|The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat
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November 1950, the Korean Peninsula: After General MacArthur ignores Mao’s warnings and pushes his UN forces deep into North Korea, his 10,000 First Division Marines find themselves surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by 100,000 Chinese soldiers near the Chosin Reservoir. Their only chance for survival is to fight their way south through the Toktong Pass, a narrow gorge that will need to be held open at all costs. The mission is handed to Captain William Barber and the 234 Marines of Fox Company, a courageous but undermanned unit of the First Marines. Barber and his men climb seven miles of frozen terrain to a rocky promontory overlooking the pass, where they will endure four days and five nights of nearly continuous Chinese attempts to take Fox Hill. Amid the relentless violence, three-quarters of Fox’s Marines are killed, wounded, or captured. Just when it looks like they will be overrun, Lt. Colonel Raymond Davis, a fearless Marine officer who is fighting south from Chosin, volunteers to lead a daring mission that will seek to cut a hole in the Chinese lines and relieve the men of Fox. This is a fast-paced and gripping account of heroism in the face of impossible odds.
- A Remarkable Account of Heroism and Self-Sacrifice
Its been fifty-five years since the end of the Korean War, so you might think the best stories have already been told, but Bob Drury and Tom Clavin have given us another real page turner. Marines fighting on Wake Island and Edson's Ridge on Guadalcanal had their anxious moments, but not since Custer's Little Big Horn expedition in 1876 have American soldiers gotten into a predicament like MacArthur's Chosin Reservoir battles.
Veteran military authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin are anxious to tell the stories of the trapped Marines of Fox Company, not those of Gen. MacArthur. Clearly the authors have set out to provide a more narrowly focused personal look at the struggle to hold Toktong Pass.
Temperatures had dropped to -25F and winds and snow punished the Marines on top of bleak Fox Hill. U.N. forces were not prepared for such extreme conditions. The cold winter weather guaranteed soldiers like Phil Barvaro would have badly frozen feet, and a malfunctioning weapon. The footsore Marines were exhausted from trudging for miles up Toktong Pass, then digging foxholes in ground that was frozen like iron. The shoepacs they wore were not good footwear for arctic weather; they must change socks frequently to prevent wet feet from suffering frostbite. Infantry weapons like the M1 carbine, BAR, and assorted machine guns malfunctioned because of lubricants breaking down and ice blockages. Even the range and accuracy of normally reliable 105mm howitzers and 81mm mortars were severely affected by the cold wind.
A must for successful ground operations, radio communications with nearby units and headquarters became nearly impossible. Mountains blocked the weak radio signals and the batteries in their radios were quickly drained in the extreme cold.
With PLA units nearby watching everything, the half-frozen Marines formed a defensive circle on top Fox Hill. Veterans like Dick Bonelli and John Henry predicted an attack at any time. Chinese snipers were always nearly, watching and ready to shoot any unwary Marine, day or night.
The Chinese were experts at nimbly advancing on foot through the rugged mountains. They traveled mostly by night to avoid fighter-bombers. Fox Company lookouts were amazed to see the Chinese infantry trotting along in formation over the snowy ridges and gullies in the darkness.
The authors provide harrowing details about the Chinese attacks. In the darkness, a chorus of bugles, cymbals and whistles directed the human wave attacks on the Marine's mountaintop position. The Chinese attacks make for enthralling reading. Some exhausted Marines like Johnson McAfee were caught zipped up in their sleeping bags and easily bayoneted. Through the swirling snow. the white clad Chinese swarmed toward the thin Marine line of resistance, punching through in several places. Firing Thompson sub-machine guns, Russian burp guns, and Enfield rifles, the Chinese advanced on Marine machine gun nests from behind a continuous cloud of grenades. Kansas City's Warren McClure and other Marines fought like demons from their positions, grabbing any weapon that would fire.
Hector Cafferata, Robert Benson and other surviving Marines fought from their forward positions, but were soon bypassed by the charging Chinese. After several company sized attacks were turned back, the Marines were running low on ammunition and medical supplies. Fox Company had lost 20 dead and 64 wounded but had killed approximately 400 Chinese troops.
It was clear, their unit was surrounded and no supplies or reinforcements would be coming anytime soon. Officers barked for the wounded to be gathered. Weapons and ammunition was hurriedly stripped from the dead of both sides. Some Marines let down their guard after the fighting had sputtered out and were ambushed by 'dead' Chinese soldiers that sprang to life. Staff Sgt. John Audas organized fire teams to retake positions and finish off hiding Chinese soldiers.
The authors remind us that, paradoxically, it was the extreme cold that prevented the wounded from bleeding to death, but without shelter, they would freeze to death. A number of heroic corpsmen were killed retrieving wounded Marines from the battlefield. With so many wounded, they practically ran out of medical supplies. Serious cases needed evacuation if they were to survive.
The grotesque bodies of Chinese soldiers were everywhere, and haunted the Marines throughout the siege. Between attacks nearby Chinese corpses were dragged by Bob Kirchner around his foxhole for protection. Stoic corpsmen retrieved and neatly stacked their dead outside the medical tents, under the fire of snipers.
Harrison Pomes and other wounded Marines chose to stay on the firing line as the Fox Company perimeter grew smaller each night. These fighters had no hot chow, only C-rations and hot coffee. By describing a carefully selected set of individuals, the authors give the experiences of war a human face, bringing to life an extended cast of survivors and victims.
Chinese bodies were stripped of ammunition and weapons as Marine supplies dwindled. For security. all Chinese corpses and wounded were shot by wary Marines. After four days the slopes surrounding Fox Hill were covered with snow mounds of thousands of badly wounded and dead Chinese soldiers.
At 11:25 AM, December 2nd. the 1st Battalion Ridgerunners of Toktong Pass, under Lt. Col. Davis fought through to Fox Hill after bravely advancing eight miles cross-country during the night.
The authors end their account with the last column of overloaded vehicles and walking stragglers from Fox Hill entering the forward base at Hagaru-ri. Here they rejoined Major General Oliver Smith's 1st Marine Division for some hot chow and medical evacuation by air, after a nightmarish march and running fight, covering the last 14 miles in 79 hours.
Few combat historians write as well as Drury and Clavin and none evoke the sound of battle with greater clarity. They have written a solid and entertaining account of the Battle of Toktong Pass. The author's writing is concise, their reading is wide, and their pacing superb. For those who truly care about the Korean War, "The Last Stand of Fox Company" is essential reading, and I highly recommend it.
- If only all military histories were this well written!
This remarkable event in a rather obscure war seems as though it is happening now as the reader is caught up in it page after page. I kept returning in my mind to the phrase, "the few, the proud, the Marines". Never before have I appreciated the service of these great warriors. Thanks to the exellent writing of Drury and Clavin, we lived and died, sacrificed and survived, with these almost forgotten young men. ...more info
- The audio version lacks any maps...beware.
Without any visual references to put these detailed battle accounts into perspective, its simply the same account over and over again with different names.
I've no idea why the publisher didn't include the maps with the CD packaging. If you get the CD you should somehow track down the maps from the books. There really aren't any suitable maps available on the internet.
- A heroic stand
I am not at all familiar with the Korean war, a war I would say is underrepresented in many ways, but I am interested in all aspects of military history and am glad I was able to read a book about such an interesting, heroic, and courageous action on the part of Fox Company. The text moves along quickly enough and I'd place this book in the realm of 'pop' history rather than a scholarly account. There are no citations throughout the book and at times it is hard to keep track of all the names/actions being thrown at you. But in the end, as with most books, some of what you read will undoubtedly remain with you for a long time to come. Marines definitely deserve to be proud of the actions of Fox Company and their ability to take such a beating while keeping steady in a strategic position that certainly saved the lives of countless marines during their withdrawal in the face of tens of thousands of Chinese troops. ...more info
- Korean Thermopylae
Reconstructing a small unit action is one of the military historian's most frustrating tasks. Doing it at all is a feat; doing is well deserves high kudos. This account of how Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment held onto a key hill in the Toktong Pass, repelling attacks by five Chinese Communist battalions and thereby playing a crucial role in extricating American and British forces near the Sino-Korean border from near-certain annihilation, is extraordinary. Laying out the terrain and defensive positions with precision (the maps are exceptionally fine), describing the assaults almost minute by minute, and paying close attention to the physical hardship that aggravated the defenders' perils, it gives a vivid sense of the engagement and clear insight into why the outnumbered Marines were able to hang on until relief arrived and retreat became possible.
Of particular interest to military amateurs like me are three factors that help explain why the battle developed as it did: First is the way in which broken ground and vicious weather "enlarged" the battlefield. During the first enemy assault, a third of Fox Company were unaware that their comrades were under attack; they could neither see nor hear what was happening a few dozen feet away. Second is the primitive equipment and doctrine of the Chicom attackers. Many of them were former Nationalist soldiers conscripted into the Red Army. Their commanders saw little reason not to waste their lives in frontal assaults, and were either unable or unwilling to support them with artillery or air power. Even machine guns were in short supply. Materiel advantages, amplified by superior leadership and training, gave the Marines a comparative potency all out of proportion to their numbers.
Finally, the incidents of resilience and endurance retold here go beyond astonishing. In minus 20 weather, most of Fox Company lived in unsheltered foxholes, slept only in short bursts and ate irregular, ascetic meals. Just moving from one spot to another (e. g., away from the foxhole for hygienic reasons) incurred grave risk; sharpshooting was one of the enemy's strongest proficiencies. Despite these conditions, the company did not break, and several became heroes. Two were awarded the Medal of Honor. Only one in four came through the battle alive and unwounded.
Having praised the book as it should be praised, let me add a caveat: The narrative is based to a large extent on the fifty year old recollections of Fox Company's survivors. The authors made use, too, of more nearly contemporary material - after-action reports, diaries, letters home, and the like - but most of the novel-like detail and an indeterminate portion of the plain facts draw on inherently unreliable human memory. The gap between story and truth, always present, is here of indeterminate width and shrouded in fog.
Also a little foggy is the wider context. The strategic situation is merely sketched in, though nothing essential has been omitted. Understandably, the enemy perspective is nearly absent. It will be a while before Peking's archives are open to Western military researchers.
Fox Company's captain, Bill Barber, who commanded much of the battle on improvised crutches, then from a stretcher, and was one of the Medal of Honor winners, made light of comparisons between his unit's stand and the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. In terms of impact on world history, he was of course right. Nonetheless, the company's heroism was in the same vein. In the words that former Marine Corps commandant General Robert H. Barrow wrote to Captain Barber after the war: "I regard your performance as commander of Fox Company at Toktong Pass from 27 November to 2 December 1950 as the single most distinguished act of personal courage and extraordinary leadership I have witnessed or about which I have read." Readers of "The Last Stand of Fox Company" will see how that commendation applies to all 246 men of Captain Barber's command....more info
- Heroism beyond compare
In November 1950, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur had made a mistake that the rawest second looie wouldn't have made. Ignoring intelligence reports, he had sent a small army, unequipped and untrained for a winter campaign, far beyond his logistics services. His best formation, the 1st Marine Division, had been advanced into trackless mountains, with only a single, easily cut road linking them to their supply port. Now it was surrounded and outnumbered 10 to one at the Chosin Reservoir.
MacArthur, a corrupt glory hound, was the only American general ever to maneuver -- lead would be the wrong word -- his troops into a March of Death. He had already done it twice. Only 246 Marines and Navy corpsmen (and one Korean translator) from Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment stood between the Chinese army and a third MacArthur March of Death.
Fox was told to defend Toktong Pass, the only point through which the advanced regiments of the 1st Marines could retreat. MacArthur, who was by this time no longer sane, if he ever had been, and his equally incompetent corps commander, Edward Almond -- MacArthur attracted fools like cowpies attract flies -- were not thinking about retreat. They were ordering X Corps to continue to attack toward China.
Over the next six days, the men of Fox achieved one of the greatest feats of arms in the history of American warfare.
They were not a highly-trained, experienced outfit like the Marines who landed on Guadalcanal or Iwo Jima. A great many were teenagers, many were reservists who had never even gone to boot camp. Some were replacements for men killed and wounded in a battle with the Chinese -- who MacArthur insisted were not there -- at Sudong a few days earlier. Most of the other men didn't even know their names yet, and the infantrymen of Fox were unfamiliar with most of their officers.
They were short of food, ammunition, warm clothing, radios, vehicles and every other sort of equipment.
The only things they had going for them were air and artillery support and the fact that they were United States Marines.
Bob Drury and Tom Clavin present the setup in 60 rather dull pages. "The Last Stand of Fox Company" improves once the attack of the 59th Chinese Division opens, and the authors recount, tersely, the experiences of the men.
Never, except perhaps on New Georgia, have Marines fought in worse climatic conditions. Fox Hill, an exposed slope the size of a couple of football fields, was overlooked by rocky ridges from which Chinese snipers operated by day, although they dared not attack because of the Marine Corsairs and Australian Air Force Mustangs. At night, when most of the fighting took place, the temperatures dropped as low as minus 40.
At this level, war consists of a series of individual decisions, accidents and mistakes. Each man in Fox had his own idea of how he would prepare and react. Their individual characters come through vibrantly in this account.
In every long battle, there are mysterious, inexplicable events, and there were plenty of those on Fox Hill. The strangest, perhaps, was the appearance, on the third day of fighting, of two Chinese officers in formal, parade ground capes walking unconcernedly up the road. The Marines were so surprised they held their fire for a moment. Then the firing key on the heavy machine gun -- the water-cooled model that had frozen uselessly on the night of the first assault -- was depressed, and the Chinese were slaughtered.
Nobody, probably not even the Chinese, knows how many others in the 59th died, but the total was in the thousands.
Irritatingly, Drury and Clavin never give a total of Fox's casualties either. By the time they were relieved by a larger unit, now legendary in Marine memories as the Ridgerunners, only about 60 men were still fighting, and almost all of them were wounded and/or frostbitten. Perhaps the exact proportion between the dead and the wounded among the other 190 does not really matter.
"The Last Stand of Fox Company" is not for the squeamish or those of tender scruples. The Fox Marines, like those who had fought the Japanese a few years earlier, quickly learned that the Chinese wounded would lie among the hundreds of corpses and rise up with a grenade to take one Marine with them. Even unwounded Chinese pretended to be wounded in order to get close to a Marine.
Fox shot the Chinese wounded. But those Chinese who surrendered -- apparently largely conscripted former Nationalist soldiers -- were treated according to the Geneva Convention: something that never happened to Marine prisoners in Korea.
Irritatingly, Drury and Clavin never explain how the men of Fox, stretched thin and thinner to cover a shrinking perimeter, managed these prisoners.
As a unit action history, "The Last Stand of Fox Company" has a number of deficiencies like this, and the maps are inadequate.
It's a wonderful story nevertheless, one that ought to be part of the historical consciousness of every American, as much as Valley Forge, Bastogne and other famous last stands.
It ought especially to be required reading in Norfolk, Virginia. If it were, the townspeople there would tear down their ridiculous and offensive MacArthur Memorial.
- An unforgettable tale of hardship and heroism.
'The Last Stand of Fox Company' is a thrilling view from the foxhole of battle that is easily as good as Hal Moore's `We Were Soldiers Once and Young'
The book tells the story of 246 Marines who, during the Chinese counteroffensive in Korean War, were charged with holding a hill overlooking the Main Service Road running from the Chosin Reservoir to the south so that the 8,000 Marines stationed around the reservoir could evacuate (or, in USMC parlance, "attack in another direction"). Surrounded by thousands of Chinese regulars, the men of Fox Company, supplied only with summer gear and little food or ammunition, withstood repeated attacks and temperatures of 30 degrees below zero. It is a story of courage in the face of hardship that makes the battle of the Alamo seem almost trivial in comparison.
Authors Drury & Clavin conducted exhaustive interviews with the surviving veterans of Fox Company and used what they learned to spin in incredible narrative. By skipping from the experiences on one solder to the next and the next they were able to give the reader a feel for the chaos of battle that the individual soldier feels while also gaining an understanding of how the battle unfolded.
My only regret is that they were unable to include the point of view of any of the Chinese soldiers who participated in the battle for Fox Hill. Even so, I highly recommend it....more info
- Desperate struggle told well.
The fate of Fox Company fighting the Chinese near the Chosin Reservoir forms the center of this mesermizing, enheartening story of the Korean War and the men who fought it.
The battle is a static defense of a ridge, alone with little support, against overwhelming Chinese attackers. The men are Marines, under-trained and poorly supplied, fighting for their lives, and for a central piece of real estate that is vital to the fate of the First Marines.
This story is told well. A few quibbles -- it would help if the map of the positions the men occupied were placed nearer the front of the book; sometimes the authors take liberties with the thoughts and feelings of the men.
It is difficult to read about the men and tehir actions, which are raw, brave, terrified, necessary. I doubt that America can easily tolerate such battle again. This book is very well done.
- The Fox Company-Braver than the 300
Robert Drury and Tom Clavin's "The Last Stand of Fox Company" is a superb account of a forgotten battle during the Korean War, at which 246 men held off thousands of Chinese Communist troops. Fighting in thirty below zero temperature, the vastly outnumbered Americans, using every manner of weapon at hand, stood their ground until a force of 500 cut a hole in Chinese lines, releaving the surviving members of Fox Company. As in their excellent, but somewhat derivative "Halsey's Typhoon." the authors list the names of the men of Fox Company, a painstaking effort that gives life to the men who fought in what is now known as American's "forgotten war."
At the famous battle of Thermopylae, at which the vastly outnumbered Greeks held off the Persians, the famous "300" Spartans were, in actualty, joined by several thousand other Greek soldiers, whereas at "Fox Hill," there were no other troops besides the 246 Marine and Navy men against the Chinese hoards. We know now that these Chinese troops were originally members of the defeated Nationalist army who were used by Mao Tse Tung to fight in Korea. He didn't care how may of them died. Mao was determined for China to be a world power and for his Communist Party to be on an equal terms with Stalin's. Meanwhile, Stalin, who encouraged the invasion by the North Koreans and China's intervention, wanted to assert himself as the undisputed ruler of the Communist world. Most people don't remember, but it was Stalin's mistake of boycotting the Security Council, that led it to adopt a resolution calling for a United Nations force to repel the invasion of South Korean by North Korea. When the Soviets finally returned to veto any further support for the troops, Truman outmanoevered them by getting the General Assembly to adopt a "uniting for peace" resolution that enabled the United Nations force to fight on. The American forces were part of this United Nations effort to stop the Communist aggression and they fought under the United Nations banner.
As Drury and Clavin so brilliantly illustrate, the American troops fought valiantly, without regard to themselves, as most of them were cut down. Any military history of America would be incomplete without this magnificent book. How America has managed to produce such anonymous heroes in time of war is one of the great success stories of the country, and it is to Drury and Clavin's great credit that they recount this story of a battle that helped turn the tide in Korea, giving a face to each of those who fought. I would suggest that after reading this outstanding book, one should visit the Korean War Memorial in Washington. It is unlike any other memorial in the nation's capital. What you will see is a battlefield, with American troops, realistic statues, in combat mode in the mist. It is positively eerie, but also appropriate, as it reminds us of the conditions in which they fought. War is indeed hell, as Sherman told us, and nowhere is this reality more accurately portrayed than in "The Last Stand at Fox Hill." ...more info
- Buy the Book
One of the best books about the Korean War I have ever read. Wonderful history. An outstanding effort to explain what it was like, why it was necessary and how terrible Chosen really was. Buy it. Read it. Share it with your kids. What heros are really like....more info
- a disappointment
Given the little (compared to WWII) written well about front line experiences in Korea, I eagerly awaited this book. Sad to say it was a disappointment. while the content passes muster, the writing is amateurish and at times I had to double check if this book was written for a child or teen reader? I wish the author well, and thank him for his heroic service and if you must have a first line combat book, pick it up. ...more info
- Excellent and well written
If the U.S. Marines ever add a new verse to The Marine Hymn, they would do well to add lines about the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, when First Division Marines battled Chinese forces ten times their number and managed to withdraw ("attacking in another direction") intact from Chosin Reservoir between late November and mid-December of 1950.
One of the keys to that withdrawal were the 234 Marines of Fox Company and a hill they occupied that blocked the Chinese army from having full access to the pass through which their fellow Marines were withdrawing. They held it for four days and five nights in temperatures down to 30 below zero. Some three-quarters of them were killed, wounded, or captured before a special force of 500 Marines punched through the Chinese lines and enabled them to rejoin their fellow Marines. This is their story, told almost minute by minute, and based on extensive interviews with survivors. The book is marvelously well-written and the authors know their topic well, understanding the Marine ethos as well as the weapons and tactics with which they fight.
In a book this detailed, several images stick out. One is the warning Fox Company's commander gives his men when they arrive. Dig your foxholes deep, he warns them, if our position gets overrun, our own artillery has orders to shell our positions. Holding that hill as long as possible was just that important. Thousands of Marines were depending on them.
Another is the resourcefulness the individual Marines show. In the freezing temperatures, no weapon could be trusted, so after each battle, they scrounge every weapon they could from the dead, including the Chinese, and placed them within reach. Even a Japanese machine gun the Chinese must have acquired in World War II was put into service.
In its understated way, the book also paints a realistic picture of what it is like to be outnumbered and surrounded, with fewer and fewer unwounded men and little chance of relief. Near the last, the company was preparing to put any of the wounded who could still handle a weapon into the foxholes, and men too wounded for that were attempting to get weapons. The medical tent, filled with badly wounded men was preparing to fight to the last man.
And finally, there was the company commander, wounded in the early fighting, who for several days, refused to take morphine, lest it cloud his judgment. When near the last, he felt that he had to take something for the pain, he told those under him that, given his exhaustion and the medications, they should feel free to speak up if his judgment began to cloud.
Throughout the book, the authors point out how a man's background had prepared him for this battle. Some had grown up handy with guns on farms and in small towns. Others had been kids on the street of big cities in an age the fighting between ethnic groups toughened up a boy without making him into a drug-addled killer. That's what's behind Humphrey Bogart's line in Casablanca, when he tells a German officer, "there are certain neighborhoods in New York I would not advise you to invade." All had faced difficult times during the Depression, and some had fought in World War II. It was an era when the nation produced men who could fight.
But as I read that, I couldn't help but wonder just how well our nation is preparing its young men to fight at some future Chosin Resevoir. A couple of months ago I was working at a security job with someone who became very upset that the foreman of an outside security firm, brought in to help us with a special event, was armed with the same sort of Glock handgun the Seattle police carry. It wasn't the pluses and minuses of carrying a weapon openly that bothered him. It was the very presence of a gun that sent him into a panic. "Guns are ikky-poo," I could almost imagine him saying. I could even imagine his being afraid to touch one.
Some limp-wristed, artistic type, you say, perhaps with a lisp and a giggle? Hardly. He's a tall, strong guy that in earlier wars might have been the one assigned the BAR. But he's also a product of a slice of our culture--coastal, big-city and liberal--that's lost any concept of manliness and the necessity at times to use force, including lethal force. And of course being a city boy educated perhaps in public schools where bringing a toy soldier to school could get you expelled, he was actually taught his irrational phobia about guns.
Marines, active, former, and retired, need to ask themselves some hard questions about our culture and in particular whether it is still as effective at producing the sort of men who fought at Chosin Reservoir as it was in the past, men not afraid to call evil evil and to fight it with every breath in them. And they need to ask themselves if there are things they might do to raise young men, susceptible to these corrupting influences, into the sorts of men who would be proud to be Marines. All fights aren't on the battlefield. Some fights are for hearts and minds in our own culture.
--Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II...more info
- Last Stand Account
This book is one of compelling fear mirrored with a sense of belonging. You can almost feel the bone chilling cold and the numbness the men felt while fighting in Korea. Their very life was being sapped not just by the fighting but the constant drudgery, cold, miserable living conditions and the fear of the unknown.
Conditions were downright brutal and the events leading up to the week long battle and those that follow are outlined quite graphically. I would have liked more maps to accompany the text but felt that the text warranted a 5 star rating without the addition just for the clarity of thought in the way the book played out.
At 30 degrees below zero the "Last Stand of Fox Company" is certainly a detailed account that needs to be remembered and not lost to historical after battle interpretation. This work is a definite read for those interested in the Korean Conflict and unlike Mr. Haraldsson review you cannot compare this work to the TV Show M*A*S*H. The TV show was loosely based on history and made as a comedy, this book is filled with reality and true life experiences.
- Last Stand Of Fox Company
This is a great book about the forgotten war that my father and my late uncle, "James E. Pulliam," fought in. It illustrates some of the violent, bloody, battles that U.S Marines fought with Chinese, and North Korean comunists. This three year battle cost the lives or over 53,000 American fighting men! This book is a must read. It shows the results of not finishing the job which is evident with the North Korean threat today! ...more info
- Incredible Courage Under Severe Circumstance!
This eyewitness account of incredible Bravery under most extreme circumstances should live on as one of the finest examples of the US Marines ever written! In the midst of blizzards, a small batallion of Marines climb through a snow and ice filled sector to try to climb an overlook, and therefore get a lead on potential enemy forces. Little do they know that a huge Chinese force lies hidden, and ready to attack. The attack does come at night with overwhelming and murderous force. The resulting battle results are truly staggering, and as well described as you'll ever read. Without saying too much, the rest is history; one of the most moving and heroic military actions ever. A must read for military history enthusiasts! ...more info
- Good Old Fashioned Look at the Chosen Frozen
I began to read about the Korean War and the Chosin Reservoir campaign in 10th grade. My chemistry teacher was a marine vet from the Korean War and he fought in the Chosin Reservoir battle and his reluctence to talk about it spurred me to read on it.
I have read a number of books on the Chosin and it is because of that I feel that this latest book unfortunately does not reveal anything new. To me, this book is like "Flyboys" in that it is well written and a good book for people that do not know much about the Korean War. Flyboys to me was the same for WWII in the Pacific.
The Last Stand of Fox Company is easy to read, well written, and tells a very important story of some very very brave men. I bet most people do not know the US fought China in the Korean War. Had I known nothing about the Korean War and the Chosin Battle I probably would have liked this book more. In 10th grade I would have loved it back when I really wanted to know about this battle.
I would have liked to see more info on the Chinese side of the Battle.
The story is important and if you don't know it you will like this book.
I hope people who do not know about how Brave the Marines were in the battle read this book...more info
- You won't put it down
If you liked this book, you will also like "Colder than Hell" by Lt. Joe Owen also of the 7th Marines. This book is much more detailed. It gives you an hour by hour account of the events on Fox Hill. Other reviewers have criticized the maps, but I was able to follow the firefights and defensive maneuvers OK. There is little doubt that without the heroic stand by Fox Company and the rescue of Lt Col Ray Davis' 2/7 the 1st Mar Div would have been routed....more info
- The Forgotten War
This is a great story for those who cherish our fighting men and the challenges they met as they went to war for our country. To me, the Korean War is too often The Forgotten War as history seems to point more to World War II and the Vietnam War. But Korea was a hell-hole and the story of Fox Company can only make you appreciate more what incredible fighting men our country produces.
The authors go to great lengths to tell the stories of each Marine essentially in their own words. Fighting the overwhelming forces of Chinese soldiers crossing into North Korea, these men stood their ground and gave it their all. Most were wounded, yet rather than give up they continued fighting and looked out for their buddies. The cold was unbearable and frostbite took as big a toll as gun shot wounds. Weather conditions could not have been worse, yet they fought on.
The bravery was almost universal and after reading this account you will well know why our Marines are considered one of the best disciplined and toughest fighting units in the world. As you read, you'll come to feel you know each of these brave men. They put it all on the line and you can thank God we continue to have men of that caliber in our military today. Good history. Good story. Great men!
- last stand of fox co
sorry I can't review the book as I never received it from you.
What is going on? Why don't I have the book yet?...more info
- Gung-ho War History
A story of one of the darkest days in American military history when U.S. Marines withstood frigid weather and overwhelming Chinese forces. Their efforts turned a clear defeat into one of the most heroic stands in military history. The authors did a good job in acquiring the stories of the Marines who defended Fox Hill. Unfortunately the narrative is one-sided as none of the Chinese soldiers involved in the battle were interviewed. Despite that the book reads well and the story itself is so compelling that the reader can't help but be drawn into this story. The writing is in the form of battlefield slang and makes no effort to sugar-coat the coarse language used by the Marines. Some will enjoy this informality, but others may find it distracting. I would also recommend "Frozen Chosen" which is broader in scope than just Fox Hill. ...more info
This is an ideal teaching tool. Honest to a fault. It shows why Marines are men apart. The amount of work put into this book shows with every turn of the page. OOORRRRAAAAGGGGHHHH !...more info
- "Will You Look At Those Magnificent Bastards"
Wow! What a book, what a story, what incredible heroism, undaunted courage and grim will against all odds. This book tells the story of 246 U.S. Marines and Naval Corpsmen (medics) who fought and died for seven days on a God-forsaken frozen and icy hilltop in North Korea in November & December, 1950. Outnumbered literally 10-1 by the unforeseen involvement of several divisions of the Chinese Army, these brave men fought in inhuman conditions and, in the words of the authors, "dispatched more than three-quarters of the enemy [they] had faced".
The authors do a very admirable job detailing not only the week-long battle on Fox Hill, but also the events leading up to that fateful week, the involvement of other units in the area, and the return of the survivors to the base camp at Hagaru-ri. The action is fast-paced and amazingly detailed. But included with the military history is a wonderful portrayal of the personal stories of many of these men - their lives before the war, as well as afterwards. These personal stories serve to make the men of Fox Company very real and very human to the reader, increasing the sense of awe and admiration for the "uncommon valor" that these "common men" displayed. As another reviewer stated, I, too, was left completely humbled by this story and these men. We as a nation should never, EVER forget the sacrifices that these men, and so many others like them, have made in our history.
More than a military history of an incredible battle, this is the story of a brotherhood & compassion shared by men thrust into the most difficult and challenging of times. I highly recommend it.
- heroism on a grand scale
Drury and Clavin have done a trememdous service to those who love military history with this account of the 1st Marine Divisions gutty fight to survive the initial incursion of Chinese troops into Korea in November 1950. Fighting cold that caused weapons to malfunction, lack of supplies and brutal odds the Marines hold the Toktong Pass. This is one of the legendary military campaigns, much like the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam or Bastagone during the Battle of the Bulge
This book does for the Chosin Reservoir what Stephen Ambrose did for D-Day and the band of brothers. It personalizes the battle and causes the reader to enter into the stories of the soldiers on the ground rather than embellishing some kind of great man theory of history. Men who were being told they would be home for Christmas engaged in one of the bloodiest and most desperate battles in American military history. Their performance is one of the most heroic stories in Marine Corps history.
I highly recommend this book. I couldn't put it down and I feel like I know the men involved. a definite buy...more info
- A story of courage, leadership, duty and honor
This is a story of leadership, courage, duty and honor in the frozen hills of Northeastern Korea in 1950, when the cold war first became hot. When the Chinese Communists in the thousands attacked 200 men on a hill near the Chosin Resevoir. The temperature was 20 to 30 below zero, the wind was howling and the Marines were experiencing frostbite. The Marines of Fox Company of the 7th Regiment, First Marine Division were told that they needed to hold this hill at all costs. At 3am on the morning of November 28th, they were attacked by a battalion of the Communist Chinese 59th division by surprise. The first outposts were overrun but a couple of them got off some shots to alert the Marines on the hill. And, from there, the battle started.
This book tells the story of the men in the front lines from the very personal standpoint. It tells the story of Cafferata who was on the point of the first attack and took over the machine guns killing Chinese by the dozens (the book states 100) and received the Medal of Honor. It tells the story of Barber, the captain of the company, shot in the leg and moving around on a make shift crutch. He received the Medal of Honor also. It tells the story of Bonelli who took over another machine gun nest behind some rocks and waited for the Chinese. After he thought he was relieved, he was about to celebrate, and he was wounded by a sniper. It tells the story of Peterson, the Lieutenant in charge of the 2nd platoon, wounded two times and still on the front line. And, it tells the story of many, many others.
This the best book that I've read about military leadership and courage in many years. They should make a movie about this book. It is that good and highly recommended...more info
- Pretty good story of a critcal hill battle in the Korean Conflict
The beginning of the book is filled with a bit too much of the all American hero when introducing the soldiers. But once the scene is set, the boys are on the hill, it's a fascinating story from the Marine's side of the battle for Fox Hill. Judging from the causality list, the attacking Chinese clearly needed a better attack plan. From a true grit perspective the Marines who held this hill did so with all of the honor of being a marine. And in doing so, sacrificed most of their squad to save the lives of over eight thousand marines up the road who needed it to evacuate.
The story is good but not quite as good as "With the Old Breed" which sets the standard for warfare narratives. If you enjoy armchair battle books, you'll like this one....more info
- This is the type of book which movies are made for.
I'm the historian for the 1st Marine Division Association. Part of my duty is to review books about the Division as they come out. This is one of the best books I have every had the priviledge to review. ...more info
- The Most Famous Last Stand You've Never Heard Of
The Korean War is justly termed America's "Forgotten War", but even those who haven't forgotten may not remember or may never have heard of the events chronicled in this book. If you remember the First Marine Division's dramatic breakout of Chinese encirclement in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, you are doing better than most, but this is the story of the little battle that made the bigger battle possible: the stubborn and heroic defense of a hill overlooking a narrow pass that kept the road open for the rest of the division to use in their breakout.
Drury and Clavin have done an excellent job of putting you right there among the freezing marines of Fox Company, aided by the memories and written accounts of those who survived. It would make a Hell of a movie,...
if Hollywood made these sorts of movies anymore.
Defects? Not much that can fairly be laid to a prepublication copy: annoying typos and a lack of photos, presumably to be corrected upon publication, and more detailed maps would be nice.
This is a gripping and very moving account of a forgotten battle that should no longer be forgotten. At least the Marines didn't forget; this is one of the four signature U.S. Marine Corp battles deemed worthy of recreating in their national museum....more info
- Where uncommon valor was common
Of the modern wars America has fought in, the Korean War has been largely forgotten by history writers. Mr. Drury and Mr. Clavin expand our knowledge of the Korean War by documenting Fox Company's fight for Fox Hill, a critical point the road to the Chosin Reservoir. The story opens by describing the strategic and general tactical situation in and around the Chosin Reservoir. Fox Company's deployment is given for the platoons, heavy weapons, and individual men mentioned in the book (there's a nice map showing this). Mr. `s Drury and Clavin divided the book into six sections, most of the focus is on the attacks and subsequent siege of Fox Company's position by the Chinese. Focus in all sections is on the individual Marines exploits as an oral accounting of the siege and relief of Fox Company. The battle sequences describe the hardships faced by the Marines (20 below 0 temps, low food, dwindling numbers of men and ammunition), their heroism (my two favorites were Privates Bonelli and McClure), and how some men were simply men. The concluding chapters cover the eventual relief of Fox Company by the Marines attacking from the Chosin Reservoir and their extraction from that area.
Rating wise this one's a solid 4 star performer. The authors get in, describe the situation nicely, and keep the story moving to its conclusion. Their accounts are crisp making for a good solid read, but failed to bring me totally in. I loved the different stories from the men who were there (I'd like to thank the veterans of Fox Company for letting Mr.'s Drury and Clavin describe your events. Your service is appreciated.), but wish the authors would have put more of their own analysis of the book. There are several maps showing the battlefield situation (either in general or specifically for Fox Hill). While providing a general awareness of the situation, they failed to capture some of the limitations of the battlefield (like why the platoons weren't better able to support each other). This is a good book describing a largely unknown situation. Btw, I really loved the Epilogue. It fully completes things....more info
- Humbling, The Chosin Reservoir is one of the Marine Corps greatest achievements, this is one part of that achievement
The Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War was one of the Marine Corps greatest achievements. 10,000 men stood up to 100,000 of the enemy and was able to damage the enemy lines so severly (almost by half) that the enemy had to retreat. The last stand of Fox Company takes place on a strategic hill in the Toktong Pass, to lose that hill would have cut the United States and its allies off from itself, the rest of the allies on the beach and the marines in the mountains. To lose Fox Hill would have sent the Marines further inward on the landscape and to almost certain death.
This is the story of the men of Fox Company, and it was compelling. Occasionally I would become so involved in this book that I would completely lose track of where I was or what time it was.
The Last Stand of Fox Company flowed very well as a narrative. In the past I have had trouble reading books of war accounts, I lack the frame of reference for a combat situation. Combat today is not like it was then either. I found the maps included in this book to really be helpful in getting my bearings for where everything was. I would have liked a small glossary for some of the jargon I was unfamiliar with, the authors did help me by placing more than one definition of the jargon throughout the book, but it would have been helpful to have it all in one place.
This book came from journals, archives and interviews of the men and their families from Fox Company. There was a bit of profanity, in case that would sway your desire to read the book, but I think given the circumstances these men were in it was entirely appropriate.
I read this book not because I am a military buff or history buff but because my Father-in-law was in Korea at the Chosin Reservoir. He doesn't talk about it much, I hoped in reading this book we could open a dialog together about his experiences, I would hate to lose him and never know. We were able to open that communication. I know now that he does still suffer from the frostbite on his trigger finger, but he says with an overwhelming sadness "that's really nothing, a reminder, really." Thank you Drury and Clavin for making a readable book on the Korean War.
I was humbled by this book, very humbled....more info
- Memorable Heroism in the Forgotton War
I have to admit, I had never heard or read about the Fox Hill battle of the Korean War. I knew that the Korean "Conflict" had extreme ebbs and flos where each side almost captured the all of other's territory. I recall that there was the danger and reality of the intervention by the Communist Chinese. I knew that the landing at Inchon was a key military gambit. I also knew that General MacArthur was recalled by President Truman in what seems to have been the most controvertial event in the conflict. I knew that the cease fire that occurred in the early 1950's has remained in effect through the present meaning that no permanent resolution has emerged to conclude the hostilities. However, other than Inchon, I was not aware of any specific engagements. For that reason, I am grateful that authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin have done the research, conducted the interviews, and skillfully written this reconstruction of a week-long battle that deserves to be a part of our military lore.
The events of the battle of Fox Hill serve as a insight to the Korean War because it ocurred as the Communist Chinese made their initial entry into the fray. What the Chinese brought to the conflict was numbers and the threat of escalation. Their battle plan seemed to focus on using their numbers to overwhelm rather than use of strategy to overcome. The roughly 250 marines at Fox Hill faced thousands of Chinese in a frozen tundra in which frost bite was more imminent than death. The mere act of digging fox holes for cover seems like chisling stone and the authors were adept at bringing to life to miserable conditions that these marines faced.
The description, day by day, of the attacks, recoveries, and preparations give us an intimate sense of the soldiers and their heroism. The book concludes with an Epilogue and Afterward that helps us know how many of the survivors fared.
I found "The Last Stand of Fox Company" to be similar to "We were Soldiers once...and Young" and "Hell in a very Small Place" although I found the other two a little more complete. There is a talent to bringing combat to life. It includes a balance between glorifying the warrior and acknowledging the individual. It gives us a descriptive account of the battle. It also includes a perspective of the background and impact of the event. Finally, having drawn us into a level of personal concern and appreciation of the soldiers, it gives us a postscript to remind us that these are gallent heroes who now live in anonymity amongst us. "The Last Stand of Fox Company" does very well in all four of those categories. ...more info
- Alright read
I am usually able to read through a book in less than a day. Anything regarding the military and conflicts is almost a sure fire fast read for me. That being said, it was hard for me to get into "The Last Stand." I did not feel a connection to the book....more info
- Very good read
Reading this book was like reading an action novel. The author puts you right in the action that the Marines were going through. Some military history books are a slow read, but this isn't one of them. A very good book....more info
- Intense company-level combat thriller
"The Last Stand of Fox Company" by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin is the gripping personal account of the Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines during their battle to hold Fox Hill between November 27th and December 4th, 1950. Although the memories of the Marines may have faded over 50 years, their tales will leave a permanent impression of the challenges they faced at the Chosin Reservoir.
Fox company's mission was a simple one -- hold the hill that protected the Main Supply Route between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri. The Marines up north in Yudam-ni relied on the MSR for the daily supply runs of necessities such as food and ammunition. The MSR would also serve as the focus of General O.P. Smith's "attack in another direction" as the Marines fought to break through the Chinese encirclement. If Fox company failed in its mission, more than 8,000 Marines would have met a much different fate.
This is the fourth ground combat book I have read about the Korean War focusing on company or battalion level tactics. The most closely related book was "Retreat, Hell!: The Epic Story of the 1st Marines in Korea" by Jim Wilson. That book focuses on the 1st Marine Division thrust into North Korea, and it's eventual retrograde attack operations. The book includes the personal exploits of a few Medal of Honor winners across the division. Wilson also includes a political overview of how the Korean War came to be, but it lacked any maps whatsoever. Drury and Clavin focus on the exploits of one company, of one regiment, of the 1st MARDIV during one week of the campaign. It lacks the political overview, but it does include numerous maps and charts laying out the tactical situation of Fox company.
My favorite of the genre is "EDGE OF THE SWORD, THE" by Anthony Farrar-Hockley. This is the tale of the Immortal Glousters Regiment's experience in Korea, paired with the author's six escapes from captivity. The fourth book was the fictional "Dog Company Six: A Novel (Bluejacket Books) (Blue Jacket Books)" by Edwin Howard Simmons, which is very similar in readability and graphic description of action.
"The Last Stand of Fox Company" is an intense thriller of Marines fighting their lives, the lives of the foxhole mates, and the lives of 8,000 Marines who were relying on them to keep the road open. This is a great read that you won't be able to put down once you start....more info
- An Outstanding Narrative of Heroic US Marines in Korea
Bob Drury and Tom Clavin's book is a testament to what must be one of the most heroic stands in US military history. Their work in The Last Stand of Fox Company is on a standard worthy of this amazing story.
The US Marines who are the subject of this book set an example that is beyond words to describe. These older teenagers and young adults from across America endured bitter freezing cold and an onslaught of Chinese soldiers to hold a small piece of frozen earth in Northern North Korea during the Korean "Conflict." Their feats ended up saving thousands of Marines' lives. They took heavey losses and most were wounded by enemy fire or frostbite.
The authors offer an encaptivating account of the weeklong battle that includes play-by-play narratives of battles from various points of view. This is a gripping battlefield account.
They also provide interesting bios and profiles of the Marines who played a part in the battle. These profiles reveal the reasons for joining the Marines and the courage exhibited in the battle. All these men fought for each other, for America and for the cause of freedom.
This book offers insights into the leadership of the "conflict" and what contributed to the decisions both in Washington and on the ground.
This is a book to make any American proud of its soldiers past and present. It is an intriguing, page-turning read that is extremely well-written and respectful of its subject. What becomes clear through this account is the truth of Fox Company's Commanding Officer Capt. William Barber's statement of the battle: "Uncommon valor had become a common virtue."...more info
- No Matter What The Odds
Through impeccable research and first-hand accounts from those who were in the brutal 1950 struggle on "Fox Hill," authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin bring to life the turning point in the Korean War where the only option was to make a stand and maybe survive to fight another day.
In four days and five nights of fighting - with a temperature dipping to minus thirty degrees below zero - the 246 soldiers of Fox Company, Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment, battled 10,000 Chinese soldiers to keep the Toktong Pass - a narrow gorge in the Nangnim Mountains - open to join the rest of the First Marine Division in a battle southward during this "Forgotten War."
With 75% of Fox Company killed, wounded or captured in the nearly non-stop fighting from November 27 to December 2, the only reinforcements was a rescue party of 500 men who somehow smashed a hole through the Chinese line and provided relief to those who were demonstrating incredible valor in the face of impossible odds.
Along with a story of incredible heroism is a tale of blunders within the politics of war. One month earlier a handful of Chinese soldiers were captured on the Korean side of the Chinese-Korean border and - during interrogations - admitted that many more of their comrades were prepared for battle.
"But when (Republic of Korea General Paek Sun Yap) reported this to his American allies, the intelligence was dismissed as fantasy - and not merely by (the United Nations commander, General Douglas) MacArthur," writes Drury and Clavin.
The discounting of a Sino-Soviet split and the belief that China would never escalate the conflict was a miscalculation that ultimately pitted 10,000 Marines against ten times that number of Chinese soldiers who swarmed across the Yalu River with tactics to harass, surround and destroy.
"There would be more, much more, bloody fighting before Fox Company and the First Marine Division reached the safety of the sea near Hungnam on December 11. But as one Marine wrote in his journal, 'That is another story,'" writes Drury and Clavin.
But for that other story to happen, incredible heroism occurred on a frozen patch of elevated territory in the mountains of northern Korea.