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The Last Stand at Fox Company
America’s imperialist leanings have often led to its military committing to secure its economic interests. Under the UN umbrella, the American sought to secure the capitalist South Korean territories from the invading communist North. Authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin recreate the real life events that unfolded in November 1950 within the Korean Peninsula in the book titled, Last stand of the Fox Company (2009). This was after General MacArthur chose to overstep the 38th Parallel; a line demarcating the two warring countries which led the Chinese to intervene for the visibly shaken North Korean military. This paper presents a book review on the heroics of a 246 man company allied to the First Marine Division under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur.
The Chinese government had exhibited a passive stance on the conflict occurring close to its sovereign territory. However, after the North Koreans were overwhelmed by the tact and resourcefulness of the American Army under the auspices of the U.N. forces, General MacArthur directed his troops to push further into North Korean territory. According to Drury and Clavin (2009), the US marine force of about 8,000 marines had proceeded inwards into North Korea to the extent of being too far from main supply lines. As the authors provide, “MacArthur’s plan was to sweep across North Korea free of the communist dictator Kim II Sung’s fleeing North Korea People’s Army all the way to the Yalu River (14).” The Chinese forces engaged the marines with overwhelming personnel numbers at a ratio of 1:10 pressing the Americans to fall back.
The last stand of Fox Company is a narrative giving intricate detail of the precarious terrain that the American forces had to quickly fall back on in winter time temperatures which fell up to 33degrees below zero. As Drury and Clavin (2009) posit, “the bitter cold, and the mind numbing winds made him want the men dug in before any warming tents were erected (37)”. The engagements were in a mountainous region overlooking the Chosin Reservoir known as Toktong Pass. This was the only viable route allowing for a quick withdrawal for the American troops. Captain Will Barber was leader of the Fox Company which was made up of many young soldiers with little frontline batter experience. As Drury and Clavin 2009) provide, “an entire squad failed to take out three fleeing North Koreans no more than two hundred yards away (32).” The Captain and his troops were under orders to climb the mountainous terrain and adequately secure the rocky cape overseeing the pass.
The book also offers detailed maps which allow audiences to track the battle which lasted a couple of days against numerous Chinese troops until more support was called in. Drury and Calvin provide that the young American soldiers were not only wary of the Chinese onslaught but also had to fight off the undefeatable forces of nature through any means necessary. The freezing temperatures rendered the food rations useless while frost bites claimed their appendages as well as jammed weapons. This implied that at many at times, the battles was in close combat necessitating the use of bare hands, rocks and shovels to ward of the enemy. The weather was so cold that wounds happened to seal up almost as soon as wounds were inflicted.
This book tells of the ordeal the Fox Company had successfully to stand up to while bearing very painful losses to the effect that only about 60 marines survived the engagement. The authors offer an intricate and technically accurate description of a real life war mission which tells of the resilience of the American Army. Though greatly outnumbered, the Fox Company is able to withstand relentless violence, cut off the Chinese supply line and secure the pass until reinforcements arrived. This book is indeed a literary masterpiece that engages the reader in a fast paced and richly engrossing tale of sacrifice and heroism in the midst of unimaginable odds.
Drury, B., & Clavin, T. (2009). The last stand of Fox Company: A true story of US Marines in combat. New York City, NY: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.. (Drury & Clavin, 2009)