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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

"Chosin Few" honored with new monument

By Lance Cpl. Michelle S. Mattei | | September 16, 2010

More than 250 attendees gathered on the grounds of Camp Pendleton's South Mesa Club, Sept. 15, to unveil a new Chosin Reservoir monument donated in remembrance of the heroes who served through the harsh climates of the Korean War.

The surviving heroes, known as the "Chosin Few," stood out gallantly among the crowd of Marines, sailors and distinguished guests who attended the ceremony. This day marked the 60th anniversary of Operation Chromite; the dangerous and difficult amphibious landing at Inchon, Korea, Sept. 15, 1950.

The 3,000 pound granite monument is a tribute to the more than 4,400 Marines and soldiers who did not survive overwhelming odds and the 35 degrees below zero weather. It stands to remind those present of the military's service and sacrifice during the reservoir's bitter campaign in which the 1st Marine Division fought a prodigious battle.

As Gen. James T. Conway’s tenure as the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps comes to an end, he paid a visit to the ceremony and spoke in honor of those who gave their lives at the great battle.

"Korea is often a forgotten war that many consider a police action," said Conway during his last public address to West Coast troops before retiring as commandant. "We in the Marine Corps don't see it that way. We see it as a tremendous bright spot in our legacy."

At the Chosin Reservoir battle, Marines and soldiers fought against more than 100,000 Chinese troops and has been remembered as one of the major battles of the three-year war with Korea.

“In the battle to break the Chinese lines, we lost more than 4,000 U.S. (troops),” said Bob Licker, a Chosin Few hero and master of ceremonies. “This monument now stands in our memory and honor.”

The memorial commemorated what Conway called, "probably the most extreme environment faced by any group of Marines anywhere."

A carving by retired Combat Artist Col. Charles Waterhouse, and the quote “Retreat Hell,” now creates a symbolic view of commemoration for anyone who crosses the monument’s path.

“We may walk in the valley of the shadow of death; that’s our business and our nation expects us to conduct it with the vigor and dash that has always been the trademark of the Corps,” said Actor Dale Dye, retired Marine Capt. and guest speaker of the event.  “We will do that gladly and confidently because we walk in the shadow of giants like the marines who fought at the Chosin Reservoir.”