BARS and Angels

MK note (17 Dec 2001): The photo and the words for this page are from Prentice Carroll (#56). I know he will forgive my editing of his first draft because he critiqued my first edit and what you read here is the result of our back and forth. I've made my usual "add-on" near the bottom of the page. MK.

Here is a 1952 photo of me with my BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle). I was a BAR man for seven months. Then, I was transferred to the 4th platoon to take over the 57mm Recoilless Rifle Section of three squads, each of which was attached to one of the three rifle platoons. That assignment lasted for three and a half months. So, I was in Korea for ten and a half months and accumulated a full 42 rotation points being that the longest I was ever off the line was for two weeks at Camp Casey.

On a hot day in August of 1952, our company was positioned along the crest of Hill 349. My 3rd Platoon was the middle platoon and there was only one trail leading down the hill and into enemy territory. The trail was very steep had a deep ravine to its left. Then still being a BAR man, I had a position strategically located on the trail with a good view of it as it wound its way down the hill.

About 5 yards directly below my position was this huge bomb crater, created when the hill had been taken from the enemy; and, there there was a clearing of all pine shrubbery for about the first 25 yards of the trail from my position.

All patrols from our company area had to pass through my position as they went out and as they returned. I was given a new password and its cosign each day and it was my job to be certain that each patrol knew them before going out to do the patrol's job.

The day I am telling you about had been overcast with clouds, but there had been no rain. Darkness brought the first patrol headed out. Its point man never spoke, he just jumped out of the commo trench and started down the hill.

" HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" was my shout. "What's the password?" The point man just shrugged his shoulders. I didn't see a familiar face in the bunch and asked, " Where are you guys from?" Then, their squad leader stepped up and said, "I'm sorry about that, I forgot to tell them."

"Lets get one thing straight, Sergeant. If you go out there and get hit, and if only half of your men come back up here and don't know the password, I'm going to open up on them."

The Sergeant then announced, "He's exactly right, guys. It's my fault and I apologize. We are special forces from Battalion. Listen up guys, the password is 'Uncle' and the cosign is 'Spade'. Okay, men, let's go."

It was also my job to count the number of men in every patrol passing my position - not only as it went out, but also as it returned. For this particular patrol, I counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 - thirteen men out.

A good thing about being out there by myself was that I had time to think things out. That night, as soon as that point man jumped up and started down the hill, I got a funny feeling and thinking on it only made me sure that something strange was going to happen.

I answered a commo call: "CHECK POINT BAKER --- Yep, about 5 minutes ago --- only patrol out, huh --- back at break of dawn. --- okay." I'm glad that is the only patrol out tonight, but I can't shake this funny feeling.

"Tweeeeeeet tweeeeet" - another call: "CP what's up? It's darker than pitch out here, you got the time?" "Yeah, it's 1:13 AM." "Ok, thanks."

Rattle! Thump! Uh oh, someone is coming up the trail - that can't be our patrol, it's only 1:30 AM. I knew it, knew it.

I grabbed my BAR and shouted, "HALT, WHO GOES THERE?" "Puff, puff, UNCLE" "UNCLE WHO?" "IT'S SPADE." "Okay come on in. You are early, what's going on?"

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 men came running on up the hill - 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 - WHAT THE ...... CHINESE GOOKS!!! I opened fire.



Although it had just been PITCH DARK, everything now seemed as BRIGHT AS DAY and I could see the enemy just as plain as if it were broad daylight and I seemed to be moving with the speed of lighting.

Bullets were whizzing all around me, just missing my helmet and whizzing past my ears. I could count each round I fired: Bang - Bang -Bang - Bang - Bang. The burp gun man was firing back at what, in reality, must have been a blaze of fire coming out of the barrel of my BAR. Just as he got to the edge of the bomb crater, I zeroed in on him and he hit the bottom of that crater like a sack of rocks.

Then, it was over.

Suddenly, I was aware of someone behind me. I wheeled around and there stood a man as bright as daylight. His dress was like my new fatigues and he wore no hat. He spoke only one word, "Okay".

I too said "Okay" and wheeled around {only for a split second} to check my field of fire and immediately turned back to him, but he was gone!!! It was impossible for any human to go up that hill and over that ridge in a split second.

As soon as he left, it became PITCH DARK dark again. There was, and is, no doubt in my mind that HE WAS AN ANGEL.

Then, about the time I was getting settled down again, it started: there was a gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, gurgle. HE'S NOT DEAD! After listening to that for a while, I cautiously crawled up near the edge of the crater and told him to throw out his weapon and surrender and that I would get him a medic. But, he just raised that burp gun over his head and fired a burst at me. As the Buuuurrrrp of the bullets whizzed past my head, I scrambled back to my position.

That gurgle went on and on for what seemed to be hours. After the gurgle got weaker, I decided to give it another try. I went back up and again asked him to surrender, but his response was another Buuuurrrrrp. This time his fire was too close and I could feel the heat of the bullets.

I scrambled back and just sat there, for what seemed like hours, as I held a grenade and debated my next move. Finally, about an hour before daylight, the gurgle stopped.

I was relieved from my post about day break and taken to the medic's bunker on the reverse slope. I was told not to go back to my post, but, rather, to stay with the medic for a while.

My squad leader was taken to the Company CP and relieved of his job as squad leader. A few weeks later, the Platoon Sergeant put him back on squad leader. I did go up to my post on the second day and there were eight bodies covered with quick lime.

MK add-on (19 Dec 2001): I know that some of the other Bunker guys are wondering, as I am, why such an important position was manned by one lonely BAR man without, at least, one nearby machine gun or rifle squad to help out in such an emergency as that faced by Prentice. About the angel showing up to help him, I can make only one comment. I never came across any angels in Korea; but, I AM sure that God, some other divine spirit, or Lady Luck at her best did come to my aid on several occasions. Although we were supposed to be eligible for rotation when we accumulated 36 points, I, like Prentice, did not rotate until I had 42 points - the same ten and a half months. MK.

3rd Division Page       IBB Map and Photo Index
IBB - Page Six      A Christmas Carroll
"Can Do" Photo Album, Belize
Commons | Island | Community | History | Visitor Center | Goods & Services |
| Belize Search | Messages | Belize News |