The Main Line of Resistance
The letters of this chapter share our perceptions on life on the, main line of resistance, known as the MLR—life in bunkers, on outposts, and on patrols in search of the enemy. The map traces important phases of the 1952 operations and locates key hills and ridges on the western and central fronts of the MLR, where Eighth Army action was concentrated. The area was called the most dangerous strip of ground on earth.
The MLR was a deep trench, from five to seven feet in depth, running along the ridgeline of the hills. Theoretically, the MLR was a continuous trench avenue that ran from coast to coast, cutting the peninsula of Korea in half.
We were lucky to be on the front line during a two-month period when, except for a few incidents, there was a relative lull for the Fifth Marine Regiment. However, we learned through “scuttlebutt” that passed from bunker to bunker that other points on the MLR were not so lucky. On the western hills near the Chorwon Valley, seven Chinese regiments had spent three weeks trying to take White Horse Hill from the Republic of Korea Ninth Division. The ROKS, as we called them, had held out at the cost of 3,500 casualties, inflicting close to ten thousand Chinese casualties. As a counteraction, General Van Fleet launched in October an attack (called Operation Showdown) a little farther east, near the village of Kumhwa. The Chinese decided they wanted to keep those hills, so the battle continued for six weeks, ending after about ten thousand UN casualties and about twenty thousand Communist.