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A new documentary on the frozen hell of Chosin

Chosin They call Korea the Forgotten War, and the U.S. Marines who fought at the Chosin Reservoir probably would like to forget it. Frozen and exhausted, surrounded by a Chinese army that American commanders refused to admit even existed, they fought off two weeks' worth of human wave attacks that left icy corpses stacked up like piles of gory snowmen. The combat was so vicious and continual that when the Marines were withdrawing, their officers refused to use the word retreat.

``Retreat, hell!'' snapped one. ``We're just attacking in a different direction.''

Someday someone will make a great documentary about that 1950 battle. Until then, we'll have to settle for Uncommon Courage: Breakout at Chosin, which airs on Memorial Day on the Smithsonian Channel. Despite the expansive title, it's really an account of just one small though crucial operation during the Chosin campaign: a mission to reinforce shaky Marine control over the only possible escape route for American troops. Read my full review in Sunday's Miami Herald.

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