H. DECKER, JR.
Patriot, Chapter 1919
(USMC, Korea) Article May 1996
William H. (Bill)
entered service in the Marine Corps, June 29, 1948. He served in Korea
in the 5th
Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. They were part of the
summer offensive in 1950 that carried all the way to the Manchurian border.
Bill Decker was part of the fighting at Inchon, Kimpo Airfield, and Seoul.
In Seoul on September 26, 1950, Bill was wounded by mortar shell fragments.
He was in the Wonsan landing and at Hamhung, where the 5th
Marines continued to advance.
At Chosin Reservoir,
the Marines dug in on November 3rd, only 36 miles south of
Manchuria. They held that position until the Chinese Army came swarming
down on November 25th. Then began a long and agonizing retreat.
Most of the Marines in Billís unit suffered frostbite in the bitterly cold
fighting. The menís shoe-pacs caused most of it. The thick rubber on the
bottom made the feet sweat, no matter how cold it got. Then when they would
stop, even for a few minutes, the feet would freeze. And, thatís what
happened to Bill. The unit made it back to Hagaru-ri, and there the long
process of evacuation of the wounded began.
Flights in C-47ís and
C-54ís took Decker to Japan, Wake Island, and Honolulu. When he finally
arrived in Oak Knoll hospital in Oakland, California for treatment of his
frostbitten hands and feet, he still had a piece of shell fragment in his
leg. He was presented the Purple Heart Medal at his bedside and shortly
afterward was sent home to Galveston, Texas on sick leave.