Korean Christmas Carol
Friday, December 24, 2010
Sixty years ago the Korean War began and the United States entered the war as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force. Many North Dakota servicemen saw duty in Korea. On this date in 1951, many sat on lonely hilltops in Korea or wasted away in North Korean prison camps.
Low on food, supplies and ammunition, conditions were harsh for those on the line and casualties were high. Don Skinner, an Air Force forward observer, penned the GI version of the Night Before Christmas. This was picked up by Lt. Col. Darrell Rathbun and published in the Stars and Stripes and subsequently in many North Dakota newspapers for this date in 1951.
Christmas In Korea, 1951
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the tent
Was the odor of fuel oil – the stove pipe was bent.
The shoe-pacs were hung by the chimney with care,
In the hope that they’d issue each man a new pair.
The weary GIs were sacked out in their beds,
And vision of sugar babes dance through their heads.
When out on the ridge line there rose such a clatter;
A Chinese machine gun had started to chatter.
I sprang to my rifle and threw back the bolt,
Checked for my ammo, and then, with a jolt
We tumbled outside in a swirl of confusion,
So cold that each man could have used a transfusion.
The flares overhead and the piles of new snow
Gave the look of high noon to the country below.
When, what with my bloodshot eyes did I see,
But a huge man a-standing and glaring at me.
He had a broad face and a great big beer belly,
So I knew it was just my platoon sergeant Kelly.
His squads, although freezing, a-running they came,
And he cursed them and shouted and called them by name.
“Now Stevens, now Gordon, now Housely, and Dickson,
You, Browner, you Coley, you Gottlieb, and Nixon.
Get up on that ridge line and silence that Red,
And don’t you come back ’til you know that he’s dead.”
We jumped for the trail at the top of the ridge,
Across all the sandbags, and down to the bridge.
And we heard him exclaim as we crawled out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all – may you live through the night.
Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis
The Fargo Forum December 16, 1951
Email – Judith Knight to Merry Helm – December 2, 2010