Joseph Elliot Roach
Joe was born December 11, 1929 in Houston, Texas at St. Joseph Hospital.
Joe attended St. Anne Catholic School and graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1950. Joe, along with many friends at St. Thomas, decided to join the Marine Corps Reserve in their Junior year because going to California for Summer Camp sounded like a good idea. However, this good idea backfired on them in May 1950 when the group was called into active duty. Joe was sent to Camp Pendleton in San Diego and was sent to Kobe, Japan where he found out they were headed to Korea in August 1950.
Joe was in the third wave of the landing of Inchon. His unit made it to the 38th parallel, which they crossed, before returning to Inchon. At Inchon, Joe recalled that they were given 3 cans of Acme beer which he said was “the worst stuff you’d ever taste in your life.”
Joe’s squad was sent to Chosin Reservoir and on the way in Joe didn’t get his winter shoe pack, although he got some shoe packs for some of his men. Joe was wounded in the battle with the Chinese Army at the Chosin Reservoir when he was shot while he was in his foxhole. Joe recalled it was so cold, he didn’t really feel the shot. The corps man pulled Joe out and sent him to the field hospital. Joe was told by the surgeon to smoke a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. Joe said he didn’t smoke and the cigarettes would make him dizzy. The surgeon told him that was the idea since the cigarettes would be his anesthesia. Joe was taken out of Chosin, sent to the military hospital in Japan and eventually and sent back to the military hospital in Corpus Christi, TX. Joe is a member of The Chosen Few, Chosin Reserve survivors in Houston.
Joe is proud of his service in the Corps and said that Marines were well-trained and learned discipline and how to take care of themselves and their buddies. He said Semper Fi is the comradery of the Marine Corps and it makes you feel good.
After the war, Joe returned home to Houston, married his wife, Joann, and attended the University of Houston where he obtained his engineering degree.
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Korean War - Key Events
December 6, 1950
The U.S. Marines at the Chosin Reservoir begin their “attack in a different direction” as they engage in a fighting retreat to the port of Hŭngnam. Two entire Chinese armies have been tasked with the destruction of the 1st Marine Division. They succeed in driving the American force from North Korean territory but pay an enormous price: as many as 80,000 Chinese troops are killed or wounded, and the CPVF Ninth Army Group is rendered combat-ineffective for months. “Frozen Chosin” becomes one of the most-storied episodes in U.S. Marine Corps history.
These events are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica