Place Names


Bean Patch


The USMC bivouac Bean Patch
Back to the Bean Patch
A Short Respite
(with a very rare hot meal)

December 13 or 14, 1950-The 1st Marine Division arrived at the Bean Patch on the northern outskirts of Masan. The Bean Patch had been the assembly point in September for the 5th Regiment before the Inchon landing, but not for the others who had come from the U.S. via Japan and had rendezvoused at sea. [http://www.marzone.com/dog2~7/Hist-1.htm in telling the history of the 1st Marine Division gives this date for the arrival of D-2-7 at the Bean Patch. I am assuming that H-3-5 arrived at the approximately the same time.] "Rats" told me that "they arrived back at the Bean Patch at the same spot where they had first arrived in Korea."

During this short period, the troops were hospitalized and given a short period to recuperate. See the D-2-7 page for some additional info. They may very well have gotten during this period their first decent meal since before Inchon. [I must see what additional information I can find on this topic.] Someplace I have read that they could not eat the frozen K-rations because it caused dietary upset–that their diet was limited to the dry portions of the rations–thus Harold's focus on oatmeal. They were all dehydrated and constipated–fortunate considering the difficulty/danger in undressing in the cold.

1 September 2004 I am adding a few paragraphs re "The Bean Patch" that I have located on the web:

If you visit Masan, Korea, today you will find a bustling, prosperous, modern port city clustered about its scenic bay on South Korea's southern coast some 40 miles west of Pusan. You will have your pick of first-class restaurants and hotels and do your shopping in stores and markets stocked with the abundance of a thriving economy. You may find some of those establishments in a smart, attractive shopping center in the city's northern section, which might leave you thinking you were in Ashtabula, Albuquerque or Atlanta except for the Korean-language signs.

Surrounded by this evidence of a successful free-market economy, you would have a hard time accepting that you were standing on the site of the First Marine Division's bivouac area following the Chosin Reservoir Campaign in late December 1950. Fifty years ago the neatly landscaped steel, concrete and glass of today's shopping center was a farmer's unremarkable bean patch.

The Bean Patch, capitalized. It was always thought of that way by Marines who were there. The Bean Patch, as though there had never been any other. The Marines of the First Provisional Marine Brigade had rested and caught their breath there in-between the blistering fights along the Naktong River in the first summer of the war. In December 1950, after 13 days and nights of uninterrupted combat in the frigid mountains of North Korea, the Bean Patch was where Major General Oliver P. Smith took his 1stMarDiv. One of the first orders of business was a huge bonfire.

It wasn't the bonfire of a college pep rally or a political tub thumping. It was the practical means of disposing of the scurvy, noisome clothing that thousands of men hadn't had off their backs in nearly two months. As units arrived, there were showers, with plenty of soap and hot water. For most men it was their first shower since prior to going ashore at Wonsan back in October. As each man emerged from the shower facility, he was issued entirely new clothing: everything from skivvies and socks to dungarees and field jackets. The old clothing was unceremoniously piled in heaps, soaked with gasoline and set ablaze. There was no sense in trying to rejuvenate rags.

"Did we ever stink," recalled Corporal Florian Kovaleski, a machine-gunner with Lieutenant Colonel John Stevens' 1/5. "I had a shower on the Bayfield before Wonsan. That was sometime in mid-October. The next time I had my clothes off was at the Bean Patch in December. I had to have help getting my long johns off. They stuck to me."

Clean and free from the clinging aroma of eau de night soil, the next priority was hot chow. Day after day, meal after meal, Marines who couldn't remember their last prepared meal devoured everything that was put in front of them. Bakeries worked around the clock satisfying their appetite for freshly baked bread. In one sitting they wolfed down 40,000 rations of turkey. Then they fell in for seconds. Men who have subsisted for weeks on C-ration crackers and chocolate bars can do that.

Surprisingly, despite the unrelieved exposure to sub-zero temperatures, snow and a relentless wind that they had endured, there were few lasting health effects. The serious frostbite cases had been evacuated, and while everyone, it seemed, had a case of the sniffles, there was little in the line of serious illness. Morale was high, and the fighting spirit that had characterized the division throughout the Chosin Reservoir Campaign was undiminished. Men walked with a heads-up confidence, secure in the knowledge that they had taken on a ruthless, determined enemy and given him an old-fashioned country whipping. With a little rest and a chance to get back into condition, the division would be ready for its next assignment.

These paragraphs were excerpted from an article by Maj Allan C. Bevilacqua, USMC (Ret) in Leatherneck: Magazine of the Marines that can be viewed in its entirety at
http://www.mca-marines.org/Leatherneck/pohangarch.htm.
The article deals also with Pohang and may be of interest as background for the next segment of this memoir of Harold.