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.