By Cpl Paul Torres
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Veterans came together to honor the courage, valor and sacrifices made by Marines and sailors of the 1st Marine Division at the Chosin reservoir as part of the division’s 70th anniversary celebrations, at Camp Pendleton’s South Mesa Club, Feb 1, 2011.
“The dedication of this memorial means the world to the Marines who fought in the Korean War, and especially for those who were at the Chosin Reservoir,” said Denny Weisgerber, retired staff sergeant and vice president of the 1st Marine Division Association. “The battle of the Chosin Reservoir was the Iwo Jima of the Korean War, and it means a lot to have something to remember all those men who sacrificed their lives.”
In November 1950, during the coldest winter North Korea had experienced in 100 years, U.N. forces were in pursuit of North Korean troops, when they were surprised by China’s entry into the Korean War.
The U.N. forces, most of them U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Division, fought for survival. Surrounded and outnumbered 8-to-1 by Chinese forces, the Marines embarked upon a 78-mile journey to the Sea of Japan to reconnect with American forces. The journey would take 13 days. Cut off from support, the Marines were still able to fight their way through 10 Chinese infantry divisions.
The courage shown by the Marines and sailors at the Chosin Reservoir was an example of their resolve to fight against what seemed like impossible odds. The attitude of those who served at the “frozen Chosin” set an example that is still remembered by Marines and sailors both young and old.
“When I look at the memorial and see a list of names, I remember my brothers as they fought and died out at the Chosin reservoir,” said George ‘Peepsight’ Pendas, retired captain and former president for the 1st Marine Division Association. “They left behind a legacy, and it is great to see that legacy of excellence being carried on by the Marines today.”