TWENTYNINE PALMS — Almost 70 years after the engagement, two Twentynine Palms residents who took part in the Chosin Reservoir Campaign were honored posthumously for their service.
A brief ceremony Wednesday, March 18, at the Twentynine Palms Public Cemetery, marked the placement of plaques on the graves of residents William Klink and William Flynn which identified each as a member of the Chosin Few who took part in the campaign in November and December of 1950.
The men’s graves sit a few feet from each other on the far west side of the cemetery.
A Marine color guard presented colors at the ceremony and local musician, and retired Marine, Joel Daniel, played the bagpipes before and after.
Klink’s son, Mayor Joel Klink, was present but did not speak at the ceremony.
The ceremony saw the reading of a Bronze Star citation for Flynn, honored for his bravery when confronting enemy forces during the battle.
Former resident Hal Barber, another member of the Chosin Few, spoke briefly, saying he knew Klink when they worked together as postal carriers in Twentynine Palms but that they did not talk about their experiences in Korea.
He said Klink was a member of the engineer corps that helped the 1sy Marine Division get out of North Korea to end the campaign and frustrate Chinese efforts to wipe out the Marine division.
“I’m sure they built the airstrip that we were flown out on,” he said. “Without his work the rest of us wouldn’t have gotten out.”
He spoke about the maneuver, now part of Marine Corps history, during which, according to brittanica.com “the Marines turned and fought their way down a narrow vulnerable road through several mountain passes and a bridged chasm until they reached transport ships waiting at the coast.”
“It took us eight days to ho four and a half miles,” Barber said.
He spoke of the days and nights, with temperatures dropping to 30 and 40 below zero, when Marines waited for the weather to clear to supplies could be flown in to repair a bridge.
“These men fought through it, lived through it and came through at the other end,” he said.
The men, he said, began praying for the weather to clear and one night they looked up and saw a single star.
“The star gave them a signal from the Lord that you will have good weather the next day,” he said.