Robert Battdorff grew up in Fulton, Ohio and completed high school while painting houses to make extra money before he went to the Korean War. He joined the Marines as a Reservist and was put on active duty. He landed on Inchon beach in September 20, 1950 after the beach had been secured. After arriving at the 38th parallel, he worked with South Korean soldiers and walked to Hagalwoori using a scrimmage line to jump into a ditch to protect themselves. After moving the length of the plateau of the Chosin Reservoir on East Hill, he was on watch when he was taken as a POW on November 28, 1950. While moving and hiding throughout the Chosin Reservoir, Robert Battdorff had to endure Chinese indoctrination until his release in August 1953.
Traveling to the Chosin Reservoir
Robert Battdorff moved through Seoul, Ko do Re Pass, and then went onto the Chosin Reservoir. Using a line of soldiers, 20 feet apart, he made his way to East Hill overlooking the Chosin Reservoir. Without any enemy resistance, Robert Battdorff sent out patrols to check the different possible enemy positions in November 1950.
The Chinese Take Robert Battdorff
Marine engineers were building an airstrip near the Chosin Reservoir when Robert Battdorff moved onto Toktong Pass to set up positions. That's where the Chinese took over the hill and he was taken prisoner while on watch. It was November 28, 1950 and he was on watch in a sleeping bag because the weather was 40 below zero.
A Near Death Experience with the Chinese
The Chinese put Robert Battdorff in a cow shed and then put him in their own foxholes because the sun was coming up, so they assumed the US would be bombing soon from the air. Two other men were captured with him, but no US soldiers came to resume them right away. On the first assault, there were 28 casualties during that attack. The guard that captured the 3 US soldiers had the men kneel near a frozen stream so that he could kill them, but another Chinese soldier stopped the killing.
Marching and Traveling all over the Chosin Reservoir as a POW
After a further search and surviving a shooting, Robert Battdorff had to hide in a foxhole because the Australians were shooting up multiple buildings where the Chinese were hiding. One guard walked the POWs all day to Yudam ni, near Hamgyong, North Korea. He was moved many places to hide throughout December 1950 while the Chinese were picking up additional British POWs.
Travel, Food, and UN Attacks on Chinese as a POW
Robert Battdorff and one other US POW were forced to walk south to the 38th parallel in May 1951 as the US soldiers were pushing the Chinese back in battle. He was told that he was brought down south just in case if the Chinese came across additional prisoners. He would walk at night 6 days a week and then take Sunday off. Since the Chinese were traveling with supplies during the night, UN pilots looked for the headlights of the trucks to know where to hit.
33 Months as a POW
Robert Battdorff was watched by only 1 guard for all 25 POWs until the Chinese realized that it would be safer for them to separate the POWs. After moving all the Koreans out of the next city, the homes were called Camp 3 where they stayed during October 1951. He had to deal with Communist Indoctrination for over 2 years. Robert Battdorff was finally released in August 1953 after the Korean War came to a stalemate.