LEST WE FORGET….
RECOLLECTIONS OF BITS AND PIECES FROM A DISTANT WAR
Frogmen practicing “drop & pick up” off Silver Strand in Coronado, California just prior to Korean War.
THE TIME I WAS MOST SCARED IN KOREA!
My Frogman Team had pulled this particular raid from a sub – I don’t remember us pulling a raid from another sub, so it must have been the “Perch”. We had slipped in at night and blown a railroad tunnel far north on the East Coast of communist Korea and were steaming back toward Japan submerged. The sub ran into a minefield.
We were asleep and suddenly realized the sub had stopped. Not knowing what the problem was but aware that something was bad wrong, we sat wide eyed and watched the crew members run back and forth with big eyes and white faces. The sub suddenly started jerky movement in reverse and then forward – something like a car trying to get into a too small parking space. Suddenly we heard a scrapping sound along the outside hull that sounded like death tolls to us. It was the cables of moored mines scrapping along the sides and the skipper was trying to maneuver away from them without them hanging up on the vessel and being pulled down on us. The seesawing back and forth probably lasted only 15 or 20 minutes – but seemed like hours to us. Gotta say, I never wanted to board a sub after that.
THE DAY SATTERFIELD AND FREY DIED!
This action was a Team 1 op. Although Team 3’s Big Ten Squad had been operating with them, we had departed a few days prior to this action for our own Team – perhaps one of those guys could have related this action better – but nobody did, so here it is…
About the op where Satterfield and Frey were killed – It was a muggy cold day when the Frogmen unit pulled into this little cove on the West Coast of Korea. A small village was there, it set back from the beach and little kids were all over the place waving. Being far south of the action, the Team anticipated a picnic type of job and all went ashore without a thought of danger and nobody was armed.
The mission was to sound out the cove to see if LST’s could beach there to unload supplies. The whole mission reminds me of the early days in Japan, before the war, when my squad from Team 3 had sounded all the beaches for occupation forces maneuvers.
Suddenly all the kids just disappeared – someone noticed something was wrong and started yelling, “Hit the water”! At that time 4 or 5 young army age men in civies popped up from behind the dunes and started leveling rifles. Some of our guys were still standing there with their mouths open when the men opened fire – then everybody broke for the water.
The guys that were already in the water got to the boat in a hurry (the boat being a LCPR, the vessel most used by Frogmen units); they assisted the swimmers into the boat. Most of the guys swimming out had enough reason about them to go to the seaward side of the boat to be pulled in. In his haste, Satterfield went to the shoreward side of the boat and as he was pulled in with his back to the beach, the NK’s empty a clip right between his shoulders.
The most amazing thing about that fiasco was that although several guys were wounded, only two guy bought it (A Lt. Frey took a headshot – his body was not recovered for several days). The guys, who were on the flanks and far away from the boat, ran opposite ways down the beach.
I’m told that later a company of Marines went into the village and found the following: The NK’s (North Koreans) had taken over the village and had been living there for some time holding the entire village captive. Of course they were long gone before the Marines arrived. There was a rumor that sometime later; the SK’s (South Koreans) took drastic action against the village.
My painfully inadequate attempts at relating this incident surfaced – when I realized my fading memory would not bring back team-mate Satterfield’s first name (additional research relates it was Paul) and I have to admit, I can hardly picture Lt. Frey’s face. It does prove, however, to the surviving warriors of our era that uncle time marches on – without sympathy. Satterfield and Frey died far from home on a foreign shore, actually before they had begun to live – but they have friends, family and Teammates (who are growing old), that will always remember - we hope the Country will…
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