Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sneak Preview: 'Brothers At Arms'

My next book is titled Brothers At Arms: The True Story of Twin Brothers In War & Peace. This oral history traces the lives of Jack and Bill Davies, eightysomething Marine Corps veterans of the Korean War. Their sacrifices and heroism in that forgotten war should be remembered on this Veterans Day -- and every day, for that matter.

An excerpt:
BILL DAVIES: We were at [Camp] Pendleton [in California] and this officer said that we had our six months in and could go home. I said, "Wait a minute, we want to go overseas."

The officer said, "You guys are a--holes."

They needed tankers so bad that they flew us over. We landed in Japan. The early part of December [1951]. Sasebo Naval Air Station [in southern Japan]. It was the middle of the night and they were bringing in guys right off the trenches.

One guy said to us, "Man, I’m so glad to get the hell out of there. I don’t envy you guys going up there."

JACK DAVIES: I said, "What the freak?"

BD: So they flew us to Korea and take us up to the front. They called it the MLR -- Main Line of Resistance.

A lot of the convoys had been ambushed, but we made it there. There were two tents, one for chow and one for ammo. The first thing we heard was that Fox Company had gotten overrun. It was snowing hard . . .

JD: There was a freaking blizzard.

BD: A captain comes down the road in a jeep. "You got two Davies there?" And off we went. . . .

JD: I remember that we were on the line. We relieved an Army unit, the 24th Infantry. I’ll never forget them. They had wolfhounds on their tanks. We pulled in there and they were playing volleyball.

BD: The captain says. "Here’s our line. If you have to retreat . . . I say, "We don’t retreat." . . .

JD: Then our unit gets hit and the captain says, "We're separating you guys."

I tell him "you can’t separate us."

BD: The captain says "If you don’t want to be separated, write a letter to the commandant [of the Marine Corps] asking that you not be separated." We did.

JD: So we're in Korea six months and they pull the six-month thing again. The captain says, "Get your gear, you Davies, you're going home."

I asked how long the regular Marine Corps tour was.

"Thirteen months."

"I want to stay."

"You want to do what?"

"I want to stay."

We went back to the tent and the guy says, "Don’t tell me, you volunteered."

BD: When my brother got hit they told him he could get out. Our father had just died. Our mother said no; if they both can't get out then they're not getting out.

SHAUN MULLEN: When did you get hit?

JD: In April, uh . . .

BD: April of '52.

SM: What happened?

JD: They overran us. There were four tanks and my tank took a round. It took off one whole side and the back of the tank. A Corps photographer showed later up to take pictures. He said nothing like that had ever happened before.

Me and the gunner jumped out. I got burned and I had shrapnel in both legs and my back, but the loader was in there screaming. The tank was on fire by that time. I'll never forget it. He was a beet farmer from Idaho. I said, "We have to go back and get him," so we rushed back.

BD: I was providing supporting fire. I knew that he was hit before he got hit.

JD: I radioed Bill and told him that I couldn’t get the tank started. He says "You’d better get the freaking tank started!"

You didn’t lose a tank over there and Chesty Puller [Lieutenant General Chester Puller] said "get that freaking tank out." He said "I have five Navy Crosses and you’re going to get me a sixth."

Brothers At Arms will be published in early 2010.

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