2nd Korean Cruise (1952-53)

“Train Busting”

Memory from: Machinist Mate 3rd class Marvin Dwight Saylor

Setting the Scene

Plane guard duty. Shore bombardment. Destroying enemy mines. Performing anti-submarine patrols. Escorting carriers, battleships, cruisers, and troop carriers. These are all duties of the U.S. Navy destroyer. But in the Korean War, a new duty emerged: train busting. Pulling in close to shore and lobbing shells inland to destroy railroad tracks, trains, and bridges to halt or delay the movement of troops and supplies to North Korean and Communist Chinese forces. Machinist Mate 3rd class Marvin Dwight Saylor tells of one instance where an American infiltrator calls in fire on one of these vital supply trains.

The Recollection

One day we were off the coast of North Korea assigned to fire at targets behind North Korean front lines. There was a major (I don’t know what branch of service) who was living behind enemy lines and directing our firing. This day was going real well, and the gun crews were hitting everything called for. The major radioed back and told the captain that we knocked a train out. Then he directed fire on the train cars one by one, exploding ammo, fuel, and whatever else was in them. Then he directed fire on buildings, bunkers, equipment, and trucks. All was going too good. The captain had to radio him back and tell him that we had fired our quota for the day and that we had to break off. The major practically begged us to hang on just for a while longer, but the captain told the major he was sorry and could do no more for that day. Whoever that major was, he is a hero’s hero. Every minute of every day, he laid it on the line. We all, from the captain down, felt bad to leave this guy.

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