THE LAST STAND OF FOX COMPANY: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat.

“The country around the Chosin Reservoir in winter was never intended for military operations,” Major General Oli­ver P. Smith, Commanding General, First Marine Division, said in a post-Korean War interview. “Even Genghis Khan wouldn’t tackle it.”

So, imagine for a moment being there atop a frozen rocky promontory and surrounded by more than 10,000 crack Chinese communist troops. Along with 233 fellow battle-weary “Fox” Company, 2d Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment leather­necks, you’ve been assigned to dig in and protect, at all costs, a thin Toktong Pass escape route through the steep Nang­nim Mountains for General of the Army Douglas MacArthur’s U.N. forces, 8,000 of whom are from the First Marine Division.

It’s nearing 2 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28, 1950, and the temperature has plunged to 33 degrees below zero. Dozing, you’re jarred suddenly into consciousness by the loud, discordant clashing of cymbals, bugles, whistles, drumbeats and shouting as hundreds of advanced guard units charge up the slippery slopes right at you.

Now, armchair military buffs, to learn whether you survive the onslaught with other brave, tenacious leathernecks and their officers, turn to page 71, Chapter Two, “The Attack,” in “The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat.” In their vigorous, skillfully written recreation of a Marine company’s courageous, heroic, last stand during America’s “Forgotten War” in Ko­rea, coauthors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin combine the human element of survivor interviews, personal experiences and eyewitness accounts from a variety of sources with hitherto unexplored official records and documents.

The coauthors, known for providing their readers with amazing anecdotal material supported soundly by technical military details, wrote the powerful and spell­binding “Halsey’s Typhoon.”

Unfortunately, three-quarters of Fox Co’s Marines were either killed, wounded or captured. When it appeared that Captain William Barber and his few remaining Marines were to be overrun, Lieutenant Colonel Raymond Davis, commanding 1st Bn, 7th Marines, fearlessly led men on a daring mission to cut a hole in the lines of the Chinese troops in order to relieve the beleaguered leathernecks.

“The Last Stand of Fox Company” cap­tures the weeklong battle’s essence as well as most of its facets: the anxiety, the loneliness, the comradeship, the humor, the ter­ror, the heroism, the futility, the boredom and the tragedy of war with all its death. It also captures the wonder of war—those Marines who miraculously survived.

In 1981, the 27th Commandant of the Ma­rine Corps, General Robert H. Barrow, wrote in a letter to Bill Barber, “I regard your performance as commander of Fox Company at Toktong Pass from November 27 through December 2, 1950, as the single most distinguished act of personal courage and extraordinary leadership I have witnessed or about which I read.”

Military historian H. Lew Wallace echoed, “Your actions, as well as those of the men under your command, altered the margin between a potential rout and the controlled breakout that actually occurred, between moderate and unacceptable losses, indeed between life and death for 8,000 Marines.”


THE LAST STAND OF FOX COMPANY: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat.
By Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. Published by Atlantic Monthly Press.
288 pages. Stock #0871139936.
$22.50 MCA Members. $25 Regular Price.

 

 

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