Second U.S. Navy ship named Red Cloud and the first named in honor of Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., who was a U. S. Army soldier killed in action during the Korean War and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Chonghyon, North Pyongan Province, Korea, on 5 November 1950.
Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., was born on 2 July 1925 in Hatfield, WI. After attending Nellsville High School in Black River Falls, WI, he enlisted in the Marine Corps on 11 August 1941.Red Cloud became a member of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson and deployed to Guadalcanal on 6 November 1942. Later assigned to the 29th Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division, he participated in the invasion of Okinawa on 1 April 1945. In the ensuing Battle of Okinawa, his unit engaged in intense fighting in the campaign to secure the island. After several months of fighting, the unit was withdrawn to Guam in order to prepare for Operation Coronet, the second phase of the anticipated invasion of mainland Japan. Red Cloud left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in 1946 during the demobilization following war.
Deciding to return to the military two years after his discharge, Red Cloud enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. The regiment was part of the Occupation of Japan, and Red Cloud was assigned to Kyushu.
In June 1950 when war broke out in Korea, the 24th Infantry Division was the closest unit to the Korean Peninsula; therefore Red Cloud's company was among the first units into the country. The division was heavily engaged throughout July 1950 by North Korean troops as it attempted to stem their invasion of South Korea.
Following the Battle of Inchon and the subsequent Second Battle of Seoul, the North Korean Army was hampered and the 19th Infantry was one of the units of the Eighth Army which pursued the fleeing enemy north of the 38th Parallel. But, in October 1950, the People's Republic of China conducted the First Phase Offensive, a surprise attack against the advancing United Nations forces which were unprepared to counter the offensive.
On the night of 5 November 1950, the 2nd Battalion was holding positions on Hill 123, near Chonghyon. Red Cloud, then a corporal, was manning a forward listening post in front of E Company's position. In the early morning hours, he began hearing curious sounds before spotting a number of Chinese. Red Cloud began firing on the advancing enemy troops with his M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). The Chinese returned fire and quickly wounded him. He refused to withdraw from his position and continued to employ accurate fire which caused significant casualties among the advancing force. Red Cloud propped himself against a tree to continue firing which exposed himself to intense Chinese fire. He was shot over 8 times in the melee. Suffering from mortal wounds, he instructed his fellow soldiers to tie him upright to the tree because he was too weak to support himself and asked them to withdraw to the main positions. Eventually, the Chinese overran his position.
Red Cloud's actions gave E Company time and warning to blunt the Chinese offensive which they eventually repelled. His actions also allowed the company to evacuate several others who were wounded in the attack. When the men of E Company returned to his position the following morning, Red Cloud’s body was surrounded by a substantial number of dead Chinese troops.
Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., was initially buried at a U.N. cemetery in Korea, but was exhumed in 1955, transported to Wisconsin and interred at the Decorah Cemetery at Winnebago Mission in March of that year.
(T-AKR-313: displacement 62,644; length 950'; beam 106'; draft 34'; speed 24 knots; complement 30 civilian and 5 active duty; class Watson)
Red Cloud (T-AKR-313) was laid down on 29 June 1998 at San Diego, Ca., by National Steel & Shipbuilding Company; launched on 7 August 1999 and sponsored by Annita Red Cloud, daughter of Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. She entered non-commissioned U.S. Navy service with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) with a primarily civilian crew on 18 January 2000. A non-combatant Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off (LMSR) vessel, Red Cloud and other ships of her class are used to pre-position tanks, trucks, various wheeled vehicles and supplies needed to support an army heavy brigade. She is assigned to Afloat Prepositioning Ship Squadron Four at Diego Garcia.
Detailed history pending.
Paul J. Marcello
6 January 2016