Colonel John Edward Gray by runout


									Colonel John Edward Gray
Stalwart Son of the South
Born in North Carolina, John Gray was a veteran of three very large wars, and
not only did he fight in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, he was wounded in all
three, being awarded more medals for gallantry and courage than he could find
places on his uniform to display them. His many decorations include the Army
Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit three Oak Leaf
Clusters, the bronze Star, the Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Ckusters, the
Army Commendation Medal, and the Republic of Korea‟s highest award for valor,
the Chungmu Distinguished Military Service Medal with a Gold Star. He also holds
the Army Corps of Engineers Silver deFluery Medal for outstanding service
accomplishments and service to the Engineer Regiment. John‟s academic
achievements include an MBA from Syracuse and an MS from American
University, plus diplomas from the Army General Staff College and the U.S. Army
War College. However, on a 35 below zero night at Chosin Reservoir in North
Korea, none of that fluff mattered. The charging Chinese didn‟t care how many
wars Gray had been in or how many times he‟d been wounded. They had
intentions of killing him, accolades or not.

       Lt. John Gray was one of those entrusted World War II veterans who was
destined to serve under Lt. Col. William Reilly‟s 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry at the
“Battle of Chosin.” Blissfully, Lt. Gray, wife Susie, and infant son Jack were
celebrating the receipt of orders that would assign him to the 5th Regimental
Combat Team, stationed at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, Hawaii. It was to be a
three year assignment and Gray‟s wife Susie was thrilled. “A contemplated three
year adventure in those wonderful islands,” was exciting,” confessed John Gray,
obviously relishing his family‟s good fortune. On top of that, Gray had a thirty
day leave before getting under way to Hawaii.

       For quite some time rumblings and saber rattles had been rolling across
the Pacific Ocean toward the U.S., indicating bad blood was rising toward a
boiling point on the divided Korean peninsula. Just fifteen days into John Gray‟s
leave and prior to shipping out for jewel of the Pacific, the Korean War exploded
onto the world stage, and to infantry officers in the U.S. Army, hell-bent to
protect democracy wherever it was threatened, it meant one thing – combat.
Gray described the feeling: “Our rosy Hawaiian dream quickly turned to a
nightmare of dread and separation.” There was no doubt – Lt. Gray was going to

        Once deployed on the eastern shore of Chosin Reservoir along with Lt.
Col. Don Faith‟s 1st Battalion just to the north, Lt. Gray had just gone bed, when
in less than a hour, just after sunset, Cpl. Robert Lohr burst into Gray‟s hut and
warned, “The Lieutenant might want to know that some very strong firefights are
developing not too far from the east of us.” Gray heard sporadic small arms fire
within 3rd Battalion‟s perimeter. Soon, the chatter became rhythmic and in
different locations, but soon died out as quickly as it had appeared. Alarmed, Lt.
Gray wondered if it was the ROKs and KATUSAs shooting at each other again.
Some dismissed the fire as being internal, part of the ongoing ROKs and
KATUSA‟s common skittish behavior. Gray wasn‟t buying it, genuinely worrying
about the ongoing and looming Chinese threat. That threat came to pass and 3rd
Battalion, on the night of 27 November, experienced the unleashing of a feared
regular Army Chinese that almost wiped out Reilly‟s 3rd Batalion. If not for a
ferocious counter attack by Capt. James R. McClymont‟s AAA guns, it was likely
3rd Battalion would likely have been overrun and destroyed.

       The second night on the 28th, the same Chinese suicide attack was again
launched on 3rd Battalion. Capt. Earle Jordan‟s M Company blocking positions
comprised an inner defense to protect Lt. Gray‟s 81-mm mortar emplacements,
the M Company Command Post, and the 3rd Battalion Command Post to Gray‟s
immediate north. Gray had prepared defensive positions facing inland away from
the Reservoir toward the east and south. As Gray assessed his platoon‟s combat
capabilities, he was all too aware that the 81-mm mortar ammunition was in
short supply. However, thinking on the plus side, he planned to make every
round count. If he ran out of ammunition, Gray emphasized, he knew he had
men he could count on no matter how terrible the cost. As trained infantrymen,
Grays Gorillas were a proven and effective rifle and automatic weapons force and
was braced for another similar attack.

       Suddenly, the Chinese attack on Jordan‟s and Gray‟s east side mounted in
fury. The attack was thrown back but not for long.

        From the looks of things Gray thought they had the Chinese stopped dead
in their tracks but the massed numbers of rampaging troops had again pierced
3rd Battalion‟s perimeter.

        Fighting had waned somewhat, but looking across the snowy landscape to
the southeast, Gray could see another massive attack forming, and with the
suddenness of a striking rattlesnake, great numbers of enemy infantry advanced
directly toward him at a rapid pace. In his mind, there was no doubt the enemy
would soon be upon them. Gray yelled to his men to get into blocking positions.
His men quickly redeployed and began firing. Immediately, they started taking
heavy enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. Repeated enemy mortar
barrages were falling all around Gray‟s position. Soon, the onrushing Chinese
were in hand-grenade range, and as he was taking cover from the closing
enemy, Gray was hit severely in his right thigh and leg from incoming mortar
shell fragments. “Ah, I‟m hit,” yelled Gray, immediately wondering how bad it
was. Shortly thereafter, a torrid rain of potato masher concussion grenades
inundated Gray‟s defense. His entire body was physically blown from that
position, and the massive human waves of Chinese were now an immediate
threat to the entire mortar platoon.

        Struggling to regain his bearings, Gray instinctively brought his M-1 Rifle
to bear, firing on the assaulting enemy at point-blank range. The opposing forces
were now co-mingled and mortal, desperate, hand-to-hand fighting ensued.
Raising his rifle to shoot a Chinese directly in front of him, another Chinese to his
right, fired on him with a Thompson machinegun, and the burst shattered his
rifle stock, severely wounding his right hand. Feeling though he had been hit
with as baseball bat, groaning, Gray staggered back from the impact, falling into
a pile of rubble and debris. That convenient mass of debris likely saved the
lieutenant‟s life, as the Chinese lost sight of him. In his stunned, shaken
condition, his mind suddenly rushed to thoughts of wife Susie and little Jack.
“Was this it for me? Will I ever see them again?”

       Finally regaining his wits, Gray struggled to get his .45 out of its holster.
He could see three Chinese soldiers quickly advancing in his direction. His
wounded hand would not work but finally, he was able to withdraw the weapon.
Due to the dust and debris and his crouched position, it was obvious the
approaching Chinese didn‟t see him. Without hesitation, Gray emptied the clip,
dropping them all in their tracks. He then dragged himself back toward the M
Company CP and the safety of his other covering positions. In furious, gripping,
hand-to-hand fighting, Gray‟s Gorillas and Jordan‟s M Company resurgently rose
up, refusing to relinquish the command post and further enemy penetration. The
determined Chinese were rudely and with great unrelenting force, ejected from
the area. Original positions were restored. Gray was greatly relieved when he
looked up and saw Jordan. Thankfully Jordan was still in fighting condition as he
glared at the fleeing Chinese. Gray flopped to the ground, attempting to be
cognizant enough to assess the damage.

       “John, you and that .45 killed all three of those slant-eyed bastards,”
quipped Jordan in an admiring sort of way. Jordan was attempting to come to
Gray‟s rescue, but was shocked to see him fit enough to drop all three.

        Jordan quickly summoned a medic to assist Gray whose right leg was
bleeding profusely from a mortar wound that had seemingly nicked an artery.
After injecting Gray with a morphine syrette and bandaging his other wounds,
the medic helped him to the aid station. The first thing he noticed upon entering
the aid station was that everything was shot full of holes, including the tent, the
red-cross emblem, the surgeon‟s utensils, and the doctor himself, who seemed to
be worse off than Gray. Gray recognized the Army surgeon, 1st Lieutenant
Sterling W. Morgan, who at the time was regretting not becoming a Navy doctor
for obvious reasons. Noting that the Aid station was literally bulging out with
wounded, Gray decided to pick up his rifle and hobble back to his platoon battle
station. Gray‟s wounds were a smashed right-hand, with most of its metacarpals
broken and muscle tendons severed, except for his trigger-finger. He was unable
to handle a weapon.

For a second straight night, 3rd Battalion had acquitted itself well against vastly
superior odds and multiple perimeter penetrations. For the remainder of the
night until the welcome dawn, the pressure from the Chinese abated.

        In the main attack, the Chinese had given priority to knocking out
McClymont‟s 15th AAA AW Battalion gun carriers, which Gray and Jordan
concluded were the most dominant factor in 3rd Battalion‟s perimeter defense on
the second night of the Chinese siege. Lt. Gray admitted that even with M
Company‟s containment of the enemy salient into the east side of the perimeter,
earlier during the night, may well have been made possible by McClymont‟s
devastating fire, pinching it off and thus weakening its point so that M Company
could cope with it. At least 1,000 Chinese dead were counted in front, on top of
and around the AAA gun emplacements, not to mention Chinese casualties
slaughtered within the lengthy range of the heavy guns.

hen Task Force Faith finally broke out of the Inlet at Chosin and headed toward
the Marine encampment, the men of Task Force Faith were staging a life saving
foray on vital Hill 1221. One of Capt. Earle Jordan‟s best soldiers, and the leader
of Gray‟s Gorillas, was lying immobile in a truck, and Jordan sorely missed his
leadership. The withering Chinese fire raining down from above was forging an
increasingly desperate situation. Making matters worse, rapidly growing numbers
of Chinese suddenly appeared on the high ridges to the north and began firing
directly into the convoy. Jordan noticed other massed Chinese who seemed to
be forming ranks for a direct attack from the valley. Jordan‟s thoughts were
decisive. He had to put some gunners together and hit that hill. He knew the
only chance for the wounded was to take the Hill and get the column moving

       Just about all of 1st Battalion had passed the frozen stream and were on
the road leading to the saddle of Hill 1221. Some were attacking in groups up
the slope of the Hill, and Capt. Stamford and his Triplets were now running
deadly air strikes where the Chinese had shown themselves. To the amazement
and shock of his own men, Lt. Gray, suffering excruciating pain and barely able
walk, heroically decided to be the one to gather a group and assault 1221. To
their amazement Jordan and Gray linked up with Faith as the vital Hill was taken.

      This allowed the convoy to move forward, probably saving countless
American lives.
       The next critical juncture fur Gray‟s survival was crossing the Chosin
Reservoir ice to the safety of the Marine encampment. Wounded and barely able
to walk, John Gray, with the help of ex-Nazi Helmet Bertram and others, Gray
and his small band of survivors made their way across the ice and to the safety
of the Marines at Hagaru-ri.

        Gray, leading the way, insisted on being the first to enter the Marine
encampment. Barely able to walk, Gray‟s men were awed, mouths agape, as he
stumbled along, falling twice, but each time gathering himself to begin again.
The sight was an inspiration to every single soldier present. Upon reaching the
Marine sergeant, he straightened up, stuck out his chin, and clicked his heels.
The sergeant looked highly puzzled at the man standing in front of him. Waiting
for the Marine to salute, Gray realized the startled soldier must have wondered
“Who in the hell is he?” Unshaven and frostbitten, worn and bloody, he was
wearing a tattered field uniform, lacked a helmet, and had no ribbons, medals,
or insignia. In view of Gray‟s rumpled appearance the sergeant remained
reticent. Feeling perplexed, Gray suddenly remembered he had turned his
officer‟s insignia under his lapels, not wanting to be claimed as enemy bounty.
He quickly turned them up.

       Recognizing his rank, the Marine sergeant offered a respectful look of
quiet admiration as he saluted. “Welcome aboard, sir. Direct your men to come

      Lt. Gray fell to his knees, looked up at the Marine and said, “Welcome
aboard indeed.”

       Lt. John Edward Gray went on to fight more battles and another war,
serving and being wounded again in the War in Vietnam. Presently and still in
good health, John Gray has a new book out entitled “Called to Honor” that
covers his service in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. John Edward Gray is just
another example of the heroism displayed by a number of battled hardened
World War II officers that served gallantly in the epic “Battle of Chosin.”

Bielecki’s Actions Eerily Similar to Legendary
Audie Murphy’s Medal of Honor Struggle
Audie Murphy, the small kid from Greenville, Texas, and the most decorated
soldier ever in the U.S. Army, received the Medal of Honor while brandishing a
rapid fire machinegun, resulting in the killing and capturing of a bunch of
Germans soldiers. Sgt. Charles M. Bielecki from the windy city of Chicago did
practically the same thing during the Korean War, but only received the Bronze
Star. Putting it simply, the U.S. Army during the “Forgotten War,” was highly
disrespected by the press, Washington, the overall military, and the Marine Corp.
Here‟s how the story goes. After Chosin while entering a small valley, Bieliecki
stumbled upon over approximately 300 feet of dead Chinese bodies stacked so
high and thick you couldn‟t see the ground. The bodies were stiff, so stiff they
would actually serve a useful purpose other than maggot food. In Bielecki‟s own
words he states there was a partially frozen stream that when crossed by the
trucks caused vehicular problems once reaching the other side.

The correct solution was to stack the “stiffs” until they created the perfect ford or
bridge that would allow the trucks to cross over without a problem. When
Bielecki crossed, a sudden Chinese attack erupted. Bielecki quickly mounted a
truck that offered a .30 caliber machinegun to take on the charging Chinese.
While firing into the enemy, “I could actually see my rounds hitting into their
jackets.” Bielecki encouraged others to join in and the deadly attacked was
repulsed. The wounded in the trucks were saved by his actions.

Bielecki with a wry grin thought “We knocked the hell out of „em.” From Chinese
gunfire, the truck caught on fire, and Bielecki jumped to safety, but the fight was
over as quick as it started and Bielecki would continue to lead the charmed life
he had benefited from during the entire “Battle of Chosin.”

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