Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Great Book About A Forgotten War

The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat by Bob Drury and Tom Clavan vividly retells one of the greatest examples of an outnumbered force withstanding an attacker many times its sides and holding a vital position without giving up that you've probably never heard of.

Outnumbered 15 to 1, and completely surrounded and cutoff from support except for supplies that were airt dropped to them, the 234 men of Fox Company 3/7 Marines held the vital Toktong Pass and Fox Hill under 4 days and five nights of constant attack from three battalions (15 companies) of Chinese troops of the Chinese 59th Division. The Toktong pass was vital as it needed to be held to allow for the Marines to begin, in an orderly fashion their famous "attacking in an opposite direction" as part of the retreat from the Chosin reservoir. Fox company was finally relieved in a heroic maneuver under fire by the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.

3 Medals of Honor were awarded to members of Fox company, including to its commander Captain Barber, for the heroic defense in some of the coldest battles the United States ever fought in, and in some of the most inhospitable mountainous terrain. Fighting without sufficient rations or warmth, suffering from frostbite, and having weapons freeze up on them and be inoperable on top of being surrounded and massively outnumbered and still winning....They sure made Marines darn tough back then.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps for its interactive exhibit on the Korean War features Fox Company's defense of Fox Hill and the Toktong pass.

The authors tell the story in a very readable manner, vividly recounting the individual marine's experiences and heroism on the hill. The epilogue goes on to let you know what happened to the surviving Marines in the remainder of the Korean War and after.

The Korean War hasn't received the attention of World War 1 and 2 or even Vietnam and is often referred to as America's Forgotten War. Aside from M.A.S.H., which was more of a critique of Vietnam set in the Korean War, there has been few films or TV series about the conflict. The Last Stand of Fox Company could be made into a highly compelling film that would likely do very well.

The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat is written very well indeed and is highly recommended.

Bob Drury and Tom Clavan also wrote Halsey's Typhoon: The True Story of a Fighting Admiral, an Epic Storm, and an Untold Rescue, another great historical account of a forgotten event in World War 2.


Kevin said...

That's been high on my list of books to get ever since I found out it's on the recommended reading list of the Commandant of the Marine Corps and most officer training schools.

I'm going to have to pick that book up. Thanks for the reminder.

Aaron said...

Yep, its an excellent retelling of some harrowing small unit combat and vividly paints the picture of the exceptional leadership of the officers and NCOs and the outstanding performance and determination under fire by all the men involved.