More of the Story

MK comments (14 Jun 2003): After Bart Soto, a member and historian of the 65th Inf Rgt and also a valued contributor to the pages of the IBB, reminded me that Co F, the Co in which Pedro A. Santana-Camacho (#83) had served, played a big part in the doings on Outpost Kelly in September of 1952, and after Bart also told me that Pedro had received a Silver Star for his gallantry later on, I knew that we had to hear more of Pedro's story. After gentle prodding by Bart and me, Pedro sent me some emails which told us more of that story. Here, edited only in its cosmetics, is what Pedro told me:

    "Merv, I received some messages from you without responding. Only now would I like to tell you some of my experiences in the KOREAN WAR.

    "My first chapter happened on Kelly. I was an aid-man and was attached to Co F, 65th Inf Rgt.  At 6:00 AM on September 9, 1952, I joined Co F on Kelly to replace another aid-man killed the night before.

    "When I first got to Kelly, what a surprise I had!!! There, I found a friend from my hometown. He told me to be careful, that he would be on a listening post, and that we would talk later.

     "At about 9:00 AM, the enemy's heavy mortar rounds covered Kelly. Shortly after that, while I was inside a bunker and attending to five wounded men, I heard somebody screaming. However, my first duty and priority was to finish attending to the five men I was with.  As soon as I could do that, and during a lull in the mortar fire, I ran along the narrow trench leading from the bunker and towards the place of the screaming.

    "I found that it was my hometown friend, almost dead and bleeding from both legs above his knees. I gave him first aid but my hometown friend, Domingo Santiago-Aponte, died while covered by my arms.

    "I walked carefully to the top of the stinky gun-powdered hill where I spent the next six days. Only a few of us in Co F descended safely from the top of the hill.

    "After this first experience came the horrible Jackson Heights events at Chorwon Valley on October 28, 1952. Later, I will tell you what really happened to our 65th and especially to my Co F on that black day.

    "Concerning my Silver Star, the action was five months later at another place. More than FIFTY YEARS have passed and I still have not received a formal presentation of the award.

    "Merv, I want to thank you and Bart for your interest in our recognition. YOUR NEW FRIEND, PEDRO.

I found this entry in the 3rd division Casualty lists:

State of Record=
PR County of Record=(PuertoRico)
Race=A Year of Birth=1929 Branch=Infantry
Military Occupation Specialty=(4745) Light Weapons Infantryman
Assigned Unit=65th Inf Regt-3rd Inf Div
Place of Casualty=N Korea Date of Casualty (Year/Mo/Day)=1952/09/09
Casualty Description=KIA

Here is Pedro's Silver Star award:


Headquarters 3rd Infantry Division
General Orders # 197 - 19 June 1953

Private First Class Pedro A. Santana Camacho
US50106679, Infantry, Medical Company, 65th Infantry Regiment,
3rd Infantry Division, United States Army.

During the early evening of 14 February 1953, a friendly truck was struck by an enemy mortar round while proceeding up a road directly behind the Company "F" sector of the main line of resistance in the vicinity of Songdong-ni, Korea. The two men riding in the truck were critically wounded as a result of receiving the direct hit. Having observed the entire incident, Private SANTANA CAMACHO, a medical aid man of Company "F", left the comparative safety of his bunker, and set out for the wounded men in a litter truck.

After stopping several times to avoid being hit by enemy fire, he succeeded in reaching the wounded men and began to administer first aid to them. He then placed the men on litters and put them into the truck. The increasing mortar fire forced him to place the truck under cover.

Realizing that the delay in evacuating the men to the rear placed their lives in further jeopardy, he braved the hail of fire and started down the road leading to the 2nd Battalion Aid Station. He arrived safely there and delivered the casualties to the surgeon. As a result of his actions, the lives of two critically wounded men were saved.

Private First Class SANTANA-CAMACHO'S outstanding heroism and devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself and the military service. Entered the Federal service from Puerto Rico.

The entire story of Company F and the rest of the 65th Inf Rgt on Kelly during that fateful September 1952 is told on Bart Soto's photo and map page The 65th Infantry Regiment on Kelly in September 1952. Please pay it a visit to honor the brave men of the 65th.

For a panoramic view of Kelly and its environs click on Outpost Kelly. There you will also find links to pages with more about the events on Kelly before September 1952.

Thank you much, Pedro, for remembering and telling us about the very unpleasant things you endured while bravely doing your duty in Korea. We hope that, at long last, you finally get the award ceremony to which you are so well entitled. MK.

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