Jerome Albert Griswold - 1951
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
Entering the Korean War at 21 years of age.
I was born in Oct. 1930. Too young for WW2 so joined NJ State Guard at 14 and served as a Thompson sub machine gunner. Drafted at 21 and took basic and FDC training at Fort Sill. Then to C Battery in May 1952. When told that there was no immediate opening in FDC I asked for Communications or Jeep driver assignment. I was given both.
I was a Staff Sgt. as Chief of Detail Section when we moved to “Artillery Valley”. Later when we were south of Panmunjan I was acting Battery Commander of about 75 men when the guns left for another area. When we left that location I was again acting Battery Commander of the advance party for the next location before the guns arrived.
A few weeks before my overdue rotation by points I was asked to extend my time in C Battery for three months by Captain Cole. He said that a promotion to Sgt. First Class was in the works and as soon as it was confirmed he would put me in for promotion to Master Sgt. He said a replacement for me was lacking. I told him that the current “quiet time” would best for a replacement I recommended from Detail Section. Thus, Henry Tentou did get the job after I left.
During my only contact with Henry a few years later he said that C Battery lost much equipment and the adjacent 555th 105 Bn. lost half their men about two weeks after I left.
I was separated from the service about two months earlier than the required two years in August 1953.
I was among the fortunate people that believed in the need for some form of military service to our country and families. There was never a moment of resentment or self-pity. I am pleased that I was able to make a reasonable contribution.
Jerry Griswold, 1930-2005
For more information on the 96th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (155MM) , go to these links:
Scroll down for some recollections from Bill Carlson.
Bill Carlson has the following recollections:
I was very interested in your comments about C Battery and its loss of equipment during that last big Chinese push. The battle that you were referring to was the Battle of Kumsong River Salient that took place from 13 - 20 July 1953. It was the last Communist offensive with six CCF Divisions attacking against the US XI Corps.
I take it from your message that you had already left the Battery by that time. The 96th FA Bn received the order to move from the position that we had near the neutral corridor at Panmunjam to the 9th Corps area early on the morning of the 12th of July. We moved all day and arrived in the central front of the 9th Corps area. We moved from one Corps to another and did not have the crystals for our radios for the 9th Corps artillery channels. The 999 FA Bn was supposed to meet us and provide communications. When we arrived in the Chorwon Valley late that night, about midnight, the Valley was full of artillery, almost hub to hub, but there was no sign of the 999. We had no communications with any of the artillery units. C Battery was the furthermost Battery towards the front. We had wire line communications to Battalion Headquarters and the other Batteries to our rear.
The other artillery units in the Valley were firing continuously at a rapid rate, but we could not establish communications to fire. Finally, Capt. Cole said that we had better get some rest, because when we get communications, we are going to be firing just like the other artillery units. We put out security and Capt. Cole and I were catching a few winks in the fire direction center tent. We had both gone to sleep and were awakened shortly before dawn by one of the security guards who said that he had with him a sergeant from a rocket unit just up the road. They had just been overrun by the Chinese. The sergeant demanded to see the Battery Commander. When Capt. Cole heard his story, he immediately alerted the Battery and had everyone stand to. He notified Battalion, that still had no communications with Corps artillery and was not aware of the seriousness of the situation. However, as soon as it became light enough to see, we discovered that almost all the artillrery units had moved out during the night, so Headquarters and the other two firing batterys were order by Colonel Smith to move out and C Battery was alerted to prepare for a rapid displacement when ordered but would stay in place to cover the Battalion's displacement since.
Captain Cole left me at the battery with orders to prepare the guns for direct fire if necessary and be prepared to move on a moment's notice. Captain Cole then went forward to try and determine the situation up front. In the meantime we had located a Regimental CP from the ROK Capitol Division in a cave a short distance from out location. There was a U.S.Army Major who was the Regimental Advisor at the CP and he said they desperately needed artillery so we immediatley ran a wire line to his position.
Despite the Major's comments we never received a single call for fire.
In a short time Captain Cole returned and reported chaos in front of us. As we stood discussing the situation the Regimental Advisor as well as the Regimental staff came running out og the cave. The Regimental Advisor hollared to us the the the Chinese had broke through the ROK lines and were coming just over the ridge in front of us. It was overcast and drizzling a light rain and their were soon hundreds of ROK soldiers streaming through our position bugging out for the rear. They were throwing down their, even their rifles as they headed to the rear. Captain Cole ordered us to move immediately. Everything was already loaded so all we had to do was close trails and hook up the howitzers to the prime movers. We were on the road moving in a matter of minutes.
Late on the evening of the 12th when we moved into position we had a rendezvou with tanker truck that had topped off all our vehicles and jerry cans. Captain Cole had the officers supervising to be sure every vehicle and every gas can we had was filled. You will probably recall what a stickler Captain Cole was about topping off our vehiles as soon as they returned after being out of the battery position. The same was true about spare tires on all the battery vehicles. This training and command supervision was about to pay great dividends for C Battery.
As best I can recall it was between 8 and 9 A.M. when we started to move. We hadn't been on the road more than half an hour until we started running into vehicles from our Battalion Headquarters Battery abandoned along the road. The Headquarters Battery had been caught in an artillery barrage
and had suffered a lot of flat tires. Most of their vehicles didn't have spare tires with them so they were shoved in the ditch. C Battery was able to recover the Battalion FDC vehicles with their radios and all the battalion fire direction equipment. We also were able to save the Battalion Medical vehicles with all of the battalion's medical supplies. As we continued on we recovered many vehicles that had just run out of gas. We picked up two 155 Howitzers abandoned along the road and five 105 howitzers from the triple nickle, the 555 Arty Bn. We moved all day that day, stop and go, at a very slow pace, receiving some H & I and sniper fire.
Shortly after noon we came to a large rice paddy, at least a mile in length. An eight inch SP Howitzer had slid off the road and the one behind it tried to go around. The two of them became bogged down and stuck. There was no way to get around them. While the senior officers were trying to figure a way out of this predicament, a helicopter came over and a Brigadier General got out. He said he would try to get some Engineer help but the situation was such that we shouldn't count on it. He ordered the senior officer to organize all available soldiers in the stalled convoys and build a road around the two stuck tracked vehicles. In a few minutes there were hundreds of soldiers going to the nearest hill, picking up rocks and carrying them back to construct a by pass around the stalled vehicles. Within several hours the by pass was completed and we began to move again.
Finally about seven P.M., just before dark, we reached an airstrip and set up our battery position there. Over the next few days the Battery fired tons of ammunition from this location. We stayed in this postion on the airstrip until we returned to the Panmunjam area around the 20th of July.
The first morning we were in this position there were all kinds of officers coming to claim their equipment that we had recovered, however, the first person to visit us was the corps artillery commander and he said no equipment was to be released without a note from him. I specifically remember the Lt. Col. who was commander of the triple nickle, he came by to claim the five 105 howitzers that were all that remained of his battlalion. While he was there the General informed him he was relieved of his command.
In your message you mentioned the C Battery had lost a lot of equipment. Most of the units did lose a lot but not C Battery. When C Battery arrived at the airstrip position we had 93 vehicles and thriteen howitzers, five of which were 105 howitzers from the 555th Artillery Battalion. (The 555 was overrun and lost over three hundred KIA and MIA.) One of the things I still remember is one of our tracked prime movers pulling ammo trailors. As you probably remember the ammo trailors had a pintel on the rear so you could hook up the ammo trailors one behind another. This track prime mover came into the battery area pulling a line of ammo trailors, one behind the other, longer than a football field.
I have a lot of pictures of this operation from the ROK troops streaming through the Battery position in the rain throwing their equipment away to C Battery lined up on the airstrip with thirteen howitzers. The problem is they are all 35 mm slides and I don't have the capability yet to scan them and put them on line.
The statement about loss of equipment may be attributable to the fact that the truce was signed on the 27 of July. As soon as the truce was signed there was a major effort to account for all equipment including component parts and bring the units up to TO&E strength. I think this operation was a major source for units to claim combat loss for any equipment that they were missing and could not account for.
Jerry Griswold recalls:
Your comments on gas and spare tire concerns reminded me of another tidbit.
Captain Cole, myself, and ?, were in a 3/4 ton entering the Punchbowl on a recon. when we had a flat tire. The driver named Wise found the spare was flat. I trotted some distance to an outfit that we saw ahead. I arranged for delivery of a spare loaner. Captain Cole said that I was an old fashioned "p--- and vinegar" type of Sargeant. That still pleases me. It is easy to believe that the incident may have influenced his attitude towards your described fuel and tire concerns.
I read the two emails with great interest. Thank you very much for the time you took in composing them. You might consider copies to Miller.
From: Bill & Nancy Carlson
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2000 9:26 PM
Subject: Re: 96th FAB
It was a very pleasant surprise to hear from you. You are correct. It is obvious that someone was misinformed when he said that the 96th was an Armored Field Artillery Battalion. The 96th was a 155 Howitzer Track Towed Battalion. (at times we had five-ton trucks that we used as prime movers) When I arrived in the summer of 1952, Capt. Sanders was the Battery Commander, and Lt. Cole was the Battery Exec. When Capt. Sanders left, Lt. Cole took over as Battery Commander, and I moved up from Assistant Executive Officer to Battery Executive Officer, a position which I held until the cease-fire in July 1953.
You said that the 96th was just below Pirree Pass across from Bloody Ridge. That is correct and the position we occupied there was the Worni Valley position. The Battery moved to the Punchbowl during the month of February when they were expecting a big Chinese push that did not take place. That was a very cold and miserable month for C Battery. From the Punchbowl, we returned to the Worni Valley position for a short period of time, and I think that it was in April that moved into the Mung Dung Ni Valley. It was known as 'Artillery Valley'. Some time around the end of May we moved over to the Panmunjom area where we had a position right next to the De-Militarized Corridor. That position was selected so it was impossible for the Chinese to shell the Battery without taking a chance on firing into the DMZ. From the Panmunjom area we moved over to the east, several miles, to support the Marines off and on. Then the first part of July we moved to the Chorwon area to support the Forces there after the Chinese broke through the ROK Capital Division. After that area was stabilized, we moved back to the Panmunjom area where we were when the cease-fire took place.
After the cease-fire, we moved back to Uijonbo area. I was Battery Commander at the time and left approximately a week after the truce was signed.
I stayed in contact with 1/Sgt. Benny Gunter for many years. After he retired he went to work for the U.S. Post Office. He died of a heart attack about 1975. I lost contact with Capt. Cole after he returned to the States.
I stayed in the Army and I retired after 31 years. I have been retired for 19 years and I am enjoying life in Central Florida.
It was so nice to hear from you and I look forward to hearing from you again. Let's stay in contact.