This is Osang San in August, 1954. The name means “Mountain of the Five
Saints� and may have been named for some of it peaks. “O� is Korean
for “Five�. “Sang� is Korean for “Saints� and “San� is
Korean for “Mountainâ€�. In 1954, American soldiers called the mountain â
€œPoppa Sanâ€�. It was across from the U.S. IX Corps Area on the DMZ.

        The ASA unit in the IX Corps area at that time was the 304th
Communications Reconnaissance Battalion, which was subordinate the 501st
Communications Reconnaissance Group in Seoul. The 304th had a small
detachment near the DMZ, with a bunker that was located between the infantry to
its front and the artillery to its rear. The detachment was commanded by a 1st
Lieutenant William Ascher from Normal, Illinois. A sergeant named Kendall was
the detachment sergeant. There were some other support troops, a number of
Chinese linguists, who had graduated from the Army Language School in
Monterey, and some native Chinese from Taiwan. The Chinese and the linguists
manned the bunker, which was up a mountain, in 24 hour shifts. The bunker had a
few layers of sandbags as a roof. Inside were PRC 9 radios and perhaps one PRC

        I arrived in Korea in late July 1954 and was assigned to the 304th’s
detachment. In early September, I received orders assigning me back to the 501st,
where I worked in operations wrapping packages for a couple weeks, before
moving into the translation section to work “low level� with James Fong,
Ken Liu and Raleigh Farrell. Fong and Liu soon went back to the United States for
discharge. Other linguists were John Arnost, Ray Moffett and Dick Moench.
Dewey Haggard and Bob Sherry were the traffic analysts. Don Mustard would
arrive later on. Bud Feeley was the cryptographer. A 1st lieutenant named Polo
headed the section. He was not a linguist. When he left, a captain named Paul
Doster, fresh from the Chinese Mandarin course at Monterey, arrived to take

        The 304th’s detachment was disbanded in fall of 1954 and the Chinese
linguists passed through the 501st to assignments elsewhere in the Far East. I found
out later that most of those assignments were not language related. I was the only
one of the my group that went from Monterey then to Tokyo, then to Seoul, then
to the DMZ, who stayed as a linguist in Korea.            

        Osang San’s designation on U.S. military maps was Hill 1062 and from
October 14 to November 18 (November 25th for the Chinese forces), 1952, a
bloody battle was fought over two hills in front of the mountain. Most of our
Korean War histories do not mention the battle, but the military historian Bevin
Alexander mentions it in his book KOREA: THE FIRST WAR WE LOST:

        â€œOn the battlefront a series of small but bloody engagements had been
going on since September as the Reds attempted to improve their positions before
winter set in. On October 8, the day General Harrison unilaterally recessed the
peace talks, General Clark authorized General Van Fleet to launch Operation
Showdown, designed to seize the hills of the Iron Triangle north of Kumhua. Van
Fleet predicted he could capture the objective in about five days at a cost of about
some two hundred casualties. But the attack by IX Corps, launched October 14,
ground on for weeks in gruesome fighting against fierce Red resistance. It cost
9,000 U.S. and ROK and 19,000 communist casualties. When the attacks petered
out on November 18, the UN command had achieved only a slight improvement in
its position, and the cost had been excessive. Direct assaults on enemy mainlines of
resistance to achieve limited objectives were futile.�
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submitted by ASA Korea member Ellis Melvin