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Nobody was ready for war'

On Nov. 27, 1950, Owen was injured in battle when a percussion grenade exploded near him. As he was awaiting treatment in the aid station he said he heard a commotion, looked up and saw Chinese soldiers coming toward him and the wounded he was surrounded by.

Though injured, Owen moved quickly to fight the incoming soldiers and bayoneted one soldier as he got close. Then Owen's fellow Marines stepped in and helped to fend off the oncoming battle.

"The incident was just a typical fight and we did that day and night and in the bitter cold," he said. "While we did overcome the frostbite, we did have the problem of our weapons getting cold."

Between frozen guns and frozen rations that came prepared in tin cans, Owen and his men had their work cut out for them without trying to fight a war. But they overcame the obstacles. He said the Marines would carry their rations inside their clothes to keep them warm, and corpsmen (who are essentially medics) would heat morphine surettes in their mouths while tending to the wounded.

"People are adaptable, so we adapted to [the cold]," Owen said.

Just like to the weather, Owen and his Marines adapted quickly when the Chinese broke through the barriers and charged the aid station. While he and other soldiers fought within the confines of their perimeter, other Marines fired down on the Chinese.

"We killed them all. They never got away, and never got to our wounded," Owen said. "We brought every wounded man out and every dead man out. We had several walking wounded."

At the time, Company Commander Lt. Joe Kurcaba told Owen that he would see to it he received a commendation for what he had done under attack. But from Nov. 27 to December 8 Owen and his fellow soldiers fought day and night. On Dec. 8, 1950, Kurcaba was killed and Owen was wounded. There was no one to carry on the message of what took place a week earlier.

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