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"The Tech Rep" By James Michener; Continued:

"The disaster began in late November of 1950 when his marine outfit started a triumphal march north from Hungnam to the Chinese border. The North Korean army was in confusion, and our high command believed that if the marines could compress it against the reservoirs in the north, they could destroy it and the Koreans would have to surrender. There was even confident talk that the war would be cleaned up by Christmas.

But as the march proceeded, Holt became increasingly apprehensive. He was then a full lieutenant, and kept warning the captain, YOU KNOW, SERGEANT SCHUMPETER WOULD BE SICK IF HE SAW THIS MARCHING ORDER.

AND WHO THE HELL IS SERGEANT SCHUMPETER?

BOOT CAMP.

HE PROBABLY KNEW A LOT ABOUT DRILL, BUT THIS IS WAR.

HE ALSO KNEW A LOT ABOUT WAR.

Holt got nowhere with his warning, and this annoyed him, for he could see that his marines had to be headed for trouble. He was so concerned that he insisted upon speaking with the major and then the colonel.
He said, I DON'T WANT MY MARINES SPREAD SO THIN THAT ONE MAN CAN'T SEE THE MAN AHEAD OF HIM. THE ENEMY COULD INFILITRATE US SO EASY...He was assured that the high command, both in Japan and Korea, knew what it was doing, that this was the final push and that with luck they'd have the North Koreans backed up to the reservoirs within six days.

WHAT ABOUT THE CHINESE? he asked. They told him that intelligence had the Chinese problem under control, but when he returned to his men and found them even more strung out than when he left, he remembered Sergeant Schumpeter's dictum that troops had to be kept compact, especially when moving into country that the enemy had recently held, so he tried to bring his front men back and his rear men forward, in order to maintain some semblance of cohesion, but when he had completed this move, a major stormed up and yelled, GODDAMMIT, HOLT, YOU'RE CREATING BIG GAPS FRONT AND BACK. NOW FORGET YOUR OWN LITTLE PROBLEM AND GET THESE TROOPS BACK INTO POSITION."

To be continued:



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