Outpost Kelly: A Tanker's Story

Outpost Kelly: A Tanker's Story

by Jack R. Siewert
     
 

In the second year of the Korean War, Jack Siewert commanded a platoon of five M-46 tanks. Temporarily assigned to provide fire support for an infantry battalion on the front, he eventually found himself in the midst of intense fighting for a relatively unknown and unimportant hill, code named Outpost Kelly.
 
Those four days of battle against Chinese

Overview


In the second year of the Korean War, Jack Siewert commanded a platoon of five M-46 tanks. Temporarily assigned to provide fire support for an infantry battalion on the front, he eventually found himself in the midst of intense fighting for a relatively unknown and unimportant hill, code named Outpost Kelly.
 
Those four days of battle against Chinese forces form the heart of this memoir, which is unique in its focus on the hill fighting that dominated two thirds of the Korean War. Trained to take advantage of his tanks’ mobility, his orders—to provide direct fire support for advancing infantry—along with the mountainous terrain and the torrential monsoon rains that created shin-deep fields of impenetrable mud, forced him to abandon doctrine and improvise.
 
At the height of the fighting, Siewert was able to bring to bear the guns from only one of his five tanks against the enemy. Nevertheless, his platoon played a key role in allowing members of the 15th Infantry to retake Outpost Kelly, and he offers an excellent analysis of how theory and experience come together in a point-of-the-spear military situation.
 
Siewert's platoon played a key role in allowing members of the 15th Infantry to retake Outpost Kelly, and he offers an excellent analysis of how theory and experience come together in a point-of-the-spear military situation. Outpost Kelly also paints a fascinating picture of the type of fighting, often overlooked, that characterized the second and third years of the Korean War. With truce talks proceeding in Panmunjom, both sides fought to claim incremental pieces of real estate along the demarcation line between North and South.
 
In the grand scheme of the war, the battle for Outpost Kelly might not ahce meant much. But for 3rd Infantry Division, and the men, like Jack Siewert, who fought there, it was the entire focal point of the war during the last four days of July, 1952.
 

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“In Outpost Kelly: A Tanker’s Story, Jack Siewert provides a gripping tale of three weeks in July 1952 when his tank platoon finds itself performing an uncharacteristic task. While frequently undergoing enemy mortar attack, they are plagued by monsoon conditions and play a crucial role in the struggle against the Chinese for control of an important outpost.”—M. K. Barbier, author of Kursk: The Greatest Tank Battle 1943

“1st Lt. Jack Siewert, a tank platoon leader, 64th Tank Battalion, 1951–1952, brings the outpost war in Korea to life in personal and professional terms. He shows in stark terms a war of position and deception that only the strong could fight, but not win.”—Allan R. Millett, Director, Eisenhower Center, The University of New Orleans, and author of Their War for Korea

KLIATT - Raymond Puffer
Warfare is so much more than great armies wheeling in clever strategic maneuvers, of divisions invading enemy beaches or battering enemy strong points into submission. Much more often, war is long, dusty marches as tired platoons are plugged into critical points on the line, or small units cowering under enemy barrages in their waterlogged defensive trenches. And always, there is the young company-grade officer, not long out of college, using his untried resources and half-remembered lectures to make sense out of a bewildering situation. Leadership is a skill always learned in the field, and how successful it is depends on what is in the soldier to begin with. In 1950, Second Lieutenant Jack Siewert found himself in charge of a platoon of five M?48 Patton tanks and their enlisted crews, rapidly learning how to survive and fight in a morass of rocky hills in Korea. Here, the author tells of a fairly routine three-day assignment to the front line that morphed into a two-week struggle to defend, and then to retake, an isolated outpost. It was not one of the more newsworthy battles of the war, nor was it strictly speaking even a battle—mostly it was just tension-filled waiting interspersed with grinding fighting. This isn't even a coming-of-age-in-combat tale; Siewert was a capable and self-possessed young officer before the combat began, and a stable and responsible one afterward. His story is, in fact, is refreshingly free of self-conscious angst and melodrama. It comes across as the tale of most young men, placed in uniform and in command of a small body of men, who simply do what they must do under new and frightening conditions. It also makes an instructive manual for others, inor out of the military, who might find themselves in a boots-on-the-ground leadership position someday. Recommended for school and public collections.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780817353414
Publisher:
University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
10/01/2006
Series:
Fire Ant Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author


Jack R. Siewert, LTC USA (Ret.) is a retired career U.S. Army officer.
 

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