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Korean War Veteran glad to see Chosin Reservoir battle remembered

| August 7, 2015

COSHOCTON – Sixty-five years later, GW Griffis still remembers how bitterly cold it was during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea.

“During the day it was 16 below zero and at night it got to 30 to 36 below zero,” said the Korean War Veteran. “We weren’t equipped for that cold of weather and a lot of us suffered frostbite and gangrene. They airdropped heavy winter clothing, but one time without that guys were cutting sleeping bags to wear. We also didn’t eat because everything was frozen solid, but we got out of it.”

The battle of the Chosin Reservoir took place in November and December 1950 and involved around 30,000 United Nations troops who were outnumbered by roughly 60,000 Chinese troops. Griffis’ was there with the First Marine Division, Third Battalion, Weapons Company, 81mm Mortars.

“We were surrounded by six Chinese Divisions,” he said. “They tried to tell our general, O.P. Smith, to destroy equipment and surrender, but we don’t surrender. We didn’t retreat either. We fought our way out. We were out numbered 10 to one or more, but we made it and didn’t leave our wounded or dead behind. The Marine Corps is touchy about that. It does everything it can to get everyone out – wounded, dead or alive.”

A group of veterans from the battle of the Chosin Reservoir will be remembered this month at the 2nd annual Purple Heart 5K. The race starts at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, at Arch Park in Columbus.

The city will be lit up in purple for the race and proceeds from it will help the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Fallen 15 give back to wounded warriors and the families of the fallen. This year also will celebrate the 65th anniversary of Charlie Company (USMC) who fought in the battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

“That’s great that they are doing that because we (Korean War Veterans) are getting far and few between,” Griffis said. “I got a couple Purple Hearts and think a lot of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. It’s a great organization. If it wasn’t for them I would not have what I do today. They are dedicated to taking care of guys that have that medal, which didn’t come cheap.”

For more details on the 2nd annual Purple Heart 5K, visit www.fallen15.org/purple-heart-run-5k/.

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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