Han River crossing
Marines Land Under Fire But Had the Situation Well in Hand (Editor's Note: Associated Press Correspondent Don White- White- head was In the first assault wave of U. S. marines to cross the Bsn river near Seoul at down Wednesday. His amphibious amphibious craft was hit by a shell, but he was 'inhurt. Here's his dispatch, sent back from the front by courier and telephoned telephoned to Tokyo.) By DON WHITEHEAD With the U. S. Marines Outside Seoul, Sept. 21 (fl) A pale three-quarters three-quarters three-quarters moon was sliding below the horizon when the marines came out of their foxholes and started trudging toward the Han river Wednesday. Ahead of them somewhere on the dusty road were the big am phibious tractors the assault waves would ride into the battle for the Han river bridgehead on the Seoul side. The men came out of their holes unwrapping themselves from blankets and shelter halves and cursing softly. The night was cold and damp. Maj. Mike Erhlich of San Diego yelled at his men, the heavy weapons company of the Fifth regiment's first battalion: 'Get ready to move. Assemble in boats." The men shouldered heavy machineguns and mortars and ammunition and radios as they came stumbling out of the cot ton patch onto the road. The assault was set for 4 a.m. and Erhlich's men were to ride with the assault. The river crossing didn't look so good now. A few hours be fore a reconnaissance company had tried to cross the river and take limited objectives. The radioman had called back to headquarters: "T h e Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand." But that was before the Reds had attacked the company. The Reds hit hard and the little reconnaissance unit had to pull back across the river. The enemy had not been taken by surprise. And now we knew the enemy would be waiting for the main attack. But Mike Erhlich checked back with his battalion commander, commander, Lt. Col. Robert D. Tap-lett Tap-lett Tap-lett of San Francisco. The H-hour H-hour H-hour for attack had been delayed because of the failure failure of the reconnaissance mission. mission. Finally, the third battalion sorted itself out and the confusion confusion resolved. The men climbed climbed into the big amtracks with their weapons and ammunition, (packed closely together.) "They should pack us in these things with oil and then we would really be sardines," someone someone said. Then I noticed the sergeant carrying the cardboard box MSgt. Anthony Kent of 115 South Third St., Salina, Kas. He noticed my curiosity and opened the top. Inside were three fluffy white rabbits sleeping sleeping soundly on a bed of straw. "Bought- "Bought- them with a package package of cigarettes," Kent grinned. grinned. "Now they're our mascots." mascots." Rabbits going into battle with the big tough marine! Suddenly I realized how young these warriors warriors were. There were 35 men in our am-track. am-track. am-track. They groaned when Mike told them the assault had been delayed another hour "That's all right," the major said. "That will give us more artillery preparation and a chance for the air to hit them before we land." Dawn had broken when the amtrack column lurched forward forward and roared down the road toward the river. And in the bowels of each were sealed a unit of marines ready to begin fighting when the amtrack doors opened on the Seoul side. The artillery thundered. We could hear the rush of shells and feel the shudder of explosions explosions as our artillery pounded the enemy shore of the Han. The amtracks bounded and jerked down the road and then we were in the river. Bullets began to slam against the side of our amtrack. Through a slit in the rear door I could see little spouts of water jumping up as bullets hit the water. But the steel sides protected protected us and the amtracks plowed ahead. Then we were ashore and climbing a steep sandy bank. The machineguns were rattling. Our amtrack pulled away from the river about 1,000 yards and swerved through a rice paddy to . an embankment. The men were tense. They tripped their weapons, ready for the dash through the door. Capital Journal, Salem, Ore., Thursday, Sept. 21, 1950 Forging Ahead Troops of the U. S. 24th division cross Naktong river below Waegwan in assault boats in the United Nations offensive against the North Korean communist invaders. The GIs established the first allied bridgehead west of the Naktong since the "no retreat" Naktong defense line was established in early August. Exclusive NEA-Acme NEA-Acme Radio-Telephoto Radio-Telephoto Radio-Telephoto by Staff Correspondent Ed Hoffman. Telephoto) Slowly the door opened. Ser geant Kent was first out, carrying carrying the box with the rabbits. As he hugged the shelter of a bank he put them down carefully carefully beside him. I dashed after the sergeant and then the man behind me screamed and pitched forward. At the same time we heard the crack of the rifle. . Then another marine scream ed and fell from the amtrack. The enemy on the hill above us was shooting straight down into our men as they came out the door. The marines hugged the em bankment as the bullets cracked into the vehicle. The driver fell wounded. Mike Ehrlich thundered at his men to get out of the vehicle. Then he coolly sent a rifle around the ridge and ordered amtrack machine gunner swing his gun around and fire. An empty amtrack came and Mike stopped it. He ordered the door opened and carried our wounded inside be ferried back across the Above us cracked rifles machine guns as the moved up the ridge. Our amtrack had gotten ahead of infantry and for a brief there was no infantry us and the enemy. In a short time our were thumping shells into enemy lines. This time the marines landed and the situation well in hand.