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biography

A typhoon on September 3 interrupted the work and soaked all the supplies on the docks.  It was an eerie repeat of the division’s troubles in New Zealand when it had mounted out on similar short notice for Guadalcanal.   Caption Sitter informed Chesty that the losses included all the regiments’ recreation equipment.  The colonel merely growled: “We came here to fight, not to play.”

 

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Information on the Inch'ŏn operation remained scarce until Puller flew up to Tokyo for a briefing from the division staff aboard the command ship, USS Mont McKinley (AGC-7). Due to the incredibly short time frame --- the division had to be loaded by September 9 --- Bowser and his assistants already had developed detailed plans for the landing and employment of the subordinate units of the 1st and 5th Marines.  Such decision normally were made by the regimental commanders, based on their analysis of how best to achieve the broad mission assigned by higher headquarters. 

 Chesty registered a vigorous protest over the loss of prerogative, but it was impossible to change things at this late date. In any case, the regimental and battalion staffs were more than busy the next few days supervising the reloading and trying to develop an adequate picture of the situation they would face.  The 1st Marines received only one set of aerial photos (which did not fully cover the objective) and each battalion was given only a few hours in which to use them.  Good information on the beaches did not make it into the hands of the assault battalions until a few hours before they sailed. The handful of days available to prepare for the operation --- “probably the shortest period ever allotted to a major amphibious assault” --- made such problems inevitable.  Matters were complicated further by physical separation.  Half of Puller’s regiment was fifty miles away at Otsu.  He was nearly three hundred miles from the division headquarters in Tokyo, while the 5th was still entangled in fighting in the Pusan Perimeter, and the 7th was at sea.  To add to the last-minute turmoil, the Secretary of the Navy decreed that no seventeen-year-olds could go into combat, so the division had to leave five hundred men in Japan.

 

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Puller spent one day visiting his troops at Camp Otsu.  It was the first opportunity to ride the Sergeant Orville W. Jones, the driver he had picked out at Pendleton. The strapping veteran of Okinawa maneuvered along the crowed road with speed and aggressiveness, attributes that immediately endeared him to his new boss.  The other Marine that soon became a fixture on Chesty’s personal staff was Sergeant Jan Bodey, a recently mobilized reservist who also had fought in World War II.   He was an expert with small arms and had a reputation for toughness that made him an ideal bodyguard.