ON HALLOWED GROUND: The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill

Article excerpt

ON HALLOWED GROUND: The Last Battle for Pork Chop Hill, Bill McWilliams, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2003, 520 pages, $29.95.

On Hallowed Ground narrates the exceptional story of the 7th Infantry Division's fight to hold Pork Chop Hill in Korea in early July of 1953. Elements of the division's 17th and 32d Infantry Regiments endured repeated assaults by Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) 3 weeks before the armistice was signed. Intrigued and haunted by this battle, Bill McWilliams explored its depths, his research taking him into the lives of the West Point Class of 1952. (Two classmates, Lieutenants Richard Shea and Richard Inman, were in the same unit and killed 2 days apart on Pork Chop Hill.)

Set against the backdrop of the Panmunjom negotiations, the story is one of dedication, courage, and sacrifice in the trenches, bunkers, and outposts. Because of its commanding positions on neighboring hills, the CCF was able to observe and map the bunkers and trenches being built on Pork Chop Hill. On 6 July, it launched its well-planned and overwhelming attack.

Although reeling from the initial onslaught, Alpha Company 1-17 Infantry managed to hold enough of the position to facilitate a counterattack that gained back some of the hill, but the force quickly ran out of personnel as casualties mounted and gains had to be defended. This became the pattern of the battle. American companies attacked and consolidated small gains while the CCF launched battalion-level counterattacks at night to recapture the positions. …