ON HALLOWED GROUND: THE LAST BATTLE FOR PORK CHOP HILL

by Bill McWilliams © 2004

Published in hardback in October 2003 by Naval Institute Press, and in trade
paperback in October 2004 by Berkley-Caliber Books (Penguin, USA).



Book Review Excerpts

Reviews + Order Book (Hardcover)

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Book Endorsements


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Four Men Who Fought on Pork Chop Hill


Dick Shea Penn Relays Photo

Cadet Richard Thomas Shea, Jr., first classman (senior) in the West Point class of 1952, and captain of the Army track team, winning the two-mile run for the third year in a row, in his final “kick” – sprint – to the finish line, breaking the tape in the rain on a muddy track, on Friday, 25 April 1952, in the Penn Relays, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field track, in Philadelphia.

For his actions in Company A, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division, in the period 6-8 July 1953, in Korea’s final, bloody, 6-11 July battle for Pork Chop Hill, Lieutenant Shea posthumously received the nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.

He was Company A’s acting commander when a reinforced battalion of the Chinese Communist Force’s 200th Regiment, 67th Division, struck Pork Chop Hill in the midst of a heavy monsoon rainstorm, beginning with a thunderous artillery and mortar barrage at 2225 hours (10:25 p.m.), 6 July. The next morning, Company A was to have completed the normal one-week of outpost duty, and rotate off Pork Chop. Throughout the night, Able Company, reinforced shortly after midnight by Company B, 1st Battalion, stood firm against heavy artillery and mortar barrages, and repeated counterattacks by the Chinese, in spite of heavy losses.


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Dick Inman Penn Relays Photo

Hidden in bunkers in ready reserve behind Hill 200, which was 500 yards south of the outpost, was the 1st Battalion’s Company B, ready when the call came to reinforce Able Company. Approximately 150 yards out front, downhill from the outpost trenches and bunkers since shortly after dark, was Lieutenant Richard George Inman, platoon leader, 2nd Platoon of Baker Company, with most of his platoon and one officer, twenty-one total, on ambush patrol.

Dick Shea’s West Point classmate, and track teammate on Army’s championship high hurdle shuttle relay team at the same Penn Relays, and a letterman on Army’s 1951 football team, Dick Inman was killed in action just prior to midnight, 6 July, after he led his platoon in a planned withdrawal into the Hill’s defensive system as soon as the enemy artillery and mortar barrage began. Once inside they were soon cut off by the onrushing Chinese infantry, and nearly out of ammunition and grenades to defend them selves in the violent battle raging in the trenches and on the surface of the hill. In attempting to lead his patrol to safety out of the trench system in which they were trapped, he was mortally wounded by a grenade. An attempt by two men to save him failed, both men wounded by enemy grenades.

Lieutenant Inman received posthumous award of the nation’s third highest award for heroism and gallantry in action, the Silver Star.


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Corporal Dan Dwayne Schoonover

A native of Boise, ID, Dan Schoonover enlisted in the Army in 1952, at age 18, requesting, as part of his enlistment, that he be sent to the 13th Engineer Battalion, which was attached to the 7th Infantry Division, to be in the same unit as his older brother, Pat. Arriving in Company A, 13th Engineer Battalion in May 1953, he soon became a squad leader heavily involved in rebuilding and strengthening outpost Pork Chop’s battered defenses which resulted from the fierce 48-hour April battle for the outpost. On 8 July he volunteered to lead a sapper squad, each member of the squad carrying a satchel charge and an infantry weapon and ammunition - and attached to Company G, 2nd Battalion. The mission was a mid-afternoon counterattack on Pork Chop’s east shoulder. Before the Company left the line-of-departure on Hill 200, single file, it came under withering enemy mortar and artillery fire, and began taking heavy casualties. During the assault, the barrage was so intense and losses were so great that Corporal Schoonover realized his squad couldn’t achieve its goal of destroying enemy-held bunkers, and on his own initiative converted his squad into an infantry unit to continue the assault. When Company G was relieved and replaced after 48 hours defending against repeated enemy assaults on Pork Chop Hill, he refused to leave the outpost in spite of pleading by his squad members, saying, “There are married men here. I’m staying.” He was mortally wounded by enemy artillery fire later that day. Corporal Schoonover posthumously received the nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.


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Master Sergeant Howard C. Hovey

A World War II veteran in General George S. Patton, Jr.’s Third Army, in Europe, Master Sergeant Howard C. Hovey was the Field First Sergeant in Company A, 1st Battalion, 17th Regiment, the night of 6 July 1953, when Chinese Communist Forces attacked outpost Pork Chop. A 42-year old professional soldier with a family that included 11- year old twins, and much admired by the men of Able Company, he was completing his assignment to Korea, following the company’s planned departure from the outpost the morning of the 7th. Instead, while repeatedly defending, reloading with ammunition and grenades, and defending Able Company’s command post against swarming enemy infantry that had penetrated the outpost’s defenses, Master Sergeant Hovey was killed in action the night of 6-7 July 1953. For his valiant actions in the face of overwhelming odds, he received the posthumous award of the nation’s second highest decoration for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.


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Book Review Excerpts (As of 8 JUL 2009)

On Hallowed Ground, The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill is tragedy, a glorious tragedy in which companies of American heroes determined to deny battalions of Chinese heroes the control of a speck of Korean terrain that would sink into insignificance as terms of the cease-fire came into effect a few short weeks later…this is a significant contribution to our military history, a final accounting of the battles for Pork Chop Hill and a fitting testimonial to the fighting qualities of the common soldier who is properly trained, motivated and well led in pursuit of a hopeless, perhaps meaningless cause.

Army Magazine
Association of the United States Army
Arlington, VA
August 2004


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…On Hallowed Ground is a significant, poignant, detailed, very personalized, well-rearched volume on the last major battle of the Korean War…it is a welcome addition to the library of anyone moderately familiar with military history. The balance between military and personal detail is especially commendable.

Assembly Magazine
Association of Graduates
United States Military Academy
West Point, NY
January/February 2004


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…[On Hallowed Ground is] a vivid reminder that the challenges associated with coalition warfare are nothing new. McWilliams's recounting of the organization, training, operations and leadership of the 7th Infantry Division provides a fascinating look inside the U.S. Army of 1953. The 7th Division, with its attached Ethiopian and Colombian battalions along with more than 2,000 South Korean Soldiers, was in itself, a mini-coalition…This is a great addition to the history of the Korean War. Infantrymen assigned to brigade level and below should read this book as well as those infantrymen working in headquarters that are responsible for multinational operations. It will also be of interest to both students of the Korean War and those with a general interest in military history and ground combat.

Infantry
U.S. Army Infantry School
Fort Benning, GA
September-October 2004


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The strengths of this book are compelling. The author clearly portrays just what "stalemate" meant to the ordinary soldier. This was no war of observation and waiting. The men of the 7th Division literally moved mountains to defend this critical hill…The frustration of battalion, regimental, and division commanders comes through, too, as they must fight with their hands tied: no counterattacks involving more than a battalion, no diversionary attacks against other Chinese outposts, no additional reinforcements. On top of all that, the imminent armistice made commanders and soldiers wary of being the last man killed on a barren and blasted hill…On Hallowed Ground will appeal to readers interested not only in the Korean War, but also military psychology, the nature of ground combat, relationships between officers and soldiers, and the U.S. soldier at war.

The Journal of Military History
Society for Military History
The George C. Marshall Foundation
The Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, VA
October 2004


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This book is extremely well researched. McWilliams uses a wealth of official command reports, command guidance (at that time secret) as well as written and oral recollections, intelligence summaries, de-briefings, battle record boards and personal letters to paint a poignant portrait of men in combat…Not normally found in most battle histories, the stories of the soldiers' families are particularly poignant and (he) does a commendable job portraying emotions and reactions as family members learn their sons and husbands are missing in action and then reported killed. The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill is an excellent story, and McWilliams does a superb job of telling it.

Military Review Magazine
Fort Leavenworth, KS
September-October 2005


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The author is a master of interweaving the details of terrain, personality and decisions into a fascinating story that will be sought after both by veterans and students of the war, as well as small unit tacticians wishing to learn their trade. Few books have done well at explaining high level policy, operational decisions, and the small unit war with the covers of a single readable book, but this is one of them.

Director
Book Program
Association of the United States Army
Arlington, VA
January 2004


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The final battle for Pork Chop Hill in July 1953 represents in many ways the frustrations and futility, as well as perseverance and gallantry, of the soldiers who served in the Korean War…Author Bill McWilliams has skillfully blended official records and unit histories with participant interviews and reminiscences to craft what will certainly be the definitive history of this final Korea War operation.

Military Heritage Magazine
Marina, CA
December 2004


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Evoking all the powerful emotions of a frustrating, bitter, bloody, stalemated Korean War, Bill McWilliams takes readers into the trenches and bunkers of Pork Chop Hill with the 7th Infantry Division's 17th and 32nd Regiments as they withstand repeated assaults by the Chinese in July 1953…The author succeeds at giving the reader both a feeling of being in the midst of the fighting and stepping back to view the bigger picture…As the narrative progresses the whys of battlefield decisions become evident with an examination of the influence of national policies, protracted truce negotiations, a fledgling South Korean democracy, and the evolving military policy of active defense, providing painful lessons for America's future struggles…the book pays tribute to the greatest testing ground of U.S. soldier resolve since Valley Forge.

Proceedings Magazine
United States Naval Institute
Annapolis, MD
October 2003


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The book is filled with individual soldiers' accounts of victories and defeats, tragedy, courage, devotion and valor, all of which are visibly influenced by personal interviews by the author with those who participated, as well as the survivors of those who gave the supreme sacrifice…a fitting tribute to those who still sleep on the hallowed ground of Pork Chop Hill in the long hostile DMZ, and a "must read" for anyone interested in the history of the Korean War.

Military Magazine
Sacramento, CA
January 2006


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…Bill McWilliams tells the story of the last battle for Pork Chop Hill and gives a good summary of the entire Korean War. He also dramatically describes the U.S. Army soldier's ability to fight and endure against overwhelming odds…This book can rekindle pride for our soldiers who fought in Korea. They continued the American Army tradition of bravery, especially in the most difficult circumstances.

AL&T Magazine
Ft. Belvoir, VA
March-April 2004


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The best inside account of the conflict, many military historians agree, is in On Hallowed Ground, by Bill McWilliams.

Sacramento Bee
Sacramento, CA
8 July 2004


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…To characterized the narrative situation in military terms, the battle for Pork Chop Hill is a well-established and strongly defended position, not one it would be wise to assault casually…It is a story of warriors more than of war, an account of the human face of combat. Recommended. All levels/libraries.

Choice Magazine
Current Reviews for Academic Libraries
Middleton, CT
June 2004


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Book Endorsements (As of 6 October 2003)

Korea was the war nobody in America really wanted to fight. The bloody battle for a barren piece of terrain the GIs dubbed Pork Chop Hill came near the end of it, when no one wanted to be the last man to die in the "police action." It fell to the brave men of the Army’s 7th Division to fight, suffer, and die on those slopes. Bill McWilliams tells their story in vivid, stark detail and does them the honor they deserve.

Joseph L. Galloway, senior military writer, Knight Ridder,
coauthor of We Were Soldiers Once – and Young.


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On Hallowed Ground is an extraordinarily powerful, true story and a fresh Korean War history. Drawing on official records, letters, and written and oral recollections, it places readers in the middle of wrenching crosscurrents of emotion as American soldiers fight one of the crucial last battles of a stalemated war.

Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.),
chief of staff, US. Army, 1991-95,
president, Association of the US. Army


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Bill McWilliams’s stirring story will ensure that these brave soldiers of the Forgotten War will not be forgotten by the soldiers of today's generation.

Gen. Carl E. Vuono, USA (Ret.),
chief of staff, US. Army, 1987-91


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Well researched and well written, this book describes an inspiring chapter in American military history.

Gen. John. Wickham, USA (Ret.),
commander-in-chief, UNC and ROK-US Combined forces in Korea, 1979-82,
chief of staff, US. Army, 1983-87


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With its realistic accounts of brutal hand-to-hand fighting, devastating artillery and mortar barrages, day and night counterattacks, and small victories and defeats, this book offers invaluable lessons of small unit combat, which at the end of the day is where battles are won and lost.

Gen. Art Brown, USA (Ret.),
vice chief of staff, US. Army, 1987-89


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Bill McWilliams brilliantly reveals the extraordinary courage of those who fought the final, bitter, bloody, costly days of the Korean War while capturing important lessons about war, national and military policies, and the effects of those policies on battlefield decisions. Those lessons of a half century ago are just as applicable today.

Gen. Jack I. Gregory, USAF (Ret:),
chief of staff, Combined Forces Command, Korea, 1985-86,
commander-in-chief, Pacific Air Forces, 1986-88


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As an airman, my perspective of combat was always above the mud and mire. On Hallowed Ground relates the true value of the soldier and, gun to overall military power. These stirring accounts bring back those final bitter days of the war and the sacrifices made by those valiant riflemen.

Lt. Gen. Walter D. Druen, Jr., USAF (Ret.),
fighter pilot in Korea, 1952-53


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A celebration of all that is good and right about America’s citizen and professional soldiers, from whom our nation and the protracted, stalemated war in Korea routinely demanded unprecedented sacrifice.

Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore, Jr., USA (Ret),
coauthor of We Were Soldiers Once – and Young


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