Wartime Beer Run

By Lucas Bernard

Imagine that it’s 1950. You missed the big war, but Uncle Sam needs men to fight the scourge of Communism in Korea. Landing at Inchon, it’s easy to see that there will be plenty of hard fighting towards liberating Seoul from the Red Menace. You need a drink. Thankfully, there’s a team of enterprising Seabees to oblige you.

Aerial surveillance reports indicate that there are eight trains trapped in the nearby town of Yong Dong Po. Chief Petty Officer E. A. Sidney, a former railroad man, figures they’d be a worthy prize. He volunteers a group of eight of his compatriots to sneak through enemy lines and liberate some locomotives. As luck would have it, they came across three trains in the switchyard of the Kirin Brewery. CPO Sidney is no dummy, he recognizes mission-essential cargo when he sees it. While the boilers were being fired up, the Seabees quickly loaded up fifteen cases of beer and sake as the Reds became aware of their hooch being commandeered. Surely enough, as they chugged back to American lines, North Korean soldiers began to sprinkle rifle, machine gun, and mortar fire down on the outlaw sailors. With ordinance clanging off the sides of the train, the Seabees kept their heads down and their booze protected. Aside from lead borne issues, over the course of their desperate escape, it became apparent that broken rails had to be repaired to make it home. No matter, Seabees live to do complex repairs under fire.

To add insult to injury, the First Marine Division began to fire upon them as they thundered closer, thinking they were North Koreans. Arguably, this is an easy mistake to make, as it is far-fetched to imagine that anyone would have the brazen fortitude required to pull such a maneuver. The Marines set up a bazooka squad along the route, ready to blow the trains off the tracks. Even as bullets dinged the train cars, the Seabees chugged onward, they had a delivery to make. As luck would have it, one unusually astute Marine noticed the men driving the trains weren’t scrawny malnourished Reds, but stout, hard-charging American fighting men. With their green fatigues and GI haircuts, they were instantly distinguishable as good guys. As elated as they were to see their countrymen, such a daring feat successfully executed by sailors hurt the Marines’ pride. The Seabees pulled into home turf full of themselves and probably more than a few brews, laughing all the way.

The most important question remains. What of the disposition of the beer and sake freed from the Reds? Reports vary. Some say it was destroyed on the orders of the higher ups due to fear of contamination. Assuredly, it was sampled for safety upon seizure. Imbibing a track soda or two was no doubt a contributing factor to the Seabees’ coolness under fire. Knowing military men, the “disposal” was dutifully taken care of out of eyesight of their officers. Let their heroism be an example. Steal from the Commies and drink the beer while you can; fuck the brass.

From the FE Films Archive

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