Warfare History Network
The climactic struggle for control of Hill 255 in July 1953 pitted hordes of determined Chinese against gritty U.S. soldiers.
The tennis-shoed soldiers emerged from the darkness on July 6, 1953, like a “moving carpet of yelling, howling men [with] whistles and bugles blowing, their officers screaming, driving their men” against the Americans as they swept up Hill 255, recalled Private Angelo Palermo.
The lead elements of the Chinese infantry were loaded down with grenades, but they carried no rifles or submachine guns in their assault on the nondescript hill made famous by the 1959 film Pork Chop Hill, which was based on military historian S.L.A. Marshall’s book. They were trained to pick up and expertly use weapons dropped by their enemy as they rushed relentlessly forward like a large wave to engulf and overpower everything before them. Palermo and his U.S. Army buddies in Company A were outnumbered four or five to one by the Chinese assaulting the Americans’ recently shored-up trenches.
The Chinese knew what they were doing and were determined to advance over the covered trenches separating the 1st and 2nd Platoons and make a beeline toward the company’s command post located just east and below Pork Chop’s highest point. Near that point they would enter the open trenches and cut the defenses in half just below the two high points on the hill.
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Once in the covered trenches, they could continue their rapid-fire advance to the command post and seize the secondary crest while the largest group of fighters, estimated to be a company strong, would take the hill’s crest. Two more Chinese platoons would roll over the crest, one intending to penetrate the rear and the second running to take the evacuation landing zone.
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