In November of 1950, the already famous, battle-hardened 1st Marine Division (Guadalcanal etc) is in the frozen mountains of N. Korea when countless Chinese over run their positions around the Chosin Resevoir.
It was during this desperate battle that Marine Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller made his famous comment, “We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem. Now we can fire in any direction.
And that was exactly the situation. The Division was entirely surrounded in sub-zero temperatures…and running out of ammunition.
The desperate call went out for airdrops of ammunition, in particular 60mm mortar ammo (radio code ‘Tootsie Rolls’), which Marines were using to reach into ravines and valleys to kill their enemy.
The word was spread. The Gyrenes trapped at Chosin needed tootsie rolls! Do it NOW!! Every base in Japan and the Asian area rushed their supplies to save their comrades who were dying in the snow.
C-119 “Flying Box Car” transport planes were loaded to the bulkheads. Soon the welcome planes were flying over the Marine’s position and dropping their cargo by parachute.
The desperate supply artillery crews retrieved the precious boxes. Opening them, they found thousands and thousands of…
Tootsie Roll candies.
The air was blue with curses. SNAFU. Situation Normal, All F’d Up. Things were FUBAR. F’d Up Beyond All Recognition.
Everyone who was not artillery were overjoyed. The Marines filled their pockets…the sugary treats provided much needed sustenance when in a foxhole.
When the Chinese would overrun a position, the first thing they did was look for tootsie rolls.
The Marines…infantry or aircrews, quickly discovered that a Tootsie Roll warmed in your mouth made a perfect plug and sealant for bullet riddled planes, fuel tanks, Jeeps, basically any damaged equipment. In the frozen combat hell they were in, the chocolate quickly froze to an almost impermeable fix.
A radio operator who did not know the code, supply crews who would do anything they were asked for their comrades, and Tootsie Rolls helped save the 1st Marine Division.
Oh…and they eventually got the ammo too.