Charles "Ed" Nyte
A Cowboy in Korea
Charles “Ed” Nyte was born in may 1933 in Bingham Canyon, Utah a small mining town that was eventually taken by the mine itself and no longer exists. He joined the United States Marine Corps on July 11th 1950 in San Francisco California.
Prior to signing up he was working as farm hand and a Proof Technician for small arms, a gunsmith essentially. He arrived in Korea in late December 1951, He served with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. During his time in Korea he would fight in the Battle for the outposts until January 1953.
By January 51 the front lines had nearly stalemated and the long war of attrition and small unit actions would begin. He would serve for over a year in Korean being wounded during his time there. He would experience the freezing cold brutal Korean winters as well as the sweltering dust and heat of the summer, climbing steeps slopes to take their positions, patrolling the front lines and enjoying the comradery of his fellow marines behind the lines as well as at the front. This period is often the most overlooked of the entire war as there wasn’t any real movement of forces, however it really is fascinating and I have included a great overview below about this. He would return home from the war finally being discharged from the marines in July 54.
He was an exceptional marine and was awarded the good conduct medal for his service. Lastly it would appear he was an accomplished football player as well, he was a tackle on the USMC team and is listed in the 1954 sports almanac.
The Battle of the Outposts
During a four day stint in mid January Cpl. Nyte and the other marines of F company would get their first taste of combat. They climbed up the tall and often treacherous slopes to reach their trenches. This was Korea, there amidst the frigid temperatures and falling snow the men of F company dug in. All this without even the warmth of a mobile field kitchen, this meant that even the rations were cold. This operation would pit Republic of Korea forces and the US Marines against approximately 250 communist Guerrillas they were trying to corral into friendly lines and eliminate. During this period F Company was credited with 2 kills and 2 prisoners.
Between now and August it would be a revolving door of Front lines, reserve then back again, luckily for Nyte he was able to go into reserve at Camp Tripoli, where there was beer movies and entertainment of some form nearly every night. He would spent the next year fighting on hilltops, in the deep snow and sweltering heat of the Korean peninsula. In 1952 the 1st Marine Division was reassigned to the far western end of the UN lines defending a 35 miles (56 km) stretch that encompassed the Pyongyang to Seoul corridor. This period following the stalemate of late 1951 saw the “Battle of the Outposts” this would last until the armistice in 1953.
During this time both sides dug in along the entire front line from coast to coast. They created trench lines, bunkers, razor wire fields and scenes that would have not been out of place in 1917. Most actions were carried out at battalion level or smaller, the artillery and mortar fire during this time on both sides was a hellish nightmare on par with the western front some days. The sad thing is during this time the men knew a cease fire could be called any day, so they weren’t really fighting with any goal in mind other than to hold the line and stop the enemy from advancing south.
The Korean war is often overlooked and no aspect more so than this time period. There was no big offensives, epic landings or huge battles. It was a boxing match in a ring, neither armies allowed or able to push each other out of their respective lines, this was a period that saw casualties that totaled nearly half of the 140,000 United States military casualties that took place during the entire war.
During august 1952 Charles would find himself stationed at one of these outposts, on the 19th of that month while under enemy mortar attack he was hit by a shell fragment in the right forearm. This wouldn’t prove that bad of an injury and he received first aid at the front remaining in the line. To try and help the family at home so they wouldn’t worry Lt. Gen. G C Thomas wrote a letter to his family informing them that the injury was not serious. He would go on to serve until here until January 1953, continuing the endless cycle of fighting on the hilltops and relaxing in reserve.