Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, USMC
I was born in Seattle, Washington but enlisted in the U.S.Marine Corps in New York City on February 26th, 1950 at the age of seventeen and was sent to Parris Island, S. C. and then upon completion of boot camp was sent to Camp Lejeune, N.C. for Basic Training.
Bob Highland, U.S.M.C. 1950
In late June of 1950 I was reassigned to the First Provisional Marine Brigade at Camp Pendleton, CA. I was placed in Easy Company Second Battalion as Riflemen. We went out to Tent camp #2 for further training along side Dog Company. All we did was fire our weapons and climb hills attempting to get in better shape for what was coming. We shipped out in July my having turned 18 in June. I was on the transport, U.S.S. George Clymer PA 27 , we called it "Greasy George". We arrived in Pusan Korea on Aug. 2nd, 1950.
I went into action for the first time on Aug. 7th, again on the 10th, again on the 17th, at places we called "No Name Ridge", "Naktong Bulge", hill this and hill that. Then had to return once again on September 2nd to the river Naktong where the enemy had broken thru again at the same spot as before, and take it again, once again handing it over to the Army to hold. We then were sent back aboard ships, and we sailed to join the First Marine Division for the landing at Inchon. . Having received replacements we were at last a Marine Regiment with three Companies, we had fought in Pusan with only two Companies. We were given the new title " 5th Marine Regiment, 1st. Marine Division. We landed at Inchon on September 15th, we went on to take Kimpo Airfield, Seoul and on North to the Chosin Reservoir.
At the Reservoir on November 27th, and 28th, of 1950 all hell broke loose as the Chinese Army hit us with 120 Thousand Troops, we the Marines numbered 15 Thousand. This was 9 enemy Divisions against one Marine Division. My platoon led by 2nd Lt. Jack Nolan was right in the middle of their charge, somehow our company held that charge and later it was to be named after our company "Easy Alley".
During the breakout from the reservoir the 2nd Bn. 5th Marines was given the rear guard. On December 2nd, 1950 as we headed towards Hagaru-ri, there was a 120 mm Chinese Mortar that was firing down on our column which was on the only road available. The mortar was atop a Hill on our left. Our largest Mortars were 81 mm, which lacked the range to hit back. Two of Easy Company's fire teams were sent up to knock it out. At that time we did not have the normal 4 man fire teams, because of our losses we were down to 3 man fire teams. I was part of one of the fire teams.
We went up the ridge, and located the 120mm Mortar and destroyed it. By the time we took it out of action, however, all of us were hit. The Marine Corps prides itself on never leaving their own behind. Our Navy Corpsman, Don Hampton, whom we called Doc, and a fire team came up to see what was left when the firing stopped. I was wounded. Don knew if he cleaned off the frozen blood on me that I would bleed to death, so he gave me a shot for the pain.
Of the six who went up only two of us came back and we both were wounded. I made it home. The other Marine died on the way out.
For two days I laid in the back of a truck while the column moved on to Hagaru-ri. Unable to move for those two days I suffered frostbite of the hands and feet. When we arrived in Hagaru-ri, Don tagged me with instructions not to remove the frozen blood until there was blood available for me. I was evacuated out of Hagaru-ri on December 4th, by a C-47 to an airfield down south in Yonpo and then to a larger C-54, which took us to a hospital in Japan.
In the Hospital in Japan they informed me the morphine kept me from dying of shock and the cold kept me from bleeding to death. I would never forget the U.S. Navy Corpsman who saved my tail in Korea at the Chosin Reservoir. Don and I remained friends. I was with him when he died on November 17th, 1993. His Wife thanked me for being there with her, and I had to inform her I was not there for her but for me. Men like Don Hampton are why we Marines look upon our Corpsmen as Marines.
After sometime I was returned to the United States. My favorite duty came at this time before I was discharged when I was standing Main Gate Duty, checking all vehicles and personnel entering and leaving the Base. In the Marine Corps all must be one way for Enlisted as well as Officers, we would check their liberty cards, manner of dress, etc. Being Enlisted it was the only chance I would ever have to give back to an Officer what they give us year round. I needed to do it with respect and I did, but when they were out of uniform, etc. I stopped them cold and the Officer of the Day always backed us up. In the present day Marines I believe they have special unit to do the Main Gate Duty, when we came back from Korea there were so many of us in Casual Company they did not know what to do with us, so they used us for Main Gate Duty and that included S/Sgts, and Tech/Sgts , Corporals, Buck Sgts. Pfcs and Privates.
Eventually I was discharged with 60% disability pension.
The date of my discharge the following decorations are as follows; Bronze Star with Combat V device, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation (3), National Defense, Korean Service (3 campaign stars), United Nations, and Korean Presidential Unit Citations (3). One more was just added, The Combat Action Ribbon for Marines.
After discharge I became an owner operator of an 18 Wheeler running the 48 States until forced to retire in 1986. I am married and very happy to a lovely Lady by the name of Maxine, have one Son Eric, who is at present in the Armed Forces. I have two wonderful Grand Children. . I am retired and living in the Oregon area and a member of the Oregon Chapter of The Chosin Few. I love Chess, Bluegrass Music, and attend the many reunions of the Chosin Few, Brigade, 1st Marine Division and my Company Easy -2- 5.
Bob Highland USMC
Back To Justin Oral History, Marine Biographies
Also Be Sure to Visit
James F. Justin, Civilian Conservation Corps Museum
Justin Museum of Military History
James F. Justin Museum
Please Share your Stories! E-mail the Curator to share or discuss or with any questions!
Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 John Justin, All Rights Reserved