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Ricardo (Rick) Cardenas

Ricardo (Rick) Cardenas, born in El Paso, Texas, 19 December 1923 and raised in Oro Grande located in the Mojave Desert of California.

He was the Company Commander of Co. F, 7th Regt. of the 3rd Infantry Division at the time of the Boomerang battle 14-15 June 1953.  Cardenas was drafted during WWII in February 1943.  Trained for Infantry at Camp Roberts, California and joined Company B, 163rd Infantry, 41st Division in Australia (July 1943).  Further trained as a scout and subsequently, on the trek north to Japan through New Guinea, Dutch East Indies and the Philippines, participated in five amphibious landings and one major jungle/mountain operation (Biak Island - June 1944).  During this period, he was promoted from Scout to Assistant Rifle Squad Leader then to Squad Leader.  He was 19-20 years old during this period.

Before the A-bomb was dropped, his unit was scheduled for the initial landings on Japan.  In the nontactical landings that followed, his unit, the 163rd Infantry Regiment was assigned occupation duties in the vicinity of Hiroshima.

Demobilized after the war, he returned home to the Mojave Desert and remained a reservist.  When North Korea invaded the South he was recalled for active duty, August 1950.

He joined Company F, 7th Regt., 3rd Division, and assigned as a rifle squad leader.  Saw his first action of that war in North Korea at a crossroad in a mountain village to the west of Chosin Reservoir (Marines).  The village was called Huksuri.

It was 1-2 December 1950 and bitter cold.  Company F took heavy casualties as it clashed with superior numbers of the enemy (CCF) attacking south.

The Hangnam sealift to SOuth Korea (Pusan) followed with the subsequent 'movement to contact' to the north again.  Co. F encountered the CCF south of the Han River.

On the move north, Cadenas was advanced from Squad Leader to Platoon Sgt. to First Sgt. of Company F.  In July 1951 he was battlefield commissioned (2nd Lt.).  In October he was promoted to 1st LT.

Cardenas was with Company F while in different command positions: Tomahawk Operation (23 March 1951), a ground link-up with the 187 AB at Munsan-ni; the crossing of the Hantan River in TF Hawkins (7 Apr. 1951 - Co. F teamed up with the 64th Armor); the CCF offensive (22 Apr. 1951); and the Regimental patrol base when the Regiment was attached to the 25th Division.  Patrol base was several miles in front of friendly lines; and when the CCF broke through the ROK lines (June 1951) the entire 3rd Division was transported overnight to the X Corps sector on the East coast to plug the gap; the cracking of the Iron Triangle - Chorwon/Kumhwa (June 1951), and the White Horse Mountain Operation (Oct. 1951).

During most of the above period, Capt. John Geraci commanded Co. F.  He was a former Marine WWII (Guadalcanal).  Col. James O. Boswell, WWII, Europe, commanded the 7th Regiment and Gen. Robert H. Soule was the 3rd Division Commander.

In Nov. 1951, Cardenas rotated home; however it turned into an emergency and he was flown back to the US.  His mother was dying from cancer.

After basic officers course at Fort Benning, GA and duty at Fort Ord, CA, he returned to Korea, Nov. 1952.  He was assigned to the 3rd Division and subsequently to the 7th Regt. and F Company.

He was given command of Co. F.  The 2nd Battalion was on White Horse Mountain, the same objective Cardenas helped to take in the fall of 1951.  He was also on Hill 717 as a rifle platoon leader.  It was a platoon size outpost for the 7th Regiment.  The outpost was lost by another unit to the CCF in 1952.  In the fall of 1952 into 1953, Co. F went from the MLR to blocking positions into reserve back to blocking position (patrols) and then returned to the MLR in the Boomerang sector in April 1953.  The epic battle that ensued 14-15 June 1953 to hold what was considered very critical terrain by the CCF and the 3rd Division.

The CCF tried three times in the summer of 1953 to take the Boomerang; first from the Belgian Bn., 2nd Bn. (Co. F) and the 3rd Bn. (Co. K) - all units of the 3rd Division.  The CCF did not succeed but it was very expensive to them and to us.  Commanding the 2nd Bn. during the Boomerang battle was LTC Roger Whiting, the XO was Major James Kerr.  The 7th Regiment was commanded by Col. Ernest Easterbrook.

After the battle, Co. F was relieved but was ordered back to reinforce a part of the MLR.

While in reserve position citations were prepared and medals presented to many members of Co. F.  Cardenas was battlefield promoted to Captain.  Subsequently the Regimental Commander, Col. Easterbrook selected Co. F for assignment as security for corps headquarters.  It was an honor assignment.  Cease fire came while Co. F was on that assignment, 27 July 1953.  Cardenas went home in November 1953 for duty at Fort Ord, CA.

He served again in the 3rd Infantry Division but this time in Europe (Germany) during 1959-1962, the cold war era.

In addition to assignment as Battalion Commander, he held staff positions in various units: S1 (Personnel), G-3 (Operational), and G4 (Supply).  Assignment included acting IG, Infantry Advisor to Army Reserve and National Guard units, and a tour of duty in Ethiopia as advisor to the Ethiopian Army Infantry School.

Received personal citations from Korean and the former SOuth Vietnam Armed Forces.  In Vietnam he was an advisor and later staff officer.

Recipient of BS(30LC), SS, and DSC.  Also, the Meritorious and Commendation medals.

Wounded four times in the span of three wars: Pacific WWII, Korea (2 tours), and Vietnam (2 tours).

Military education encompassed: Infantry School, Ft. Benning, GA, Basic Officers Course 1952 and Advanced Officers Course 1956.

Command and General Staff College (1962) Leavenworth, KS, also short courses i.e. air/ground operations.

Civilian education: Two year college evaluation while in service.  Graduated from Chabot (2 Yr.) College, (AA) and Cal. State University (BA).  Both after retirement.

After return from 2nd tour in Vietnam (Fall 1971) retired - Lt. Col. 5 Jan. 1972.