In a mere two days by September 5 the Marines wiped out the NKPA 9th Division. No exact accounting of its casualties was ever made. Perhaps as many as 5,000 NKPA troops fell. Whatever the number, the 9th Division was "not able to resume the offensive," the Army historian wrote. When the Marines withdrew at midnight per MacArthur's decision the remnants of Hill's 9th Infantry took over the ground regained by the Marines.[9-49]
As the Marines were withdrawing from this battle, Commander in Chief Harry Truman delivered them a grievous and gratuitous blow below the belt, which arose from his long and petty distrust of the Navy and its admirals. In response to a letter from a congressman proposing that the Marine Corps be enlarged, Truman wrote, in part: "For your information, the Marine Corps is the Navy's police force and as long as I am President that is what it will remain. They have a propaganda machine that is almost equal to Stalin's." The congressman released the letter to the press; Marines worldwide were naturally outraged. Although Truman publicly apologized to Marine Commandant Clifton B. Cates, most Marines remained bitter toward him.[9-50]
John Hill did not enjoy the fruits of this victory. Dutch Keiser sacked him, giving the 9th back to Chin Sloane. Hill was the fifth American regimental commander to be fired in Korea. Not much was said about the others, but Hill's case became controversial. Some believed the sacking was justified; others, including Sladen Bradley, believed it was unfair, that the 9th had been mauled principally because it was carrying out Keiser's ill-timed Operation Manchu. When Hill came up for promotion to brigadier general in 1953, Bradley (then a major general) and Matt Ridgway (then Army chief of staff) sided with Hill against Keiser, and Hill got his star. But it was a Pyrrhic victory: Owing to an Army rule, Hill was forced to retire.[9-51]*
*The so-called thirty and five rule, put into effect in 1954 and designed to rid the Army of its "bulge" of senior officers left over from World War II. Under its terms, officers who had thirty years' service and had not been promoted within five years were compelled to retire. Hill's promotion came a little too late.
* * *
The job of rebuilding the two shattered battalions of
the 9th Infantry fell to its new commander, Chin Sloane. He retained John
Londahl as commander of the 1/9 but replaced the 2/9 commander, Joe Walker,
with the able, aggressive, and combat experienced Butch Barberis from Freeman's
23d. To fill out the depleted ranks in the two battalions Sloane (almost alone
among regimental commanders in Korea) willingly accepted black fillers.
Barberis remembered the infusion of blacks into his 2/9: "I was very, very
low on men - less than half strength - and raised hell to get more troops. The
division G-one called and, knowing that I had previously commanded a battalion
of black troops [9-in the 25th Infantry], said he had almost two hundred blacks
*Inasmuch as the full-strength 3/9 (still at Pohang) was entirely black, the infusion of black fillers into the 1/9 and 2/9 would give the 9th Regiment as a whole a very high percentage of black personnel.