Department of Defense.gov by Katie Lange
Page was born in 1904 in the U.S.-governed Philippines, but he grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. His dream of attending West Point was thwarted by poor eyesight, so he went to Princeton instead, where he graduated in 1926 with an engineering degree and an ROTC commission.
Page served in World War II, where he commanded an artillery battalion in Germany. In 1950, he received orders to teach at the prestigious Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, but he requested a combat role instead. So, off to Korea he went, serving with the 52nd Transportation Truck Battalion, X Corps Artillery, which commanded the 1st Marine Division at the time.
Page was in Korea for only two weeks, but his actions during the decisive Battle of Chosin Reservoir were so incredible that the Marines with whom he served recommended him for the Navy Cross — an honor that only two other Army recipients earned in Korea.
Here’s how the battle broke out: In late November 1950, Chinese forces infiltrated northeastern North Korea and surprised the X Corps at the reservoir. Massively outnumbered, the U.S. and United Nations troops in that area were surrounded and attacked over the span of 17 days.
On Nov. 29, 1950, Page left X Corps Artillery Headquarters at the port city of Hamhung in North Korea to set up traffic control on the main supply route north to the reservoir’s plateau, where the trapped troops were. He could have returned to the safety of Hamhung, but he decided to stay on the plateau to help the troops.
During 10 days of constant fighting on the plateau, Page did the following:
- Rescued a fellow soldier after breaking up an ambush.
- Reached the line of a surrounded Marine garrison and voluntarily developed and trained a reserve force of Army troops trapped with them, turning them into an effective tactical unit.
- At a makeshift airstrip partially outside their heavily attacked perimeter, Page put himself in the line of fire so he could direct counterfire. He also twice manned the machine gun on the back of a tank to further drive away the enemy[…]
*Army Lt. Col. John U.D. Page Source: U. S. Army, VIRIN: 181203-A-ZZ999-707
**Marines of the 5th and 7th regiments who hurled back a surprise onslaught by three Chinese communist divisions wait to withdraw from the Chosin Reservoir area circa December 1950. Source: US National Archives, VIRIN: 181203-O-ZZ999-056