Ken Gottry - Cambridge NY History

Frederick W. Mausert, III, USMC (2-May-1931 to 12-Sep-1951)

From their position on Yoke ridge, north of the Punch Bowl and west of the Soyong River in Korea, Sgt. Frederick W. Mausert, III, looked across the cool, September evening with objective. They were to take from North Korean regulars two hills, known simply as “objectives A and B” or “hills 749 and 673”. On those hills, Rickie served his country and paid the ultimate price.

 

 

Memorial Dedication Ceremony (25-May-1991)

(Below is a story written by Cambridge Historian, Dave Thornton, in 1991 about Rick Mausert.)

From their position on Yoke ridge, north of the Punch Bowl and west of the Soyong River in Korea, Sgt. Frederick W. Mausert, III, looked across the cool, September evening with objective. They were to take from North Korean regulars two hills, known simply as “objectives A and B” or “hills 749 and 673”.

By this stage in the war, September 1951, the landscape didn’t look like much more than “objectives”. On hill 673, his objective, artillery and mortars pounded what trees there had been into stumps. One Marine, who lived to reach the top of 673, recalled that the slopes and crest were pulverized to the consistency of powder. When he walked, he sank to the ankles in the dry, gray clay.

It was ideal for concealing the insidious, anti-personnel mines with which the communist forces laced the approaches to their positions. The Marine assault on hills 749 and 673 would be one of the last offensive moves by the Corps. Shortly after the hills were taken, the entire front settled into a kind of trench warfare reminiscent of WWI or the Civil War struggle at Petersburg, VA. Then the killing was stopped by a truce.

It was an unpopular war, one which the American public sought to forget. It was a war in which there was no clear-cut victory, something which World Wars I and II had conditioned us to expect. But the killing was real, the sacrifice was real and the acts of valor and heroism of a caliber to equal those of the fabled Civil War, fought almost 100 years before.

In an article for Leatherneck Magazine, March 1989, Jack L. Cannon, who participated in the action, wrote that the Medals of Honor received in three days on those hills would equal the number received on Tarawa in WWII. Three were won, all posthumously.

Later, after Rick Mausert and the other squad leaders had been briefed, he returned to his men and filled them in on the coming engagement. He felt a special concern for the members of his squad. It wasn’t because he was older than they. In fact, Rick himself was only 20 at the time. He had been a typical boy of the time. He had grown up following the events of World War II. It had ended before he had any hope of getting into action.

Because his own family had disintegrated, Rick adopted the Corps. These Marines were his family.

Before dawn the next day, September 9th, the 7th Marines began their assault. Three battalions participated. The 1st Btn was on the right. All met strong opposition from North Korean regular troops fighting from entrenchments near crests of the hills.

The North Koreans were protected in bunkers of logs with 4-5 feet of dirt and rocks on top. There were interconnecting trenches, leading from the forward slope to the rear of the hill for evacuating casualties and for resupply.

The Marines made little initial progress up the hills. Heavy mortar and machine gun fire pinned them down. With the 1st Btn pinned down on the face of hill 673, 2nd Btn was sent during the night silently up the valley to the rear of the hill. At dawn on September 12th, they launched a successful surprise attack on the north slope.

1st Btn stepped up their assault from the south, but Rick watched frustrated as accurate enemy machine guns kept his squad in their holes. Artillery and mortar fire was intense. As if this were not enough, the terrain ahead had been minded.

Rick watched in growing frustration as the attempt to storm hill 673 played out. Up ahead, exposed to enemy fire, lay two badly wounded Marines. His instinct for survival told him to keep his head down and wait, but Rick Mausert was a sergeant. Those were his men. He had to do something.

There are those who believe that God places each human being on Earth for a purpose. If so, then Rick Mausert found his appointed purpose September 12, 1951 on a desolate hill in Korea called simply “673”.

According to the citation that accompanied the medal awarded for his performance, Rick left his covered position and ran through the mined and fire-swept area to bring those critically wounded men to the safety of the lines. He ignored the painful head wound he received in order to stay with his men. Moments later, when his platoon was ordered in the fresh assault, Mausert took the point position.

He led his squad in a furious bayonet charge against the first line of seemingly impregnable bunkers. Jack Cannon wrote that when the assault platoon neared the crest, 90 mm rounds were passing not 40 feet over their heads as Marine tanks pounded the bunkers from the Valley. The slope was so steep that North Korean defenders didn’t have to throw grenades at the Marines, they simply rolled them down the hill.

Sgt. Mausert was stunned and knocked to the ground when a bullet struck his helmet. He regained his feet and continued the drive, personally grenading the machine gun that had hit him and leading his men in eliminating the first line of bunkers.

For any ordinary soldier, even for a Marine, that would have been enough heroics. But Rick Mausert went quietly about the business of reorganizing his unit for a final fight to the top. They struggled upwards until the familiar combination of concentrated machine gun fire and grenades stopped them.

It was at this point that the Old Cambridge soldier stepped into that shrouded vale that separates the good soldier from the inspired legend.

Rick Mausert hadn’t amounted to much in his young life. He had been an indifferent student, moving in and out of various communities. The Marines had given his life discipline, skills, and purpose. Now he would live or die for his country and for his fellow Marines. Who, short of the Saints, has ever done more?

Boldly, he pushed up from the shallow declivity that had protected him. Carbine firing to draw return fire from the machine gun that was pinning down his unit, Rick began to run up the hill. As he expected, the enemy gunners concentrated on him and his platoon was able to advance.

Again he was severely wounded. The busy corpman found him, but he refused aid. Doggedly, he regained his feet and continued to spearhead the assault. He drove up hill 673 to the topmost machine gun next and bunkers, the last bulwark of the fanatic defenders.

Rick leapt into what was literally a wall of fire to destroy the machine gun next with grenades before he was mortally wounded. His men swept on and secured “the objective”.

Rick Mausert’s was the first Medal of Honor awarded that day. Lt. George Ramor gave his life for one on nearby hill 680. Ed Gomez and Joe Vitorri received theirs on hill 749. In 1986, 35 years after the event, the community of Beverly, MA honored Vitorri by naming a small park after him. In 1991, 40 years after the event, the community of Old Cambridge honored Rick Mausert with a monument on Memorial Drive 

                          

 

Figure 1- Rick Mausert spent many childhood days living with his grandfather. Shown in this photo are (left-to-right) his grandfather, Jack Sharp, his Uncle Nelson Sharp, and prominent local attorney, William Lawton

Figure 2 - Adjectives that attach to Frederick W Mausert III are "typical" and "all-American". This photo is "Rick" Mausert as a teenager with baseball and glove

Figure 3 - Mr. Jack Sharp and his wife, Lucy, the parents of Gwen Sharp Mausert Barnes, mother of Marine hero, Rick Mausert

Figure 4 - Rick Mausert as a young boy

Figure 5 - Rick Mausert as a young manFigure 6 - Rick Mausert's 6th grade class photo on the steps of the Cambridge Union School. It is believed that Rick left Cambridge and moved to Massachusetts a few years after this photo was taken

Figure 7 - Rick Mausert's grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery in Section 12, grave #5559, just off Eisenhower Drive, established on 3-Jan-1952

 

Associated Press Release

During Memorial Day ceremonies this spring, the Old Cambridge District will honor a forgotten hero of the Korean War.

Frederick William Mausert III, a platoon sergeant with the Seventh Marines was born in Cambridge, NY and attended elementary school in Cambridge. He died on a desolate hill in North Korea on September 12, 1951.

The heroic dashes of Rick Mausert, to rescue fallen comrades and to destroy the communist machine gun emplacement at the crest of hill 673 in North Korea, made him the recipient of one of 20 Congressional Medals of Honor awarded to American servicemen in that war.

Termed a police action, Korea was the first war the United States fought under the banner of the United Nations. Because there was no clear victory, it has become one of America’s two least regarded wars. Veterans have to fight for recognition and earned benefits, just as have veterans of that other unpopular war, Vietnam. And yet, in six years of fighting in Korea, as many U.S. servicemen died for their country as fell in the 16 years of fighting in Southeast Asia.

Because he died in his act of heroism, and because he came from a broken home and bounced from place to place before he joined the Corp, Rick Mausert has never received the recognition he deserves. Led by representatives of the First Marine Division Association and the Captain Maxson Post #634 of the American Legion, Old Cambridge is going to change that.

During annual Memorial Day ceremonies on May 25, 1991, a monument to Rick Mausert will be unveiled. The Legion veterans will dress and mount a large, natural field stone, itself a monument to the last Ice Age.

The First Marine Division Association is providing a 20x32 inch bronze plaque, upon which the heroism of Rick Mausert will be detailed. They are also providing a smaller, indoor plaque to go into a public building in the community.

In the 17 years before he became a Marine, Rick Mausert lived in no single community long enough to claim it as his own. His autobiography, furnished to the Marines upon his enlistment, is fanciful at best. He lied about his age in order to enter the Corps a year early. Then he created a personal history to fit the lie.

Since his heroism has gone largely unrecognized and because he spent his early days in Cambridge and the neighboring community of Greenwich, he will be honored by the Old Cambridge District, which embraces Cambridge Village and the adjoining towns of Cambridge, Jackson, and White Creek.

Rick Mausert was born in Cambridge on May 2, 1931 in Mary McClellan Hospital. His father was form North Adams, MA. His mother’s family, Jack and Lucy Sharp, are thought to have come to Cambridge in 1924, either from Salem or from Granville. They were living in Cambridge at the time their daughter, Gwen, said to be very beautiful, married Fred “Fritz” Mausert, II.

John Bloom recalls that the Mauserts ran a hotel in Greenwich called the White Swan. On his son’s birth certificate, Fritz listed his business as movie theater operator. Bloom said they did open a second movie theater in Greenwich.

Soon after the birth of a second child, Jack, the Mausert’s marriage dissolved. Rick and Jack moved to the Town of Jackson in the Annaquasicoke community, three miles north of Cambridge Village.

Florence Walrath recalled that following the death of her father, Caleb Decker, Jack Sharp took over the position of superintendent of the Cambridge Waterworks. The maternal grandparents lived in the bungalow at the springs, which are the natural source of Cambridge water.

The boys lived with their maternal grandparents, starting when Rick was 6 years old. Although school attendance records have been lost, a former babysitter, Viola Gulley, thought that Rick began school in one of the nearby one-room schoolhouses, probably “Sunrise”, which was a mile down the road from the waterworks. It was called “Sunrise” because some unknown artist had painted a huge sunrise scene on its east side.

Rick and Jack lived in Annaquasicoke until Grandpa Sharp died. Then Grandmother Sharp moved them into Cambridge Village. They lived first on Washington Street and then on Grove Street. Mrs. Kathleen Squires recalls babysitting for them during this time and going with them to attend the Cambridge Union School.

Grandmother Sharp died in about 1944, when Rick would have been 13. At this point, the history blurs. A cousin believes that Rick went to live with his father’s family in Massachusetts.

Rick himself claims to have attended high school at Munson, MA and to have played sports, although school officials find no record of this. [Monson Jr-Sr High School, Monson, MA … they said to try Monson, ME]. That he enlisted from Dresher, PA is established. Evidently he held a job in a hardware store.

It is easy to see how Rick Mausert, who died at the age of 20, could become a forgotten hero. However, what he did for his Country and comrades on that desolate hill in Korea on September 12, 1951 should not be forgotten. Honoring this local hero will be the centerpiece of the annual Memorial Day parade and service on Saturday May 25, 1991.

 

 

Letter from Jim Hughes 

Jim Hughes
24415 New York
Dearborn, MI 48124
(313) 565-6879
29 April 1991

Mr. Joseph A. Lenard
5 Manor Drive
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

Dear Joe,

            I received the information you so thoughtfully sent this morning. I can’t express how gratifying I feel at what you have accomplished. Yu certainly should have a wonderful feeling inside at what you have done. You have reminded me of why I am proud to have served as a Marine.

            I retired from the Dearborn Police Dept, 28 Feb 1989 after 36 ½ years. Have maintained membership in the following veterans organizations: 1st Marine Div Assn (life), Purple Heart (life), Marine Corps League (life), Chosen Few, American Legion and Catholic War Veterans. I am a member of the Department of Michigan Marine Corps League State Honor Guard and we are committed to ceremonies over the weekend of 25 May 1991 through the 29th, including the dedication of a new War Memorial in our City (the original was destroyed a few years ago by a wayward driver). It is my loss that I will be unable to attend the ceremonies honoring Sgt. Mausert in Cambridge, NY. At any other time I would have made every effort to attend. A part of me, at least my thoughts, will be there.

Let me at least pass on to you for whatever value, my memories of 40 years ago regarding Sgt. Mausert.

            I remember him joining B-1-7 sometime in July or August 1951. We were in a reserve area in Central Korea. We were going through ½ day training exercises at that time. Believe it or not, one session was “bar room fighting” and the instructor was a New York cop. Anyway, I recall this young Sgt, after we had attacked his squad’s position, holding a critique. He went on very diligently detailing his coverage of fields of fire and other strategic positioning of his squad. He came across sincere and dedicated. Naturally, a few comments such as “wait til he gets shot at a few times, he won’t be so Gung Ho”, were overheard. Little did we know! I can’t confirm this but the word was that Sgt. Mausert had been a radio technician with the Marine Air Wing and had volunteered for the Marine infantry. There was some indication that his father had been killed in the Pacific during WWII, also a Marine. Again these are memories form 40 years ago.

            I was in the 1st Platoon and Sgt. Mausert was in the 2nd Platoon. I heard that he would carry a B.A.R. at times, although a Sgt, he must have felt he wanted to be adept at all his squad’s weaponry. Towards the end of Augsut 1951, we moved up to positions in hills in the area of the Punchbowl and learned we were once again facing the North Koreans. I was a fire team leader at that time and had gone on one patrol in the area, and experienced two afternoons of shell fire from North Korean Artillery on our position. On 31 August 1951, I, as it turned out, was mercifully evacuated to medical units due to shrapnel wounds. During the early days of Sept. 1951, while a patient at “East” Medical BN, I ran into one of my “B” Co. buddies. Naturally, him being an Indian, we called him Chief. I was reluctant to ask him what he was doing there because I didn’t see any obvious evidence of wounds. Somehow, in our conversation, Chief told me he suffered a busted eardrum when an enemy shell landed in his hole, (could have exploded straight up or maybe hit on the edge). I asked how was his fox hole buddy. He indicated it was Sgt. Mausert and he didn’t get a scratch. I also learned that Sgt. Mausert, while on patrol, spotted a row of bunkers across the Soyang River and attacked them singly with a B.A.R. However, it turned out the bunkers were unoccupied.

            As Sept moved along, casualties became increasing heavy and easy med was filling up. Some Marines not sooner got back to the line and again became casualties. There was even talk that Marines were landed on a hill by helicopter. I was soon evacuated further south by air and train through Seoul and finally to Taejon, Korea and after recuperating, returned to “B” Co. in October 1951. There I learned from various members of the unit of the heroics of Sgt. Mausert.

            I was told by one Marine, whose name is lost from my memory, that prior to jumping off, Lt. Lebaron advised his squad leaders of the coming action and to prepare his squads. Sgt Mausert, in his talk to his squad, attempting to encourage them and ease any jitters, told them, when you start up that hill tomorrow, remember you are Marines, yell and holler, pull up those pant legs and show them those yellow leggings, if you can’t think of anything else, sing “The Hymn”. I have no reason to doubt this. I was told by a machine gunner, again name long forgotten, that when Sgt Mausert made his final plunge to knock out a machine gun bunker, he was indeed singing the Hymn. Later among his personal efforts was a card with these words printed on same, “ A Coward Dies a Hundred Deaths, A Hero Only Once”.

            Those are words told to me 40 years ago and I have no real doubts, although Marines have been known to stretch some things a bit. However, the Medal of Honor Citation of Sgt Frederick Mausert leaves no doubt about the Man – the Marine, he went out in a blaze of glory and I honestly believe he wanted it that way. On the 25th of May 1991 Sgt Mausert will be looking down from his post near the Great Commandant and will humbly, but proudly, whisper, “Thank You”, to you Joe and those gathered in Cambridge, New York.

            In late October/early November 1951, prior to being rotated to the U.S.A, I was one of the Marines picked for the firing squad detail, at the ceremony dedicating a bridge over the Soyang River, in honor of Sgt Mausert. It was a custom to name a road, bridge or some landmark in honor of one who distinguished himself in battle. I felt very proud that day.

Best of Luck to You,

Semper Fidelis,

Jim Hughes

[Note: The “Lt Lebaron” referred to is believed to be Eddie Lebaron who went on to play in the NFL as quarterback of the Washington Redksins]

 

Other Information

Below is an excerpt from another document I discovered that described Rick Masuert. I think this may have been from a PA newspaper, perhaps in an obituary section. There are several points that have been manually edited/corrected. I’ve noted those in square-brackets

Marine Sergeant Frederick W. Mausert, III, 21 [20], of Dresher, Pa, and Baltimore, Md., won the Medal of Honor in Korea for sacrificing his life after repeated acts of heroism.

            The nation’s highest decoration for valor was awarded the youthful Marine for extraordinary heroism on September 12, 1951, at Songnap-yong, where he was killed while leading an assault on enemy positions.

            Sgt Mausert was the 20th marine to receive the Medal of Honor for Korean fighting. Born May 2, 1930 [1931] at Cambridge, N.Y., he lived at Dresher, Pa, before his enlistment in the Marine Corps June 21, 1948. He was employed by Glenside Hardware, Glenside, Pa.

            Sgt Mausert attended high school at Monson, Mass., where he played baseball, track, and basketball, and he went to elementary school in Brooklyn, N.Y. [no evidence of this can be found].

            Following recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., he was stationed at Cherry Point, and Camp Lejeune, N.C., before going to Korea, where he participated in campaigns in South and Central Korea.

            The Medal of Honor Citation reads:

            For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad Leader in Company B, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 12 September 1951.

            With his company pinned down and suffering heavy casualties under murderous machine-gun, rifle, artillery and mortar fire laid down from heavily fortified, deeply entrenched hostile strongholds on Hill 673, Sergeant Mausert unhesitatingly left his covered position and ran through heavily mined and fire-swept area to bring back two critically wounded men to the comparative safety of the lines.

            Staunchly refusing evacuation despite a painful head wound sustained during his voluntary act, he insisted on remaining with his squad and, with his platoon ordered into the assault moments later, took the point position and led his men in a furious bayonet charge against the first of a series of literally impregnable bunkers.

            Stunned and knocked to the ground when another …

Both his father and grandfather were called “Fritz”, which may explain his mother, Gwen Sharp Mausert Barnes, chose a different nickname of “Rickie” for her older son.

 

Poem that was written for the dedication ceremony on 25-May-1991

1776 – In Freedom’s Name -- 1951

I was a hero at Valley Forge,                                      1777

I fell in the fight against King George;

I’ve no way of knowing who won the war,

Nor whether it opened or closed the door

I was ahero at Seven Pines,                                         1862

I fell ‘twixt the two opposing lines;

I’ve no way of knowing which side prevailed,

Nor whether our flag or the foe’s is nailed

On Freedom’s staff.

I was a hero at Belleau Wood,                         1918

I fell where the doughty dough-boys stood;

I’ve no way of knowing the final score,

Nor whether there’s hope or despair in store

For Freedom’s cause.

I was a hero at red Bataan,                                          1942

I fell just as World War II began;

I’ve no way of knowing the sequel now,

Nor whether we faltered or won the row

With Freedom’s sword.

I was a hero hard by Kaesong,                                    1951

I fell when the phony Peace went wrong;

I’ve no way of knowing the end of it all,

Nor whether the sparks still continue to fall

From Freedom’s torch.

            L’Envoi

Those heroes who dwell on the answerless shore,

Loved life not a little, but liberty – more;

Again the stake’s Freedom, iron dice have been thrown

And there’s no way of learning what still is unknown;

But if we, the living, hold fast to our God,

We’ll answer this query that springs from the sod,

In Freedom’s Name!

                        In memory of Rick