This week we have a new writer. Dale L. Ritter is Retired – U.S. Army. This is the first time he has spoken about his military experience, much less written about it. Dale’s writing style is highly descriptive as he puts you into the MLR firing position. We hope you will like and comment on this work as we would like to read more of his writing.
My First Night on the “MLR”
“MLR” seems like an insignificant abbreviation. However, in the 1950’s if meant a whole lot to
those in Korea, as well as many others who wondered from day-to-day how their loved ones were in
Korea, safe or maybe injured.
MLR was the terminology given during the Korean War, meaning Main Line of Resistance, along
the 38th parallel.
When first arriving in Korea at the front line in “G” company (George), 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
Regiment, it was almost night time and raining hard. My position was up a narrow path to the top of a
hill in 2nd platoon area. I was in charge of what is known as a B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle), which
seemed to weigh as much as myself, only 98 pounds.
As luck would have it, carrying the weapon upside down, slung over my shoulder by a sling, it
slipped and got the barrel full of mud.
After being shown where my position of defense was, I finally got into my place where I would
be spending my future time with my new friends of the other members of the unit.
Well, it wasn’t really very roomy, just enough room for 2 bodies to lay side to side in sleeping
bags, underneath some logs, with a poncho on top and then earth and branches of camouflage on top.
In front of this facing the enemy front was a parapet of sand bags to fire from in the event of an attack
Needless to say, knowing I could not fire my weapon full of mud in the barrel and flash hider on
the B.A.R., I had to get it cleaned right away. Imagine, first night on the front line, scared, lonely
and wet, no light, in a dark hole taking the big rifle apart in the dark, while my new sidekick kept
watch outside, ready to defend our position.
Well, I first removed my helmet; proceeded to take the B.A.R. apart, painstakingly putting little
parts of the firing mechanism in my helmet. After cleaning these parts with my hand kerchief, I then
cleaned the barrel with my ramrod and cleaning patches and put the rifle back together.
What a relief!!! I was then ready to take my turn on watch every 4 hours, for 2 hours during the
night in my new defense position on the MLR.
Dale L. Ritter
Retired – U.S. Army