15. When You’re Desperate for Ammunition, But Receive Candy Instead
China’s unexpected intervention in the Korean War – at least unexpected by MacArthur – placed American troops in the Chosin Reservoir in dire straits. They numbered only 15,000, while the Chinese attacked them with around 120,000 men. Supplies ran low, temperatures plummeted to minus 25 degrees, and what food they did have was almost impossible to warm up. To top it off, the Americans ran low on mortar shells – which were particularly effective in the mountainous terrain.
So the imperiled Americans called for an immediate airdrop of mortar shells, using an established code name: Tootsie Rolls. Quartermasters in the rear jumped into action, and the Air Force swiftly organized an airlift and airdropped their cargo within US positions in the Chosin Reservoir. The beleaguered troops eagerly rushed to recover the precious mortar shells. However, when they cracked open the crates, they were horrified to discover that instead of life-saving munitions, what they had received were actual Tootsie Rolls.