The Four Brothers at the Memorial Service
South Korean Governmet’s tribute to American War Veterans
On The East Side of Chosin
by Ned Forney
As the helicopter took off and disappeared over the North Korean mountains, Lt. Col. Don Faith, watching from his desolate, wind-swept command post at Chosin Reservoir, threw his newly awarded Silver Star into the snow. After enduring a horrific night of fighting against overwhelming Chinese forces, his commanding officer had just ordered him and his men to continue defending their position. “Don’t let a bunch of Chinese laundrymen stop you,” he’d been told.
Lt. Colonel Don Faith
For Faith and over a thousand men of the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT-31), the decision to postpone their move from east of Chosin, or Changjin, in late November 1950 would prove fatal.
Over the next four days, the 32-year-old World War II veteran, husband, and father would courageously lead his men against relentless Chinese attacks. For his heroic actions during the attempted breakout from one of the most devastating entrapments in US Army history, Faith was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the only battalion commander in the Korean War to receive the decoration.
On April 17, 2013, his remains, missing for over sixty years, were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His daughter Barbara, only four when her father left for Korea, attended the ceremony. “What I recall most about my father was that he was happy. I can still hear him laughing. He enjoyed life,” she said in an interview with Army News Service. The Faith family, after years of heartache, disappointments, and frustration, finally had closure.
Other families haven’t been so fortunate.
Barbara Broyles receiving a flag at the funeral of her father in August 2013 (PC: Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.)
They Never Came Home
During the fighting on the eastern shore of Chosin and subsequent breakout to Hagaru-ri, only six miles away, over 1,000 men perished. The fighting was so fierce and the confusion so great that many of the bodies were never recovered. With thousands of Chinese soldiers attacking US Army trucks, jeeps, and tanks making their way down an exposed one-lane dirt road, hundreds of Americans died in the first few hours.
In the ensuing attempt to fight their way around blown bridges and through roadblocks, American soldiers were mowed down by machine gun fire, blown apart by mortar blasts, and left to die in charred vehicles.
Of the nearly 3,000 soldiers who fought on the east side of Chosin, less than 400 were still combat effective by the time the attack was over. The rest were dead, wounded, or suffering from severe frostbite. As the acclaimed US Army historian Roy Appleman wrote in East of Chosin, the seminal work on the entrapment and breakout of RCT-31, “There is no other story of the Korean War to compare with it.”
During the “four days and five nights of constant exposure to bitter cold, almost constant enemy attacks . . . little food, mental and physical exhaustion, little or no help, little or no ammunition, and no communication with higher headquarters,” (Appleman) acts of incredible courage and sacrifice were commonplace.
Picture taken on December 1, 1950, during the breakout from east Chosin. The road where the US Army convoy was hit is immediately to the left of the tracks, just below the embankment. (Photo credit: US Army)
Major Harvey Storms
Another man recognized for his exceptional bravery and heroism at Chosin was Harvey Storms, a Texas A&M graduate, World War II veteran, and US Army Major with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.
Sometime in the early morning hours of December 2, as Chinese troops swarmed over trucks and jeeps, killing Americans in hand-to-hand combat, lobbing grenades into vehicles loaded with dead and dying soldiers, and spraying dazed and injured men with small arms fire, Maj. Storms, wounded and suffering from frostbite, left his vehicle and led an attack up Hill 1221, where Chinese gun positions were firing down on the exposed convoy.
Shot multiple times during the assault, the 34-year-old officer and father of four collapsed in the snow and began sliding down the ice-covered hill. “He must have had about ten or twelve bullet holes through his field jacket,” said Sgt. Bill Rowland, who fought with Storms. “I couldn’t see any blood anywhere due to the extreme cold,” he added.
Maj. Storms crawled back to the road and was once again loaded on a truck. But he refused to remain in the vehicle. According to a company commander who was with Storms in the final minutes of his life, “. . .although wounded several times, he [Storms] insisted on walking. We finally got him to ride near the last roadblock . . . he and I rode in the last truck when we tried to make a run for it and there he was killed” (Appleman).
It wasn’t until the summer of 2018 that Major Storms’ body was recovered.
IN THE MEDIA
Family gathers at Texas A&M to honor Aggie killed in Korea
San Antonio: Sam Storms
Corpus Christi: my Uncle Billy
KVUE AUSTIN: Sam Storms
Fox 7 AUSTIN: Sam Storms