In November and December of 1950, U.S. 1st Marine Division engaged in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. This particular battle was the Chinese’s attempt to get the United Nations out of the area and back to South Korea.
The Chinese were successful in pushing the Marines out of North Korea. But the Marines made their way through treacherous terrain to reach the coast. Transport ships were there waiting.
The bunkers in the Chosen Reservoir area were deep foxholes dug by explosives and bulldozers, because the earth was frozen. Many soldiers on both sides lost their lives due to the bitter cold, and minor injuries that became fatal with the help of the conditions.
One of the Marines was Corporal Charles Gene Abrell. He deployed with the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division to the Korean Peninsula. He fought in many battles throughout the war including the Battle of Inchon, Battle of Seoul and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.
Marine Gives His All
While in the middle of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, his team came under heavy fire. According to his medal citation, they were “pinned down by intense and accurate automatic weapons fire” from the enemy. Abrell was wounded.
He decided he would charge the opposing bunker, getting two more wounds in the process. He grabbed a grenade, pulled the pin, and hurled himself into the bunker.
He destroyed both himself and the bunker with his efforts. His actions led to the success of his teams mission.
President Harry S. Truman awarded Abrell the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal was presented to his mother from Secretary of Navy Dan Kimball and General Lemuel Shepherd, Commandant, USMC.
In the Vigo County Historical Museum military exhibit on 6th and Washington there is a display case with Abrell’s story and the medal’s he received throughout his years of service.
There is also a bronze statue of him looking over the courthouse lawn and the Vigo County Korean War memorial.