Overview

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July 5 Task Force Smith, 1st Btn, 21st Regiment, 24th Infantry Division,

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supported by Battery A, 52nd FA Btn., crushed by N.K. 4th Division
5 July
Task Force Smith engages and delays advancing NKPA forces at Osan in first U.S. ground action of the war. [note]

On July 5, Lt. Col. Harold "Red" Ayres, a World War II infantry battalion commander, took command of the 1/34th.

Major General William F. Dean, the 24th Division's commander, ordered Ayres' battalion to a blocking position near P'yŏngt'aek and Asan Bay on South Korea's west coast, and Lt. Col. David H. Smith's 3rd Battalion to a similar position at Ansŏng, about 10 miles east of P'yŏngt'aek.

Brigadier General George B. Barth informed Ayres that Task Force Smith--a half-battalion force from the 21st Infantry--had been defeated earlier in the day and admonished Ayres to delay the enemy but not allow his battalion to "suffer the same fate as...Smith's."

[note]

TACP

XX. The Joint Operations Center


The first Korean War Joint Operations Center was established at Itazuke Air Base, Japan, on July 3, 1950 . Later that month, Headquarters, Fifth Air Force Advanced; the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing (FBW); the 8th Fighter-Bomber Group (FBG); and five F–80 fighter-bomber squadrons established their headquarters at this location. The Joint Operations Center deployed to Korea on July 6, co-locating with Headquarters, 24th Infantry Division, at Taejŏn. MURPHY, JOHN R. Lt Gen

The first three Tactical Air Control Parties, each comprised of a forward air controller (a pilot), a radio operator, and a mechanic driver, began operating at Ch'ŏnan on July 5, 1950 . Their AN/VRC-1 radio system was mounted in the rear of a jeep. The AN/VRC-1 consisted of an SCR-193 High-Frequency radio for point-to-point contact and an SCR-522 VHF radio for air-to-ground contact. Radio performance suffered greatly from the bumpy roads, and the radios proved difficult to maintain. Furthermore, the High-Frequency (HF) radio could only range 30 miles.


[81] Hist 5AF, Vol. I, Chap. III, pp. 18-23 and Vol. II, Chap IV, pp. 132-148;
Historical Study #71, pp. 23-25;
George R. Thompson and Dixie R. Harris, “US Army in WWII, the Technical Services. The Signal Corps: the Outcome (mid 1943-1945),” Washington DC, OCMH, DA, 1966, p. 494, 501, 502, 641.

[note]

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P326
Suddenly orders to Camp Pendleton looked extremely good to one colonel in Hawaii. Instead of contemplating the end of his career, Puller was reanimated by a desire to participate in the war:

“I knew if I go to Korea I wouldn’t be through.” He firmly believed that “war was what prosperity was to the businessman, a chance to excel.”

On July 5 he fired off telegrams to the Commandant (Now General Cats) and O.P. Smith, asking for permission to report immediately to Pendleton instead of waiting for the arrival of a relief. Chesty argued that his service in Haiti, Nicaragua, and the Far East would

“prove of value in assignment to combat duty in Korea” and he expressed his “earnest desire to carry out my orders as soon as possible.”

Smith was sympathetic since he was trying to speed up his own transfer to the division, but Cates was unwilling to act on Puller’s request. The assistant commandant told his old friend to work on getting Shepherd, now head of FMFPac, to release him from the barracks without a replacement.

P327
MacArthur soon expressed his desire for the services of an entire Marine division. But Camp Pendleton had been wiped clean of combat forces by the departure of the brigade; while the 2nd marine Division in Lejeune had only four battalions of infantry. Smith now had just the job for Chesty:

“it appears that we may have to activate another regiment at Camp Pendleton when we get the personnel… I believe Puller would be an excellent man to whip this new regiment into shape and I am going to recommend to the Commandant that Puller now be detached in advance of the arrival of his relief.”

In the end, Cates authorized FMFPac to immediately release Chesty “in event services [of] Col Puller can be spared.”

[note]

July 5 - U.S. ground troops in Task Force Smith, fight North Koreans for the first time north of Osan. U.S. forces retreat with heavy casualties. The 34th Infantry Regiment moved north from Pusan. Fall of Wŏnju.


July 5 to August 10 - United Nations Forces fight delaying actions across South Korea. [note]

Task Force Smith becomes the first American troops to engage the North Koreans. They fight two delaying actions near Osan, but cannot stop the enemy, which is led by more than 30 Russian tanks. Americans become so heavily engaged that it's difficult to break off and withdraw. That results in a disorganized fall back as the task force heads for Taejŏn. Pvt. Kenneth Shadrick, 20, of West Virginia, is reported to be the first American infantryman to be killed in the new war. All told, five officers and 148 enlisted men are missing in action.
-- The UN Security Council selects MacArthur to command UN forces in South Korea.
-- The Air Force announced in Washington that it was sending P-51 Mustangs to Japan to fly missions to Korea. Its 950-mile range gives it more loiter time over targets in Korea. The F-80 Shooting Star jet fighters currently assigned to the Far East Air Force only have a 500-mile range.
-- "Korea Today," an examination of the hostilities between North and South Korea, is the top book of the week. [note]

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Two SB-17s were used this date for weather recon and orbit missions. A total of fifteen hours (15:00) was logged on these missions.


At 0745/K ADCC notified the Flight of a Mayday 90 miles from Fukaeshima. No further information was received on this Mayday. One false alert this date.

[note]

JOC

July 5: A Joint Operations Center opened at Taejŏn to provide better close air support for US ground forces, which, near Osan, battled, for the first time, North Korean troops.

[note]

Task Force Smith is attacked and shredded. [note]

Army Policy

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On 3 July the Secretary General of the United Nations, Trygve Lie, circulated a proposed resolution to the delegations of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. It suggested that the Government of the United States would direct the armed forces of member nations in Korea, but with the help of a "Committee on Coordination of Assistance for Korea." This committee would coordinate all offers of assistance, promote continuing participation in Korea by member nations, and receive reports from the field commander. The exact extent of its control was not stated in the proposal. [06-2]

[06-2] Goodrich, Korea, A Study of U. S. Policy in the United Nations, p. 119.

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When, on 4 July, the Department of State sought the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the resolution, the latter [the next day] opposed forming such a committee. They felt that placing a United Nations committee in the channel between the U. S. Government and the field commander would raise serious operational difficulties. Even though the committee might never try to control military operations, the possibility that it might do so brought the Joint Chiefs together in opposition.

They told the Secretary of Defense that, if a committee were needed for political reasons, its powers must be defined and restricted so exactly that it could never take on the nature of a U.N. command headquarters. [06-3]

[06-3] Memo, JCS (Bradley) for Secy. Defense, 5 Jul. 50, sub: Proposed U. S. Position With Regard to Forces in Korea.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted a command arrangement in which the United States, as executive agent for the United Nations, would direct the Korean operation, with no positive contact between the field commander and the United Nations.

The major decisions, especially those of political content, must not in any way be made, or influenced, by the officer commanding the U.N. forces in Korea.

If the United Nations were to deal directly with the commander on assistance offers, for example, the top levels of the U. S. Government would be bypassed and forces accepted or rejected by a commander, very likely an American, whose outlook would be restricted by his own local situation. [06-4]

[06-4] JCS 1776/19, Rpt by JSSC, 5 Jul. 50, sub: Proposed U. S. Position With Regard
to Forces in Korea.

[note]

25th ID

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On 5 July General MacArthur had ordered the 25th Infantry Division into combat, and

[note]

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The first request by General MacArthur for a major unit from the United States came when he sought a Marine RCT with attached air support elements. Made on 2 July, the request was approved on the next day by the Joint Chiefs, and General MacArthur was told that the Marine unit would be sent to him as soon as possible. [05-42]

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A few days later came his first call for specific major Army units from the General Reserve. He asked, on 5 July, that the 2nd Infantry Division, then training at Fort Lewis, Washington, be sent to Korea as soon as possible. He also asked by name for smaller units which, if sent, would further reduce the capabilities of the General Reserve.

[note]


He asked on 5 July for an engineer special brigade trained in amphibious operations and on the same day called for an airborne RCT "to participate in planned operations from 20 July to 10 August." [08-1]

MacArthur had conceived these "planned operations" a few days after the North Koreans struck. MacArthur then believed that he could land an assault force from the 1st Cavalry Division and the Marine RCT against the enemy's rear at Inch'ŏn as early as 22 July.

This force would envelop Sŏul and seize the high ground to the north. At the same time, all forces available to General Dean would attack to drive the North Koreans back against the Han. Maj. Gen. Edwin K. Wright's planning group, JSPOG, worked out the details of this early plan. They assigned to it the code name Operation BLUEHEARTS. [08-2]

[note]

The other regiments of the 24th Division-the 34th and 19th Infantry, and the remainder of the 21st Infantry, plus supporting units-moved to Korea rapidly.


By 5 July, most of the division was there. To provide more armor General MacArthur ordered Company A of the 1st Cavalry Division's medium tank battalion to bolster the division. [05-7] (no tank battalions at this time on medium tank anything is 603rd Medium Tank Company )


Meanwhile, Colonel Smith's delaying force, after reporting to General Church at Taejŏn, was sent forward to engage the enemy on sight. Just above Osan, the task force dug hasty positions on the night of 4 July and awaited the approaching North Koreans.

[note]

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The following day, Inch'ŏn, the port of Sŏul on the west coast of the Korean Peninsula at the mouth of the Han River, was selected as the objective, and planning proceeded. Simultaneously, Almond directed the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, Major General Hobart Gay, to expedite the Inch'ŏn landing “to the utmost limit.” The division—diminished by 750 senior noncommissioned officers sent to the 24th Division—hurriedly drew its weapons and prepared to board ship in Yokohama.[cmdctl-14] The 1st Cavalry Division’s planning for the landing was materially aided by Colonel Edward Forney, U.S. Marine Corps, and his staff from Mobile training Team A (or “Able”), whom Doyle had seconded to the division—in fact, they largely wrote its operation order.

[note]

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Filippov (Stalin) to Soviet Ambassador in Beijing (N.V. Roshchin) with message for Zhou Enlai, 5 July 1950

Point two in the communiqué states:

2. We consider it correct to concentrate immediately 9 Chinese divisions on the Chinese-Korean border for volunteers’ actions in North Korea in the event of the enemy’s crossing the 38th parallel. We will do our best to provide the air cover for these units.

[note]

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19500705 0000 DSC GONSALEZ, FLORENTINO (POW)

19500705 0000 DSC PERRY, MILLER O.

19500705 0000 DSC SMITH, CHARLES B.

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"Task Force Smith, B and C Companies of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, and A Battery, 52nd Field Artillery Battalion, all of the 24th Infantry Division, met a large tank and infantry element of the North Korean 4th Division just north of Osan. After seven hours of brisk action, battered by the T34 tanks’ fire and flanked by overwhelming numbers of infantry, the Task Force Smith withdrew under fire. Of the 520 infantry and artillerymen of the Task Force, only 185 made it to friendly lines. A North Korean soldier who came on the scene just after the battle recorded in his diary, "We met vehicles and American PWs. We also saw some American dead. We found four of our destroyed tanks. Near Osan there was a great battle."

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520=(94 KIA, 241 MIA) [note]

South then North

The task force organized by General Dean was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Smith of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment. Task force Smith was assigned two under-strength rifle companies, part of a battalion headquarters company, two recoilless rifle crews, and two 4.2-inch mortar crews--in all about 400 men. The rifle companies had six 2.36-inch anti-tank rocket launchers (bazooka) and four 60 mm mortars. Each man was issued 120 rounds (15 8-round clips) of .30-06 caliber rifle ammunition and two days' supply of C rations. Smith's command had a liberal sprinkling of combat-experienced officers, about a third of them having seen prior combat in either the European or Pacific theaters, but only one out of six of the enlisted men had previous combat experience. The rest were at best only semi-trained and averaged under 20 years of age.

[note]

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Although in the first few days some members of the KMAG group reportedly were cut off and missing, all reached safety by the end of the month, and up to 5 July only three had been slightly wounded. [04-25] [note]

TCAP

These two TACP were being formed in Japan for an amphibious maneuver when the war started. They went into action on 5 July and thereafter there was great improvement in the effectiveness of U.N. air support and fewer mistaken strikes by friendly planes on ROK forces which, unfortunately, had characterized the air effort in the last days of June and the first days of July. [note]

This center [at Itazuke Air Base] moved to Taejŏn in Korea on 5 July, [note]

Terrain


The area defended by the ROK Army after American troops of the U.S. 24th Division entered action on 5 July was everything east of the main Sŏul-Taegu-Pusan railroad and highway. [Diagonally from North to South across the whole of South Korea and the US had 2 companies West of this line.]

In the mountainous central part of Korea there are two main north-south axes of travel and communication. The first, from the west, is the Wŏnju-Ch'ungju-Mun'gyŏng-Kimch'ŏn corridor running almost due south from Wŏnju. The second, farther east, is the Wŏnju-Chech'on-Tanyang-Yŏngju-Andong-Uisŏng-Yŏngch'ŏn corridor slanting southeast from Wŏnju.


The critical military terrain of both corridors is the high watershed of a spur range which runs southwest from the east coastal range and separates the upper Han River on the north from the upper Naktong on the south. Both rivers have their sources in the western slope of the Taebaek Range, about twenty miles from the Sea of Japan. The Han River flows south for forty miles, then turns generally northwest to empty into the Yellow Sea; the Naktong flows first south, then west, then again south to empty into the Korea Strait. Mun'gyŏng is at the pass on the first corridor over the high plateau of this dividing watershed. Tanyang is on the south side of the upper Han and at the head of the long, narrow pass through the watershed on the second corridor.


On the south side of this watershed, and situated generally at its base, from southwest to northeast are the towns of Taegu. Or, the more eastern units could cross the relatively wide valley of the Naktong to enter another east-west spur range of the southern Taebaeks at a number of points-the most important being Andong and cut across to the east-west corridor between Taegu and P'ohang-dong and the Kyŏngju corridor leading south to Pusan.


After the initial success of the North Korean Army in driving ROK forces from their 38th Parallel positions, the South Koreans east of the U.S. 24th Division were badly disorganized and fighting separate regimental and division actions.

In the first part of July the ROK Army was generally disposed from west to east as follows: 17th Regiment, 2nd, Capital, 6th, and 8th Divisions, and the 23rd Regiment of the 3rd Division (18th and 22nd having been destroyed).

Regiments from left to right:

  1. 17th ROK Infantry Raiment, Capital Division
  2. 5th ROK Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division
  3. 16th ROK Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division
  4. 17th ROK Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division
  5. 25th ROK Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division
  6. 2nd Infantry Regiment, 6th Division
  7. 7th Infantry Regiment, 6th Division
  8. 19th Infantry Regiment, 6th Division
  9. 16th Artillery Battalion, 6th Division
  10. 10th Infantry Regiment, 8th Division
  11. 16th Infantry Regiment, 8th Division
  12. 21st Infantry Regiment, 8th Division
  13. 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Division

1, 5, 7 divisions seem to be missing.


The North Korean Army advanced southward on a wide front. (Map 5) The N.K. 1st Division followed the 4th and the 3rd south out of Sŏul, but then turned off on the next major road east of the Sŏul-Pusan highway. This led through Ich'ŏn and Ŭmsŏng. Ahead of it was the N.K. 2nd Division which had moved westward to this road after the fall of Ch'unch'ŏn.

[note]

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At Ich'on, ROK forces cut off an enemy regiment and destroyed or captured many mortars and several pieces of artillery. Farther west on the Yongin road another enemy regiment suffered heavy casualties at the same time, on or about 5 July, the day of Task Force Smith's fight at Osan. After these actions, the N.K. 1st Division left the path of the 2nd and slanted southeast toward Ch'ungju. This left the 2nd the first division east of U.S. 24th Division troops on the Sŏul-Taejŏn highway and in a position to join with the N.K. 4th and 3rd Divisions in a converging attack on Taejŏn.

[note]

After the fall of Wŏnju on or about 5 July, the newly designated 12th Division [was the 7th Division] split its forces-part going southeast toward Chech'on, the remainder south toward Ch'ungju. [08-3]

img alt="Book Image" src="../../Place_Names/Images/Wŏnju,_Chech'on_and_Ch'ungju.jpg">

[note]

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Task Force Smith Position straddling the Osan-Suwŏn road. Looking west, with Osan to the left.

[note]

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American Command Estimate

Almost from the outset of American intervention, General MacArthur had formulated in his mind the strategic principles on which he would seek victory. Once he had stopped the North Koreans, MacArthur proposed to use naval and air superiority to support an amphibious operation in their rear. By the end of the first week of July [Sat 7/1/50 or the end of the 1st week of the war] he realized that the North Korean Army was a formidable force. His first task was to estimate with reasonable accuracy the forces he would need to place in Korea to stop the enemy and fix it in place, and then the strength of the force he would need in reserve to land behind the enemy's line. That the answer to these problems was not easy and clearly discernible at first will become evident when one sees how the unfolding tactical situation in the first two months of the war compelled repeated changes in these estimates.

By the time American ground troops first engaged North Koreans in combat north of Osan, General MacArthur had sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington by a liaison officer his requests for heavy reinforcements, most of them already covered by radio messages and teletype conferences. His requests included the following:



[note]

Citations

Medals

Distinguished Service Cross

19500705 0000 DSC GONSALEZ, FLORENTINO (POW)

19500705 0000 DSC PERRY

19500705 0000 DSC SMITH, CHARLES B.

 

Silver Star

Adams, Raymond E. [1stLt SS MedCo21stIR]

Aukerman, Robert J. [PFC SS C21stIR]

Connor, Ollie D. [1stLt SS B21stIR]

Cox, Jansen Calvin [2ndLt SS Hq1stBn21stIR]

Csepp, Jack J. [2ndLt SS Hq1stBn21stIR]

Eversole, Edwin A. [SFC SS A52ndFAB]

Gonzales, Florentino [PFC SS B21stIR]

Hamaguchi, Rodney Nariyuki [PFC SS SrvBtry 52ndFAB]

Huggins, Charles W. [PFC SS B21stIR]

Patterson, Calvin W. [SFC SS C21stIR]

Robbins, John W. [Sgt SS C21stIR]

Scott, Dwain L. [1stLt SS A52ndFAB]

Shortt, James E. [PFC SS C21stIR]

Sibley, Willard Jesse [Pvt SS HqServBtry52ndFAB]

Simpson, Carl C. [Capt SS 52ndFAB]

Sturgeon, Willie B. [PFC SS C21stIR]

 


 

Task Force Smith

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Scotty

The Battle of Osan, Korea, that took place on 5 July 1950 has become one of the most famous examples of an American Army failure in battle. If you mention the phrase "No More Task Force Smiths" to an Army colleague, he immediately will conjure up an image of a lost battle that resulted from a failure in Army policies, leadership, training, equipment, manning and tactical employment. Most historians recite a familiar theme: "The young men of Task Force Smith carried Regular Army serial numbers, but they were a new breed of American Regulars who, not liking the service, had insisted with public support that the Army be made as much like civilian life and home as possible. Discipline had galled them and their congressmen had seen to it that it did not become too onerous. They had grown fat."[1]


Is this an accurate assessment of the Redlegs who supported Task Force Smith? Now retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott, the commander of the battery at Osan, says, "No."


This article captures what happened with Task Force Smith in Korea from the perspective of the battery commander supporting the task force. It is a combination of research and an interview with retired Lieutenant Colonel Dwain L. Scott, known as "Scotty."

[note]

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5 JUL . ..WE MET SOME VEHICLES AND AMERICAN POWs. WE ALSO SAW SOME AMERICAN DEAD. WE FOUND 4 OF OUR TANKS. NEAR OSAN THERE WAS A GREAT BATTLE.[86]
- DIARY OF A DEAD NORTH KOREAN SOLDIER [note]

The Forgotten War

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Kean received formal orders to embark the 25th Division for Korea on July 5. By then it was widely scattered: Elements of the 35th Regiment had moved to Kyushu to replace the 24th Division; the 24th and 27th regiments were at various posts on Honshu.[6-6]

Kean chose his 27th "Wolfhound" Regiment to lead the division to Korea - but not its fifty-year-old commander, John W. Childs (Georgia Tech, 1921). Kean named Childs division chief of staff and gave command of the 27th to an "outsider," the Eighth Army assistant G3, West Pointer (1936) Mike Michaelis, a paratrooper hero of World War II. At thirty-seven Michaelis was ten years 'er more - younger than most of the American regimental commanders in the early weeks of the Korean War.[6-7]

[note]

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Mike Michaelis recalled: "After World War Two they reduced a lot of us former regimental commanders to lieutenant colonel, saying we were too young to be colonels. They gave command of the regiments to old fogeys who had never been in combat or, if they had, not as troop leaders. When the Korean War started, they hauled out some of us regimental commanders who had had combat experience. . . .

"Congratulations! You're in command of the Twenty-seventh Wolfhounds. Your plane leaves in forty-five minutes."

We'd just had our first child - a daughter. The only thing I had time to do was rush to the American Consulate with my wife and get our daughter certified so she wouldn't be a Japanese citizen. I put twenty-five dollars, a razor, and toothbrush in my pocket and took off."[6-9]

[note]

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These two battalions had come from the 29th Infantry Regiment on Okinawa. Until alerted for movement on July 5, both units were at half strength (about 500 men each) and had received no field training other than simulated deployment to protect the Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases on Okinawa. Both had brand-new commanders with no prior combat experience. West Pointer (1929) Wesley C. Wilson, who was Ned Moore's age (forty-three) and a year senior to him at the academy, commanded the 1/29. Harold W. Mott commanded the 2/29.[6-68]

[note]

US Air Force

 

 

Briefing with the Hq USAF group headed by Lt. General Wolfe; started at 0800 hours and continued until 1020 hours at which time we went to the Ops briefing in GHQ. After the Ops briefing, I took all the visiting generals, including my commanders, to pay their respects to General MacArthur where we stayed about an hour and heard a marvelous discussion of his contemplated actions in Korea. At this meeting, General MacArthur told General Wolfe that the question of the 19th Bomb Wing staying in the Far East Command, or its return to the United States and its being replaced by a rotational medium group, was a "question that he left entirely in General Stratemeyer's hands."¯


At the Ops briefing the Navy sprang a surprise on their actions in Korea on 3 and 4 July; we had been told that the results of their action would be brought here by Admiral Struble; instead, unbeknownst to any of the Air Force people, the results as reported by the Navy representative [are such that] anyone that attended that briefing might be led to believe that the Navy was winning the air war in Korea.[68-The first test for U.S. Navy aircraft came on July 3 when F4U Corsairs, AD Skyraiders, and F9F Panthers from the carrier Valley Forge hit the airfield and marshaling yards in the North Korean capital of P'yŏngyang. Planes from the British light carrier Triumph also participated in this attack. (This carrier was part of a naval force of ten vessels that the British Admiralty made available to COMNAVFE on June 29.) Although MacArthur wanted the two carriers to strike other targets on July 4, their planes returned to P'yŏngyang that day. In this two-day strike, several enemy planes were claimed destroyed and many other targets destroyed or damaged. No Allied planes were lost to enemy action. (Field, pp 55-56, 62-65.)]


It is my opinion that it was deliberately done because of the visiting group from Hq USAF and the Department of the Army. We must do a better job at these Ops meetings in presenting the air picture before such a high-ranking group.

Members of the inspection team from USAF Headquarters pose with Stratemeyer and Partridge and other FEAF officers. Seated in the front row, left to right: Stratemeyer, Lt. Gen. Kenneth B. Wolfe, Partridge, Maj. Gen. Eugene L. Eubank, and Maj. Gen. Alvan C. Kincaid. Standing, left to right: Col. Joseph H. Hicks, Col. C.P. Brown, Maj. Gen. Otto P. Weyland, Maj. Gen. Howard M. Turner, Brig. Gen. Walter R. Agee, Maj. Gen. Frank F. Everest, and Maj. Gen. Dean C. Strother.

General Wolfe and his group intend leaving Haneda tomorrow at 0500 and will visit Iwakuni, Itazuke, and Pusan, South Korea. They will return tomorrow evening and expect to depart for the United States about midnight, 6 July.


It is my opinion that the visit of this group will be most helpful and after they have visited Itazuke and Pusan, they will be in a position to inform the Air Staff of our needs.


I cleared with General MacArthur the flying forward to Taegu and Taejon of the General Wolfe group.[69-At this time Taejon was the site of ADCOM headquarters. Taegu, located about 55 miles north-northwest of Pusan, became U.S. Eighth Army headquarters on July 13. Taegu was also the only suitable site in central Korea for an airfield.] I have directed Colonel Erler[70-Col Leo J. Erler, Director of Installations, FEAF.] to go with the group and while in Korea with General Partridge and General Wolfe, Colonel Erler will interview Mr. Muccio and Korean officials in order to gain authority to use a part of the $10,000,000 set up by our government for the defense of South Korea for the purpose of building airdromes in South Korea.


All the general officer group came out to my house for cocktails; during this period, General Wolfe had an appointment with Mr. Akabane at 1900 hours and Messrs. Asajiro Ikeda (Ikeda-Gumi Co., Ltd.) and M. Kambe (Hazama-Gumi Co., Ltd.)[71-These individuals have not been identified.] at 1930 hours and he discussed with the latter two Japanese gentlemen named the possibility of their building airdromes with Japanese and Korean laborers in South Korea.

[note]

 

 

 


[The day Task Force Smith get clobbered]

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During the critical days of July when the 24th and 25th Divisions were being committed to action, the Fifth Air Force employed its full resources in close support. Tactical air control parties joined the 24th Division on 5 July, and thereafter these parties shared the combat life of the infantrymen: two controllers and five airmen had been killed or were missing in action by 28 July. The emergency action by which FEAF placed primary effort on the main battle line during July has been noted. An air strike along the road near Kiem Dong, reported EUSAK's headquarters diary on 17 July, caused considerable confusion and the retreat of the enemy forces.

Where where they on the 5th? in Taegu, not Osan.

[note]

SCARWAF

Unfortunately, the status of Special Category Army Military Personnel with Air Force (SCARWAF), especially aviation engineer troops, was critical at the beginning of hostilities and admitted of no ready solution. On 5 July General Stratemeyer "earnestly solicited" General Vandenberg 's personal assistance, to get the FEAF aviation engineer units up to authorized strength, a matter which USAF immediately began discussing with the Department of Army. Some 870 replacements were scheduled to begin moving by air on 14 July. [note]



After hurried hours of packing and preparation the deployment airlift got underway. The 22nd and 92nd Groups scheduled flights of 10 B-29 's each day, departing on 5 through 7 July.

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The 22nd left from March Air Force Base, stopped off at Hickam for a 10-hour rest period, then flew on to Kadena, with stops at Kwajalein and Guam.

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The 92nd Group took off from Spokane Air Force Base and followed a similar flight plan, with a final destination of Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. The average time of all flights from the Zone of Interior to the Far East was 5 days, including the rest periods at Hickam and Guam.

[note]

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The 162nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (NP) was sent to the theater in order to provide Fifth Air Force some form of night reconnaissance. Alerted at Langley Air Force Base on 5 July, and hurriedly filled to near peacetime strength (a part of the fillers were jet mechanics with little experience on the squadron's conventional RB-26's), it was shipped to Itazuke where the ground echelon arrived on 19 August. [note]

TACP

The first teams went into operation on 5 July at Ch'ŏnan, and two other teams, formed from fighter squadron personnel,

went into action on 7 July at Ch'ŏnui, just south of Ch'ŏnan; the fighter pilots, detached for duty as forward air controllers, normally served on three weeks temporary duty.

By 10 August, 18 TACP's were in the field, and the Fifth Air Force undertook to provide 4 to each Army division, a number higher than World War II experience had indicated necessary.

This number permitted a TACP with each regiment, one with each division headquarters, and additional parties were provided for each ROK division and corps. [note]

JOC

Lt. Col. John R. Murphy, Fifth Air Force Director of Operations, was named officer in charge of the operations section. Colonel Murphy and the others went to Taejŏn on 5 July, where a JOC was set up in 24th Division headquarters.

[note]

The Wolfe [Lt. Gen. Kenneth Bonner Wolfe, USAF's Deputy Chief of Staff for Materiel] party reached Tokyo [the next day] late on the evening of 4 July and began work the next day. One of the duties of the Operations representative on the team, Maj. Gen. Frank F Everest, was to explain why FEAF could not get the F-80C jet fighters it had requested. Most of these F-80C's just did not exist. Some 325 F-80As and F-80B's could be modernized, but only slowly-at a rate of 27 a month.

General Everest also explained why USAF could not supply any more F-82 all-weather fighters. USAF possessed only 168 of these planes, most of them already assigned to units in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Moreover, if the Fifth Air Force continued to use the F-82's that it had in combat over Korea, USAF would not be able to provide supply support for these planes for more than sixty days.

Having dealt with its limitations, General Everest next discussed USAF's capabilities. It had "a considerable backlog" of F-51 Mustangs-764 assigned to Air National Guard units and 794 in storage. At that moment 145 F-51's were being recalled from the Air National Guard, and these planes, with accompanying pilots and mechanics, would be shipped aboard the aircraft carrier USS Boxer (CV-21) as soon as that vessel could be readied for the voyage.#110 [note]

SCARWAF

Each of these personnel deficiencies in some measure reduced FEAF's effectiveness or added to the cost of its operations. Critical from the beginning of the Korean war, the status of SCARWAF engineer aviation troops admitted of no ready solution. On 5 July General Stratemeyer "earnestly solicited" General Vandenberg's personal assistance to get the FEAF aviation engineer units up to authorized strength with proper personnel specialties. [note]

The warning alert, followed by appropriate operations orders, went out to the 22nd and 92nd Groups on or soon after 1 July. Officers and airmen who had been planning Fourth of July holidays found themselves packing crates, loading cargo planes, or standing in line before the boarding ramps of planes bound for the Far East. After hurried hours of packing and preparation, the deployment airlift got under way. The two groups scheduled flights of ten B-29's each day, departing their home bases on 5 through 7 July.

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The 22nd left March Air Force Base, California, stopped off at Hickam for a rest period, then flew on to Kadena, with stops at Kwajalein and Guam.

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The 92nd Group took off from Spokane Air Force Base, Washington, and followed a similar flight plan, with a final destination of Yokota Air Base.

The 98th and 307th Groups were equally well prepared for short-notice departures.

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The 98th departed Spokane Air Force Base for Yokota between 2 and 4 August, and the

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307th left MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, between 1 and 3 August, headed for Kadena.#128

[note]

In the years of reduced military budgets prior to 1950, the USAF Tactical Air Command had become an operational headquarters under the USAF Continental Air Command in December 1948. Even though it realized that tactical air units required global mobility, the Continental Air Command had had no funds to stand the costs of such a program.

162nd

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Alerted at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, on 5 July, the 162nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Night Photography) was hurriedly filled to near peacetime strength (a part of the fillers were jet mechanics with little experience on the squadron's conventional RB-26's).

Its ground echelon, traveling by water, reached Itazuke on 19 August. Meanwhile, the aircrews had moved to Ogden, Utah, for depot installation of a new-type flash cartridge illumination system on their RB-26's.

Then the flash equipment was pronounced too heavy for the old B-26's on the long, over-water flight to Japan, and it was removed to be crated for air shipment. But someone diverted the flash equipment to water shipment, so that it was not until 26 August, fifty-three days after the alert at Langley, that the 162nd Squadron was finally ready and equipped for its first mission over Korea. traveling with the air echelon of the 162nd Squadron, the 1st Sharon Beacon Unit arrived at Johnson Air Base on 9 August.

363rd

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Conveyed by air and water, the 363rd Reconnaissance Technical Squadron assembled both of its echelons at Itazuke Air Base on 18 August.#129 [note]

Already, a battalion combat team of the 21st Infantry which had been airlanded at Pusan in the first serials of the airlift was racing northward by rail and truck to make its first contact with the enemy near the village of Osan on 5 July.#3 [note]

JOC

Lt. Col. John R. Murphy was named officer-in-charge of the operations section, and he moved his personnel and equipment to Taejŏn on 5 and 6 July, and set up for business at the 24th Division's head-quarters in an office adjoining the division G-3. Later on FEAF would say that the JOC opened at Taejŏn on 5 July, #10 [note]

Not much said about Close Air Support today.

On 3 July, Church told FEAF to say the HELL away. Gad can you believe that. [note]


USAF narrative jumps form July 4 to July 6 --- Where were they on the 5th? [note]

Bio Bio


But as July progressed General Partridge's air-facilities planning went completely awry. Prospective airfield sites at P'yŏngt'aek (K-6), Taejŏn (K-5), and Kunsan (K-8) were lost to the North Koreans. Both General Stratemeyer and General Partridge had expressed the expectation that the airfield at Pusan (K-1) could soon be prepared to support a tactical air group, but an on-the-spot survey made by General Timberlake and Lt. Col. William S. Shoemaker, the staff engineer of Advance Headquarters, revealed that Pusan could not be immediately improved. Colonel Shoemaker accordingly established a detachment which would keep Pusan's airstrip sufficiently patched to permit light transport and emergency landings, and General Timberlake had diverted Company A of the 802nd Engineer Battalion to undertake an improvement project at P'ohang Airfield (K-3), on the southeast coast of Korea. #142


The second airfield in Korea selected for development was the ROKAF facility at Taegu (K-2). FEAF decided to move the 822nd Engineer Aviation Battalion from Okinawa and concentrate it at Taegu. With the 822nd, although not attached to it, would travel the contact platoon of the 919th Engineer Aviation Maintenance Company. On 5 July the battalion commander and his operations officer flew to Tokyo, where they were oriented as to the prospective duty in Korea. These officers explained that half of their personnel were scheduled to return to the United States immediately, either because of the completion of their overseas tours or for discharge from the Army. Acquainted with the emergency, the Department of Army issued orders to prevent such an exodus, but these orders left the 822nd with a serious morale problem.

To correct the problem, FEAF deployed to Korea engineer aviation units manned by Special Category Army Personnel with Air Force (SCARWAF) troops. Although they suffered chronic shortages of adequately trained personnel, as early as July 1950, the 802nd and 822nd Engineer Aviation Battalions were repairing and extending runways at P'ohang and Taegu.

[note]

That is the Air Forces view of July 5th.

US Marine Corps

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Lieutenant General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., commanding general of FMFPac, and a G–3 staff officer, Colonel Victor H. Krulak, had been ordered on 4 July to proceed immediately to Tokyo and confer with General MacArthur. Before leaving, Shepherd found time to recommend formation of third platoons for rifle companies of the 5th Marines, and CNO gave his approval the following day.[18]


Unfortunately, there was not enough time to add third rifle companies to the battalions of the 5th Marines which had been training with two companies on a peacetime basis. Camp Pendleton and its neighboring Marine Air Station, El Toro, hummed with day and night activity as the Brigade prepared to sail in a week. Weapons and clothing had to be issued, immunization shots given, and insurance and pay allotments made out. Meanwhile, telegrams were sent to summon Marines from posts and stations all over the United States.

[note]

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PhibGru One and training Team Able were to give the troops all possible amphibious training, and Colonel Forney was assigned on 5 July as the G–5 (Plans) of the division.[15]

[note]


The first fire fights occurred on 5 and 6 July in the vicinity of Osan. It was evident at once that the enemy held a great superiority in arms and equipment. Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker, USA, who had been one of Patton’s favorite subordinates, commented after his first visit to the Korean front that the NKPA units appeared equal to the Germans who were his adversaries in World War II.[17]

[note]

US Navy

[note]

Task Force Smith at Osan 5 July 1950

CINCPACFLT established Service Squadron 3, effective 7 July as principal logistic agent of COMSEVENTHFLT.

Fleet Marine Force Pacific directed 1st Marine Division to form the 1st Provisional Marines Brigade.

COMNAVFE implemented President Truman's order for a blockade of the Korean Coast.

[note]

USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) with CVG-11 aboard departs San Diego.

Squadron Aircraft Tail Code
VF-111 F9F-2 V
VF-112 F9F-2 V
VF-113 F4U-4B V
VF-114 F4U-4B V
VA-115 AD-4/Q V
VC-3 Det 3 F4U-5N/AD-4N NP
VC-11 Det AD-4W ND
VC-61 Det 3 F4U-4P PP
HU-1 Det 3 HO3S-1 UP

[note] [note]

On the 5th HMS Jamaica (C-44) returned from Sasebo, USS Juneau (CLAA-119) retired to replenish fuel and ammunition, and for the next few days the bombardment duty was left in the hands of the British.
The 5th of July, which saw Task Force 77 retiring southward and Juneau completing her second tour of firing at coastal targets, saw also the beginning of the ordeal of the American foot soldier.

[note]

On the 5th Admiral Andrewes, with Belfast, Cossack and Consort, was detached to join the blockading forces in compliance with orders from ComNavFE, Admiral Struble flew to Tokyo by carrier plane, and Task Force 77 continued on to Buckner Bay. There it arrived on 6 July, and there it was retained until the 16th.

[note]

The war was now ten days old. American citizens had been evacuated; a carrier air strike had been made against the enemy capital and the enemy air force; the east coast invasion route was under fire from naval guns. In the air the Far East Air Forces were putting forth their best efforts. On the ground the Army had engaged the enemy. Across the Korean Strait a stream of shipping was flowing into Pusan where, prior to the arrival of an Army port company, the unloading of 55 ships with 15,000 troops and 1,700 vehicles was handled by two ECA employees, Alfred Meschter and Milton Nottingham. In Korea the situation was being dealt with to the limit of the abilities of the forces available. There remained the problem of the northern and southern flanks.

The war was now ten days old. American citizens had been evacuated; a carrier air strike had been made against the enemy capital and the enemy air force; the east coast invasion route was under fire from naval guns. In the air the Far East Air Forces were putting forth their best efforts. On the ground the Army had engaged the enemy. Across the Korean Strait a stream of shipping was flowing into Pusan where, prior to the arrival of an Army port company, the unloading of 55 ships with 15,000 troops and 1,700 vehicles was handled by two ECA employees, Alfred Meschter and Milton Nottingham. In Korea the situation was being dealt with to the limit of the abilities of the forces available. There remained the problem of the northern and southern flanks.

What the dimensions of this problem might be, no one knew. If the invasion of South Korea had surprised the United States, and had shown how wrongly intelligence had been evaluated, what faith could be put in estimates of Communist intentions elsewhere?

Suddenly capabilities became important. (They sure screwed up intentions)

The State Department had warned all hands on 26 June of the possibility that Korea was but the first of a series of coordinated moves; the military forces of the United States had gone on world-wide alert; in the Mediterranean the Sixth Fleet had put to sea.

In the immediate theater of operations, no less than on the world scene, possibilities were unpleasant and visibility poor. The Joint Chiefs, it is true, had estimated that there would be no Soviet or Chinese intervention, but there was plenty of history, including a day at Pearl Harbor, to teach the outpost commander that estimates make poor weapons.

What of the northern neighbor, whose airfields at Vladivostok and Port Arthur flanked the Korean peninsula and were less than two hours flying time from Japan?

What of the estimated four-score submarines based in the Vladivostok area? For the air threat, which had caused Admiral Joy to divert the Seventh Fleet to Buckner Bay, FEAF's fighter strength provided some counter, hut the submarine situation was less satisfactory.

The excitement of the first week of conflict had brought forth eight reports of submarine sightings, ranging from Okinawa to the Sea of Japan, and while most were doubtless in error they at least posed serious questions.

Harbor defense equipment was lacking in the Far East, and the shortage of antisubmarine units was acute: of the three American destroyer divisions in the theater, two were needed to provide a minimum sound screen for USS Valley Forge (CV-45). Of necessity, therefore, the patrol planes of VP 47 were employed on local antisubmarine patrol and in the escort of shipping, and long range search had to await the coming of reinforcements.

What were the intentions of the Communist Chinese? In Korea their capabilities could for the moment be largely disregarded, but ComNavFE had been instructed to use the Seventh Fleet to neutralize Formosa, and to prevent attack in either direction across Formosa Strait.

Here Chiang's forces presented no problem, but the Communists had the capability, and both the Generalissimo and Admiral Struble thought an August effort wholly possible. The implications of such a development, added to the situation in Korea, greatly outweighed Admiral Joy's new accretions of force, and he may well have wondered what tools he was supposed to use to do this job.

Some show of muscle, at least, had been made by USS Valley Forge (CV-45) as she steamed north, when she flew an air parade over Formosa Strait and the city of Taipei. But the chance that more would be required, as well as problems of logistic support, had made it necessary, following the P'yŏngyang strikes, to return Task Force 77 to Okinawa.

If Formosa was to be defended, coordinated planning was obviously necessary, and the state of Nationalist morale was such as to require stiffening.

Arriving in Tokyo on the afternoon of 5 July, Struble had proposed a prompt resumption of carrier strikes, this time from the Sea of Japan. But decision on these was delayed, the talk turned to the Formosa problem, and the suggestion of a visit to that island was approved by General MacArthur.

[note]


The three Canadian destroyers, earlier alerted, sailed from the west coast on 5 July.
On 30 July his command was further enlarged by the arrival of the three Canadian tribal class destroyers,
HMCS Cayuga (218), HMCS Athabaskan (219), and HMCS Sioux (225), and

[note]

The emphasis on floating support for fleet units, made necessary by the limited base facilities in the Western Pacific, was desirable for other reasons as well. A prime virtue of naval power is its mobility; if the bases can also move this virtue is increased. For reasons of economy, and to obviate the need for an extensive shore establishment in Japan which would itself be logistically costly and complicating, mobile support was also desirable. But complete floating support for the fleet was well beyond the capabilities of the Service Force as then constituted, or indeed under any circumstances short of pretty complete mobilization. Again it is worth emphasizing how fortunate it was for this campaign that the resources and productive facilities of the Japanese base were close to hand. In the Second World War almost complete support for forces overseas had been provided from the continental United States. But now at mid-century the effort was made to live off the land, and the foraging party reappeared, not in the form of the sergeant with his squad, but in that of the supply officer armed with contract and fountain pen.

Yet however helpful, the Japanese economy could not support the war alone, and two questions called for immediate answers from Admiral Denebrink and his staff. What Service Force units would be required in the operating areas to support the fleet? What shipping would be necessary, over and above that provided by MSTS, to keep the 6,000-mile Pacific pipeline full?

A study of anticipated needs led to requests on 5 and 8 July for the activation of two gasoline tankers and the assignment of another ammunition ship, and then on the 9th the full bill was presented in a memorandum to CincPacFleet which called for the activation of 58 auxiliaries in 16 categories ranging from destroyer tenders down to tugs.

[note]

Finally, Marines are volunteers both in fact and by temperament. Their inbred highly competitive attitude had been strengthened by the post-war atmosphere within the Pentagon, with its repeated rumors of plans for the abolition of the Corps or for its limitation to guard duty. At Corps headquarters, where there hangs a painting of the Korean landing of 10 June 1871, there was little question as to involvement in this war, and on 28 June the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Clifton B. Cates, USMC, recommended to the Chief of Naval Operations employment of the Fleet Marine Force in Korea. Three days later Admiral Sherman queried CincPacFleet as to the time necessary to move out a battalion landing team or a regimental combat team.

Admiral Radford’s reply, received on Sunday the 2nd, stated that a BLT could be loaded in four days and sailed in six, and an RCT loaded in six and sailed in ten.

CNO at once advised Admiral Joy by dispatch that a Marine regimental combat team could be made available to CincFE if desired, and this offer, relayed to General MacArthur by ComNavFE in person, was accepted with enthusiasm.

Before this busy Sunday was over the 1st Marine Division had been alerted and Admiral Sherman, with JCS approval, had ordered CincPacFleet to move an RCT with appropriate attached air strength to the Far East for employment by CincFE.

Three days after these orders to Admiral Radford, Fleet Marine Force Pacific issued its operation plan.

This prescribed the task organization of the force, designated the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade (Reinforced), which was to be built around the 5th Marines from Camp Pendleton and Marine Aircraft Group 33 from El Toro.

Command of the brigade was assigned Brigadier General Edward A. Craig, USMC, assistant commander of the 1st Marine Division, while Brigadier General Thomas J. Cushman, USMC, deputy commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, became both deputy brigade commander and commanding general of the wing’s forward echelon.

In an age of specialization this flexibility, which could be matched by no other ground force in any country, is worth remark: the routine step of making the aviator the second in command of the brigade was another promise of close teamwork between ground and air.

[note]


But the overwhelming bulk of the North Korean army, five first-line infantry divisions, two divisions of recent conscripts, and the armored brigade, had to be funneled through the Sŏul complex. Once through the capital three divisions were peeled off to the southeast, and sent by rail and road to Wŏnju and Ch'ungju to join the troops coming south through the mountains, while the remaining five moved down the main road. It was the advance guard of this massive force that Task Force Smith had run up against on 5 July.

[note]

Off Korea’s eastern shore, on 5 July, HMS Jamaica (44) relieved USS Juneau (CLAA-119) of her bombardment duties, and Admiral Higgins’ flagship headed for Sasebo to replenish. On the same day the British cruiser, accompanied by HMS Black Swan (U-57), fired on the road and bridge in 370°16' N, where the coastal route runs close to the sea,

[note]

While HMS Jamaica (44) was at work, the reinforcement and reorganization of the South Korea Support Group was underway in accordance with ComNavFE’s Operation Order 8-50.

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HMS Belfast (C-35)

These instructions had been promulgated while the carriers were striking P'yŏngyang, and as Task Force 77 retired southward Admiral Andrewes was detached to join the Support Group; with HMS Belfast (C-35), HMS Cossack (D-57), and HMS Consort (D-76), he proceeded to Sasebo where USS Juneau (CLAA-119) was replenishing.

[note]

The US Army provides an after action report, and with it the following comments and basic analysis of the Task Force Smith operation.


Before 25 June 1950 Korea was of little import to the American soldiers in Japan and to the citizens of our nation. Defense of the United Nations' principles was given lip service but few among us thought of action. Korea was not in the public mind.


The North Korean Army marched. Our leaders met. And Company A with its peacetime thoughts, unprepared both psychologically and militarily, found itself faced with the stark reality of war. With this deal, victory could not be in the cards for Company A nor for any other company so prepared and so committed. We should take advantage of their mistakes -all too evident. We invite attention to them with great humility, for who among us must not say, "There, but for the grace of God, go I"?


What were some of the specific causes that contributed to the debacle experienced by Company A? Faulty orientation, poor intelligence, and a lack of communications are evident. The exact level at which orientation and intelligence ceased to be adequate cannot be determined by this narrative. However, Company A was not prepared to fight intelligently when it was called upon to do so. The individual actions and reactions the failure to differentiate between enemy tank fire coming from the front and supposed short rounds from supporting mortars-indicate a lack of imaginative and realistic combat training. The inability of the troops to remedy minor weapons malfunctions is further indication of inadequate training.


Examples of faulty leadership are frequent in the narrative. Where was the combat outpost, or adequate local security, of the 1st Battalion? Evidently, there was none.


Why was a platoon permitted to occupy a nearby position from which it could not support the fires of an adjacent platoon?


Why was a patrol permitted to rest within three hundred yards of the enemy without establishing security positions?


It was to take many months of combat and the physical hardening of several campaigns before the military potential of both officers and men was realized and they achieved the high military proficiency of which they were capable.

[DISCUSSION]

Comments

Analysis


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A little after midnight on 5 July the infantry and artillery of the Task Force moved out of P'yŏngt'aek. Their leader, Lt Col Charles B. Smith had to commandeer Korean trucks and miscellaneous vehicles to mount his men. The native Korean drivers deserted when they found that the vehicles were going north, American soldiers took over in the driver's seats. Brig Gen George B. Barth, Acting Commanding General of the 24th Division Artillery, and Colonel Smith followed the task force northward. On the way, General Barth tried to halt the ROK demolition preparations by telling the engineer groups that he planned to use the bridges. At one bridge, after talk failed to influence the ROK engineers, Barth threw the boxes of dynamite into the river. It was only twelve miles to Osan, but it took two and a half hours to get there because ROK soldiers and civilians fleeing south filled the road and driving was under blackout conditions.

[note]

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When Task Force Smith arrived at the O'san position at 0300 hours on 5 July, the troops began to dig earth-works in the predawn darkness. Smith's choice of positions was in a saddle breaking a long string of hills which crossed the highway at right angles. The main highway of Taejŏn passed through this saddle and a mile to the east the main railroad from Sŏul also crossed the hill line; Smith intended to block both routes as long as possible. The town of Osan was two miles in his rear and the nearest friendly units were elements of the 34th Infantry Regiment twelve miles south at P'yŏngt'aek and further east at Ansŏng. Smith's plan was to fall back upon either P'yŏngt'aek or Ansŏng as circumstances dictated when his position above Osan became untenable.

See map Sŏul, Suwŏn, O'san to Taejŏn


Smith's main concern in the Osan position was defense against the attack down the highway. He deployed B and C rifle companies along the ridge-line to the east of the road with C's right flank refused along a finger ridge parallel to the railroad. One platoon of B Company was placed on the hillock west of the highway. One 75 mm recoilless rifle crew was placed just east of the highway where it passed through the saddle, and a second was located at the corner of C Company's front and its refused flank. The bazooka teams were concentrated near the road. Smith emplaced his two 4.2-inch mortars on the south slope of the ridge and about four hundred yards from its crest and behind B Company. The lighter mortars were placed immediately behind the ridge-line.


While Smith was preparing his infantry position, Perry's battery was emplacing about 2,000 yards behind the ridge-line and about 150 yards to the west of the highway. Five 105 mm howitzers were prepared for indirect firing, and one gun was shifted forward to a point about 1,000 yards behind the saddle. Perry allocated to this piece his entire supply of high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) shells --exactly six rounds. The rest of the artillery's ammunition was anti-personnel high explosive (HE). Perry also organized four .50-calrber machine gun teams and four 2.36-inch bazooka teams from his service troops and sent them up to reinforce Smith's infantry. With their arrival, Smith calculated that he had 415 officers and men serving as infantry on the ridge-line and 125 officers and men serving with the artillery in the rear.
415+125=540
At dawn a light rain began to fall and the men ate their C rations in the drizzle. Despite the weather, observation of the highway north remained good. [note]

About 0300 on 5 July, the delaying force reached the position which Smith had previously selected. The infantry units started setting up weapons and digging in at the pre-designated places. Colonel Perry moved his guns into the positions behind the infantry that he had selected the previous afternoon. All units were in place, but not completely dug in, before daylight. [06-19] (Map 2)

Task Force Smith at Osan-ni 5 July 1950

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[06-Caption] TASK FORCE SMITH POSITION straddling the Osan-Suwŏn road.

In seeking the most favorable place to pass through the ridge, the railroad bent eastward away from the highway until it was almost a mile distant. There the railroad split into two single-track lines and passed over low ground between hills of the ridge line. On his left flank Colonel Smith placed one platoon of B Company on the high knob immediately west of the highway; east of the road were B Company's other two rifle platoons. Beyond them eastward to the railroad tracks were two platoons of C Company. This company's third platoon occupied a finger ridge running south, forming a refused right flank along the west side of the railroad track. Just east of the highway B Company emplaced one 75-mm. recoilless rifle; C Company emplaced the other 75-mm. recoilless rifle just west of the railroad. Colonel Smith placed the 4.2-inch mortars on the reverse, or south, slope of the ridge about 400 yards behind the center of B Company's position. The infantry line formed a 1-mile front, not counting the refused right flank along the railroad track. [06-20] The highway, likely to be the critical axis of enemy advance, passed through the shallow saddle at the infantry position and then zigzagged gently downgrade northward around several knob-like spurs to low ground a little more than a mile away. There it crossed to the east side of the railroad track and continued on over semi-level ground to Suwŏn.

Two thousand yards behind the infantry, Colonel Perry pulled four 105-mm. howitzers 150 yards to the left (west) off the highway over a small trail that only jeeps could travel. Two jeeps in tandem pulled the guns into place. Near a cluster of houses with rice paddies in front and low hills back of them, the men arranged the guns in battery position. Perry emplaced the fifth howitzer as an antitank gun on the west side of the road about halfway between the main battery position and the infantry. From there it could place direct fire on the highway where it passed through the saddle and the infantry positions. [06-21]

Map 2. "Task Force Smith At Osan-Ni, 5 July 1950."

Page 68 SOUTH TO THE NAKTONG, NORTH TO THE YALU

Volunteers from the artillery Headquarters and Service Batteries made up four .50-caliber machine gun and four 2.36-inch bazooka teams and joined the infantry in their position.

The infantry parked most of their miscellaneous trucks and jeeps along the road just south of the saddle. The artillerymen left their trucks concealed in yards and sheds and behind Korean houses along the road just north of Osan. There were about 1,200 rounds of artillery ammunition at the battery position and in two trucks parked inside a walled enclosure nearby. One or two truckloads more were in the vehicles parked among the houses just north of Osan. Nearly all this ammunition was high explosive (HE); only 6 rounds were high explosive antitank (HEAT), and all of it was taken to the forward gun. [06-22] When the 52nd Field Artillery was loading out at Sasebo, Japan, the battalion ammunition officer drew all the HEAT ammunition available there-only 18 rounds. [06-23] He issued 6 rounds to A Battery, now on the point of engaging in the first battle between American artillery and the Russian-built T34 tanks. [note]

5th of July, Smith's small task force moved into position at the pre-selected site north of Osan where the men began to dig in on the ridgeline. Battery A occupied a position approximately one mile behind the ridgeline where the fighting positions were being dug. One of the battery's six howitzers was emplaced along the highway - halfway between the battery and Smith's position to serve as an antitank gun. Taking stock of his fighting resources for the upcoming attack Smith found the following:

Miller Perry sent volunteers from Battery A with four teams with . 50 caliber machine guns and four teams with 2.36 rocket launchers to augment Smith's forward positions.[10] The artillery battalion possessed eighteen rounds of 'HEAT' (High Explosive Antitank) ammunition before departing Japan. However, Battery A was allocated only six rounds of HEAT along with 1,200 rounds of 105mm ammunition. HEAT rounds were "extremely scarce in the Far East because the Department of the Army had given priority to Europe for the few it had.[11] Significantly there were no antitank or antipersonnel mines available to Task Force Smith in Korea. Antitank mines placed in the road would have had significant success in delaying or stopping the tanks and personnel. Additionally, each soldier carried 120 rounds of ammunition for his rifle and two days supply of C-rations. [note]

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0515 Sun Rise

At dawn a light rain began to fall and the men ate their C rations in the drizzle. Despite the weather, observation of the highway north remained good. [note]

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At the Osan position as rainy 5 July dawned were 540 Americans: 389 enlisted men and 17 officers among the infantry and 125 enlisted men and 9 officers among the artillerymen. [06-24] When first light came, the infantry test-fired their weapons and the artillerymen registered their guns. Then they ate their C ration breakfasts. [note]

On the morning of July 5, 1950, Task Force Smith consisted of 540 soldiers: Smith's original contingent of 406 (17 officers and 389 enlisted men).

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Augmented by 134 officers and enlisted soldiers of Battery 'A', 52nd Field Artillery Battalion. [note]

Korean_War

About the same time that Smith's battalion had started for Osan, the two battalions of the 34th Infantry, heading north, had passed through Taejŏn.

One battalion was to reestablish the blocking position at Ansŏng; the 1st Battalion was going to P'yŏngt'aek with a similar mission.

See map Sŏul, Suwŏn, O'san to Taejŏn

A new commander, an experienced combat officer, had joined the 1st Battalion as the trains moved through Taejŏn. He told his company commanders that North Korean soldiers were reported to be farther north but that they were poorly trained, that only half of them had weapons, and that there would be no difficulty in stopping them.

Junior officers had assured their men that after a brief police action all would be back in Sasebo.

Officers of the 34th Infantry knew that the 21st was ahead of the 34th in a screening position.

Overconfidence was the prevailing note.

Combat Actions in Korea 01-Withdrawal Action


This was the background and the setting for the rainy morning when the 1st Battalion-and especially Company A, with which this account is mainly concerned-waited in the muddy streets of P'yŏngt'aek When daylight came, the companies marched north to the hills upon which they were to set up their blocking positions.

A small river flowed along the north side of P'yŏngt'aek. Two miles north of the bridge that carried the main highway across the river there were two grass-covered hills separated by a strip of rice paddies three quarters of a mile wide.

The railroad and narrow dirt road, both on eight-to-ten-foot-high embankments, ran through the neatly patterned fields.

The battalion commander stationed Company B on the east side of the road, Company A on the west, leaving Company C in reserve positions in the rear.

Once on the hill, the men dropped their packs and began digging into the coarse red earth to prepare defensive positions for an enemy attack few of them expected.

In Company A's sector the positions consisted of two-man foxholes dug across the north side of the hill, across the rice paddies to the railroad embankment, and beyond that to the road. Company A (Capt. Leroy Osburn) consisted of about l40 men and officers at the time. [01-5] With two men in each position, the holes were so far apart that the men had to shout to one another. Each man was equipped with either an M-1 rifle or a carbine for which he carried between eighty and one hundred rounds of ammunition.

The Weapons Platoon had three 60-mm mortars. There were also three light machine guns-one in each of the rifle platoons-and four boxes of ammunition for each machine gun. Each platoon had one BAR and two hundred rounds of ammunition for it. (10 magazines)

There were no grenades nor was there any ammunition for the recoilless rifles. [01-6]

Korean_War

To the north of Osan, meanwhile, Colonel Smith's 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, and an attached battery of artillery completed the occupation of the high ground north of the village by daylight on 5 July. Smith had orders to hold in place to gain time, even though his forces might become surrounded. [01-7] [note]

0700 Korean Time

Central East Coast Zulu Korea
07/04/50
4:00 PM
07/04/50
5:00 PM
07/04/50
10:00 PM
07/05/50
7:00 AM

In spite of the rain Smith could see almost to Suwŏn. [Shouldn't aircraft be able to see 8-10 miles?] He first saw movement on the road in the distance near Suwŏn a little after 0700.

In about half an hour a tank column, now easily discernible, approached the waiting Americans. In this first group there were eight tanks

[note]

By early morning on July 5, Task Force Smith was dug in on the Sŏul–Pusan highway a little north of Osan. However tenuous, the line against Joe Stalin had been drawn. There were in total 540 Americans: 17 officers and 389 enlisted men in Brad Smith's infantry; 9 officers and 125 enlisted men in Miller Perry's artillery battery. Of Smith's group of 406, whose average age was twenty or slightly less, about 1 in 6 had been in combat before.[4-37]


Smith's force, however, was not adequately equipped to fight T34 tanks. It lacked the most effective portable antitank weapon: land mines to plant in the road. There were ten 2.36 inch bazooka teams in all, but this small caliber bazooka had proved to be inadequate against German tanks in World War II.

Owing to budget cuts, few of the new armor piercing HEAT shells had reached Eighth Army. Perry had but six rounds - one third of the total supply on Kyushu.[4-38] [note]

At 0700 hours Smith, looking through his binoculars northward, detected movement on the road in the direction Of Suwŏn, about eight miles distant, Shortly thereafter the movement was identified as a column of eight tanks slowly proceeding toward Osan. [note]

In spite of the rain Smith could see almost to Suwŏn. He first saw movement on the road in the distance near Suwŏn a little after 0700. In about half an hour a tank column, now easily discernible, approached the waiting Americans. In this first group there were eight tanks. [note]


At about 7:00 A.M. tanks were observed in the distance - moving along the highway towards Task Force Smith's position. [note]

0730 Korean Time

In spite of the rain Smith could see almost to Suwŏn. [Shouldn't aircraft be able to see 8-10 miles?] He first saw movement on the road in the distance near Suwŏn a little after 0700. In about half an hour a tank column, now easily discernible, approached the waiting Americans. In this first group there were eight tanks

[note]

At 7:30 A.M. on July 5 Brad Smith spotted a column of eight NKPA tanks advancing south on the highway toward his position. It was another cold, miserable, rainy day; he could expect no help from the Air Force.[4-46]


Behind the lead column of eight tanks were twenty-five more - in all, thirty-three.

The formation constituted a regiment of the NKPA 105th Armored Division, which was blazing a path for the NKPA's 4th Infantry Division, coming behind on the highway in trucks and on foot in a vast snaking column six miles long.

The NKPA was confident that the bad weather protected it from air attack but was unaware that American infantry lay in wait. [note]

First Fire Mission

At 0730 hours, the artillery forward observer (FO) alerted the guns in the rear to prepare for a fire mission.

Brig. Gen. George B. Barth (commander of 24thDivision Artillery and General Dean's representative in the forward area) was at Osan with the battery of artillery when the first "Fire mission!" was relayed to the battery position.

[note]

0730 Korean Time


At 0730 hours, the artillery forward observer (FO) alerted the guns in the rear to prepare for a fire mission.

Korean_War

The vehicles spotted by Smith were the first section of 33 Russian-made T-34 tanks belonging to the North Korean Army's 107th Tank Regiment. This unit was spearheading the advance of the NKPA's 4th Infantry Division, and had encountered only trifling resistance from South Korean forces the two days previous. The tank crews were not aware that American ground forces had entered the war and consequently were not expecting serious resistance above Taejŏn.


Following the tank column some miles to the rear were the leading regiments of the 4th Division, moving by truck and on foot, but the tank crews had orders not to stop until they reached P'yŏngt'aek. Thus the N.K tank column rode into the Osan position unaware that a serious fight was about to begin.

[note]

0745 Korean Time

Korean_War

That same morning, at 0745, enemy tanks approached from the north. The Americans opened fire with artillery and then with bazookas, but the tanks rammed through the infantry positions and on south past the artillery, after losing only 4 of 33 tanks. Enemy infantrymen followed later, engaged Colonel Smith's force and, after a four-hour battle, almost surrounded it. [note]

0800 Korean Time

Central East Coast Zulu Korea
07/04/50
5:00 PM
07/04/50
6:00 PM
07/04/50
11:00 PM
07/05/50
8:00 AM

Korean_War

On the 5th Task Force Smith made contact with the enemy at Osan, south of Suwŏn, where it ran into an entire North Korean infantry division with armored support. From 0800 to 1500 the fight went on, at which time the survivors, outmaneuvered, outflanked, and most of all outnumbered, withdrew with the loss of all equipment save small arms.

Twelve miles back down the road [at P'yŏngt'aek] a larger force underwent the same fate, and the Americans were forced back on Ch'ŏnan, where they would hold to 8 July. [note]

About 0800 the men back in the artillery position received a call from the forward observer with the infantry for a fire mission. [06-25] [note]

Smith had been told that he could count on the Air Force for "close air support." However the "glamour boys" of the Air Force, flying out of Japan in World War II workhorse F51 Mustang prop planes and the new fast but short legged F80 jets, had not been much help and, on occasion, had been harmful.

In the budget squeeze the Air Force had given close air support a low priority. Many pilots were not trained for it. The bad weather had forced the cancellation of many missions. There was little coordination between Air Force and Army ground units, no means, as yet, to call the fighters for a "surgical strike" on specific targets.

As a result, on July 3, after the fog had cleared, friendly fighters strafed and bombed ROK forces at P'yŏngt'aek and Suwŏn, destroying a nine car ROK ammo train, the P'yŏngt'aek depot (and half the town), the Suwŏn depot, and thirty ROK trucks. More than 200 ROK soldiers - and uncounted civilians - had been killed in these uncoordinated and careless air attacks.[4-39]

[note]

Scotty: "About 0800 on the morning of the 5th of July, one of my observers started adjusting on enemy armor. I believe we had registered the battery earlier by using an air OP [observation post]. We fired about two volleys when wire communications were disrupted. A few moments later, I received my only radio message from the front line:

"The tanks are coming through. We cannot stop them!"


"I alerted the soldiers in the forward section, and they took the first tank under fire and disabled it. The second tank attacked the forward section, and the section left the weapon and retreated over the hill to us. Then the tanks hit our position, and we opened up on them. Each tank that came through our position was hit twice with 105 HEAT rounds were with the forward gun.


"The disabled first tank fired at us with its machine guns; then we stopped the machine guns. The second tank fired and hit behind our command post. The third tank hit our ammunition dump at the foot of the hill.


"I estimate that between 40 and 50 tanks came through our position that day. Each was taken under fire by 2.36 rocket launchers in the battery position and with 105-mm direct fire at 50 to 100 yards. We only stopped five tanks. One tank had its hatch open, and our .50 caliber machine gun on the hill behind up fired into it and ignited its ammunition.


"I had seen infantry troops led by armor in Germany, so I wasn't too surprised to see the tanks. What surprised me was the lack of North Korean infantry supporting the tanks; the infantry arrived much later in the morning. I was more surprised that our infantry line had not been able to hold them.


"My men were well trained and disciplined. Sergeant Eversole, my chief of firing battery, took a 2.36-inch rocket launcher to a ditch some 10 yards off on the edge of the road and engaged the tanks point blank. My men tracked the tanks, and I commanded them to fire when I heard the gunners cry, "Set!" My men reacted like a well-oiled machine. I'm not sure what they were thinking, but initially they reacted instantly and unhesitatingly to orders. I don't think any of us thought about the danger. Each knew his job and just did it."


With the loss of the forward gun position and out of HEAT rounds, the North Korean armor easily drove by A Battery and continued its push toward Osan. For the battery, the battle had become a series of direct fire engagements.

[note]

July 5th began as a miserable, rainy monsoon day, and the last minute preparations of the task force were interrupted by the approach of the lead North Korean Army element. Appearing out of the gray mist, a column of eight North Korean T-34 tanks rapidly closed in on the infantry defensive positions.


Smith called for the artillery battery to fire. The tanks continued to move down the road, seemingly undisturbed by the exploding 105-mm rounds. As they neared the infantry positions, the task force heavy weapons and bazookas took them under fire. Even at close range, the light anti-armor weapons could not penetrate the tanks' armor. [note]

About 0800 the men back in the artillery position received a call from the forward observer with the infantry for a fire mission. [note]

0805 Korean Time

These engagements continued from about 0800 until 1100.

[note]

0816 Korean Time

At 0816 the first American artillery fire of the Korean War hurtled through the air toward the North Korean tanks. The number two howitzer fired the first two rounds, and the other pieces then joined in the firing. The artillery took the tanks under fire at a range of approximately 4,000 yards (2.5 mi) , about 2,000 yards (1.25 mi) in front of the American infantry. [06-26]

The forward observer quickly adjusted the fire and shells began landing among the tanks. But the watching infantrymen saw the tanks keep on coming, undeterred by the exploding artillery shells.

To conserve ammunition Colonel Smith issued orders that the 75-mm. recoilless rifle covering the highway should withhold fire until the tanks closed to 700 yards. The tanks stayed in column, displayed little caution, and did not leave the road. The commander of the enemy tank column may have thought he had encountered only another minor ROK delaying position.

General Barth had gone back to the artillery just before the enemy came into view and did not know when he arrived there that an enemy force was approaching.

Korean_War

After receiving reports from the forward observer that the artillery fire was ineffective against the tanks, he started back to alert the 1st Battalion of the 34th Infantry, whose arrival he expected at P'yŏngt'aek during the night, against a probable breakthrough of the enemy tanks. [06-27]

Korean_War


When the enemy tank column approached within 700 yards of the infantry position, the two recoilless rifles took it under fire. They scored direct hits, but apparently did not damage the tanks which, firing their 85-mm. cannon and 7.62-mm. machine guns, rumbled on up the incline toward the saddle.

When they were almost abreast of the infantry position, the lead tanks came under 2.36-inch rocket launcher fire. Operating a bazooka from the ditch along the east side of the road, 2nd Lt. Ollie D. Connor, fired twenty-two rockets at approximately fifteen yards' range against the rear of the tanks where their armor was weakest. Whether they were effective is doubtful.

The two lead tanks, however, were stopped just through the pass when they came under direct fire of the single 105-mm. howitzer using HEAT ammunition. Very likely these artillery shells stopped the two tanks, although the barrage of close-range bazooka rockets may have damaged their tracks. [06-28]

The two damaged tanks pulled off to the side of the road, clearing the way for those following. One of the two caught fire and burned. Two men emerged from its turret with their hands up. A third jumped out with a burp gun in his hands and fired directly into a machine gun position, killing the assistant gunner. This unidentified machine gunner probably was the first American ground soldier killed in action in Korea. [06-29]

American fire killed the three North Koreans. The six rounds of HEAT ammunition at the forward gun were soon expended, leaving only the HE shells which ricocheted off the tanks. The third tank through the pass knocked out the forward gun and wounded one of its crew members. [note]

One mile to the south of Smith's position Bittman Barth stood watching near Miller Perry's six 105mm howitzers. Barth recorded that at 8:16 A.M., when the NKPA had drawn to about a mile from Smith's positions, Perry gave the order to open fire. Husbanding the six rounds of HEAT they had, the gunners used conventional high explosive (non-armor-piercing) shells. There were no hits, no damage to the tanks was seen; nor did the tanks even hesitate. Barth watched the oncoming tanks with mounting unease - instinct told him a disaster was in the making - then climbed into his jeep and sped south to P'yŏngt'aek to alert Red Ayres and his 1/34.

Brad Smith remained cool and steady as the big clanking tanks rolled ever closer through the rain and mist, occasionally firing their powerful 85mm guns. He passed the word to the teams on the 75mm recoilless rifles not to fire until the tanks came within 700 yards.

Meanwhile, his bazooka teams, having taken advantageous positions, readied their weapons and waited. The two heavy (4.2inch) mortar teams, positioned on the reverse slope of a hill, made final adjustments on their weapons.

When the lead tanks closed to 700 yards, Smith signaled the recoilless-rifle teams to open fire. Each team scored "direct hits"; but the conventional shells, some of which may have been duds, did no discernible damage, and the tanks came on relentlessly.

When the tanks were almost abreast of the infantry, the bazooka teams opened up at pointblank range (fifteen yards). One team fired twenty-two rockets at the "weaker" rear armor of a T34, but still the tank did not stop. Nor did the others. [note]

Miller Perry now decided to fire his Sunday punch - the six rounds of HEAT. These, or a combination of these and bazooka fire, seriously damaged the two lead tanks, forcing them off the highway. One burst into flames. The three-man crew climbed out, two men with arms raised in surrender, the third defiantly firing a burp gun. His fire killed an unidentified American machine gunner - the first American casualty of the war.


What was most startling - even stupefying - to the Americans in this encounter were the boldness and skill of the NKPA tank crews. They had not turned tail as expected. They appeared to be unfazed by the American fire. The other six lead tanks proceeded southward on the highway, first shooting up Smith's truck park, then attacking Perry's artillery positions. Unaccustomed to being "invaded" by an enemy, some of the artillerymen panicked. But not the cool Miller Perry. He grabbed a bazooka and boldly attacked a tank at close range and stopped it. In the process Perry was hit in the leg. Another artillery bazooka team stopped another tank.


In all, the American infantry and artillerymen knocked out four of the thirty-three NKPA tanks. The remaining twenty-nine clanked through Task Force Smith and continued south along the highway to Osan. Shaken but resolute, Smith and Perry remained in position to meet the oncoming NKPA infantry. [note]

Smith withheld all fire on the enemy tank column until the vehicles were about 2,000 yards from his ridge-line position. Then he signaled Perry's battery to open and at 0816 hours the first American shell of the Korean War was fired. As a salvo of American shells burst on both sides of the road around the tank column, the enemy was at last alerted to the danger. The tank crews hurriedly "buttoned up" in their machines but made no effort to deploy off the road. Instead, they increased speed and continued on in column until the lead vehicle was about 700 yards from Smith's line.

Then Task Force Smith's recoilless rifle team near the road fired one round and watched the shell bounced harmlessly off the T-34's frontal armor. The team fired repeatedly to no avail as the tank column chugged up the slope and the lead tank actually entered the saddle. When the lead tank was only fifteen yards away a bazooka team launched a 2.36-inch rocket only to see it bounce harmlessly off the steel hull.

The tank swung its turret so that its coaxial machine-gun could bear and the team scrambled for cover. But before the machine-gun could open fire the 105 mm gun deployed as an anti-tank weapon a 1,000 yards away fired the first of it precious high explosive anti-tank (HEAT #1) shells.

The projectile ripped through the tank's armor and exploded. As the tank burst into flames, the three crewman attempted to evacuate the disabled vehicle through the escape, hatches. All three were shot down by American small-arms fire, but not before one fired a burst of sub-machine gun bullets that killed an American machine gunner nearby--probably the first American to lose his life in the Korean War.


As the lead tank sat burning and immobile, the second in line maneuvered around it on one side of the road. The 105 mm gun with the HEAT shells barked again, smashing one of the treads of the tank with (HEAT #2).

The T-34's 85 mm gun then replied with an exploding shell that wrecked the 105 mm gun and drove its crew to cover. (They abandoned the 4 remaining Heat rounds)

The third tank in the column pulled around the two disabled vehicles ahead, followed by the others, As the formation moved down the road toward Perry's guns, the artillery Forward Observer gave warning over the field telephone only an instant before tank trends cut the cables stretched across the road.

By then the 105 mm gun crews could see the enemy tanks and immediately shifted to direct fire. The guns blazed away as rapidly as the crews could load, and occasional red flashes on the approaching tanks indicated that hits were being scored.

No tanks, however, were disabled by the high explosive shells and about 500 yards from Perry's position the six tanks deployed off the road and opened fire. The bursting tank shells quickly drove the demoralized gun crews to cover, but no direct hits were scored on the American guns.

After the American fire ceased, the tanks returned to the road and proceeded toward Osan, nonchalantly passing the American pieces at one point only 150 yards away. As these vehicles disappeared to the south, more enemy tanks appeared at the saddle as Perry and several officers and NCOs attempted to reman the guns.

Shamed by their example, some enlisted men came out of hiding and rejoined the fight. In the next several minutes another body of tanks by-passed the guns, although some were hit only 150 yards from the 105 mm gun muzzles. The enemy did not deign to deploy off the road but fired back wildly as they careened by.

By this time thoroughly frustrated, Perry formed two bazooka teams and led them across the rice paddies and to a position near the road. Before the teams could open fire, a passing tank halted and fired a shell in their direction. A shell fragment struck Perry in the leg and forced the bazooka teams to take cover, but an American 105 mm shell shattered the tank's right track. When the crew attempted to evacuate the vehicle, Perry's bazooka teams shot them down with small-arms fire. The bazooka teams then carried Perry back to the battery. [note]


At 8:16 A.M., the battery began directing fire upon the columns of North Korean soldiers and their tanks. The enemy infantry began to scatter and take cover, but the Soviet built T-34 medium tanks continued driving forward. The artillery 105-mm high explosive rounds scored direct hits on the T-34's with no effect. Even HEAT rounds bounced off the T-34's, a second class tank. Firing 85mm cannons and machine guns, the T-34's continued to close with the American soldiers. The Task Force's 75mm recoilless rifles were fired at distances of no more than 700 yards scoring direct hits, but without effect.[12] First Lieutenant Ollie Conners, Platoon Leader in B Company, took a 2.36 rocket launcher and crawled into a ditch within fifteen yards of tanks moving along the road. In all, Conners fired 22 rounds at the rear of a tank - supposedly where the armor was the thinnest; the rounds either deflected or didn't work at all. Of the thirty three T-34 tanks only four were put out of action.



7

p13
One event in the battle was recounted as follows: Sergeant First Class Loran Chambers, a veteran of World War II already had five Purple Hearts. When he called over the telephone for some 60-mm mortar support, the answer was:


'Won't reach that far.'
'How about some 81!' he yelled.
'We don't have any.'
'Hell, for Christ's sake, throw in some 4.2's!'
'We're out of that too.'
'How about the artillery?'
'No communications.'
'How about the Air Force?'
'We don't know where they are.'
'Then damn it, call the Navy!'
'They can't reach this far.'
Chambers shouted an obscenity. 'Send me a camera. I want to take a picture of this.'

A few minutes later a mortar fragment gave Chambers his sixth Purple Heart.[13]

[note]

0830 Korean Time

The two damaged tanks pulled off to the side of the road, clearing the way for those following. One of the two caught fire and burned. Two men emerged from its turret with their hands up. A third jumped out with a burp gun in his hands and fired directly into a machine gun position, killing the assistant gunner. This unidentified machine gunner * probably was the first American ground soldier killed in action in Korea. American fire killed the three- North Koreans. The six rounds of HEAT ammunition at the forward gun were soon expended, leaving only the HE shells which ricocheted off the tanks. The third tank through the pass knocked out the forward gun and wounded one of its crew members.

* Survivors of Task Force Smith believe he was PFC Kenneth Shadrock, killed in action at about 0830, 5 July 1950.

* machine gunner or bazooka man????

[note]

The ability to communicate between the infantry positions and the artillery proved critical. Commo wire connecting these positions was laid on top of the road surface rather than burying it in. Tanks moving across the highway severed the wire and the communications were out by approximately 8:30 A.M. training, equipment, and doctrine had failed the valiant soldiers of Task Force' Smith. [note]

0855 Korean Time

No more tanks appeared and the battle lulled at 0855 hours.
In the silence that followed Perry discovered that all signal communications with Smith's force on the ridge had been lost. The telephone cables had been cut by tank treads and the old radios were not working.

Perry ordered a wiring party organized but before it could begin laying cable, another enemy tank column was spotted passing through the saddle and rolling toward Osan.

Once more Perry's crews fired vainly at the passing enemy vehicles, chagrined when shells only jarred most of them even at ranges down to 150 yards. Only one enemy tank was destroyed in this fusillade. Enemy tank fire was wild and inaccurate and no injuries were suffered on the American side. [note]

0900 Korean Time

Central East Coast Zulu Korea
07/04/50
6:00 PM
07/04/50
7:00 PM
07/05/50
12:00 AM
07/05/50
9:00 AM

6 AM West Coast

The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was activated at Camp Pendleton, California, on 5 July around the 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, and Marine Air Group 33 of the 1st Marine Air Wing. The provisional brigade began loading from the west coast almost immediately and

sailed on 14 July with about 4,500 ground troops. This number included engineers, a tank company, a light artillery battalion, a 4.2-inch mortar company, amphibious elements, and three infantry battalions, and about 1,350 men in the air group.

[note]

The American force consisted of 2 infantry companies, a battery of artillery, two 4.2" mortar platoons, a platoon of 75-mm. recoilless rifles, and six 2.36" rocket-launcher teams. Named Task Force Smith after its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Smith, the first United States contingent collided on the morning of 5 July with a whole NKPA division supported by 30 T–34 tanks. Despite the odds against it, Task Force Smith put up a good delaying fight of 4 or 5 hours before pulling out with the loss of all equipment save small arms.[9] [note]

0900 Korean Time

Korean_War

When it became apparent that neither the infantry nor the artillery could stop the tanks, General Barth had gone back to P'yŏngt'aek to alert the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, which was still digging in.


The 1st Battalion's command post (Red Ayres) was in one of the dirty buildings on the road north of P'yŏngt'aek. It was apparent to General Barth, by the time he arrived there, that enemy tanks would break through the Osan position. He therefore warned the 1st Battalion commandeer and instructed him to dispatch a patrol northward to make contact with the enemy column. Barth's instructions to the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, differed from those he had given to Colonel Smith at Osan. Since General Barth now believed the P'yŏngt'aek force could hold out only a short time if encircled, as apparently was happening to the battalion at Osan, he ordered the battalion at P'yŏngt'aek to hold only until the enemy threatened to envelop the position, and then to delay in successive rearward positions to gain time. [01-9]


A rifle platoon from the 34th Infantry went north to make contact with the enemy tanks. About halfway between P'yŏngt'aek and Osan the platoon met several enemy tanks and fired upon them without effect. The tanks made no effort to advance. The opposing forces settled down to observing each other. [01-10]


While these events were taking place only a few miles away, men of Company A at P'yŏngt'aek finished digging their defensive positions or sat quietly in the cold rain. In spite of the fact that a column of enemy tanks had overrun the Osan position and was then not more than six miles from P'yŏngt'aek, the infantrymen did not know about it. They continued to exchange rumors and speculations.

[note]

Korean_War

The tanks did not stop to engage the infantry; they merely fired on them as they came through. Following the first group of 8 tanks came others at short intervals, usually in groups of 4. These, too, went unhesitatingly through the infantry position and on down the road toward the artillery position. In all, there were 33 tanks in the column. The last passed through the infantry position by 0900, about an hour after the lead tanks had reached the saddle. In this hour, [8-9am] tank fire had killed or wounded approximately twenty men in Smith's position. [06-30]

Earlier in the morning it was supposed to have been no more than an academic question as to what would happen if tanks came through the infantry to the artillery position. Someone in the artillery had raised this point to be answered by the infantry, "Don't worry, they will never get back to you." One of the artillerymen later expressed the prevailing opinion by saying, "Everyone thought the enemy would turn around and go back when they found out who was fighting." [06-31] Word now came to the artillerymen from the forward observer that tanks were through the infantry and to be ready for them.

The first tanks cut up the telephone wire strung along the road from the artillery to the infantry and destroyed this communication. The radios were wet and functioning badly; now only the jeep radio worked. [note]


Communication with the infantry after 0900 was spotty at best, and, about 1100, it ceased altogether. [note]

1000 Korean Time

Central East Coast Zulu Korea
07/04/50
7:00 PM
07/04/50
8:00 PM
07/05/50
1:00 AM
07/05/50
10:00 AM

Korean_War

The tanks came on toward the artillery pieces, which kept them under fire but could not stop them. About 500 yards from the battery, the tanks stopped behind a little hill seeking protection from direct fire. Then, one at a time, they came down the road with a rush, hatches closed, making a run to get past the battery position.

Korean_War

Some fired their 85-mm cannon, others only their machine guns. Their aim was haphazard in most cases for the enemy tankers had not located the gun positions. Some of the tank guns even pointed toward the opposite side of the road.

Only one tank stopped momentarily at the little trail where the howitzers had pulled off the main road as though it meant to try to overrun the battery which its crew evidently had located. Fortunately, however, it did not leave the road but instead, after a moment, continued on toward Osan.

The 105-mm. howitzers fired at ranges of 150-300 yards as the tanks went by, but the shells only jarred the tanks and bounced off. Altogether, the tanks did not average more than one round each in return fire. [06-32]


Three bazooka teams from the artillery had posted themselves near the road before the tanks appeared. When word came that the tanks were through the infantry, two more bazooka teams, one led by Colonel Perry and the other by Sgt. Edwin A. Eversole, started to move into position.

The first tank caught both Perry and Eversole in the rice paddy between the howitzers and the highway. When Eversole's first bazooka round bounced off the turret of the tank, he said that tank suddenly looked to him "as big as a battleship." This tank fired its 85-mm. cannon, cutting down a telephone pole which fell harmlessly over Eversole who had flung himself down into a paddy drainage ditch.

A 105-mm. shell hit the tracks of the third tank and stopped it. The other tanks in this group went on through.

The four American howitzers remained undamaged. [06-33]


After these tanks had passed out of sight, Colonel Perry took an interpreter and worked his way up close to the immobilized enemy tank. Through the interpreter, he called on the crew to come out and surrender.

There was no response. Perry then ordered the howitzers to destroy the tank. After three rounds had hit the tank, two men jumped out of it and took cover in a culvert. Perry sent a squad forward and it killed the two North Koreans. [06-34]


During this little action, small arms fire hit Colonel Perry in the right leg. Refusing to be evacuated, he hobbled around or sat against the base of a tree orders and instructions in preparation for the appearance of more tanks. [06-35]


In about ten minutes the second wave of tanks followed the last of the first group. This time there were more-"a string of them," as one man expressed it. They came in ones, twos, and threes, close together with no apparent interval or organization.


When the second wave of tanks came into view, some of the howitzer crew members started to "take off." As one present said, the men were "shy about helping." [06-36]

The officers had to drag the ammunition up and load the pieces themselves. The senior noncommissioned officers fired the pieces.

The momentary panic soon passed and, with the good example and strong leadership of Colonel Perry and 1st Lt. Dwain L. Scott before them, the men returned to their positions.

Many of the second group of tanks did not fire on the artillery at all.

Again, the 105-mm. howitzers could not stop the oncoming tanks. They did, however hit another in its tracks, disabling it in front of the artillery position. [06-37]

Some of the tanks had one or two infantrymen on their decks. Artillery fire blew off or killed most of them; some lay limply dead as the tanks went by; others slowly jolted off onto the road. [06-38]

Enemy tank fire caused a building to burn near the battery position and a nearby dump of about 300 rounds of artillery shells began to explode. [note]

1015 Korean Time

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The last of the tanks passed the artillery position by 1015. [06-39] These tanks were from the 107th Tank Regiment of the 105th Armored Division, in support of the N.K. 4th Division. [06-40]


Colonel Perry estimates that his four howitzers fired an average of 4 to 6 rounds at each of the tanks, and that they averaged perhaps 1 round each in return. After the last tank was out of sight, rumbling on toward Osan, the score stood as follows: the forward 105-mm. howitzer, and 2.36-inch bazookas fired from the infantry position, had knocked out and left burning 1 tank and damaged another so that it could not move; the artillery had stopped 3 more in front of the battery position, while 3 others though damaged had managed to limp out of range toward Osan.

This made 4 tanks destroyed or immobilized and 3 others slightly damaged but serviceable out of a total of 33.


For their part, the tanks had destroyed the forward 105-mm. howitzer and wounded one of its crew members, had killed or wounded an estimated twenty infantrymen, and had destroyed all the parked vehicles behind the infantry position. At the main battery position the tanks had slightly damaged one of the four guns by a near miss. [06-41] Only Colonel Perry and another man were wounded at the battery position.

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Task Force Smith was not able to use any antitank mines-one of the most effective methods of defense against tanks-as there were none in Korea at the time. Colonel Perry was of the opinion that a few well-placed antitank mines would have stopped the entire armored column in the road. [06-42]

After the last of the tank column had passed through the infantry position and the artillery and tank fire back toward Osan had subsided, the American positions became quiet again.

There was no movement of any kind discernible on the road ahead toward Suwŏn. But Smith knew that he must expect enemy infantry soon. In the steady rain that continued throughout the morning, the men deepened their foxholes and otherwise improved their positions.

[note]

The last of the tanks passed at 1015 hours. A second and much longer lull now began. [note]

1100 Korean Time

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Perhaps an hour after the enemy tank column had moved through, Colonel Smith, from his observation post, saw movement on the road far away, near Suwŏn. This slowly became discernible as a long column of trucks and foot soldiers. Smith estimated the column to be about six miles long. [06-43] It took an hour for the head of the column to reach a point 1,000 yards in front of the American infantry. There were three tanks in front, followed by a long line of trucks, and, behind these, several miles of marching infantry. There could be no doubt about it, this was a major force of the North Korean Army pushing south-the 16th and 18th Regiments of the N.K. 4th Division, as learned later. [06-44]

Whether the enemy column knew that American ground troops had arrived in Korea and were present in the battle area is unknown. Later, Sr. Col. Lee Hak Ku, in early July operations officer of the N.K. II Corps, said he had no idea that the United States would intervene in the war, that nothing had been said about possible U.S. intervention, and that he believed it came as a surprise to North Korean authorities. [06-45]

With battle against a greatly superior number of enemy troops only a matter of minutes away, the apprehensions of the American infantry watching the approaching procession can well be imagined. General MacArthur later referred to his commitment of a handful of American ground troops as "that arrogant display of strength" which he hoped would fool the enemy into thinking that a much larger force was at hand. [06-46] [note]


[Communication with the infantry after 0900 was spotty at best, and, about 1100, it ceased altogether. [note]

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These engagements continued from about 0800 until 1100.

While firing on the tanks, Scotty and his first sergeant noticed that the effects of the long and laborious deployment, the overnight preparations and constant fighting were beginning to show.

Scotty: "Fighting had gone on for sometime, and my troops were tiring and didn't seem to be reacting as they had-earlier. So the first sergeant and I went down and manned one of the guns, taking a tank under fire. There were two reasons we did that: one, the troops were not reacting as they should have, and the second, I was caught up in the excitement of the moment and wanted to actively participate. But it was more to rally the battery than anything else."

The fact that the 105 battery was able to destroy any enemy armor was a testament to the training level and discipline of the gunners. Five enemy tanks were destroyed or disabled by a combination of HE rounds and .50 caliber machine gun fire.

Scotty: "I believe the lack of HEAT rounds saved my battery from destruction. The tanks came down a road that curved ahead of us and then vanished into another curve behind us. Driving down the road, the tanks had to round a curve that was their first exposure to the heavily camouflaged battery. In the rain and smoke from the early engagements and exploding ammunition dump, the enemy chose to button up and push through rather than stop and fight. If A Battery had been more successful at destroying tanks-had been able to use the six HEAT rounds-the enemy tanks would have been forced to assault and destroy our position instead of rapidly driving by it.

"The Camouflage worked well. Locating the battery on the forward slope of the hill worked well. The forward gun worked well, but only for a short time. I had positioned a .50 caliber machine gun on the hill behind us, and this worked well.

"The small ammunition dump at the foot of the hill worked well. It was hit by an enemy round early, and during the rest of the day, rounds were exploding at the base of our location. The explosions helped confuse the enemy tankers as they approached the battery during the morning engagements.

"There was no way out of the position, and this was a handicap. Communications were limited or not available, and this was a handicap."

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Up front with the infantry, the situation had deteriorated to point of imminent disaster. Late in the morning, the North Korean infantry regiment arrived. Although initially surprised by the Americans, the enemy rallied and began a series of flanking maneuvers and assaults that unhinged Smith's defense. [note]


Communication with the infantry after 0900 was spotty at best, and, about 1100, it ceased altogether.

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The tanks came on toward the artillery pieces, which kept them under fire but could not stop them. About 500 yards from the battery, the tanks stopped behind a little hill seeking protection from direct fire. Then, one at a time, they came down the road with a rush, hatches closed, making a run to get past the battery position. Some fired their 85-mm cannon, others only their machine guns. Their aim was haphazard in most cases for the enemy tankers had not located the gun positions. Some of the tank guns even pointed toward the opposite side of the road. Only one tank stopped momentarily at the little trail where the howitzers had pulled off the main road as though it meant: to try to overrun the battery which its crew evidently had located. Fortunately, however, it did not leave the road but instead, after a moment, continued on toward Osan, The 105-mm howitzers fired at ranges of 150-300 yards as the; tanks went by, but the shells only jarred the tanks and bounced off. Altogether, the tanks did not average more than one round each in return fire.


Three bazooka teams farm the artillery had posted themselves near the road before the tanks appeared. When word came that the tanks were through the infantry, two more bazooka teams, one led by Colonel Perry and the other by Sgt. Edwin A. Eversole, started to move into position. The first tank caught both Perry and Eversole in the rice paddy between the howitzers and the highway, When Eversole's first bazooka round bounced off the turret of the tank, he said that tank suddenly looked to his "as big as a battleship." This tank fired its 85-mm cannon, cutting down a telephone pole which fell harmlessly over Eversole who had flung himself down into a paddy drainage ditch. A105-mm shell hit the tracks of the third tank and stopped it. The other tanks in this group went on through. The four American howitzers remained undamaged.


After these tanks had passed out of sight, Colonel Perry took an interpreter and worked his way up close to the immobilized enemy tank. Through the interpreter, he called on the crew to come out and surrender. There was no response. Perry then ordered the howitzers to destroy the tank. After three rounds had hit the tank, two men jumped out of it and took cover in a culvert. Perry sent a squad forward and it [they] killed the two North Koreans.
During this little action, small arms fire hit Colonel Perry in the right leg. Refusing to be evacuated, he hobbled around or sat against the base of a tree giving orders and instructions in preparation for the appearance of more tanks.


In about ten minutes the second wave of tanks followed the last of the first group. This time there were more--"a string of them," as one man expressed it. They came in ones, twos, and threes, close together with no apparent interval or organization.


When the second wave of tanks came into view, some of the howitzer crew members started to "take off." As one present said, the men were "shy about helping." The officers had to drag the ammunition up and load the pieces themselves. The senior noncommissioned officers fired the pieces. The momentary panic soon passed and, with the good example and strong leadership of Colonel Perry and 1st Lt Dwain L. Scott: before them, the men returned to their positions. Many of the second group of tanks did not fire on the artillery at all. Again, the 105-mm howitzers did, however hit another in its tracks, disabling it in front of the artillery position. Some of the tanks had one or two infantrymen on their decks. Artillery fire blew off or killed most of them; some lay limply dead as the tanks went by; others slowly jolted off onto the road. Enemy tank fire caused a building to burn near the battery position and a nearby dump of about 300 rounds of artillery shells began to explode. [note]

1115 Korean Time

From 1015 hours to 1115 hours Smith and Perry tried to repair their respective positions and to resist following enemy units. A jeep radio was repaired so that the Forward Observer could control Perry's guns from the front line again, and the failure of the enemy tanks to strike Task Force Smith from the rear indicated that it had been bypassed rather than encircled. Despite the heavy firing, few Americans had been hurt or killed as yet, but the failure of the artillery, rockets, and recoilless rifles to have much effect on the enemy tanks had shaken Smith's whole command.


At 1115 hours observers in Smith's line spotted an enemy column coming from Suwŏn. This turned out to be the vanguard of the North Korean 4th Division's 16th and 18th Infantry regiments. Each regiment numbered about 3,000 men and the entire column was preceded by three T-34 tanks. The column itself consisted of a mixture of trucks and marching infantry. The tanks which had earlier broken through Task Force Smith's road block had not contacted these following units which approached Smith's position in ignorance that opposition awaited them.


When the column reached a point about 1,000 yards from the ridge-line, the American infantry opened fire with machine guns, mortars, and rifles. Perry's 105 mm battery in the rear also commenced firing. A number of enemy trucks exploded and burst into flame, and some of the enemy infantry fell to the road.


After the initial shock of contact wore off, the enemy reacted in disciplined fashion. The tanks returned the fire and slowly moved up both sides of the road until they were about 300 yards from the ridge-line. There they halted and methodically shelled the ridge-line near the saddle. Behind them the infantry regiments had deployed into the fields on both sides of the road. Then a force of about 1,000 men in skirmish lines moved forward cautiously, firing as they advanced. The fire from Smith's line proved too intense, however, and this frontal attack soon halted. The enemy continued a heavy fire with mortars and small-arms from in front of Smith's line, and small bodies of men were seen deploying to the east and west behind this screen. Smith correctly guessed that the enemy was preparing to probe his flanks in hopes of carrying out a double envelopment of his ridge-line position. Smith's refused right flank toward the railroad was secure against such a maneuver, but his left-- the single platoon on the hillock west of the highway--was vulnerable. Worse still, the jeep radio failed and Perry's battery had to cease fire for lack of forward observation. [note]

1130 Korean Time

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At about 11:30 A.M., when the lead trucks closed to about 1,000 yards, Smith, as he reported later, "threw the book at them." Some trucks were hit and burst into flames, but swarms of well disciplined NKPA infantry continued the advance on foot, boldly attacking Smith's shrinking perimeter frontally and then on both flanks, circling behind him.


Again the American soldiers were dumbfounded. One of them later wrote:

"Instead of a motley horde armed with old muskets, the enemy infantry were well trained, determined soldiers and many of their weapons were at least as modern as ours. Instead of charging wildly into battle, they employed a base of fire, double envelopment, fire blocks on withdrawal routes, and skilled infiltration."[4-47]

[note]

1145 Korean Time

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That same morning, at 0745, enemy tanks approached from the north. The Americans opened fire with artillery and then with bazookas, but the tanks rammed through the infantry positions and on south past the artillery, after losing only 4 of 33 tanks. Enemy infantrymen followed later, engaged Colonel Smith's force and, after a four-hour battle, almost surrounded it. [note]

1200 Korean Time

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1230 Korean Time


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The enemy infantry began moving up the finger ridge along the east side of the road. There, some of them set up a base of fire while others fanned out to either side in a double enveloping movement. The American fire broke up all efforts of the enemy infantry to advance frontally. Strange though it was, the North Koreans made no strong effort to attack the flanks; they seemed bent on getting around rather than closing on them.

Within an hour, about 1230, the enemy appeared in force on the high hill to the west of the highway overlooking and dominating the knob on that side held by a platoon of B Company. Smith, observing this, withdrew the platoon to the east side of the road. Maj. Floyd Martin, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, meanwhile supervised the carrying of available ammunition stocks to a central and protected area back of the battalion command post. The 4.2-inch mortars were moved up closer, and otherwise the men achieved a tighter defense perimeter on the highest ground east of the road. [06-48] In the exchange of fire that went on an increasing amount of enemy mortar and artillery fire fell on the American position. Enemy machine guns on hills overlooking the right flank now also began firing on Smith's men.

[note]

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1230

At 1230 hours the platoon beyond the road reported enemy in company strength had appeared on an adjacent hill to the west and slightly south of the hillock on which the platoon was posted. Smith ordered the platoon to evacuate its position, cross the road to B Company, and then attempt to form a refused flank facing west.

The platoon complied but the ground was unfavorable for defense against attack from the direction. The enemy, however, made no attempt to advance from his flanking position and contented himself with emplacing mortars on the hill and shelling the western end of Task Force Smith's ridge-line position.

In the meantime, Perry had sent out wiring teams in hopes of restoring forward observation to his now silent guns. The teams moved across the road to the east in hopes of laying cable through the fields to C Company's headquarters. Smith was unaware of this work or that his artillery would soon be back in action.

[note]

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The enemy infantry began moving up the finger ridge along the east side of the road. There, some of them set up a base of fire while others fanned out to either side in a double enveloping movement. The American fire broke up all efforts of the enemy infantry to advance frontally.

Strange though it was, the North Koreans made no strong effort to attack the flanks; they seemed bent on getting around rather than closing on them. Within an hour, about 1230, the enemy appeared in force on the high hill to the west of the highway overlooking and dominating the knob on that side held by a platoon of B Company.

Smith, observing this, withdrew the platoon to the east side of the road. Maj. Floyd Martin, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, meanwhile supervised the carrying of available ammunition stocks to a central and protected area back of the battalion command post. The 4.2-inch mortars were moved up closer, and otherwise the men achieved a tighter defense perimeter on the highest ground east of the road.

In the exchange of fire that went on an increasing amount of enemy mortar and artillery fire fell on the American position. Enemy machine guns on hills overlooking the right flank now also began firing on Smith's men.

[note]

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Earlier, Colonel Perry had twice sent wire parties to repair the communications wire between the artillery and the infantry, but both had returned saying they had been fired upon. At 1300 Perry sent a third group led by his Assistant S-3. This time he ordered the men to put in a new line across the paddies east of the road and to avoid the area where the earlier parties said they had received fire. [06-49] [note]

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Scotty: "In the afternoon, the sky clouded over and a light mist settled over our position. About 1300, we attempted to reestablish communications with the infantry, and a patrol was formed to contact them. As the patrol prepared to leave the battery area, we observed our infantrymen fleeing south to our right front. They had expended all their ammunition and were withdrawing-some without shoes, some without weapons, but all with the same thought: `Get out.'

"I talked to Colonel Perry, who had been wounded when the command post was hit, and we decided to withdraw. We went down to get some vehicles for transportation. We were fortunate we had camouflaged them so well that few of them had been touched. It was impossible to get the howitzers out of the position, so we took the breech blocks and infiltrated to the base of the hill where we regrouped.

"We mounted the vehicles, one jeep and two (I think) two and one-half ton trucks, and drove south. Colonel Perry and I were riding in the jeep. We wanted to turn to the right but a burning vehicle blocked the road. Around the next curve, we ran right into an enemy tank that had turned around and was apparently returning to attack us from the rear. Some of the enemy soldiers had dismounted and were eating. They appeared as surprised as we were.

"We turned the jeep and convoying vehicles around and headed back north and then took a road to the east. (We had a Korean liaison officer in the jeep with us, and he knew the country.)

"We stopped to pick up as many of our infantrymen as we could find and then continued down the road. A heavy overcast and light mist settled like a blanket over the battlefield as we departed.

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"We reached a reserve unit-it might have been the rear element of the 21st, or it could have been the 13th FAB. The mess sergeant and supply sergeant with their sections had received enemy fire and the gasoline reserve had been hit.

These men withdrew through the hills and rejoined us at the rear.

[note]

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See map Sŏul, Suwŏn, O'san to Taejŏn

About 1400, Colonel Smith ordered his men to leave the position and withdraw toward Ansŏng. Smith's force carried out as many wounded as possible, but abandoned its equipment and dead. The survivors, traveling on foot in small groups or on the few artillery trucks, headed southwest toward Ansŏng. This was the result of the first engagement between North Korean and American soldiers. [note]

1406 Korean Time - "BUG OUT"


The battle lasted nearly seven hours until ammunition was about gone and the North Koreans were flanking and over-running the defensive positions. At approximately 2:06 P.M. Smith directed his men to withdraw toward Ansŏng. Brigadier General Brad Smith later gave the following account of the North Korean force he was up against:
8
p14
It is estimated by the time we fired the first shot at the oncoming infantry that there were two regiments of the 4th Division (NKPA] in our view. I did not know what their composition was; I knew there was a hell of a lot of people coming at us and I didn't know what was left at Suwŏn. It turns out that it was what was left of the 4th Division and all of the 5th Division coming right behind them. So, I had eventually to face 20,000 instead of maybe four or five thousand.[14]


Smith's force carried out as many wounded as could be carried. However, other wounded and dead, together with equipment, were left behind. In a matter of a few hours, Task Force Smith had been over run.

Thus ended the first involvement of American soldiers in the Korean War. "Smith and Perry had lost about 185 men killed, wounded, captured or missing.[15]

The North Koreans continued south toward Osan and Taejŏn. In light of his command's capabilities, the quality of the equipment, the training of the soldiers, the intelligence given, the orders received, Task Force Smith fought bravely and its accomplishments should not be degraded.

Task Force Smith failed and the reasons for failure point to un-preparedness for war. We need the insights from Task Force at this time in our history. Why did Task Force Smith fail? Why was the world's greatest army unprepared for a third world conflict? The answers lie far above Smith's level. [note]

1430 Korean Time

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About 1430, Colonel Smith decided that if any of his command was to get out, the time to move was at hand. Large numbers of the enemy were now on both flanks and moving toward his rear; a huge enemy reserve waited in front of him along the road stretching back toward Suwŏn; and his small arms ammunition was nearly gone. A large enemy tank force was already in his rear. He had no communications, not even with Colonel Perry's artillery a mile behind him, and he could hope for no reinforcements. Perry's artillery had fired on the enemy infantry as long as the fire direction communication functioned properly, but this too had failed soon after the infantry fight began. The weather prevented friendly air from arriving at the scene. Had it been present it could have worked havoc with the enemy-clogged road. [06-50]

Smith planned to withdraw his men by leapfrogging units off the ridge, each jump of the withdrawal covered by protecting fire of the next unit ahead. The selected route of withdrawal was toward Osan down the finger ridge on the right flank, just west of the railroad track. First off the hill was C Company, followed by the medics, then battalion headquarters, and, finally, B Company, except its 2nd Platoon which never received the withdrawal order. A platoon messenger returned from the company command post and reported to 2nd Lt. Carl F. Bernard that there was no one at the command post and that the platoon was the only group left in position. After confirming this report Bernard tried to withdraw his men. At the time of the withdrawal the men carried only small arms and each averaged two or three clips of ammunition. They abandoned all crew-served weapons-recoilless rifles, mortars, and machine guns. They had no alternative but to leave behind all the dead and about twenty-five to thirty wounded litter cases. A medical sergeant, whose name unfortunately has not been determined, voluntarily remained with the latter. The slightly wounded moved out with the main units, but when enemy fire dispersed some of the groups many of the wounded dropped behind and were seen no more. [06-51]

Task Force Smith suffered its heaviest casualties in the withdrawal. Some of the enemy machine gun fire was at close quarters. The captain and pitcher of the regimental baseball team, 1st Lt. Raymond "Bodie" Adams, used his pitching arm to win the greatest victory of his career when he threw a grenade forty yards into an enemy machine gun position, destroying the gun and killing the crew. This particular gun had caused heavy casualties.

About the time B Company, the initial covering unit, was ready to withdraw, Colonel Smith left the hill, slanted off to the railroad track and followed it south to a point opposite the artillery position. From there he struck off west through the rice paddies to find Colonel Perry and tell him the infantry was leaving. While crossing the rice paddies Smith met Perry's wire party and together they hurried to Perry's artillery battery.

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Smith had assumed that the enemy tanks had destroyed all the artillery pieces and had made casualties of most of the men. His surprise was complete when he found that all the guns at this battery position were operable and that only Colonel Perry and another man were wounded. Enemy infantry had not yet appeared at the artillery position. [06-52]

Upon receiving Smith's order to withdraw, the artillerymen immediately made ready to go. They removed the sights and breech locks from the guns and carried them and the aiming circles to their vehicles. [06-53]

Smith, Perry, and the artillerymen walked back to the outskirts of Osan where they found the artillery trucks as they had left them, only a few being slightly damaged by tank and machine gun fire.

Perry and Smith planned to take a road at the south edge of Osan to Ansŏng, assuming that the enemy tanks had gone down the main road toward P'yŏngt'aek. Rounding a bend in the road near the southern edge of the town, but short of the Ansŏng road, Smith and Perry in the lead vehicle came suddenly upon three enemy tanks halted just ahead of them.

Some or all of the tank crew members were standing about smoking cigarettes. The little column of vehicles turned around quickly, and, without a shot being fired, drove back to the north edge of Osan. There they turned into a small dirt road that led eastward, hoping that it would get them to Ansŏng.

The column soon came upon groups of infantry from Smith's battalion struggling over the hills and through the rice paddies. Some of the men had taken off their shoes in the rice paddies, others were without head covering of any kind, while some had their shirts off. The trucks stopped and waited while several of these groups came up and climbed on them.

About 100 infantrymen joined the artillery group in this way.

[note]


By about 2:30 P.M. it was clear to Smith that his position was hopeless. He gave the order to withdraw, a difficult maneuver in daylight while under heavy enemy attack. It did not go well. When the troops heard the withdrawal order, discipline broke, and many men panicked and "bugged out" for the rear, throwing away BARs (Browning automatic rifles), machine guns, ammo, M1 rifles, carbines, helmets, boots, and even shirts as they plunged wildly into stinking, slippery rice paddies, chased by burp gun fire. Under the circumstances, Smith had no alternative but to leave behind his dead and about thirty severely wounded men on litters, who were tended by a brave corpsman who refused to flee.[4-48]

Making his way to the rear, Smith was surprised to find the wounded Perry still courageously at his post, manning five of his six surviving guns. The artillerymen removed the sights, aiming circles and breech locks from these five guns - rendering them useless - and joined the infantry withdrawal toward Osan. There Smith and Perry found most of the artillery trucks undamaged and formed a convoy. Since the NKPA tanks lay between them and Ayres's 1/34 at P'yŏngt'aek,

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they followed a secondary road southeast to Ansŏng, where David Smith's 3/34 was out posting the flank. Along the way they picked up stragglers.

[note]

In this historic, heroic, but utterly futile confrontation Task Force Smith had been wiped out in a few hours. In total, Smith and Perry lost about 185 men killed, wounded, captured, or missing. The force had not, as designed, given the NKPA a bloody nose but merely a tweaking. It had not stopped the armored group at all and had only slightly delayed and inconvenienced the NKPA infantry. It would require five days for Smith to round up and reequip his stragglers and integrate them with his other men. The effective fighting power of one of Dean's three battalions had been squandered, all to no purpose.

Worse was the psychological impact of the defeat on the remainder of Dean's men. The reality of this disciplined, apparently fearless enemy came as a severe shock to all. As one soldier put it,

"News of the delaying action at Osan had an unhealthy effect as it grapevined through the rank and file of the 24th Division. . . . It planted a doubt in many minds about the effectiveness of our tactics and weapons . . . [4-and] swollen by rumor . . . the doubt ate like a cancer into the combat morale of all troops moving to the front."[4-49]
* * *

After his hasty withdrawal from Perry's artillery position that morning, Bittman Barth arrived at P'yŏngt'aek to alert the 1/34 commander, Red Ayres, whom he had not yet met. By that time Ayres had fully deployed the 1/34 - all strangers to him - for battle: A and B companies on the highway north of P'yŏngt'aek; C Company in reserve in the village. Barth informed Ayres of the oncoming tanks, correctly guessing that Smith probably could not hold, and exceeding his authority as Dean's observer, Barth ordered Ayres to send a bazooka patrol north toward Osan to intercept the tanks. He also brought up the regimental reserve (L Company) to provide (as he thought) protection for the withdrawal of Miller Perry's valuable artillery pieces.

In response, Ayres dispatched the regimental I and R (intelligence and reconnaissance) platoon, commanded by Charles E. Payne, "a dapper fast talking" veteran of the Italian campaign. It was accompanied by an infantry unit commanded by William Caldwell, who remembered:



We went looking for tanks from P'yŏngt'aek and found one. Lucky for us it was stuck on a railroad track; it couldn't move to train its guns. We moved very close and fired our 2.36 rocket launcher. Every round we had was a complete dud. I sent back for more bazooka teams. They fired many shots at this stranded tank - pot shots - but every single round we shot was a dud. Battalion sent up some mortars, to no avail. Our 2.36 rocket launchers were completely ineffective because of the faulty ammo.[4-50] [note]

This mini-expedition was accompanied by a small contingent of brave war correspondents, including Life photographer Carl Mydans and Marguerite Higgins, whose presence in the war zone was not welcomed by the senior commander because of her sex. Higgins wrote with a note of astonishment and alarm what was already well known in the Army: that even with good ammo the 2.36 bazookas were "no match for Soviet tanks unless they scored a lucky hit from very close range." She also wrote, incorrectly, that Private Kenneth Shadrick, who was killed in this action, was the "first casualty" of the war, an error that was widely published in America.[4-51] [note]

When at 1430 hours large numbers of enemy troops were reported moving stealthily down the railroad, Smith decided his position on the ridge-line was becoming untenable. He ordered C Company to evacuate by moving down the finger ridge on which its refused flank rested, and to mount up on the jeeps and trucks parked at the base of ridge.

B Company was to follow by dropping back directly behind the ridge while the platoon on its refused flank covered the withdrawal.

Smith did not remain to supervise the execution of his orders but proceeded from his command post (CP) toward Perry's battery to brief his artillery commander.

On the way he encountered the wiring parties sent out by Perry whom he ordered to return to the battery. He was surprised to find upon his arrival at the battery that all guns were still intact and that Perry's troops had sustained few casualties.

Upon being informed of the task force's impending withdrawal, Perry ordered the breech-blocks and aiming gear removed from the guns and stowed in the trucks. His men then hurriedly mounted up, and, led by Smith and Perry in a jeep, set out for Osan.

Meanwhile on the ridge-line, the infantry's withdrawal had become greatly muddled. No one had been delegated to supervise the retreat in Smith's absence, and as C Company moved down the finger ridge near the railroad it became exposed to intense enemy flanking fire.

No platoon was ordered to cover the retreat.

B Company's withdrawal was also disorganized, and no one assumed responsibility to inform the single platoon covering the retreat when the company reached the trucks at the bottom of the ridge. Men simply leaped aboard the nearest vehicle and drivers drove off in a cloud of dust toward Osan. Nearly all the heavy weapons were cast aside and at least 25 wounded were abandoned. [note]

About 1430, Colonel Smith decided that if any of his command was to get out, the time to move was at hand. Large numbers of the enemy were now on both flanks and moving toward his rear; a huge enemy reserve waited in front of him along the road stretching back toward Suwŏn; and his small arms ammunition was nearly gone. A large enemy tank force was already in his rear. He had no communications, not even with Colonel Perry's artillery a mile behind him, and he could hope for no reinforcements. Perry's artillery had fired on the enemy infantry as long as the fire direction communication functioned properly, but this too had failed soon after the infantry fight began. The weather prevented friendly air from arriving at the scene. Had it been present it could have worked havoc with the enemy-clogged road.

Smith planned to withdraw his men by leapfrogging units off the ridge, each jump of the withdrawal covered by protecting fire of the next unit ahead. The selected route of withdrawal was toward Osan down the finger ridge on the right flank, just west of the railroad track. First off the hill was C Company, followed by the medics, then battalion headquarters, and, finally, B Company, except its 2nd Platoon which never received the withdrawal order. A platoon messenger returned from the company command post and reported to 2nd Lt. Carl F. Bernard that there was no one at the command post and that the platoon was the only group left in position. After confirming this report Bernard tried to withdraw his men. At the time of the withdrawal the men carried only small arms and each averaged two or three clips of ammunition They abandoned all crew-served weapons--recoilless rifles, mortars, and machine guns. They had no alternative but to leave behind all. the dead and about 25 to 30 wounded litter cases. A medical sergeant, whose name unfortunately has not been determined, voluntarily remained with the latter. The slightly wounded moved out with the main units, but when enemy fire dispersed some of the groups many of the wounded dropped behind and were seen no more.

Task Force Smith suffered its heaviest casualties in the withdrawal. Some of the enemy machine gun fire was at close quarters. The captain and pitcher of the regimental baseball team, 1st Lt. Raymond "Bodie" Adams, used his pitching arm to win the greatest victory of his career when he threw a grenade forty yards into an enemy machine gun position, destroying the gun and killing the crew. This particular gun had caused heavy casualties.

About the time B Company, the initial covering unit, was ready to withdraw, Colonel Smith left the hill, slanted off to the railroad track and followed it south to a point opposite the artillery position. From there he struck off -west through the rice paddies to find Colonel Perry and tell him the infantry was leaving.

While crossing the rice paddies Smith met Perry's wire party and together they hurried to Perry' s artillery battery. Smith had assumed that the enemy tanks had destroyed all the artillery pieces and had made casualties of most of the men. His surprise was complete when he found that all the guns at this battery position were operable and that only Colonel Perry and another man were wounded. Enemy infantry had not yet appeared at the artillery position.

Upon receiving Smith's order to withdraw, the artillerymen immediately made ready to go. They removed the sights and breech locks from the guns and carried them and the aiming circles to their vehicles. Smith, Perry, and the artillerymen walked back to the outskirts of Osan where they found the artillery trucks as they 'had left them, only a few being slightly damaged by tank and machine gun fire.

Perry and Smith planned to take a road at the south edge of Osan to Ansŏng, assuming that the enemy tanks had gone down the main road toward P'yŏngt'aek. Rounding a bend in the road near the southern edge of the town, but short of .the Ansŏng road, Smith and Perry in the lead vehicle came suddenly upon three enemy tanks halted just ahead of them. Some or all of the tank crew members were standing about smoking cigarettes. The little column of vehicles turned around quickly, and, without a shot being fired, drove back to the north edge of Osan. There they turned into a small dirt road that led eastward, hoping that it would get them to Ansŏng.

The column soon came upon groups of infantry from Smith's battalion struggling over the hills and through the rice paddies. Some of the men had taken off their shoes in the rice paddies, others were without head covering of any kind, while some had their shirts off. The trucks stopped and waited while several of these groups came up and climbed on them. About 100 infantrymen joined them in this way. Then, the vehicles continued on unmolested, arriving at Ansŏng after dark.

There was no pursuit. The North Korean infantry occupied the vacated positions, and busied themselves in gathering trophies, apparently content to have driven off the enemy force. [note]

"We mounted the vehicles, one jeep and two (I think) two and one-half ton trucks, and drove south. Colonel Perry and I were riding in the jeep. We wanted to turn to the right but a burning vehicle blocked the road. Around the next curve, we ran right into an enemy tank that had turned around and was apparently returning to attack us from the rear. Some of the enemy soldiers had dismounted and were eating. They appeared as surprised as we were.

"We turned the jeep and convoying vehicles around and headed back north and then took a road to the east. (We had a Korean liaison officer in the jeep with us, and he knew the country.)

"We stopped to pick up as many of our infantrymen as we could find and then continued down the road. A heavy overcast and light mist settled like a blanket over the battlefield as we departed.

"We reached a reserve unit-it might have been the rear element of the 21st, or it could have been the 13th FAB. The mess sergeant and supply sergeant with their sections had received enemy fire and the gasoline reserve had been hit. [note]

1500 Korean Time

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One of the platoon leaders [Co A] called his men together later that afternoon to put an end to the growing anxiety over the possibility of combat. "You've been told repeatedly," he explained, "that this is a police action, and that is exactly what it is going to be." He assured them that the rumors of a large enemy force in the area were false, and that they would be back in Sasebo within a few weeks. He directed them to put out only the normal guard for the night. [note]

Smith tried to withdraw his task force around mid-afternoon, but the North Korean infantry had successfully overwhelmed the American positions and took the exposed withdrawing infantry under machine gun fire. It became a rout.[6] [note]

1500
The enemy pressed his advantage by rapidly advancing to the ridge-line, overwhelming the single platoon there at about 1500 hours, and, then pouring withering fire down the southern slopes of the ridge. Significantly, most of Task Force Smith's casualties were suffered during this chaotic retreat.


The troops from the ridge-line who finally made it out either in vehicles or on foot headed toward Osan, following in the wake of the artillery column. Smith in the lead jeep guessed that the tanks which had bypassed Task Force Smith earlier in the day were headed for P'yŏngt'aek. He, therefore, planned to take the road from Osan to Ansŏng. However, as his column passed through the streets of Osan, they unexpectedly came upon three parked T-34 tanks whose crews were resting beside the road.

Fortunately, the North Koreans were as surprised as the Americans. Smith's jeep wheeled around in an 180 degree turn, and followed by his tatterdemalion column went careening through the streets of Osan until he spotted a side road which led to Ansŏng.

Just outside of Osan on this road his column spotted American stragglers crossing the fields on foot and picked them up. The remnants of Task Force Smith reached Ansŏng at dark where they were taken under the protection of units of the 34th Infantry.

The Battle of Osan lasted approximately seven hours from the time the first shell was fired until the enemy occupied the ridgeline of the Osan position. Given the mission of Task Force Smith, it was not a total American failure since Smith's orders were to delay the enemy rather than hold ground.

Certainly, Task Force Smith's presence at Osan interfered with the North Korean 4th Division's concentration at Taejŏn and delayed its arrival there by about half a day. [note]

1600 Korean Time

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Lt. Charles E. Payne with some infantrymen started north. Approaching the village of Sojong they discovered tank tracks in the muddy road where an enemy tank had turned around. Payne stopped the trucks and dismounted his men. A South Korean soldier on horseback, wearing foliage camouflage on his helmet, rode up to them and yelled, "Tanks, tanks, go back!" Payne eventually located the enemy tank on the railroad track about a mile ahead at the edge of Sojong-ni, five miles south of Osan. In an exchange of fire about 1600 between his bazooka teams and the tank at long range, enemy machine gun fire killed Pvt. Kenneth Shadrick. The bazooka teams withdrew, bringing Shadrick's body with them. The group returned to P'yŏngt'aek and reported the futile effort to Barth and Ayres. [07-3] [note]

1700 Korean Time

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1800 Korean Time

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Later that evening, however, Captain Osburn A/34 told some of the men that four Americans who had driven north of Osan toward Suwŏn had failed to return, and that he had heard an estimate that 12,000 North Koreans were in the area to the north. He considered an attack possible but not probable. [note]

1900 Korean Time

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1953 Sun Set

2000 Korean Time

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Then the vehicles continued on unmolested, arriving at Ansŏng after dark. [06-54]

There was no pursuit. The North Korean infantry occupied the vacated positions, and busied themselves in gathering trophies, apparently content to have driven off the enemy force.

[note]

That evening after dark General Dean and his aide, 1st Lt. Arthur M. Clarke, drove to P'yŏngt'aek. There was still no word from Smith and his men, but the presence of enemy tanks south of Osan raised all sorts of conjectures in Dean's mind. [07-4]

[note]

After dark that night, July 5, Bill Dean jeeped forward from Taejŏn to P'yŏngt'aek to confer with Barth and Ayres. He remained in P'yŏngt'aek with Barth and Ayres for several hours, awaiting word on the fate of Task Force Smith.

Smith's makeshift convoy, consisting of eighty-six stragglers, "without shoes, hats, or much of anything else," had pushed on from Ansŏng to Lovless's CP at Songhwan, where Smith dropped off some wounded men before going on south to Ch'ŏnan.

Since Dean had not stopped to see Lovless, whose CP was within a few yards of Dean's route north, or established any kind of communication with him, Dean remained unaware that Brad Smith was safe in Ch'ŏnan.[4-52] [note]

2100 Korean Time

Central East Coast Zulu Korea
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2200 Korean Time

Central East Coast Zulu Korea
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7:00 AM
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2300 Korean Time

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Korean_War

It rained steadily all night. Beyond the fact that tanks had penetrated the Osan position, no more information about the fight there came through until nearly midnight, when five survivors from Osan arrived at the 1st Battalion command post with a detailed account of that action. The 1st Battalion commander passed word of the Osan defeat along to his company commanders, warning them to be on the lookout for stragglers from the 21st Infantry.

Apparently no one passed the information on down to the platoons.

[note]

2331 Korean Time

Korean_War

Sun Rise 0515 1953
Moon Rise 2331 1046
Moon Phase 63% 20 days


Casualties

Wednesday July 05, 1950 (Day 11)

Korean_War 094 Casualties
B Company
40= KIA + DOD, 23=POW’s = 9 of the POW’s Died Captured
21st Infantry Regiment, B Company roster
C Company 31=KIA 21st Infantry Regiment, C Company roster
34th IR
52nd FAB

As of July 5, 1950

81 21ST INFANTRY REGIMENT
1 34TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
13 52ND FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION (105MM)
95 19500705 0000 Casualties by unit
Date USAF   USA   USMC   USN   Other   Total
Previous 17 18 0 0 0 35
Today 0 95 0 0 0 95
Total 17 113 0 0 0 130

Aircraft Losses Today 000

Notes for Wednesday July 5, 1950 - Day 11