One Marine said although he survived the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War he never wanted to talk about it.
89-year-old Raymond Miller said it was when he realized the brutal battle, him and other Marines survived, was just a paragraph in a history book that he decided to start to share some of what he endured.
He said he can’t share it all, because even after all these years, it’s just too difficult.
Raymond Miller loves to tinker, especially on his 1951 Hudson Hornet.
He calls himself a jack of all trades, a master of none, but one title is the most important…
“I’m still a Marine, once a Marine, always a Marine,” Korean War Veteran Raymond Miller said.
He remembers well what his commander stated as they prepared to do battle in1950.
Their 15,000 thousand troops were outnumbered by 120,000 Chinese.
“Marines were going to come out of here as Marines, or we are not coming out at all,” Miller said. “We are going to bring all of our dead, all of our equipment, and we are going to come out, and that’s what we did.”
In that desperate time, one mistake ended up saving lives.
They were short of 60mm shells, nicknamed “Tootsie Rolls.”
“The Marine that called in to the Air Force was very adamant,” Miller said. “He says we need Tootsie Rolls, hurry up get us Tootsie Rolls, we are out of Tootsie Rolls!!”
That’s exactly what was delivered, but Miller says that nearly five foot high stack of the sweet treat came in handy.
“The Tootsie Rolls gave us energy and we could go, and also you put Tootsie Rolls in your mouth, soften them up and they used Tootsie Rolls to plug holes in radiators and water pumps, and pipes on vehicles,” Miller said.
As the Marines marched and fought their way South, they endured temperatures of 35 degrees below zero, but with the wind chill it felt like 75 below.
Miller said he had to keep a close eye on his men. They even had a special dance to ensure blood kept flowing to their frozen feet.
The fighting went on for 78 miles.
The next thing I knew was I was waking up in the aid station, on over 24 hours later, because I was blowed up,” Miller said.
Miller was wounded more than once and said he remembers well when he saw a sign from above.
“The clouds parted and the star shined and this is the star of Koto-ri,” Miller said.
A symbol he still wears on his lapel and that star was a sign they would soon have cover from the Air Force.
“God was with me, because so many times, so close, and they just, I thank god every day for his saving grace,” Miller said.
The Korean War has been labeled “The Forgotten War” and Miller said he wants the sacrifices of those who lost their lives to be remembered.
That’s why, decades later, he plans to continue to share the story of the Frozen Chosin, as is the case in a book by the same title. Miller is one of the Marines seen marching on the cover.
Miller says when he was in Seoul in 1950 the place was decimated. He said it is a beautiful country now and he’s glad he was able to travel back.
He said while there a woman approached him and said “thank you for saving our country.”
On that trip he came home with far more than closure from the war, he came back with who he calls an adoptive daughter.
Her given name is Sang Yong Kim, her American name is Rosie.