War-weary soldiers crouch in a ditch while enemy mortar shells drop nearby during a 1953 battle in Korea.

War-weary soldiers crouch in a ditch while enemy mortar shells drop nearby during a 1953 battle in Korea. (Frank Praytor/Stars and Stripes)

WITH U.S. 25TH DIV, June 1 — The story of a company of inexperienced combat initiates who fought their way through hordes of Chinese Reds and smashed enemy positions in three terrible assaults was disclosed yesterday by a heroic company commander who described the fights on Carson and Elko outposts as a "bad dream."

Combat weariness showed on the face of 1st Lt. James W. Dabney. Pittsburgh, Pa., as he sat on a cot in his bunker and told how the men of his Baker company advanced through a rain of enemy grenades, mortars, and artillery in three futile but determined attempts to retake Outpost Carson. The Turkish-occupied position had fallen into enemy hands after an attack that was reported to be "the year's biggest action" in Korea.

"WE LEFT THE LD (line of departure) at five minutes before 10 that night," Dabney said, "and we assaulted Carson three times. Before that, we had to fight our way into our own position on Elko, which was practically surrounded. All personnel still able to fight came off after the assaults," he added. "When I think back over it the whole thing seems like a bad dream."

A 23-year-old platoon sergeant serving under Dabney said the company was composed mostly of green troops. SFC Anthony J. D'Acunti, Flushing, N.Y., declared, "For a bunch of new men, these guys were great. There were only 12 old-timers in my platoon."

BAKER COMPANY, which had been taken out of reserve after several months, was brought up to relieve elements of the Turkish brigade which were under intense assault by the Communists on Elko outpost. Dabney's unit fought its way across no-man's-land and, after several jabs, managed to reach the beleaguered outpost. From there, the unit jumped off to assault Red-held Carson, but was halted each time by "insurmountable" enemy artillery fire.

Dabney praised one of his platoon leaders, who was killed during the second assault on Carson. "He pushed and pulled his men," the company commander said, "and he didn't stop until he was hit. Gooks hit us six times with mortars and rained hand grenades over the hill at us. We threw a lot of their potato mashers right back at them." He concluded, "The artillery we had was very effective. Most of the enemy that were killed were killed by artillery fire. I couldn't begin to estimate how many of them were killed."

ONE OF DABNEY'S platoon leaders, 2d Lt. James M. Fetter, Kylertown, Pa., returned from the battle trembling from the night's experience. He had been hit on the head by an enemy concussion grenade, which bounded off his helmet without causing injury.

A 25th Division spokesman, who preferred to remain anonymous, declared that the withdrawal from the outposts was not a retreat. "The Turks are mad about reports that said they retreated," the spokesman said. "They were ordered off. If we had stayed on the hills, the enemy could have nickled and dimed us to death. The attack hit the Reds so the beleaguered men on Elko could pull off. The new wave picked up all the dead and wounded and everything of value, and brought them back. The withdrawal was done professionally — neat and orderly."

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now