will begin fishing this summer. Danielle said she has a lot of good friends in the area; she thanks God for them, because they really help her out with the kids. She has a hectic schedule with work and night classes and she could not be attending night school if it weren’t for the help with her daughters. Sometimes because of the lateness of her class, her friend keeps the girls overnight. Danielle said it is hard for her and the kids, and she will be glad when this semester is over.

Danielle expressed that she and the kids love to travel. They try to go to Florida at least every other year. With all that Danielle is involved in, I think the vacation is well deserved, and I wish them a safe and fun-filled vacation—whenever they take it.
Danielle is a busy woman and still takes time out for her two daughters. She is a very pleasant person to talk to, so if you see her on the street or at the grocery store or at the AMVETS, wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and thank her for her service to our beloved country. Thank you, Danielle!
Happy Mother’s Day, Danielle, and to all Veteran mothers.

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

Danielle Bloxham is pictured with her two daughters, Evie and Jaiden.