In the summer 1950 as North Korean Army surged south to the Pusan perimeter, the Army pulled every NCO in Japan they could get their hands on to put into the fray. He was assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment (“the Polar Bears”) of the 7th Infantry Division where he trained South Korean troops attached to the regiment. His regiment was then committed to combat during the Inchon landing. After weeks in the line, his division was assigned to the X Corp.
In October 1950 as MacArthur led the United Nations forces north of the 38th parallel to the Yalu, the 7th ID was landed at Iwon in North Korea as part of the X Corp invasion which included the Marines. The U.N. forces spread out to chase remnants of the North Koreans northward, 7th Division advancing to the east of the Chosin Reservoir, Marines to the west. With the rear area command out of touch with the front but demanding “full pursuit,” the 31st Regiment moved out as part of what became “Task Force Faith,” unaware of the huge Chinese Army infiltration in front of them.
31st IR was further advanced and isolated from the 1st Marine Division by the frozen Chosin Reservoir when the storm broke. For three days Task Force Faith fought encirclement and tried to break out east of the Reservoir, but the 3,000 man task force was shattered and overrun. The survivors retreated across the ice to join the Marine column which then fought its way south from point to point … the famous “attacking in another direction” march in the dead of winter.
During the retreat Schmidt broke his shoulder in a truck wreck during shelling and couldn’t hold a weapon. Despite the wound, he led a desperate attack that captured a key hill on the flank of the march to Koto Ri and was awarded the Silver Star. He and the remains of the 31st IR and the 1st Marine Division fought their way back to the coast and were evacuated on 15 December 1950.
The SGM served in various airborne and armored units throughout the 50s. He said he had heard rumors about the formation of Special Forces and had tried to join in 1954 when the embryo SF unit was being organized. But he was sent instead to various armored units being built up in the Ft. Hood area for deployment to Germany in the face of the Soviet threat.