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As It Was: Soldier Plays Dead Twice to Stay Alive in Korean War

He only spent a year on active duty in the U.S. Army, but during the Korean War Brice Cooper Martin had to play dead to keep alive -- twice.

Martin grew up on the historic Martin family ranch at Table Rock in Little Shasta, Siskiyou County, Calif. Born in 1931, he graduated from Yreka High School in 1949 and enlisted in the Army in 1951. He served with the 45th Infantry Division in Korea.

Martin was injured at Pork Chop Hill, but seriously wounded at Heartbreak Ridge in 1952, escaping capture by twice “playing dead.” The first time, two Chinese Communist soldiers found him in a ditch and kicked him, rifled through his gear, and left him for dead. Later, another pair of soldiers stumbled upon him. They kicked and stabbed at him with their weapons and left. He lost a leg at Heartbreak Ridge and earned three Purple Hearts for his injuries and “uncommon bravery.”

Back home in the States, Brice married Patricia “Pat” Ley and they both studied animal science at the University of California at Davis. After graduating, they returned to Table Rock and the family ranch.

Source: “Obituary for Brice Cooper Martin.” Girdner Funeral Chapel, 3 September 2015, https://www.girdnerfuneralchapel.com/obituaries/Brice-Martin/#!/Obituary.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.