The Battle of Jackson Heights (October 1952)
During October, Chinese forces launched yet another series of strong local offensive operations aimed at seizing key terrain in Eighth Army’s western and central sectors. These included an attack against Jackson Heights in the 3rd Infantry Division sector, which pushed the 65th Infantry Regiment to the breaking point.
Colonel DeGavre assumed command of the regiment on 11 October, while the 65th was in IX Corps reserve near Changmol, North Korea. A 1933 West Point graduate, DeGavre had served as a Lieutenant and Headquarters Company Commander with the 65th between 1937 and 1939. As the new regimental commander, he moved quickly by embarking on an intensive 21 day training cycle aimed at welding his force into a confident, hard-hitting team “capable of successfully accomplishing any assigned missions.” Tactical training was to have been progressive in nature, beginning at the squad and section level and culminating in battalion and regimental field exercises. A shortage of ammunition, however, firing restrictions, division inspections, and over-supervision by both division and regiment greatly degraded the value of the training, leaving the 65th less than prepared for the trials the lay ahead. Complicating matters, DeGavre issued an ill-advised order for all personnel of the regiment to shave their mustaches “until such a time as they gave proof of their manhood.” Interpreted as a demeaning gesture by the troops, the measure generated open insubordination in two of the regiment’s three battalions, further undermining morale and unit cohesion.
On 22 October the regiment moved from Changmol to Topi-dong, two miles north of Chorwon, to relieve elements of the 51st ROK Regiment, 9th Division, on Line Missouri. Missouri constituted the central portion of the main defensive line of the UN forces. It crossed near the heart of the Iron Triangle. By the 24th the regiment had charge...