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Veterans Day 2011 Part 9:Roy “Roxy” Oxenrider survived Korean War’s Toughest Battle

Picture of Roy after he had recovered at the hospital.

Picture of Roy below in the hospital recovering from his injuries followed by a picture of Roy encouraging another soldier who was in the hospital:
 Below is an article that was published in November of 2010 in the Saline Courier:

Saline County War Hero

Bryant resident Roy “Roxy” Oxenrider Survived Korean War’s Toughest Battle in 1950 

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir took place in Korea from November 26, 1950 to December 11th. The United Nations (UN) forces included soldiers from  South Korea, United States, and the United Kingdom. The UN forces numbered 25,000 soldiers and 2836 were killed and 7500 suffered cold related injuries. The Chinese had 120,000 soldiers and 35,000 killed.

 China had entered the conflict just days earlier and huge numbers of Chinese Soldiers swept across the Yalu river, surrounding the UN troops at the Chosin Reservoir. A huge battle in freezing weather followed, and the UN troops were able to cut through Chinese lines in what can be described as a fighting withdrawal. 

Roy Oxenrider has been a Saline County resident for over 30 years and currently both he and his wife Mildred live in Bryant. He was born near Harrisburg, PA. Below is his story concerning his experience in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir: 

On September 13, 1949, age 17, I entered the U.S.Army through the recruiting center in Philadelphia, PA. After basic training in Ft Knox, KY, I was sent to Ft Benning, GA for advanced infantry training with the 3rd Division. Four days after the Korean war broke out, my name was posted on the board for duty in Korea.

I was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32 Regiment, 7th Division, Company A. On December 1, 1950 the weather started to clear around noon and the Corsairs appeared to give us cover. Someone yelled, “Able Company on the road.” I jumped out of my foxhole and started toward the road and realized my ROK soldier,  Joung He Su, was not by my side, this was unusual. I was between the road and railroad near the front of the truck column when I turned to look for Joung He Su. As I turned, I heard a plane and just looked up in time to see a napalm dropping from the bottom of the plane, prematurely hitting in our perimeter area. I jumped for a nearby foxhole but did not make it all the way in. You could smell the scorch of my clothing. The men coming across on their way to the front of the truck column were hit by napalm. There were 10 to 12 men completely on fire and several others with blotches of fire on them. We yelled for them to roll in the snow. I believe Joung He Su to be one of those that was on fire because I did not see him anymore. We still were having to fight hand to hand with the Chinese as the men were burning.

A machine gun had started firing on us and small arms fire was coming from the high ground on the left. We managed to cut down enough of them to move up to take our place at the rear of the truck column. The trucks were not moving. A Chinese MG on the high ground to the left was firing. It was accompanied by a hail of small arms fire. My squad went down the bank on the right side of the road to the edge of the reservoir. We used the bank for cover to get behind the MG to knock it out. As we moved along the reservoir edge we came to a little opening, like a cove. As I started across the open space, the MG switched fire zones. I was shot through both thighs, and knocked to the ice. There was no pain. Perhaps because of the extreme cold, I did not yet know that I had been hit. 

My buddy and squad leader, Harold Verseman, was behind me, and said, “Come on, Roy, get up. We got work to do.” I thought my feet had slipped from under me on the ice, but as I tried to rise, I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed. I called to Harold, “I can’t get up, I’ve been hit.” Harold turned, came back through a storm of bullets, the ice chipping and shattering around him and me as well. He got me by the arm and pulled me to the bank out of the line of fire. How he escaped being hit, I will never know. Of one thing I am certain, Harold Verseman saved my life. I could not have gotten off the ice by myself. I had dropped my carbine. Harold called a medic, turned to get my carbine, but it was gone. Someone had picked it up. He turned, and said, “Roy. I’m sorry, but I have to go.” He left at a run for the head of the column. 

The medics cut my pants in a cross pattern, bandaged my legs, and carried me up the bank to a truck. They moved other wounded forward in the truck bed. I was placed parallel to the tailgate. My head was on the driver’s side. By this time, a Corsair plane had knocked out the Chinese MG. The truck began moving. I was in the last truck in the column. One thing that sticks in my memory is the courage of the soldier/truck drivers who manned those improvised ambulances loaded with wounded. Any man who slipped into the seat of one of those trucks was committing suicide. All knew it, but it stopped none. The trucks never lacked drivers. As one was hit he would be dragged out, another took his place. I think they deserved our nations; highest award. The Medal of Honor. Each of those guys was a hero. There was only one narrow road. The Chinese could concentrate fire on the driver. They had the advantage of the high ground on the left, looking down the driver’s throat. Blown bridges and road blocks also slowed the column. It was a nightmare scenario. 

By the time we reached the first blown out bridge our fifth driver had been killed or wounded. This time the truck went into a shallow ditch on the right and leaned at a 45% angle, exposing the rear of the truck to direct enemy fire. The Chinese were firing into the truck, wounding and killing already wounded men. The bullets sounded like great gravel thrown against the truck, only much louder. My arm was jammed against the tailgate, as bullets hit the steel it felt like my arm was being torn off.  The Chinese were now streaming down the hillside. John Parker of A Company got out, followed by a wounded officer. I kept trying and finally was able to roll over the top of the tailgate. As I felt, my rib cage hit on the trailer hitch, knocking the wind out of me. I thought, this is it. I can’t move. The Chinese will shoot me because I can not walk. 

This thought enabled me to roll into the ditch and crawl into the brush with the wounded officer and Parker. We hid until dark. We heard screams, grenades and shooting. We knew no one else would get off that truck alive. That scene haunts me to this day. Some of those men stuck fast, frozen in the their own blood. I knew there was nothing I could do. Nevertheless, the self questioning has never stopped. I can still hear those cries for help. The bitter cold helped some like myself because blood froze so that one did not bleed to death, but to others it was tragic.

The officer wanted to follow the road. Parker and I did not agree with him. We parted. Parker had no shoes, only socks. He had suffered a stomach wound at the perimeter. The medics had removed his boots since he was unable to change his own socks, and placed his feet in a sleeping bag to prevent frostbite. I had extra socks under my shirt and an extra pair of insoles. We put the insoles on the bottoms of the first pair of socks, then pulled on the second pair to hold the insoles. It wasn’t much in that -25 degree to -40 degree weather, but better than what he had. When it is that cold, a few degrees did not seem to make much difference. I had regained some feeling in my left leg. Finding a tree limb for a crutch, we followed the RR, moving cautiously throughout the night. At one point, the Chinese walked by us. We lay doggo among the dead, there were so many they never noticed us. We left the RR, too many Chinese. We must have gone around the back (west) side of Hill 1221.

Next day we would go a short distance, stop, listen, then go on again. We did this all day. After dark we came to a village. It must have been Sasu. John was in bad shape. he could not walk. His feet were frozen. Pushing open the door of a L-shaped Korean house, I remember the frightened faces of the elderly couple who lived there. There were three other GI’s in the hut, one badly wounded. We decided we three unwounded would leave early in the morning to find our lines. I left my .45 pistol with one round for John, and promised the two of them to send help if we found anyone. Next morning, December 3rd, in total darkness, the three of us left. I moved very slowly, but the other two men did not leave me. 

 Throughout the morning we were fired upon by the Chinese. About 10 AM several marines stood up and zeroed in on us with their rifles. I thought, My God, we have come this far, and now our own people are going to shoot us. They came out to us, two marines slung their rifles, picked me up, carried me bodily for some distance. They loaded us into a 3/4 truck that was brought out of the Marine perimeter. We told them about our other two buddies in the Korean village, and they promised to go find them. In 1988, scanning some morning reports I had requested, I learned that John Parker was flown out on December 3rd on the same plane I was on. I don’t remember leaving the truck. Perhaps I passed out.The next memory is being loaded onto an airplane. My litter was dropped in loading. I came to for a brief few seconds. A temporary airstrip had been completed at Hagaru-ri. We were flown from there to a clearing station, then to Osaka Army Hospital in Japan. In an article I later read, one of the pilots described the wounded evacuees as filthy, unshaven, stinking from dried blood, the smell of smoke, gun powder and unwashed bodies. He was not critical, merely literal and honest in his description.Roy Oxenrider received three battle stars, the Purple Heart Metal, National Defense Service Metal, Field Medical Badge, United Nations Service Metal, Korean War Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Metal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.

Everette Hatcher is a regular contributor of the Saline Courier and he is the fourth generation in his family to work in the broom manufacturing business. Everette and his wife Jill have four children and live in Alexander.  
 
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Results of 2011 Salt Bowl: Bryant 21 Benton 14

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2010

 

 

The last few years the games has not even been close. The clip from 2009 showed that it was a blow out, but this year it was close the whole game.

Channel 7 reported:

LITTLE ROCK – This year’s Salt Bowl drew a huge crowd for the big game that pits two bitter small-town rivals at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.

It wasn’t quite the 30,000 people organizers had hoped for, but 23,856 rabid football fans came to see the Benton Panthers square off against the Bryant Hornets.

“It’s just unbelievable that two towns the size of Benton and Bryant can have this kind of turnout,” said Olan King, a Benton fan. “That’s awesome.”

Bryant ended up winning the battle for Saline County 21-14, making it 6 straight Salt Bowl victories.

However, most Benton fans were just happy the game was competitive in the fourth quarter.

In the end, Bryant prevailed again, making it that much sweeter for the Hornet faithful.

“You live in Bryant, you breathe Bryant, you bleed blue, you gotta be here,” said Stephen Kincaid, a 1990 Bryant alum who came to the came in blue hornet goggles.