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The Last Stand of Fox Company : A True Story of U. S. Marines in Combat
November 1950, the Korean Peninsula: After General MacArthur ignores Mao's warnings and pushes his UN forces deep into North Korea, his 10,000 First Division Marines find themselves surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by 100,000 Chinese soldiers near the Chosin Reservoir. Their only chance for survival is to fight their way south through the Toktong Pass, a narrow gorge that will need to be held open at all costs. The mission is handed to Captain William Barber and the 234 Marines of Fox Company, a courageous but undermanned unit of the First Marines. Barber and his men climb seven miles of frozen terrain to a rocky promontory overlooking the pass, where they will endure four days and five nights of nearly continuous Chinese attempts to take Fox Hill. Amid the relentless violence, three-quarters of Fox's Marines are killed, wounded, or captured. Just when it looks like the outfit will be overrun, Lt. Colonel Raymond Davis, a fearless Marine officer who is fighting south from Chosin, volunteers to lead a daring mission that cuts a hole in the Chinese lines and relieves the men of Fox. This is a fast-paced and gripping account of heroism and sacrifice in the face of impossible odds.
The authors of the bestselling Halsey's Typhoon do a fine job recounting one brutal, small-unit action during the Korean War's darkest moment. In November 1950, as General MacArthur's troops were advancing deep into North Korea, China warned that it would intervene if armies approached its border. U.S. troops were scattered through mountainous terrain at the onset of a freezing winter. Using extensive interviews with survivors, the authors tell the story of one 234-man company ordered to secure a rocky promontory overlooking the legendary Chosin Reservoir. Abundant and detailed maps enable readers to track the vicious week-long battle almost minute by minute as the men fought off repeated assaults by overwhelming Chinese forces until another marine unit arrived to rescue the few survivors. The authors draw no great lessons from Fox Company's ordeal, but deliver a precise, technically accurate account of the fighting. Although aimed at military buffs, the closeup views of individual marines tested to their limits will engage any reader curious to learn how brave men fought a conventional 20th-century war. 100,000 announced first printing; 12-city author tour.(Jan.)
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Atlantic Monthly Press
January 05, 2009
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Excerpt from The Last Stand of Fox Company by Tom Clavin
After two nights of repulsing Chinese assaults, the 246 able-bodied Marines and corpsmen of Fox Company had been reduced to 159 "effectives," most of them frostbitten. Captain Barber knew better than to show it, but doubts crossed his mind. He wondered if his men had one more day--or night--of fight left in them.
Just after 8 a.m., Colonel Litzenberg managed to make radio contact with Barber from Yudam-ni. Barber sensed that Litzenberg was pondering a hard decision. After an uncomfortable silence, the colonel came out with it. He offered Barber the option of leading Fox Company off the hill and fighting his way back down to Hagaru-ri. "Your call," he said.
Barber had discussed this alternative with his XO, Clark Wright, only moments before. Moving his wounded was a major consideration, but so was tactical strategy. "Well, hell, we're already here," he had finally told Wright. "If we're ever going to get the Seventh together in one piece, it's going to involve fighting for this damned hill. It's probably better to keep it while we've got it."
Now he reiterated these thoughts to Litzenberg, who wondered if holding Fox Hill and keeping Toktong Pass open was becoming a suicide mission. The colonel asked one more time if Fox Company would--if it could--fulfill its mission. The answer would become seared in the legacy of the U.S. Marine Corps: "We will hold, sir," Barber vowed. For both men, there was nothing more to say.