Communist mines blocked the harbor entrance. Frogmen exploded trying to sweep them. Private Norman Mertz, 1st Marines, and his buddies played cards below deck of an LST. They were impatient but in good spirits.
“Just a matter of time before they clear the mines,” Mertz reasoned.
“I’m fucking ready for some action,” Private Kipp said. “Those goddamn gooks better not make me miss Christmas.”
“We’ll whip ‘em,” Mertz said, “long before Christmas. Don’t you worry ‘bout that. MacArthur says so.”
When the LSTs landed at Wonsan, the Marines jumped out, equipment unloaded, but no enemy fire.
“See,” said Mertz, “no one here to greet us, all ran off to their bastard daddy, Kim.”
“Don’t like it,” Kipp said. “Something’s wrong.”
“Ain’t nothin’ wrong,” Mertz said. “Let’s go. We gotta job to do.”
They entered Wonsan. South Korean children ran up to greet them, asking for candy, anything. Mertz threw them some chocolate. Everything seemed peaceful.
The center of town was filled with ROK soldiers and American advance and technical teams. They were all laughing at the Marines.
“’Bout time you boys got here,” one of them said.
“What the hell,” Mertz said.
“We’ve been here for two weeks,” another said. “Even Bob Hope and his dancing girls got here before you, put on a show for us last night.”
“Really worked their asses off,” came another voice. This produced a roar of laughter from everyone but the Marines. Hey appreciated a good joke, but were humiliated all the same.