Sam, His Buddies, and a Tank

MK note: This page is a little slow loading and has more than usual to read; so, I'm giving you another chance to hear Shina No Yoru (in 1952, popularly known as She Ain't Got No Yoyo but more properly known as China Night by true translation) one more time - all you have to do is wait a little longer than usual for background music. I hope you can hear MP3 music; if not, a little free downloading will solve that problem.

Here are seven more photos furnished by Sam Kellogg (#29) to J.C. Poe (#2) and by Poe to me; and, like those on the first page, some of these have descriptive comments added (on the reverse side) by Sam, some in 1952, and then by Poe before mailing them to me. I have copied those comments near the photos and added some comments of my own - here, not on the photos. MK.

About this photo, Sam wrote, "This is Enie and me. He is our little Korean boy and is dressed for bear in this picture."

Poe added: "Merv, I think you may remember having seen those hills sometime."

Yes, Poe, I think I do. I believe that the tallest hill in the background, near the right edge of the photo, is Hill 317 and that the next tallest hill, just to the right of Hill 317, is my most memorable hill, Outpost Kelly.

 I also remember that the 2nd Plt had its own "houseboy" from time to time. One introduced me to dried cuttlefish, an Oriental dish resembling tiny octopi and great with an "Asahi" or a "Bud".

About this one, Sam wrote, "This was our Company Command Post back when these other pictures were taken."

I remember the Company Command Post well - particularly on the day that the entire 2nd Platoon was called to formation there to hear a lecture from its Platoon Leader (a 2nd Lt who was standing about 20 feet this side of the tree in front of the CCP) about the excessive alcohol drinking that was taking place by some unidentified members of the Platoon.

The 2nd Lt couldn't notice, but the rest of us could, that, behind him and leaning against that tree, was our Platoon Sergeant, busily throwing up. You don't suppose? We got a ration of six cans of beer each week. Any "excessive drinking" was a result of the thriving black market in good Scotch and Bourbon put there from the Officer's whiskey ration - rank does have its privileges.

Photo on the left: Sam wrote, "My squad with my gunner on the right. The Sgt in the middle is 28 years old and a nut. I'm on the left."

Photo on the right: Sam wrote, "The boy on the right is my gunner and not living with his wife. That's our mortar. Small, isn't it? But it can really pack a wallop." Poe added, "Sam on left."

Photo to the left:
Sam wrote, "This is the .50 Caliber Machine Gun in our Platoon. The guy on the right is my Assistant Gunner. He is from Cal. and is a hot rod driver." Poe added, "Kellogg on left."

Photo on the left: Poe wrote, "Merv, there was no writing on this one but I thought you might recognize the dude in the center!"

I think Poe thought that it might be me in the middle of the left one. It's possible, but I don't think so - like I said, I tried to stay as far away from mortars as I could.

Photo on the right: Sam wrote, "Track broken in Co A area."

I wonder what tank this is. I saw two defunct tanks in the Co A area along the Imjin. On my first full day (25 Dec 1951) with Company A, the first of the two defunct tanks was pointed out to me by my "guide" who was showing me the way from the Company Command Post to where my new bunker home was located. An overturned and burning tank (about the size of the one in the photo) was somewhere along that path. It was explained to me that it had been in that condition from the time it had been tipped over, a few days before, by a less than perfect driver. I remember it remaining there, still overturned, for a long time after the burning finally stopped. So, I doubt that it is the same tank as the one in the photo.

There is a story that goes with the second defunct tank I saw and, as you may have guessed, I'll tell it now.

Some person with an eagle or star on his helmet liner came up a brilliant plot:

1. On some dismal afternoon when Outpost Nori, being two hills on the right side of the valley, was seemingly abandoned, one Platoon would, grunt by grunt, sneak out to a position around Little Nori, the smaller hill just before Big Nori.

2. Another Platoon would do the same around Nick or Betty, on the left side of the valley.

3 A tank, in plain sight, would cross the Imjin, which, at the time, was thawed out but fairly shallow, and proceed up the middle of the valley.

4. After it was deep into the valley, a dynamite charge would be tossed out of the tank and exploded. The valley being replete with land mines, the fakery by the tankers would portray that their tank had happened upon one of such hazards.

5. As was obvious to anyone with the acuity of the operation's planner, the Chinese would, after dark, come out to commandeer the "damaged" tank and its crew. Then, when the tankers or the other lurking friendly forces heard the nefarious sneaking of the enemy, the news of success would be sent to Bn Hq and friendly artillery would fire parachute flares which would light up the entire valley.

6. The coup would be completed with the decimation of the enemy by our small arms fire (so as not to harm the tankers, safely inside their mobile fortress) from both sides of the valley.

Robert Burns once said, "The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, gang aft agley." Well, the scheme carried out that day certainly "ganged" very "agley".

The first four gambits of this "best laid" scheme went about as planned - even the setting off of the dynamite charge. The only inauspicious happening was that, about dusk, a slight drizzle of rain began to fall.

As the night went on the rain became a torrent. We could have heard nothing except the deluge falling on our steel helmets and could have seen nothing except, maybe, the next guy a few feet away. It became a very long miserable night - maybe not as bitterly cold as it had been in the winter, but I remember being very chilled to the bone, very drenched, and very full of evil thoughts about the fate I wished for the head schemer, whoever it was.

Finally, about dawn, we were ordered to return to the MLR. I don't remember whether it was on that trip or another that I first noticed the second of the two defunct tanks I spied in the Company A area. There, in the middle of the Imjin River, sat the tank which had been the star of the grand scheme that ganged agley.

It was told to me that, the Imjin having risen as a result of the punishing rain we had endured, the tank's electrical system was also drowned out.

That tank sat there, in the middle of the Imjin, for weeks or more - in fact, I can't remember its being moved during all my remaining time with a view of the Imjin. So, I guess the photo is not of that particular defunct tank (either).

Any of the Bunker guys with something to say about the (three?) defunct tanks is invited to email the story to me. It'll end up here.

I may have written too much on this page; but, while I originally intended it to be special only for Sam's sake, the unmentioned images that came back to me (like Sam, a Co A guy) as I wrote wound up making the page special to me too.

On 31 Jul 1952, Sam lost an arm in the battle for Outpost Kelly. On the same day and in the same battle, we both lost some very dear companions. They are not "forgotten" by us.

--------- Add-ons --------

13 Jun 2001 email from Bart Soto, a friend to the guys in the Bunker:

Merv, that tank looks like an M-26 "Pershing". I'm an Armor Officer and have a good eye for identifying tanks. Bart.

15 Jun 2001 email from J. C. Poe (#2):

Hi Merv. I remember well the tank that you saw (on that Christmas day) rolled over on its top. It was only about 150 yards from my apartment and office. It took about three days for all the basic load of ammo to cook off as it burned.

I expect I need not tell you how bad burning human flesh smells as we were all exposed to that odor at one time or another. I can not remember how long it was before they disposed of the burned out hull or what they did with it but it was removed sometime after you arrived. Later, J.C.

MK note: That Poe fails to remember the other tank incident of which I spoke has jogged my memory of when it happened. Poe rotated from home while Company A was at the POW Camp so it must have happened in late June or early July 1952 - that is, after Able was at the POW Camp and before it participated in the battle for Kelly on 31 Jul 1952. MK.

19 Jun 2001 email from Tom Jones, another friend of the Bunker gang:

Hello Merv. Thanks for latest update. I read, with interest tempered with sadness, all the comments regarding the final hours of the overturned and burning tank .

I have seen death, but never had to live with it as a daily occurrence even though it was always there somewhere, waiting in the shadows.

Engraved on a (1944) memorial in the old Naval War Cemetery at Vis in the Adriatic are these words:

            Life to be sure is nothing much to lose,
            But young men think it is, and we were young.

Sort of says it all, really.
Yours, Tom.

3rd Division Page         IBB Map and Photo Index
Sam, a River, a POW Camp, and a Jeep     IBB - Page Four
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