With a Black Platoon in Combat: A Year in Korea / Edition 1

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The first year of the Korean Conflict was a dark and humiliating period for many of the troops who fought there. Against a backdrop of U.S. political indecision and reduced military capability, American soldiers fought a dedicated and numerically strong enemy force that was determined to overrun South Korea. One of these units, the segregated 24th Infantry Regiment, was made up of black soldiers commanded for the most part by white officers. Lyle Rishell, an infantry platoon leader, led a black platoon of Able Company in that regiment. This book tells the dramatic, often frustrating, sometimes heroic story of that platoon in that first, fateful year of war.

From detailed notes he made at the time, and from his memories of those days, Rishell reconstructs the deployment and tactics of his unit, its day-to-day actions and survival. The story that unfolds is one of honor, fear, fighting spirit, fierce combat, and the cries of wounded men.

The 24th Infantry Regiment has received bad press from many historians of the Korean War, who claim that the black soldiers and noncommissioned officers were undisciplined and even cowardly in battle. Rishell's moving account, based on his own experiences, describes his men as no better or worse than any other infantrymen in the first year in Korea. His troops fought well from July, 1950, to May, 1951, in nearly constant frontline action against the North Koreans and the Chinese Communists, despite a variety of significant fundamental obstacles, including the racial prejudice of much of their own army.

It is a unique and compelling story of the relationship of a white officer and black soldiers before integration of the services and the civil rights legislation of the sixties. It is also an important corrective to a poorly understood aspect of one of America's most dismal conflicts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rishell's skimpy memoir, padded with expositional material about the history of the Korean War, is nonetheless a valuable eyewitness report of the early weeks of the 1950-1953 conflict. As a white lieutenant, he commanded an all-black platoon of the 24th Infantry Regiment in the defense of the Pusan Perimeter and the pursuit of the North Korean Army after Gen. Douglas MacArthur's Inchon landing. Rishell spent several weeks in an Army hospital in Japan recuperating from injuries, but returned to his unit for Operation Ripper, the first U.S. offensive against Chinese Communist forces. Surprisingly, Rishell does not discuss race relations, noting only that his platoon's reputation for unreliability in the presence of the enemy is undeserved: ``They performed well. There was never a moment when they failed me, nor did I give any thought to the fact that they were black.'' Photos. (Apr.)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

LYLE RISHELL served as an officer with the 24th Infantry Regiment for eleven months during the Korean War. Among his decorations and awards are the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action and two Purple Hearts for wounds received during combat. He also holds the Legion of Merit and the Parachutist and Combat Infantryman's badges.
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Table of Contents

Korean War Chronology
1 Alpha Phase 3
2 Mobilization and Movement 10
3 Korea, the Hermit Kingdom 19
4 First Contact 29
5 The Pusan Perimeter 48
6 The Fight Continues 71
7 Perimeter Breakout 82
8 Mop-up Operations 98
9 Redeployment 108
10 Time Out 126
11 Call It Homecoming 136
12 The Han River Crossing 143
13 Thrust and Counterthrust 152
14 Phase Omega 162
Epilogue 166
Appendix A. 24th Infantry Regiment 170
Appendix B. Composition of Second Platoon 171
Index 173
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