11th Reunion (in San Diego October 3-6, 1996)
of those serving in Recon Company, 1st Marine
Division in Korea 1950 - 1953.
By Arthur Lipper 111
Serving in the Recon Company of the 1st
Marine Division in Korea in 1952/1953 was
the defining event in my life. It was when
I learned who I was and how to deal with
fear. It was when I became a man.
Except for having minimal contact over
the years with former comrades; Dick Newman,
Dermott McDonnell, John Ward, Dave Behnke,
Ed Chin, and Tom Evans, my attending the
11th reunion of those serving in Recon Company,
was the first time I had contact with those
for whom, at one very important time in
my life, I was prepared to sacrifice my
life had there been a need.
We all have changed in the approximately
45 years since Korea and the differences
were noticeable in that, almost without
exception, there is more of us in volumetric
terms than there was when we were younger
"What draft were you" and "Do
you remember____?" were questions asked
repeatedly by those who I almost remembered
knowing from an earlier life. No, I didn't
recall the number of my draft or most of
the places, events of Marines about Marines
about which I was asked. Indeed, in a candor,
I only sort of vaguely remembered many of
the good men asking me the questions.
The lack of memory is strange as, for
me, Korea was a happy and fulfilling time.
I had a job to do which, due to superb training,
I understood and I did well. As I recall
and it is all fuzzy, I was first a Squad
leader in the 1st Platoon and ultimately
Platoon Sergeant. I usually took the patrol
position of point. Sometime after being
slightly wounded, shrapnel in the head,
in the disastrous COP2 fiasco I became the
Operations NCO. Of course, in my mind and
memory I was wonderfully heroic and highly
It was clear to me that the reunion of
Recon Marines was an important bonding event
for many of the participants. The reunion
focused attention on days gone by when limbs
were stronger and more flexible. There was
a remembering of parties and patrols of
killing and kindness of incoming and outgoing
and of discipline and innovation. Being
a Marine is and was a life's calling for
many and only a temporary harbor for others.
The common denominator of those attending
the reunion of being proud, truly proud,
of having been a Marine. There are no ex-Marines,
only Marines currently serving and former
Marines. At the reunion we all wore insignia
and mementos testifying to having once been
a part of something bigger and more important
than any of us individually. We are and
were proud to have been Marines.
For my part, I wish that my sons had had
the same wonderful Marine experience I had
and that all young Americans could earn
the right to be part of the Marine Corps.
Were all young Americans to be indoctrinated
into the Corps they and we would all be
Korea was cold in winter and yet there
were Marines there to help one another work
together to be warm. Korea was hot in the
summer and yet there were Marines there
to keep one another to be cool in the face
of danger. Korea was a cauldron-like furnace
where the raw material of young Marines
was turned into steel-like fighting machines,
where Marines disregarded fear and pain
to perform and produce. Those of us fortunate
enough to have escaped without lasting injury
are better men for having served in Korea
during the period of active hostilities.
Thank you Marines and thank you Recon
Company for letting me become a part of
the charmed circle of life and death with
those united in a common cause.
Reunions are important because they prompt
reflection and re-examining of values. In
the case of the reunion of the Recon Company,
1st Marine Division - all the values are
and were positive.