Korean Vet Remembers Forgotten War - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Korean Vet Remembers Forgotten War

Posted: Updated:
The Army awarded Bill McCraney the Distinguished Service Cross. The Army awarded Bill McCraney the Distinguished Service Cross.
Western Union telegram informing McCraney's parents he was missing in action. Western Union telegram informing McCraney's parents he was missing in action.
BARTOW, FL (WFLA) -

Bill McCraney was barely 18 years old in 1950.  Too young to vote, too young to buy a beer, and too young for a driver's license in his native Louisiana. 

But he was old enough to enlist in the army, and he was old enough to fight in America's forgotten war.

"They know that you don't have any sense at 18 years old," McCraney said.

McCraney, who now lives in Bartow, hoped to join his brother in Japan. The army sent him to South Korea.

In June of that year, the North Korean army invaded the south. Within a matter of weeks the communists controlled nearly all of the Korean peninsula.

"The whole purpose of the Korean War was to fight communism," he said.

McCraney was with the 25th Infantry. His unit was part of a United Nations force that helped turned the tide of the war.

U.N. forces beat back the invading North Koreans, pushing them far north of the 38th parallel, which divided the two countries.

In October the tide turned again. The Chinese communists rushed hundreds of thousands of troops into the war. They overwhelmed U.N. forces.

McCraney says the 25th Infantry was within 25 miles of the Chinese border at the time. He remembers marching hundreds of miles on frost bitten feet to escape to the south. 

The Chinese launched a massive offensive in the spring of 1951, pouring hundreds of thousands of troops into the south.

"They kept coming, wave after wave after wave," he said. "It's terrifying, you're scared al the time. You never find an atheist in the front line, I guarantee you, they're always praying."

McCraney, by then a corporal, says the 25th Infantry fought day after day, night after night.

"We fought three different armies. We fought the North Korean army, we fought the Mongolian army from China and then we fought the Chinese too," McCraney recalls.

By May, the allies had succeeded in beating back the Chinese.

As the U.N. pushed the enemy north of Seoul, McCraney's platoon was ordered to take hill 329.

300 Chinese soldiers waited for them.

"We lost a lot of men on that hill," McCraney said.

An enemy machine gun cut down his platoon leader.

Under heavy fire McCraney crawled over the rugged terrain.

"I don't know why I stood up, I don't know what happened to me, I took out the machine gun nest," he said.

He used hand grenades to silence the machine gun nest, then shot the Chinese soldiers to make sure they were dead.  As he peered out of the nest, he saw hundreds of Chinese.

"I looked at my little old 8 shot rifle, you know and I said, this is not good," he said.

He tried turning the enemy machine gun on the Chinese, but they lobbed hand grenades into the hole.

McCraney jumped out. Shrapnel from a grenade that landed on top of the nest tore through his leg.

He ran down the hill and grabbed a Browning Automatic Rifle.

"I started back up the hill again, and started raking everybody I could see, you know the Chinese," McCraney said. "I looked around and my men had come up there with me, you know, so we got a foothold on the hill. We ran them off, there was 300 Chinese on that hill."

Under heavy sniper fire, he then assisted a wounded soldier to an aid station at the bottom of the hill.

For extraordinary heroism and steadfast devotion to duty the army awarded Bill McCraney the Distinguished Service Cross.

"It's right under the Medal of Honor, I was very proud," McCraney said.

In the battle for hill 329, the army awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to three soldiers, McCraney, along with Lieutenants Willis Jackson and Paul Clawson.

McCraney says he and Jackson remain friends to this day. They work to preserve and honor the memory of Clawson, who died that day in 1951.

More than 33,000 Americans died in combat in the forgotten war. McCraney remembers many who did not come home.

"It is an honor, you know, to fight for freedom," McCraney said.

He plans no special observance this Memorial Day. He just hopes to enjoy the peace, the quiet, the freedom that he earned.

 

 

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Squatters moving out of New Port Richey soldier's home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:28 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:28:18 GMT
    Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.Squatters begin moving out of Spc. Michael Sharkey's home on Wednesday night.
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out. 
    Our 8 On Your Side story about a New Port Richey soldier who says his home has been taken over by squatters is striking a nerve in the community and now, the squatters are moving out.  
  • Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Pricey processing issue at Tampa hair academy resolved

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-04-23 13:35:13 GMT
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
    Loretta Maloy says she always expected to pay for the courses she took those several weeks, but thought $10,000 in loans just wasn’t right.
  • New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    New Port Richey soldier says squatters won't leave his home

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 8:58 AM EDT2014-04-23 12:58:50 GMT
    Soldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photoSoldier & homeowner Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago. Facebook photo
     When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house. Now, they're fighting to get their house back.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Ukraine official: city hall cleared of protesters

    Ukraine official: city hall cleared of protesters

    Thursday, April 24 2014 3:45 AM EDT2014-04-24 07:45:17 GMT
    Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says police have cleared the city hall in a southeastern city of pro-Russian protesters who had been occupying it for over a week.
    Police have cleared the city hall in a southeastern Ukrainian city of pro-Russian protesters who had been occupying it for over a week, Interior Minister Avakov said on Thursday.
  • Wyoming gas explosion prompts evacuation of town

    Wyoming gas explosion prompts evacuation of town

    Thursday, April 24 2014 1:46 AM EDT2014-04-24 05:46:05 GMT
    Residents and emergency crews were waiting for a fire to burn itself out after an explosion at a natural gas processing plant in a small town in southwestern Wyoming.
    Residents and emergency crews were waiting for a fire to burn itself out after an explosion at a natural gas processing plant in a small town in southwestern Wyoming.
  • FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

    FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes

    Thursday, April 24 2014 12:54 AM EDT2014-04-24 04:54:27 GMT
    The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.
    The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Woman claims pedicure crossed the line

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:45:39 GMT
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
    A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.
  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Search halted for missing Gaboon Viper

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:08 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:08:20 GMT
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
    The missing viper could still be out there, but the search has been halted for safety concerns.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.