Action began on October 3, with the Fourth Battalion - the Greek Expeditionary Force, to the right of K Company, and I Company on the left. At the end of the first day's fighting, the remainder of the late Lieutenant Radcliffe's First Platoon was destroyed, and two K Company officers were critically wounded. Company G took 130 casualties, including 4 officers, on Hill 418, and the Greek company on the right of K took 135. The 2d Battalion won and lost Hill 418 five times.
On October 4, the attacking forces again started toward 347 with all the support they could muster. Again K Company made it to the enemy trenches, as did the Greeks, but the tremendous mortar fire and the seemingly unlimited numbers of enemy forced out K Company and the Greeks. That was the night Dave Hughes received 30 replacements whose faces he never saw before he committed them to the early morning assault.
The next day, they tried again. The Greeks reached and held their objectives. K Company didn't. Not until all the companies of the 3d Battalion attacked just after dark . K Company took the two smaller hills with 17 more casualties, including the artillery and 4.2 inch mortar Forward Observers.
On October 6, the attackers, including K Company, reorganized, while the Chinese threw 3,000 rounds into the 7th Cavalry Regiment's area of operations.
Having taken the two smaller hills nearer 347, K Company was ready to advance on their primary objective. No more replacements came. The hill was bare for 400 yards down from the peak, which meant assaulting troopers would be completely exposed in the final lunge at the crest.
The Chinese were well covered, deeply dug in with interconnecting trenches, tunnels, dugouts, and bunkers. The trenches were four feet deep, displaced down the hill a few yards below the crest. Direct fire from below, even from tanks, couldn't dislodge them. They had 60, 82, and 120mm mortars on the hill with them, and supporting artillery registered for probable approaches to their defense network.
All elements of the 7th Cavalry's Third Battalion were committed. The assault began at 10:00 am, with L and I Companies attacking up the other side of the peak. While L Company was fighting up the hill, I Company had to turn and counterattack toward the 3d Battalion Observation Post, where senior officers in the Battalion were fighting off grenade attacks on their flank.
When the first assault by K Company began, Dave Hughes was 700 yards to the rear, where he could - observe and control the remaining two platoons' progress, and coordinate the supporting fires. His 2d Platoon led the attack.
The assault initially appeared successful. They reached the enemy's trenches but were forced off by intense fire, and grenades. Pinned down, they lost one officer and 20 more men. In each assault the Chinese rained grenades on their attackers, including anti-tank grenades. Sergeant Eugene F. Chyzy, the M Company machine gun section leader attached to K Company for the attack, remembered seeing three and four enemy grenades in the air at the same time.
The second time up 347 that day, Third Platoon attempted to assist, but the attack bogged down, the officer leading the First Platoon was wounded. K Company fell short again.
In the third attempt, the last officer in the Company, other than David Hughes, was wounded by a grenade, breaking the attack. Platoon Sergeant Monroe S. McKenzie, now leader of the Third Platoon, radioed Hughes. McKenzie could see only three men left in the assault element. He asked Hughes what he should do. Hughes told him to "Hang on."
There were actually six K Company riflemen left, still able to fight on Hill 347. What happened next was something Dave Hughes remembered little of afterward, until he began reading operations reports in Japan weeks later.
While observing the previous three assaults, he saw what had to be done differently to reach and hold the crest of 347 that day. He gathered the Company's headquarters element, mortar crews, and remaining Forward Observers, and told them they were to be riflemen. With the surviving K Company riflemen on the northeast slope of the hill there would be a total of 30 men, - the equivalent of one, under strength platoon.
They loaded themselves up with ammunition and as many hand grenades as they could carry. Because the Forward Observers now were riflemen, there would be no fire support - artillery and mortars - for the Company.
Hughes led Sergeant Chyzy and his M Company machine gun section to a position where they could support the fourth assault on Hill 347. He told Chyzy they were "...to fire at any enemy up there [they] could hit, even if he or other G.I.s were up there and got counterattacked."
He then gave orders for the assault. They were to use marching fire - fire repeatedly as they moved forward - to keep down the enemy's fire. They were to run through enemy return fire and grenades, no matter how intense, no matter the cost, until they crossed the Chinese trenches. Then they were to turn around and come back down on the trenches from above and behind.
Moving to the front of his men, he began the assault up the last 150 yards toward the crest of "Bloody Baldy," shouting encouragement. The time was about 1:00 pm. Three hours had elapsed since the attack on Hill 347 had begun.
Fatigue shirts and pockets stuffed with grenades up they went. Up a hillside being savaged by heavy mortar barrages, up through shrapnel from exploding grenades, and small arms fire from their right flank. The men faltered, slowed, wanting to take cover. Hughes kept going, stayed in the lead, firing his submachine gun. Men began to notice, to see their commander, this young lieutenant, demonstrating extraordinary courage and calmness in a storm of return fire, mortar rounds, and grenades. He was in the lead, showing the way; they had to follow. They didn't want to let him down. They couldn't leave him out front, alone.
Master Sergeant McKenzie saw two men killed by enemy anti- tank grenades. Hughes didn't slow his ascent. McKenzie and Corporal Robert W. Holden then saw Hughes throw his weapon down, jammed or empty. He began hurling grenades - and kept going. He rushed the top, continuing to throw grenades, going straight for the bunker which had repeatedly stopped the previous attacks. To McKenzie, Hughes was "pulling his men through the fire," keeping the Chinese from standing up to fire back, and allowing the remaining riflemen to spread out and overrun the trench line. They followed, trying to keep pace. He went for the bunker, knocked it out, and continued to throw grenades into the lateral trenches, tunnels, and dugouts.
SFC Arthur J. Shuld, Jr. was following not far behind Dave Hughes when he surged the final yards toward the top. Shuld tried to keep up, but was hit, wounded. As he was being helped back toward the aid station, he saw his Company Commander had made it to the top. The surviving K Company men were on the trench line with him, moving about, systematically throwing grenades and firing into the enemy positions.
When they reached the crest, they saw the L Company lead men coming up the other side. Sergeant Chyzy, with his M Company machine gun section, also watched in admiration, as Dave Hughes led the rush toward the crest of Hill 347. He saw the men of K Company hesitate, then follow. When next he saw David Hughes, he was on top of the hill, shouting for Chyzy to bring his section up.
Chyzy would later say, "By his outstanding courage and leadership, Lt. Hughes inspired us so much that my section and myself under any conditions would stay with Lt. Hughes to the last man."
Sergeant Ray P. Moses, K Company, said "During the...push on Hill 347...I have never seen such heroism and courage as that Lt. Hughes had shown during the attack...It was only one of many times I have seen...his leadership and lack of fear while he was my company commander, but this was the greatest."
Corporal Holden recalled, "His coolheadedness and lack of bother for the terrible enemy fire in the attack presented an example to the men which alone held the Company together...Upon being first up the hill and I being down behind him I saw he was fighting and killing like a mad man so we could get up there. Running in and out of the bunkers he threw everything he could, including Chinese grenades, until the hill was taken."
Tunnel by tunnel the men of K Company rooted the enemy out. A reinforced battalion of enemy soldiers had defended Hill 347. They were defending a Chinese division and regimental artillery command post. By dark K Company marched 192 prisoners off the hill, and counted 100 dead enemy soldiers within the Chinese trenches ringing the hilltop. An unknown number of enemy casualties were attributed directly to David Hughes.
There were 250 enemy dead on the hill, many in their bunkers. The Third Battalion, 7th Cavalry suffered 71 casualties. They had captured or killed all but 80 men in the enemy battalion. With all the attachments to K Company, including Sergeant Chyzy's 14 man Company M machine gun section, which joined them on top, David Hughes had only 37 men left under his command that day, only 15 from Company K. The fight for Hill 347 was over - for October 7, 1951.
Go onto Part 11 - Aftermath
Return to Menu