Two Yanks, lost at Kumchon, play deadly tag with North Koreans

Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 4, 1950 by UP correspondents embedded with the U.S. First cavalry.
By PETER KALISCHER  |  August 04 1950
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WITH U.S. FIRST CAVALRY, Korea, Aug. 4, 1950 (UP) - "They were so close to us I caught the scabies from them, and that's damned close."

That's the way a lieutenant from New York described today his 14 hours of playing tag with the Communists around Kumchon.

Lieut. Stephen Gubenia of New York City and Sgt. Alfred E. Bates of Glendale, Cal., went up a hill to investigate a North Korean machine gunner about the time the First Cavalry was pulling out of Kumchon Tuesday night.

They returned to find their platoon, which was supposed to cover the withdrawal, had withdrawn itself.

Gubenia and Bates took off down the hill.

"I pitched into a 10-foot ravine head first, and got hung up in an apple tree," Gubenia went on. "I lost my $89 binoculars and half a fifth of drinking material, but I am going back to get them. I know just where they are."

When it got darker, Gubenia and Bates took off, with about 80 North Koreans in pursuit.

"They figured we would lead them to the rest of our platoon, which would have been all right with me, only we couldn't find the platoon," Gubenia said.

After five or six hours of circling around, the two stumbled into a North Korean encampment where about 20 Communists were asleep in hammocks.

"Can you see that - hammocks?" Gubenia asked. "No security guards, nothing. We didn't disturb them."

At dawn the men were about a mile from where they started.

"I climbed six hills and was about to climb the seventh when Bates spotted another enemy patrol," he said. "I climbed the seventh in high."

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