K Company was soon relieved from Hill 347 and rotated to another sector in the regimental front, where the First Battalion had just been overrun. The Company stayed relatively stationary on the hills for 10 more days, while the 5th and 8th Cavalry Regiments moved up to take their objectives on Line Jamestown.
The last of the men who had been with the Company at the peak of the fighting were rotated out. Only Lieutenant David R. Hughes remained and he was the only officer in the company for a brief period. A short time later he was reassigned as the assistant Regimental S-3 (Operations Officer). That was his assignment when the 1st Cavalry Division was pulled out of the line into reserve, and prepared to ship out to Japan.
In the fighting near Chorwon, Korea, the 1st Cavalry Division had taken a severe pounding, suffering more casualties than in any equal time the Division was in Korea. K Company had lost 167 men and 6 officers - and won all its battles.
David Hughes first learned of West Point's cheating scandal, in December, when he got to Japan. He was stunned. He had been on the 1st Cavalry's front almost continuously since before the public announcement of August 3, and the story had faded from press reports by the time he was pulled off the line in October.
Not much news gets forward to troops on the line. No radios allowed. No New York Times delivered. And there aren't many free moments if you're an infantry platoon leader or a company commander. Information flows mostly one way from men on the line, and it's all business - up the chain of command, and seldom much more than orders come back down.
On January 11, 1952, David Hughes, for his actions on Hill 347, was nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest decoration. The citation accompanying his award read in part, "First Lieutenant David Ralph Hughes...is cited for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on 7 October 1951, near Sokkogae, Korea..."
David Hughes was fortunate, and he knew it. He survived unscathed. Good, brave men witnessed his act of courage in their behalf, and they had lived to tell what they saw.
There were thousands more in Korea who gave their all in no less heroic acts, but didn't survive. Sometimes their final acts were performed alone, without the benefit of witnesses. For others, no witnesses lived to tell of their courage and deeds.
But he had lived to see numerous acts of courage by men in K Company, and was determined they should be recognized. While in Japan, assigned to the 7th Regiment's headquarters, he wrote scores of recommendations for decorations. After he returned to the United States In a bitter twist of irony, fire destroyed the headquarters building, including all the recommendations for decorations he had written for the troopers of K Company.
In March 1952 Dave Hughes boarded a Japanese ship, the Oturu Maru, and sailed for home. During the crossing, he finally paused and answered the letters Captain John Flynn had written him, inquiring of K Company and its well being. "...Here beside me I have several false starts on letters to you. But they were inadequate and out of perspective..."
His answer was lengthy, completed on the only typewriter on board the ship. It was in the form of an "after action report," and clinically told of K Company's combat actions since Captain Flynn left Korea. He told of the battles for Hill 339, and "Bloody Baldy" - Hill 347, and many other details. He mailed the letter in Seattle, Washington, and headed home on leave.
The Korean War was over for David Hughes, but it would not be his last war. For his West Point Class of 1950, the Korean War wasn't yet over, and some of its members would also fight in another war. Many Academy graduates would fall in Korea, on the ground and in the air, before the Armistice was signed, though the opposing armies remained essentially static for 22 more months after K Company's last major battle.
There were more, bloody battles all along the lines separating the two opposing armies, and more fights for Hill 347 before the Armistice agreement took effect on July 27, 1953. And another, smaller hill - an Observation Post a short distance to the north of 347, achieved a blood soaked notoriety all its own, in the spring and early summer of 1953, shortly before the Armistice.
Pork Chop Hill was its name.
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