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Sunburst Corporal Fires M-1

Kills Red, Records 40th First


Submitted by: Ed Marshall
Article by Cpl. Walter Cord, (Pac. S&S)


KOREA -At 3 p.m. on a mid January day the crack of an M-1 rifle echoed through little valleys that crisscross the Korean landscape, from atop a high finger of a hill, a Chinese soldier tumbled, rolling over and over, clumsily to the bottom.
After 16 months of intensive training both in Japan and the United-States, the 40th Infantry Division, made up largely of men from California, had been committed to the Korean conflict.


THIS FIRST shot, fired by a soldier of the Sunburst Division, sounded when its first combat patrol met a small enemy group. The shot, fired by Cpl. Pete Romas, killed a Red.
In September 1950 , the 40th National Guard division from California was called to active duty. At first, it was said the division would be a security force to back up the Korean "police action." After months of concentrated training at Camp Cooke, the division was ordered to Japan for occupation duty in April 1951.


TRAINING for the first fatal shot did not stop; rather it was stepped up. The men were taught everything the Army could give-from beach assaults to mountain warfare and more months of constant field exercises and battle indoctrination. By the time the division was ordered to Korea the men were "good soldiers."
First mission of the division was delegated to the 160th Regiment, "Los Angeles' Own." Company A of that unit sent out a reinforced squad to contact and harass the enemy. Led by SFC Loren Knepp, the small group wound their way about 800 meters into enemy territory when Romas developed a cramp in his leg.


THEY COULDN'T stop for one man so they left him and continued on their mission. The group had advanced a short distance and were climbing a finger of a high hill when Romas sighted an enemy patrol of about 15 men climbing the other side of the finger.
He called to his comrades but they out of earshot, Picking up his rifle, he took careful aim on the lead man of the enemy element and fired. The man fell and rolled down the steep sides of the hill.


THAT SHOT warned the other men and they took up the fight. It only lasted about 30 minutes but the enemy force was broken and forced to retreat, leaving several of their number behind. Long months of preparation had payed off.
Many people were wondering how the outfit would come out in combat. Maj. Gen. Daniel H. Hudelson, division commander and a former oil company executive, had a few words to say on that subject. "Let 'em come. We will give 'em a real California welcome."
Although on inactive duty since 1946, combat is nothing new to this division. It fought long and well in the South Pacific. It came to Korea for a short time in the early stages of the occupation but was withdrawn to the states and deactivated in 1946.


ON HAND to witness the first artillery round fired by the 143d FAB was Maj. Thomas 0. Lawson, Los Angeles. This was a distinction for Lawson since he also witnessed the last round fired by the division in the Philippines in 1945.
The 40th is one of the only two National Guard divisions that have, so far, been called for combat duty. The Oklahoma Guard division, the 45th, has been on the lines for some time. The 40th also was one of the first four such units recalled to active duty in 1950.
Two of the four are scheduled for Europe to bolster General Eisenhower's Atlantic defense setup.


THE MEN of the Golden State seems glad to be in Korea and given a chance to prove themselves in combat. Morale, instead of taking a slump, jumped when they learned that Korean battlelines were to be their new home.
There's been a lot of ribbing of the 40th by men who have spent long periods in Korea. All this has done nothing to change the feeling of the Californians. They are glad to be in the fight. They are convinced it will not take long for other troops, in Korea to be glad they are here too.


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Submitted by: Ed Marshall
ON TO THE MLR-Four members of the 40th Division's 160th Infantry Regiment, Company E move out from their bunker up to the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) somewhere along thew Korean battlefront. From left to right, Cpl. Ralph Sarul of Detroit, Mich., PFC Jesse Augon of Guam, PFC Martin Auserwd of Portland, ND. and PFC Melvin W. Knott of Cory, WY.
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Submitted by: Ed Marshall
RETURN FROM OUTPOST-Three members of Company K, 160th Infantry Regiment, return to their headquarters after being relieved of guard duty somewhere along the 40th Division's front in Korea. They are (front to rear), Cpl. George Laksberger, Detroit, Mich.,Cpl. Harvey (Dick) Hammons, Grants Pass, Ore., and Pvt. Manual L. Nororiega, Los Angeles.
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Submited by: Ed Marshall
WARMER ON THE INSIDE-Two Texans and a Californian, members of the 160th Infantry Regiment's I&R section,warm themselves before a homemadestove at their headquarters along the Korean front. Left to right are, Cpl. Herbert F. Morse, Los Angeles, PFC Bruce G. Bixler, El Paso and Cpl. William B. Martin, Wichita Falls.
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This is another beautiful winter photo of the area assigned to Company "K", 223rd. It is the North Rim of the Punchbowl. Photo was taken in December 1952. Photo was submitted by John Fridley, a former member of "K" Company.
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