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Marine recalls time served during Korean War

Cannon Connections photo: Tony Bullocks Cannon AFB leadership class 06-D, honored Robert E. Simmons, by placing him on their “Wall of Heroes” in April of 2006 and presented him with a shadow box that displays his awards and decorations from the course of his 20-year career in the Marines.

Clarence Plank

Robert Simmons, 81, of Clovis fought in the Korean War and if it wasn’t for the combined effort from all U.S. military branches, he and the men that he fought side-by-side with would not have made it out alive, he said.

A first sergeant, Simmons did a little bit of everything in Korea, and was considered an expert in cold weather operations. It would come in handy during a mission from October to December of 1950.

Simmons, who was in the infantry, and his fellow Marines made an amphibious landing at Inch’on, South Korea in October. The mission was to cut off the North Koreans, who invaded the south in September. They liberated Inch’on and Seoul and then traveled north to Wonsan, Simmons said.

“That didn’t end the war,” Simmons said. “The Chinese came down in mid-November. The Chinese attacked because North Korea and China share a common border and they didn’t want us getting close to that border.”

Simmons said Gen. Douglas MacArthur decided to cross the 38th parallel and liberate the north so the country could be unified (it was split up after World War II — the U.S. occupied the south and Russia the north).

Simmons was with the 1st Marine Division, which went up to the Chosin Reservoir near Yudami-ni. Once it arrived on Nov. 1, the men were on the west side of the reservoir. On the east side were two divisions of the 7th Army Division, who he thinks they were ordered to secure everything on the east side of the reservoir Simmons said.

The 7th was in bad shape, not having adequate clothing in the winter months.

A total 120,000 Chinese troops attacked the troops, with the intent on annihilating the 1st Marine Division.

Simmons’ group was able to repel the Chinese attack enough to manage a stalemate. The 7th managed to fight their over to Simmons group by crossing the frozen reservoir Simmons said. On orders from Gen. Edward Allen, the groups fought their way down a mountain road to Hungnam where the Navy had ships to evacuate soldiers on Dec. 6.

“If it hadn’t been for the other branches of the armed forces,” Simmons said. “We might not have made it out.”

Simmons said they were there for a total of five weeks from the time they arrive at Chosin until they were evacuated.

Simmons retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years, four months and one day on May 15, 1966.

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