The man who asked first got the air support

Friday, September 25th, 2020

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachWhen the 38th arrived in Korea, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), Peploe abandoned a mountain of baseball bats, footballs, and other peacetime athletic equipment, and marched for the Perimeter, where the front was 30,000 yards, many times what a regiment could hold:

At this time the Air Force was not flying planes out of Korean bases — they had withdrawn their fighter squadrons to Japan. This meant that the supporting aircraft could remain over the front for only limited times — and Peploe figured that the man who asked first got the air support.

The Air liaison officer with the 38th became resigned to being kicked out of the sack an hour before dawn. But when the planes arrived over the Naktong, he was ready with his requests, and the strafing, rocketing, and napalming ahead of the 38th cleared the way for its advance.


With the fighters spreading havoc ahead of them, Peploe and the 38th suddenly found themselves at the Naktong. All along the roads they had passed abandoned AT guns and enemy dead.

Looking at the wide, twelve-foot-deep Naktong before him, on 18 September Peploe called Lieutenant Colonel Swartz, Division G-3. “Where are the boats?” Swartz said, “There aren’t any boats.”

Peploe ordered Skeldon’s 2/38 to send patrols across the river and to secure a bridgehead on the west bank. A dozen of 2nd Battalion’s hard, eager young men stepped forward, volunteering to swim across and secure the far shore. These men stripped, and under the guns of their comrades went into the muddy brown water. Halfway across, one of the volunteers floundered and had to be rescued by another soldier. Hauled gasping back to the bank, he admitted he didn’t know how to swim.

Moving cautiously along the west bank, the patrol found no enemy. And hidden in a large culvert beside the river, they found a cache of NKPA weapons, several collapsible boats, and one large boat capable of carrying thirty men.

Two squads went across in the two-man rubber reconnaissance boats, while Peploe talked to Division HQ again: “Let me go across in force.”

At noon, Colonel Epley, Division Chief of Staff, gave him permission to cross one battalion.

Within three hours E and F and 2/38 had crossed and had taken the high ground a mile west of the river. Behind them, combat engineers built rafts to float over the heavy weapons, then a bridge for the regiment’s vehicles.

Striking the disorganized enemy by surprise, the advance companies took more than a hundred prisoners, including a major and seven other officers. They also captured more than a hundred tons of ammunition, and many arms.

After an ordeal of six weeks, American forces had at last broken out of the Pusan Perimeter


  1. VXXC says:

    Related; by the time this General Berger is done the Marines will be unrecognizable, possibly dead; no tanks, no armor, no Parris Island?

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