top of page

Private First Class Marvin Derryberry

5th Cavalry Regiment

Marvin Ray Derryberry was born on June 17th, 1931 in Tennessee. Sadly, not much is known of his early years, however, he would distinguish himself as a young adult in the barbaric fighting of the Korean War.

Derryberry arrived on the Korean peninsula sometime after Pusan as a replacement in the 16th Replacement Company before being assigned to the 5th Cavalry Regiment. He and the other men of the First Team pushed the North Korean forces back to the 38th parallel and beyond, putting the entire NKPA in a full retreat. Just weeks away from

The new year, Derryberry participated in the Battle of Unsan, holding the line on the 8th Cavalry’s flank. Unsan was one of the bloodiest battles of the war and inspired the “Bug Out Boogie,” a common slight for the Cavalry due to the horrific losses of the battle. Fresh Chinese troops had caught the First Team and the 1st ROK Division out of position and assaulted them ruthlessly. 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry was virtually wiped out and the 2nd Battalion suffered heavy losses. Numerous 5th Cavalry Regiment troopers also suffered greatly from the Chinese forces.

Derryberry was wounded on November 8th, 1950, just days after the battle at Unsan from Chinese forces. The exact cause is unknown but likely was the cause of a CCF patrol looking for lost Americans to capture for intelligence. Following this, he would participate in the capture of Hill 318. During the assault, his company was viciously assaulted by an entrenched Chinese machine gun team. Derryberry flung himself to the cold soil of the Hermit Kingdom, feeling a sudden movement on his helmet. He froze, unsure of what he just happened. He slowly felt his helmet, then the liner, and finally his pile cap. The bullet had gone through his helmet but had thankfully missed him. He would proudly display his shredded helmet to his hometown newspaper. Following service in Korea, Derryberry embarked upon the USAT General LeRoy Eltinge, departing Asia for California. 

Following his service in Korea, Derryberry returned stateside and was discharged in 1953. Sadly, his life would be cut short, when in 1977, he was murdered in a school parking lot. While bending over inside his truck, a man shot him multiple times in the back.



  • Mossman, Billy C. Ebb and Flow: November 1950-July 1951. Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1990. 

  • The First Team: The First Cavalry Division in Korea, 18 July 1950-18 January 1952. Turner Pub. Co., 1994.

bottom of page