This story is told by then Private First Class, Herman H. Mc Lawhorn who was standing next to Corporal John Allen Sibley on October 19, 1951, when he was killed. John was born on April 15,1933 at Edwards, New York, He was the oldest of eight siblings. He joined the Army at the age of seventeen. He was killed on October 19,1951 and is buried at the Hermon Cemetery. Hermon, New York,
Corporal John Allen Sibley was a member of Company G Fifth Regimental Combat Team, Twenty-fourth Infantry Division. He was seriously wounded while fighting the enemy near Masogu-ri, South Korea on May 20, 1951. He returned to duty on May 22, 1951. He was assigned as Squad Leader, third squad, third platoon. I first knew Corporal Sibley when, as a pipeline replacement, I was assigned to his squad. The date was sometime in late August 1951. At the time the Fifth Regimental Combat Team was in reserve and undergoing intensive re-training. To me he was a dedicated leader, always considering the welfare of his squad.
On October 7,1951 the 24th Infantry Division received an order to relieve the 7th Infantry Division near the village of Champg’yong’dong, North Korea. The 5th RCT relieved 31st Infantry Regiment. On October 19, 1951, G company was given the mission to cross the Kumsong-chon River and assist Company E in capturing a hill that was heavily fortified with machine gun positions. The machine guns were firing down on the river. As we approached the river, we were told the water was very shallow and to run across the river to other side, which we did.
Once on the other side we move down a road and halted in a small ditch, much like our side ditches on our roads. The Chinese continued the machine gun fire. Our first and second squads moved up on the hill. Cpl Sibley was next to me in the ditch. He stood and looked to rear of the squad and yelled, “Get down back there”. I looked to see to whom he was speaking. Those were John Sibley’s last words, for when I looked back, John was lying face down in the ditch. He had been killed by the machine gun fire. The Platoon Sergeant yelled for us to move up. As we moved up the hill, just minutes later, the squad leader of the second squad, Sergeant Howard D. Ogden of West Virginia was also killed.
That was the last I knew of John until 1996. I was preparing a program to observe “Korean War Armistice Day”. I decided that I would look up the information on the nine KIA’s from Lenoir County. While searching the Korean War Project Remembrance website, I thought about John Sibley and searched his page. In addition to information about him, there was an invitation to leave a message.
I posted that I was with John the day he was killed and the description as in the above paragraph. Two years passed. On a Saturday, I believe in 1998, Bonnie, my wife came to the door and told me she had a call from John Sibley’s sister, Beatrice Sustack. They had found my message of two years before. The family knew only that he was killed by “small arms fire”. Mrs. Sustack stated that she was five years old when he joined the Army. To me, it was a fitting tribute to Cpl Sibley to inform his family what happened. His last thought was the welfare of the squad. I still hear from Mrs. Sustack around Christmas each year.
Over the thirty-seven months of the War, the Fifth Regimental Combat Team suffered 949 soldiers Killed in Action.