A LAST ENCOUNTER
65th veteran Eugenio Quevedo received a letter from Michael Iglesias asking for information about his uncle, MSGT Victor M. Iglesias and his good friend SFC Angel Ocasio, both of them killed in Korea. This was Eugenio’s response:
When I saw the photos of MSGT Victor M. Iglesias, they brought back many memories. I remember that occasionally he would talk, along with SFC Angel. L. Ocasio. about how he had been all over Europe during WWII, now in Japan and Korea and how he intended to retire from the Army after completing this tour of duty. Destiny changed all that for… on April 23, 1951 the 2nd Platoon, Fox Company, under the command of 1st Lt. Chamberlain, a graduate of West Point, went on a recon combat patrol into so-called “no man’s land”. After a few miles forward, we observed enemy activity about 400 to 500 yards away. We were given the order to fire. We really surprised them but as the saying goes “all hell broke loose” and they responded with mortar, rifle and other weapons. As we fired our rifles, the soldier on my left, shoulder to shoulder, was hit thru the helmet and his forehead, scattering his brains out. He had arrived recently as a replacement and his olive green fatigues were still like new. He was unknown to me. Of course, we were unaware that we had encountered a large unit of the enemy – the CCF and NKPA and the start of the 1951 Chinese Spring Offensive across the width of the Korean peninsula.
At about 9:30pm, we were hit with a tremendous Banzai attack with all types of weapons and blaring trumpets and whistles. I was with another buddy in a foxhole far to the left of the CP (Command Post). I think my buddy only had a Colt 45 pistol and had started covering our field of fire from left to right to avoid enemy infiltration. A few hours later, we ran out of ammo and tried using my cartridge belt ammo but to no avail. When pulling the trigger, my rifle wouldn’t fire. The bullets had nicks on the cartridges caused by falls when hitting the dirt while in combat. These dents, probably, I believe, caused the rifle’s firing mechanism to malfunction when pulling the trigger. That’s when out of nowhere, SFC Ocasio comes to our foxhole and drops a couple of bandoliers then leaves. He had been supplying the line with ammo. I loaded the rifle with the new ammo and it was back to business. My loyal Garand started blazing away. I had christened my rifle Virginia and carved the name on the right side of the stock; she was then my sweetheart, now we’ve been married for 53 years.
As the battle continued, we both prayed for dawn to come and finally morning came amid the smell of smoke and burnt powder. The enemy had pulled back after being repulsed. We fixed our bayonets and went downhill where wounded enemy soldiers were being taken prisoners and cared for by the medics. Then we found out. Both Sergeants Ocasio and Iglesias had been killed in action. I believe that Sgt. Ocasio after supplying and leaving my position on his way back to the CP was hit with a burst of a burp gun. I remember Lt. Chamberlain saying that when Sgt. Ocasio failed to come back to the CP, Sgt. Iglesias went looking for him while the battle was raging on, and like Sgt. Ocasio, was killed with a burp gun burst… maybe by the same enemy soldiers.
SFC Ocasio and MSGT Iglesias were experienced soldiers, valiant and well-liked by everybody. To this day I still remember them and the others killed, wounded and missing in action. Because of their sacrifices we enjoy freedom and they should never be forgotten.
Thanks to Eugenio Quevedo and Michael Iglesias for their permission to publish this letter.