Steve Logsdon of Rotonda, Fla. joined the Army at 17, shortly after graduating from high school, just in time for the start of the Korean War. He went from basic training to the front line holding back advancing waves of North Korean infantry during the monumental battle of the Pusan Perimeter in the summer and fall of 1950.
Advancing hordes of North Korean soldiers marched into South Korea and pushed the unseasoned United Nations forces back to a tiny piece of real estate on the extreme south end of the Korean Peninsula. Troops from the north were about to eradicate the UN forces when, with the help of U.S. air and naval power, the United States and its NATO allies began to stop the enemy advance and turn the tables on the North Koreans aggressors.
Logsdon ended up in headquarters at F-Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea–“The Indian Head Division.”
“We went to Korea without any combat training. I became the colonel’s aide until he was shot in the leg during the first day of combat. He refused to have his leg amputated. It got infected with gangrene and it got cut off anyway,” the 82-year-old former master sergeant explained.
“I got malaria about the same time and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital recuperating. When I got back to my division I requested a combat company,” Logsdon said. “I was sent to a line company. It was in the middle of the action.”
For hardware he carried a German Mauser Machine-pistol on his hip. It was a 9 millimeter pistol that could fire nine rounds in a hurry. His handgun also had a wooden holster that attached to pistol’s handle and made a stock for the gun making it a rifle.
Where did the pistol come from I inquired.
“A friend of mine took it off a German during World War II. He gave it to me just before I shipped out for Korea,” he said.
In addition, Logsdon exchanged his M-1 rifle for an M1-A-1 .30 caliber carbine because most of their fighting was in close quarters. He could tape two banana clips together that gave him 90 rounds with the carbine. The M-1 fired an eight shot clip. He liked the additional fire power provided by the smaller weapon.
When he first arrived in Korea the North Koreans were marching all over the UN troops. However, the forward motion of the enemy was slowed considerably by some American ingenuity on the ground and additional fire power from the U.S. Air Force and Navy.
“When I got back to my company from the hospital they had come up with a way to stop the North Koreans at night. They hooked a Claymore mine to a barrel of napalm and attached a trip wire from the barbed wire around our perimeter to the mine,” Logsdon explained. “When the Claymore went off that set off the napalm and the combination killed anyone within 50-feet of our position.
“By Thanksgiving 1950 we had pushed the North Koreans back so far we could see the Yalu River separating North Korea and China. (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur had already done his “End Run” at Inchon that put the North Koreans on the defensive.
“Under the command of (Gen. Matthew) Ridgeway, who took over command from MacArthur, we disbursed into a big line and started chasing the enemy from hill to hill,” he said. “We called it ‘Over The Ridge With Ridgeway.’
“Then the Chinese got in the fight. They looked like a herd of cattle coming toward us carrying Thompson sub-machine-guns we had given them to fight the Japanese during World War II.
“We saw the Chinese cross the frozen Yalu and run straight into our artillery pieces, tanks and machine-guns. Our guns were pointed right at them straight ahead as they kept coming in waves,” Logsdon said.
“They came across the river and hit us all at once. Our division was grouped in open area and finally the order came down to withdraw. Our outfit started moving in a line down a road behind us. Once we started moving we were told, ‘Don’t stop for anything’
“During this retreat I picked up a hunk of lead in the back of my leg. I had to treat the wound myself as I walked along. I cut the lead out of my leg, put a thick gauze pad on the wound and kept walking,” he recalled.”
Two or three days later the 2nd Division regrouped along with the rest of the UN forces and eventually evacuated the area leaving it to the Chinese who were still coming en masse.
Lonsdon returned to the States in June 1951. He ended up at the Army War College in Washington, D.C. He was just 18 and by that time had been promoted to staff sergeant.
While at the War College in 1952 he volunteered to be a guinea pig during an atomic blast in the Nevada desert near Las Vegas.
“I was in a foxhole a quarter-mile from ground zero when the bomb went off. This bomb was three times the size of the one dropped on Hiroshima,” he said. “It was dropped from a plane and it detonated at 3,200 feet above ground. We were told to count 1001, 1002, 1003 before looking at the exploding bomb.
“It was a great big red fireball swirling around and going up in the air. The shockwave from the blast was something else. It pushed down a shed way behind us in the distance,” he recalled 60 years later.
“Some of the animals standing above ground were gone. A tank at ground zero was moved 100 yards by the blast. There was a lot of wind and noise when the bomb exploded.”
When the “All Clear” was given he and possibly 50 or so more human guinea pigs climbed out of their foxholes and into Army trucks that pulled up to get them. Clad in green cotton fatigues, leather boots and wearing a steel pot on their heads they hadn’t been dressed for the occasion.
“We got a three day vacation in Las Vegas for our efforts,” Logsdon said. “Then I was shipped back to D.C. and carried on with what I was doing.”
In October of ’52 he was discharged from the army after three years of service. He went to work for General Electric. For the next 38 years he was part of the G.E. staff that built washers and dryers for people in the U.S. and around the world.
Logsdon wasn’t a civilian very long when he decided to join the Air Force Reserve. He spent a decade being a “Fly Boy” until his position was phased out and he rejoined the Army as a Reservist for another 20 years. After 33 1/2 years in the military he retired in 1982 for good.
He and his wife Beverly moved to Rotonda in 1992.
Somewhat offhandedly Logsdon said at the end of his interview, “I’ve been a Boy Scout for 72 years!”
Come to find out, he joined the Scouts when he was 10. Later in life he became a scout master where he mentored legions of Eagle Scouts. How many exactly?
“Altogether I’ve had 126 Eagle Scouts. Of that number 27 were local boys,” Logsdon said proudly.
Name: Steve Leo Logsdon
D.O.B: 15 March 1932
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
Currently: Rotonda, Fla.
Entered Service: 12, Sept. 1949
Discharged: 19 Oct. 1952
Unit: 2nd Infantry Division
Commendations: Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Citation, Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars.
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, July 6, 2014 and is republished with permission.
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