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"The Tech Rep" By James Michener; Continued:

"Holt had obeyed, but when he reviewed his men he found that it took him more than thirty minutes to run from the lead man to the tail. Few of his marines could see his buddies fore and aft, and as for enemy infiltration, he told me later, INFILTRATION? HELL, THE CHINESE COULD HAVE MARCHED A COMPANY OF MEN RIGHT ACROSS THE HEART OF OUR COMPANY, IF THEY HAD SPACED THEMSELVES. AS A MATTER OF FACT, THAT'S WHAT THEY DID.

HOW WERE YOU SURE THEY WERE CHINESE?

INTELLIGENCE, OF COURSE, WERE SURE THEY WEREN'T. BUT IF YOU MARCH STRAIGHT AT A COUNTRY'S BORDER, ISN'T NATURAL FOR THAT COUNTRY TO SEND ITS TROOPS SOUTH?

At dusk on the fifth day, when Holt was numb with anxiety, the Chinese infiltrators struck, precisely as he knew they would, and because the marines were so strung out, so incapable of supporting one another, the slaughter was sickening. If ever in the history of American arms our leadership betrayed our foot soldiers, it was during the march north to the reservoirs. Our marines were thrown blindly against an enemy that had not been identified, located, estimated or prepared against. Our men were were forced to march in indefensible dispositions, with inadequate support, inadequate food, inadequate ammunition. It was not a gamble of great dimensions which, if it had succeeded, would have led to some great triumph; it was sheer stupidity enforced by blind arrogance, and it collapsed in tragedy as it was destined to do from the first."

To be continued:



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