HENRY I. HODES
Responsibility for the destruction of the 31st Regimental Combat Team at the Chosin Reservoir fell on the shoulders of the upper echelon of command - from X Corps down to the Army and Marine Division command and staff, it seemed they did not fully grasp the dire situation and could not reach agreements on tactical movements. Holding one star at the time, Brigadier General Hodes was trying his best to find a way to break through to the encircled troops and plotting ways to evacuate them. He was distressed and nearly frantic to find a way to save them. Hank Hodes is one man whose reputation should not be tarnished by the events that unfolded at the Reservoir.
Known for being generous and humble, Hank was a considerate man who always had his soldiers' best interests at heart despite his nickname 'Hammerin' Hank.' It was really an affectionate moniker, rising from his insistence that his troops always know everything possible about their occupations and responsibilities to an extreme point of precision. He truly cared for his men and they knew it, but he was equally as fair as he was firm. Within the 7th Division, many of the men considered Hodes to be the Division's true driving force, though his decisions were sometimes undermined and his responsibilities restricted.
As a colonel at the age of forty-five, Hank landed at Omaha Beach commanding the 112th Infantry Regiment at the end of July 1944 and smelled death for the first time passing rotting bodies of cattle while moving to Saint Lo. German equipment littered the battlefields along the roads passing into the city and sniper fire pestered the men. After a few miles, they were in combat.
His European tour was cut short on September 20 when he was evacuated for a head wound, his second battle wound after getting hit in the shoulder. Just as distinguished as he was in the field, Hank was highly intellectual and respected within the War Department. On his return to the States, he was assigned as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff in the office of the Chief of Staff of the Army. For five years prior to his deployment, Hank contributed greatly to the successful development of War Department plans and operations from 1939 to 1944, earning recognition from General Marshall and other great leaders.
It was this sort of ability as a scholar that Hank excelled in. After his tenure with the 7th Division, with great regret and feeling failure for the massacre of the 31st RCT, he entered what became the most pivotal era of his military career - duty as a member of the United States Armistice Delegation with North Korea. It was truly trying to negotiate with the Communists, but due to his experience in the Army and perhaps owing to his warm but stern personality, he emerged as one of the most effective negotiators.
His Korean service did not end here, for in late December he returned to the front to command the 24th Division for a brief time before they rotated offline early the next year. Through his career, he held many duties that officers dream of - to command a regiment, a division and later a Corps, an Army, and ultimately as Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Europe before his retirement in 1959. He served his country with great purpose and distinction, upholding strong morals and humility often forgotten by those holding so many stars on their shoulders.
Second from left, Hodes stands near the banks of the Yalu with other 7th Division generals in November 1950..
With Vice Admiral Joy and Rear Admiral Burke at Kaesong during the negotiations in 1951.