The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge was a month-long battle in the Korean War which took place between September 13 and October 15, 1951. It was one of several major engagements in the hills of North Korea a few miles north of the 38th parallel.
Both sides suffered high casualties. Over 3,700 American and French and an estimated 25,000 North Korean and Chinese. These losses made a deep impression on the UN and US command, which decided that battles like Heartbreak Ridge were not worth the high cost in blood for the relatively small amount of terrain captured.
Among our casualties, was Clarence Aust on September 19 who was serving with the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.
We honor you, Clarence Aust.
Brice went to Korea as a commissioned officer after serving as an aviation machinist in World War II. Brice saw action in three of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War as a company commander and platoon leader. One of his starkest moments came during the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, a fierce fight at the top of a ridge that served as a vantage point to a broad valley. The well-fortified hill saw much back-and-forth fighting between American forces and the enemy. Climbing up the ridge was nearly impossible with all of the artillery placements built by the Koreans and Chinese. Brice’s unit finally took care of the hill, but not until many of his fellow soldiers died trying to take the hill.
We honor you, Rutherford Brice.
One of the Korean War’s most recognized images is that of a young Marine scaling a wall during the invasion of Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950.
Stepping over the seawall on the northern side of Red Beach, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez is the picture of courage.
Lopez, the son of Spanish immigrants, grew up in Tampa, Florida, and enlisted in the Navy in 1943, but was soon tapped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. He joined the Marines after graduation. Today, a picture of Lopez and a citation hang outside his academy room. Lopez’s actions immediately after the photograph at Inchon was taken are why his picture will always have a place of honor in that hallway.
Just a few months into the Korean War, Lopez and his platoon were engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves. Exposing himself to hostile fire, Lopez moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox from which fire was pinning down that sector of the beach.
Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, Lopez fell backward and dropped the deadly grenade. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men, and with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. He did not survive the blast.
President Harry S. Truman presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Lopez’s parents in a ceremony at the White House in 1951. Lopez is the only Hispanic-American graduate of the academy to receive the Medal of Honor.
We honor you, Baldomero Lopez.
CW3 Doris “Lucki” Allen served as a WAC during the Vietnam War. Early in her military career, she asked for a transfer out of a dead end job in public relations at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, and went to the Army Language School in California because “it was the only place they would send me.” CW3Allen had encountered a typical problem women faced in the workplace during the 1960s. She was good at her job, so her supervisors did not want to lose her; however, they did not want to promote her either. “Had I gone out with my boss,” she said later, “I might have been promoted.” But because she spoke a foreign language (Spanish) and the Army needed linguists, she was able to devise an escape route that did not compromise her dignity.
Allen left the Army Language School with a working knowledge of French, trained in military intelligence, and ultimately ended up in Vietnam stationed at Long Binh from 1967-70. She recalled, “As a senior intelligence analyst in Vietnam, I was recognized for having been responsible through production of one specific intelligence report, for saving the lives of ‘at least’ 101 U.S. Marines fighting in Quang Tri Province.” In an interview, she said that she initially had difficulty getting her chain of command to take her report seriously. If she had not been persistent and pushed her report forward, it would have been buried.
We honor you, Doris Allen.