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Reserve Marines Produce Chosin Documentary

By Gunnery Sgt. Christopher J. Randazzo | | February 23, 2010

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Reserve Marines have produced “Chosin,” a documentary chronicling an epic battle of the Korean War, often called the Forgotten War.

Marine Captains Brian P. Iglesias and Anton Sattler traveled to 27 cities across the United States in 2009 interviewing 185 survivors of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign.  From November 27 to December 14, 1950, 15,000 U.N. troops, primarily U.S. Marines, fought 78 miles from the Chosin Reservoir to the port of Hungman against Chinese forces estimated at 120,000.  The combat was brutal.  The numerically inferior American forces battled over mountainous terrain in sub-arctic conditions often surrounded by the Chinese while at the same time escorting approximately 91,000 Korean refugees to safety.  For their actions, participants received 14 Medals of Honor and 70 Navy Crosses, the nation’s highest and second-highest combat decorations.  In comparison, 22 Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines for the Iwo Jima campaign.

Iglesias, commanding officer, Headquarters and Service Company, 6th Motor Transport Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, directed and co-produced the film with Sattler.  Iglesias and Sattler are infantry officers who each served two combat tours in Iraq.

While serving as junior officers, both were inspired by "This Kind of War by" T. R. Fehrenbach.  “It was not until after reading this book and experiencing war firsthand, that I fully understood the magnitude of the events in Korea,” said Iglesias.

He looked for films about the Korean War.  The only ones he could find were all made in the 1950’s.  A filmmaker in his civilian job, he met Sattler while interviewing.  The two decorated combat veterans decided to pool resources to produce a documentary on one of the most decorated battles in U.S. history, but acknowledged by few outside of the Marine Corps.  Those who fought at the Chosin Reservoir set the standard for future generations of Marines said Sattler.

“It was clear to me that before these men pass away, I needed to exhaust every effort to capture their story and share it with the world,” said Iglesias.  “Only those men who were isolated in the frozen mountains of North Korea, relentlessly attacked by hordes of enemy soldiers can tell this story.”

Time was against Iglesias and Sattler; the youngest Chosin veteran they spoke with was 77 years old.  One of those interviewed, Glenn Beckum, who served with 1st Motor Transport Battalion during the Chosin campaign, died in November 2009.

Normally reluctant to discuss their wartime experiences, Chosin veterans and their interviewers bonded by the ties shared having undergone the crucible of combat said Sattler.

One hour and twenty minutes in length, “Chosin” combines interview footage with photos and archival video.  Many of those interviewed provided personal photos and video, most of which have been unseen for almost 60 years, Iglesias said.

The documentary is currently in the postproduction phase.  Iglesias and Sattler are planning to show “Chosin” at independent film festivals, with a release date in time for the 60th Anniversary of the battle.

For more information, visit www.frozenchosin.com.


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