Operation Nomad from my view as a Runner
By Bob Juni, George Company, 21st Infantry Regiment
My name is Bob Juni; I live in Willmar, MN; that’s me at right in a foxhole in Korea. I was drafted on Nov. 30, 1950, and took basic training at Fort Riley, KS. I crossed the Pacific on the U.S.S. Anderson, and arrived at Inchon, South Korea on May 9, 1951.
I was assigned as ammo bearer for the 30-caliber machine gun section in “George” Company, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division.
Fellow George Company members. Standing top from left: Lexvold, Stubbs, Wells, Bob Juni (the author), Weimmer, West, Carczisso, and Valle. Kneeling front from left: Freeman, Brown, Greenwald, Thompson and Coleman.
Around the middle of July 1951, I stepped on some loose rocks at the side of a trail and fell about 20 feet, hitting my shoulder and my knee. Blood poisoning developed in my knee and I was returned to the Battalion Aid Station, where I received a lot of penicillin.
After a while at the Aid Station, I was assigned to be the Battalion runner and messenger for George Company; I replaced the current one who was rotating home.
The fellows on line were always glad to see me, especially when I brought mail. They asked if I knew what may happen next, or what I had heard at Battalion (I never knew anything special).
Usually I had about ten South Korean “chiggie” laborers in my group. They would take up litters, plus what they could put on their backs, including barbed wire rolls, ammo, water, food and the like. We took C-rations, and sometimes food stored in insulated containers. I never could believe the loads they could carry.
Operation Nomad began on Oct. 13, 1951, when George Company and the Battalion moved into a new area from several weeks in reserve. Sometimes I moved with Battalion, and other times with the Company on line. This time I moved with Battalion.
I began taking supplies, mostly ammo, up the hill to my Company. For the next few days, I was on the go almost all day and night, taking ammunition and supplies up, and bringing back KIA’s and wounded.
I can still see some of the wounded that we carried out and to this day wonder if they made it or not. Some didn’t, I know. Some made it back to Battalion and that was it.
Sometimes I would take the fellows all the way back to the Aid Station, and sometimes a jeep or halftrack would meet me at the base of the hill and then take them on to the Aid Station. We then took different litters and would go back up.
One fellow thought each time the litter bearers talked in Korean, they were Chinese, and that he was captured. I held another fellow’s butt together all the way down the hill; there was blood all over. Usually, they did not talk much, except maybe they would say thanks, but the look in their eyes told it all.
The hardest part was to see someone I knew, and those who died on the way down.
About 3:00 am. on a Monday as I recall, all runners were told they were take an important message to their companies. In the event of our capture, we were to destroy the message by eating it. We were to go into the Kumhwa Valley, and follow the tanks. We were given the general hill area where our companies were located.
I joined with the E Company runner since they were next to George on line and we set out together.
When we got to the Valley, we found that our tanks were coming back instead of going out. An officer stopped us, and told us to wait until daylight as it was a very dark night and the area we were entering was still no man’s land.
We set out at daylight walking on flat land for a while and then started our climb up the hill. We had no idea where we were, but kept making lots of noise.
As we neared the top of the hill, we ran into a lot of barbed wire, and to our surprise, were faced with a machine gun, and about a half dozen GIs, ready to fire.
We had arrived in Fox Company’s area; fortunately, they had been alerted that we would be in the area, and they thought we must be GIs because we made too much noise to be Chinese.
I followed the ridgeline to G Company, and then reported to Battalion by radio. I was told to return to Battalion to take up more supplies. It was up to me to find my own route back to Battalion, one I hoped would be more direct. I set out alone.
About halfway down the hill I saw a Chinese soldier coming toward me; we were on the same path! I ducked behind a tree, and called out the only two Chinese words I knew — Tow Shong (“Too Song”) — surrender.
He had a burp gun, and raised it as if to fire. But he couldn’t see me! I yelled “Too Song” again and this time he dropped the gun and put his hands on his head.
I had him walk in front of me, and we continued on down the hill. I was glad we did not meet any more of his fellow Reds along the way, and I don’t know why he was there alone in the first place.
When I turned him in at Battalion, he gave a lot of helpful information. He was from the 58th Regiment. He said that the Communists would have killed him if he had not gone to Korea. It was Oct. 23, 1951.
For years after Korea, I would wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking about what happened there. I never could watch “M*A*S*H,” it was more than I could handle. A lot of the kids we carried out were new replacements from California; some were only in the Company a few days.
I will always remember the rough, long, busy, and hard days of Operation Nomad. And I still think of things that happened then. I discovered I could sleep while standing up and go five days and nights without any sleep except for a few winks here and there.
I slept for a day and a half when Operation Nomad was over.
The Taro Leaf, Vol 62(4) Fall 2008, pg.16-17.