Weather

Korean Climate

Mean Temp 27.5°C  81.5 °F at Taegu     

Heavy Overcast

1950 Pacific Typhoon Season

Korea Temps - 1950-1953 - Station 143 (Daegu)


Overview

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U.S. Marines climb a 1,000-foot hill overlooking an NKPA bridgehead over the Naktong River near Ch'angnyŏng. With the Marines firing down on the enemy, soldiers of the 24th ID attack the communist positions. Marine and Air Force aircrews provide heavy and effective support. About 1,500 soldiers of the NKPA 4th Division are killed in three days and the rest are driven back across the river. With the crossing secured, the soldiers begin moving upstream on Aug. 22 to another bridgehead held by about 6,000 enemy troops at Hyŏnp'ung.

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Unit Info  

The North Korean Peoples Army attacks in force where U.S.-South Korean lines join at the Taegu perimeter. The ROK First Division and the U.S. Army 27th Regiment repel the assault.

On Aug. 18 refugees return to the city, even though fighting continues around it. A city of 300,000 people before the war, refugees raise Taegu's population to more than 800,000.

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South Korean government officials move the temporary capital from Taegu to Pusan as massive North Korean forces threaten the city.

-- Three Americans, who were captured in fighting around Waegwan and then escaped, bring new atrocity charges against the communists. They witnessed North Koreans gunning down 26 captured Americans. A North Korean major and two other enemy soldiers in charge of the killings reportedly have been captured themselves.

-- Gen. MacArthur issues his first report directly to the UN council on Korea. He lists communist guerrillas and propaganda as the most serious threats. He urges UN members to send more troops.

-- Air Force planes are using a new 6.5-inch rocket against the North's Russian tanks, according to an American report. The missiles went into production only four weeks ago at a Naval ordnance plant at Inyokern, Calif.

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3rd Rescue Squadron

Two SA-16s and two SB-17s were used this date for orbit missions. The SA-16s logged 15:15 and the SB-17s logged 11:20, making a total of 26:35 flying time for orbit missions this date.

Two false alerts were recorded this date at Flight "D"

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Citations

Medals   

Distinguished Service Cross

 

19500817 0000 DSC BABBICK

19500817 0000 DSC CROWSON

19500817 0000 DSC JOHNSTON

19500817 0000 DSC RASNICK

 

Silver Star

 

Amacker, Alfred [Sgt SS B19thIR]

Anderson, Norman J. [LtCol SS DCO Mag-33]

Arkadis, Nickolas Daniel [2ndLt SS E5thMR]

Cribb, William J., Jr.

Dumas, James H. [PFC SS B19thIR]

Hamrick, Clifford D. [SFC SS B19thIR]

Helgeson, William A., Jr. [PFC SS 1stMD]

Lawson, Frank Joe [TSgt SS A5thMR]

Leek, Billy J. [HM SS Corpsman 2ndBn5thMR]

Ray, Andrew M. [Sgt SS E5thMR]

Reynolds, Oliver J. [PFC SS D5thMR]

Schryver, Hugh C., Jr. [2ndLt SS PltLdr 1tPlt B5thMR]

Scott, James R. [Sgt SS E5thMR]

Stowell, Patrick J. [MSgt B19thIR]

Streetman, Roy L. [Cpl SS D5thMR]

Taylor, David Scott [1stLt SS B5thMR]

Tuttle, Raymond Lee [PFC SS E1stMR]

Whitman, Fred S., Jr. [Pvt SS C5thCR]

 

 

 

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Massacre of prisoners at Hill 303.

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The bodies of twenty mortar men of the 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division were recovered near Hill 303.  in the vicinity of Waegwan. North Korean soldiers murdered the soldiers after they had surrendered. 

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biography

On August 17th, I (MacArthur) received an invitation from the commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars to send a message to be read at their forthcoming annual encampment. I had sent messages to many other organizations in the past and regarded it as a matter of routine. The message expressed my personal opinion of the strategic importance of Formosa and its relation to our defensive position in the Pacific. There was nothing political in it. I sent it through the Department of the Army ten days before the encampment. The officials of that Department apparently found nothing objectionable in it.

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It was in complete support of the President's announced policy toward Formosa. It actually contained this paragraph:

The decision of President Truman on June 27th lighted into a flame a lamp of hope throughout Asia that was burning dimly toward extinction. It marked for the Far East the focal and turning point in this area's struggle for freedom. It swept aside in one great monumental stroke all of the hypocrisy and the sophistry which has confused and deluded so many people distant from the actual scene.

A week after sending the message I received a wire in the name of the "President of the United States" directing that I withdraw the message to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The reason given was that "various features with respect to Formosa are in conflict with the policy of the United States." I was utterly astonished. I sent for a copy of the message and re-examined it, but could find no feature that was not in complete support of the President.

I replied, "My message was most carefully prepared to fully support the President's policy position. My remarks were calculated only to support his declaration and I am unable to see wherein they might be interpreted other-wise. The views were purely my personal ones and the subject had previously been freely discussed in all circles, governmental and private, both at home and abroad." To this day I do not know who managed to construe my statement as meaning exactly the opposite of what it said, and how this person or persons could have so easily deceived the President. Were his political advisers playing strategist, and his military advisers playing politics?

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Enemy Bridgehead

 

Eighth U.S. Army (Forward)   Koread-War

 

Task Force P'ohang attacked northward from An'gang-ni toward Kigye. In the fighting from 15 to 17 August, the Capital Division and Task Force P'ohang pushed the North Koreans back north of the Taegu-P'ohang lateral road and away from the Yŏngju corridor in the neighborhood of An'gang-ni.

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South then North

 

As a part of the enemy build-up in the south, another division now arrived there-the 7th Division. This division was activated on 3 July 1950; its troops included 2,000 recruits and the 7th Border Constabulary Brigade of 4,000 men. An artillery regiment had joined this division at Kaesong near the end of July.

In Sŏul on 30 July, 2,000 more recruits conscripted from South Korea brought the 7th Division's strength to 10,000. The division departed Sŏul on 1 August, the men wading the neck-deep Han River while their vehicles and heavy weapons crossed on the pontoon bridge, except for the division artillery which was left behind.

The 7th Division marched south through Taejon, Ch'ŏnjin, and Namwŏn. The 1st and 3d Regiments arrived at Chinju on or about 15 August.

Two days later some elements of the division [7th Division ] reached T'ongyong at the southern end of the peninsula, twenty-five air miles southwest of Masan.

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U.S. Air Force

 

Sent the following letter to Partridge:

Reference the Bronze Star Medal for Colonel Witty, Nuckols did not make it clear in his conversation with you this morning as to why I was so anxious to present this medal to him prior to his departure. Last night at the Press Club (Nuckols was present), a number of reporters discussed a rumor that was floating around that Witty was being sent home because of the evacuation of P'ohang-dong and which, if publicized, would place the blame on him. I am sure that is not the case. [Underlining in original.] From all the reports I have received from you, Picher and others who have visited K-3, I understand that Colonel Witty as base commander and wing commander 35th Fighter Wing did an outstanding job up to the time it was evacuated. I felt that since you agreed for his personal reasons that he should go home after two and one-half years over here. Further, since you had a replacement for him, a reflection of any kind that might come out on the job that he did might hurt Witty in the eyes of his comrades and would certainly not be true according to the facts. I pinned the Bronze Star Medal on him this morning and will furnish your Headquarters a copy of the citation.


1000 hours presented the Bronze Star Medal to Colonel Witty.
Sent a letter and radio to General Turner clarifying his dealings with the Chinese on Formosa - specifically stating that any instructions that we give them must have the concurrence and approval of Rear Admiral Jarrett,[202] the Attaché there. This in no way effects our survey group as they are there in order to determine what is needed by the Chinese Air Force in order for them to defend Formosa. This letter was written per instructions from CINCFE from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


General Partridge called about 1900 hours and stated that there was quite a push coming from the northwest and that General Walker had committed one of his Army Reserve RCT's [regimental combat team] to stop it. He stated that all of the heavy aviation engineering equipment would leave early tonight for Pusan and he further stated that he could pull out upon one hour's notice. He said, "Don't worry - we are all right, but I felt I should let you know."

ť
Wing Commander P. G. Wykeham-Barnes[203] due to arrive in Tokyo 1650, 19 August. His mission is to assist in night intruder operations. Will be attached to Fifth Air Force, Advance.


8:30 P.M., dinner (stag) honoring Ambassador to the U.S. Wellington Koo.[204] General Ho host. (Ambassador Koo failed to arrive. His airplane was late.)

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elastic bridge 19th BG

23,24,25,26,27,28,29 1- week

30,31,01,02,03,04,05, 2-weeks

06,07,08,09,10,11,12, 3-weeks

13,14,15,16,17,18,19, 4-weeks

20 - the Navy sink the bridge

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Koread-War

13, 14,15,16,17, 18, 19, 20

FEAFBC

Effective on 12 August, the normal daily effort of three B-29 groups was directed at bridges.

Such a scale of effort continued until 20 August,

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U.S. Marine Corps

 

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August

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August

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August

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August

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August

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August

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August

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August

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The Commandant also reiterated that BuAer, by production contract number 51–075, dated 17 August, had obligated the Navy to purchase 40 HRS helicopters for the Marine Corps and that Sikorsky anticipated delivering the first production aircraft sometime during February 1951." In view of the extremely urgent need for helicopters, " General Cates urged, "every effort should be made by BuAer and the Sikorsky Division to deliver the HRS (interim assault) helicopter as soon a s possible." Moreover, the Commandant said...[helicopters] are of such urgent nature that it is requested that BuAer be directed to authorize the Sikorsky Aircraft Division to increase deliveries to the maximum ." [16]

16. Ibid.

Vice Admiral Cassady acted on General Cates ' letter by requesting BuAer to contact all manufacturers who held, or whom BuAer contemplate d holding, helicopter contracts to ascertain the kind of delivery rate which could be obtained by : "Increasing present contracts number wise by 50 per cent...and by 100 per cent." [17]

17. Ibid.

Emphasis was also placed upon procuring observation helicopters as well as transport helicopters. The first contract of this sort provided for 12 Sikorsky HO5S–1's; four for each of the two VMO squadrons [VMO-6 and VMO-1 on the east coast] and four as replacements for the HO3S–1's in HMX–1.

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Colonel Homer L. Litzenberg was designated as commanding officer on the date of activation, 17 August 1950. The Chief of Naval Operations directed the regiment to embark for the Far East not later than 3 September. These components were included in the build-up:

While the other elements were being absorbed at Camp Pendleton, a conference attended by General Smith, Major General Alfred H. Noble, and Colonel Homer L. Litzenberg was held to discuss rear echelon personnel and the formation of RCT–7. The following troops were found to be available to take care of casuals and retain custody of such division supplies and equipment as had not yet been embarked:

It was decided that General Noble, as FMFPac representative, would examine MOSs, to determine how many men would be transferred to the 7th Marines or retained for FMF units to be activated later. The need was also foreseen for rear echelon working parties to relieve personnel of units mounting out.[30]

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However, as the 1st Division, less one RCT, approached war strength, it received instructions to activate the 7thMarines (Reinforced), its third regimental combat team, and to embark the regiment not later than 1 September. To make the achievement of this deadline possible, the Commandant ordered virtually all of the little remaining effective combat strength of the 2nd Division, the 6th Marines, at peace strength of less than two battalions, to Camp Pendleton for the purpose of serving as cadres in building up the new regiment, but of the total number of Marines involved in this transfer, approximately 50 percent were Combat-Ready Reservists.

Meanwhile, the 1st Marine Division, while engaged in the process of mounting out, transferred approximately 1,000 of its men into the division rear echelon to be utilized in the build-up of the 7th Marines. To provide additional regular troops for this regiment, Marine Corps posts and stations and security forces within the continental limits of the United States again furnished increments, while 800 Marines of 3/6 were detached from shipboard duty in the Mediterranean and ordered to proceed to the Far East via the Suez Canal to join the regiment upon its arrival.

By so drawing Marines from widely scattered sources, it was possible to activate the 7th Marines (Reinforced) on 17August. The units of the 6th Marines were re-designated, and as soon as personnel became available, new units were formed. However, once again Combat-Ready Reservists were called upon to bring these units, on the eve of their departure for combat operations, to the strength commensurate with the missions for which they were designed. The reservists' contribution to the strength of the 7th Marines is graphically illustrated by the fact that

[2] Upon the joining of 3/6, which became 3/7, the battalion was completely reorganized, however, and the reservists of Company I were distributed among. all battalion units so that an approximately equal proportion of reservists to regulars would exist.

In all, there were 1,809 reservists in the regiment on the date of its departure.

Meanwhile, the 1st Division, less the 7th Marines, sailed for the Far East. The first cargo vessels weighed anchor on10 August, followed on 14 August by the first attack transport.

Loading was completed on 21 August, and the last ship sailed on the 24th; and a week later, on 1 September, the 7th Marines (Reinforced), less one infantry battalion, shipped out, close on the heels of its parent organization.

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In short order, the necessary unit transfers and personnel joining were made and the authorized composition and strength of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing achieved. Units of the 1stWing mounted out and sailed for the Far East on 17 and 24 August, and the remaining units, including an augmentation detail forMAG-33 containing 60 percent reservists, sailed on 1 September. By 17 September, all these units had arrived at their destinations.

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U.S. Navy

 

 

 

Navy Task Element (TE 96.51) successfully completed the evacuation of the entire 3rd ROK Division from a position south of Yŏngdök.

First elements of 1st Marine Division sailed from West Coast for Korea.

Marines began first battle of Naktong River Bulge.

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USN_Units

 

Task Force 77 departed from Sasebo at 1742K, 15 August.

This time the route taken was for the east coast of Korea, The next two days were spent off the east coast with operations the first day (16) south of 38*N and the second day (17) north of the 38*N In the south,, bridges and supply dumps were hit; in the north, industrial targets, rail facilities and coastal shipping were attacked.

The ship fueled again on 18 August and took station off the west coast for operations on 19 August.

For this day's operations, the most important target was the railroad bridge at Sŏul. The bridge was knocked out but at a heavy price.

 

CDR R. M. Vogel, Commander Air Group ELEVEN was killed leading the attack on August 19, 1950.

 Again on the 20th, the scene of action moved to the north- west where rail facilities and warehouses were attacked from Sinanju to P'yŏngyang to Habsong. (See Elastic Bridge)

The third pilot of the operation, ENS C. L. Sixt, USN, was lost this day.

On the 21st, the Task Force again moored in Sasebo to replenish.

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USN_Units

While all this was in progress at P'ohang, activity was being stepped up in the north. By the 17th, when the ROK division was taken out of Ch'ongha, USS Horace A. Bass (APD-124) had completed her three raids and had departed the area. But USS Pickerel (SS-524) now arrived to begin her photographic work; the USS Toledo (CA-133) group, on its way to relieve off P'ohang, stopped by to bombard; for the first time in a month Task Force 77 had a chance to strike northeastern Korea.

With USS Mansfield (DD-728), USS Collett (DD-730), and USS Lyman K. Swenson (DD-729) as screen, with patrol plane spot, and with a combat air patrol from Task Force 77, USS Toledo (CA-133) cruised the 40-mile stretch of coast, from Sŏngjin south to Iwŏn, where the railroad runs close to the sea. Targets were plentiful, and the 297 rounds of 8-inch HE expended against three railroad bridges and several hundred freight cars were considered to have been profitably invested. At the same time the two carriers of Task Force 77 were flying strikes against rail facilities and such minor coastal shipping as could be discovered between the 38th and 42nd parallels; in the course of this work one jet sweep found an ammunition train, and exploded it so effectively as to bring back tangible proof in the form of fragments embedded in the fighters’ wings.

On conclusion of the day’s operations both carrier and gunnery forces headed southward, Admiral Higgins to relieve the fire support group off P'ohang, and the carriers to pass through Tsushima Strait en route to their fuelling rendezvous south of Korea.

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But despite all efforts heavy enemy attacks on the 17th penetrated the ROK lines north of Taegu, and only the quickest of countermeasures succeeded in restoring the situation.

The Marine Brigade in the meantime had been moving north, first to Miryang and then westward to Yŏngsan-ni,, to confront the crisis in the Naktong bulge. Seven miles west of Yŏngsan-ni, the river curves to the westward, then south, then east again toward Pusan, to enclose an area some three miles in each dimension, commanded by a central hill mass, and protected on the eastward by ridges running north and south across its entrance.

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USN_Units

By this time the activities of ROK naval forces were no longer limited to inshore blockade. Evacuation of refugees from the south coast, and by raft and barge from the Naktong Valley, was calling forth a major effort, and on the 17th, 600 Korean Marines were landed on the T'ongyŏng-si peninsula south of Kosŏng. There, by seizing and holding the isthmus north of Tongyong city, the ROK Marines effectively bottled enemy troops in on the landward side, and prevented their movement across the narrow water to the island of Koje, below Chinhae. And concurrently, at ROKN headquarters, plans were being made to carry the war back north.

At sea, meanwhile, the Seventh Fleet remained busy. After helping out at Ch'ongha the carriers had moved north on the 17th to strike Area F.

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The arrival of this regiment in the theater of action would constitute a striking demonstration of what can be accomplished by a force with a high degree of readiness when provided with advanced forms of transportation.

 One-third of the regimental strength was taken from the 2nd Marine Division on the Atlantic Coast, one-third was made up of Marine Corps Reserves summoned to active duty, and the remainder was provided by a battalion of the 6th Marines, then in the Mediterranean, and by personnel from miscellaneous posts throughout the United States.

Five weeks and two days after its formal activation on 17 August, this regiment was in contact with the enemy, and the convergence upon Camp Pendleton of personnel from all over the United States had been followed by a convergence through 260 degrees of longitude, westward from the Atlantic coast and eastward from Crete, upon Inch'ŏn. The critical days of mid-August which saw the Marine Brigade rushed northward toward the Naktong, the departure from the west coast of the first elements of the division, and the flight westward over the Pacific of the division commander and his staff, saw also the sailing from the Mediterranean of the AKA Bexar and the APA Montague with the 7th Marines’ prospective 3rd Battalion.

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Korean_War

No countermanding instructions were received, help was promised by the west coast Commonwealth units, and on the 17th Operation Lee, named for the commanding officer of PC-702, was begun. With two YMS in company Lee put a Tioman force ashore on Tokchok To;

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While "Chromite" was still in preparation the return to the north had begun. Although heavily engaged along the coast and busy with refugee evacuation, the ROK Navy had been able to mount offensive operations. Commander Luosey, who as CTG 96.7 operated this inshore fleet, was not privy to the Inchon planning, but the basic strategic situation was as clear to those in Pusan as it was to those in Tokyo, and the increasing probability that the perimeter would be held emphasized the value of deep flanking positions, whether for raids, landings, or the infiltration of agents.

On 15 August, therefore, CTG 96.7 advised ComNavFE of his intention, if not otherwise directed, of seizing the Tŏkchŏk Islands in the Ich'ŏn approaches as a base for intelligence activities and future operations.
No countermanding instructions were received, help was promised by the west coast Commonwealth units, and on the 17th Operation Lee, named for the commanding officer of PC-702, was begun. With two YMS in company Lee put a Tioman force ashore on Tŏkchŏk To;

on the next day (18thHMCS Athabaskan (R79) turned up to support the effort and the island was secured.

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0000 Korean Time

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The 2nd Battalion [2/5] reached its assembly area in front of Obong-ni Ridge after midnight. [17-65]

  

General Church had planned to coordinate a 9th RCT attack against Cloverleaf with the Marine attack against Obong-ni Ridge. Colonel Murray, however, requested that he be allowed to attack and secure Obong-ni first before the 9th RCT began its attack. Murray considered Obong-ni Ridge as his line of departure for the main attack and thought he could capture it with relative ease. Church, on the other hand, considered Obong-ni and Cloverleaf to be interlocking parts of the enemy position and thought they should be attacked simultaneously. However, he granted Murray's request. Between Obong-ni and the Naktong River three miles away rose two successively higher hill masses. Both Murray and Church expected the enemy to make his main effort on the second ridge, the one behind Obong-ni.

Information gained later indicated that Colonel Chang Ky Dok's 18th Regiment, reinforced by a battalion of the 16th Regiment, defended Obong-ni Ridge. Other elements of the 16th Regiment apparently defended Cloverleaf. [17-66]

Lt. Col. Harold S. Roise's 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, moved to its line of departure on the east side of a narrow valley in front of Obong-ni about 1,000 yards from the ridge crest. There it waited for the preliminaries to begin. The men studied intently the almost bare ridge opposite them, with its series of six knobs-Hills 102, 109, 117, 143, 147, and 153-rising progressively in height southward from 300 to 450 feet above the valley floor. Deep erosional gullies ran down from the saddles between the knobs leaving ribs of ground projecting from the ridge spine. About midway of the ridge a big landslide had exposed a large gash of red ground.

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The 2nd Battalion proceeded on foot to its assembly area near Cloverleaf Hill  at 0130 on the 17th, and Lt. Col. Harold S. Roise's men got little sleep as they prepared for the jump-off a few hours later. Owing to the shortage of trucks, the 1st Battalion arrived at the forward assembly area several hours later than planned.[17]

 

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Unit Info  Unit Info

In the pre-dawn hours of 17 August an enemy attack got under way against the 35th Infantry. North Korean artillery fire began falling on the 1st Battalion command post in Kŏmam-ni at 0300,

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Unit Info  Unit Info

17, 18, 19, 20, 21

and an hour later enemy infantry attacked A Company, forcing two of its platoons from their positions, and overrunning a mortar position. After daylight, a counterattack by B Company regained the lost ground. This was the beginning of a 5-day battle by Colonel Teeter's 1st Battalion along the southern spurs of Sibidang, two miles west of Kŏmam-ni. The North Koreans endeavored there to turn the left flank of the 35th Infantry and split the 25th Division line.

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0415 Korean Time

biography

And beginning at 0415 the LSTs cleared the beach. By breakfast time all 5,800 ROKs, the members of the KMAG liaison group, and 1,200 civilian refugees had been evacuated, along with some 100 vehicles.

This first amphibious operation in reverse of the Korean War was thus a signal success. The ROK 3rd Division, following its ordeal, was treated to a relaxing 30-mile sea voyage to Kuryongp'o, where Admiral Doyle’s LSTs had landed Cavalry Division gear a month before,

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0445 Korean Time

 

        biography 

Control of the area south of the MSR passed to Taplett at 0445, 17 August.[16]

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Before dawn of the 17th, troops from both the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, supported by A Company, 70th Tank Battalion, attacked Hill 303, but heavy enemy mortar fire stopped them at the edge of Waegwan.

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0547 Sunrise

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About daylight, 17 August, the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, arrived at Yŏngju to buttress the defense there. [18-29]

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biography

The Marines redeployed over the next two days, adding three powerful infantry battalions to the seven Army "battalions" committed to the Naktong Bulge. On August 17, under Church's command, the combined Marine-Army forces, backed up by carrier based Marine close air support, scads of artillery, Marine Pershing tanks, and other support units, launched an all-out assault.

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0615 Korean Time

 

And beginning at 0415 the LSTs cleared the beach. By breakfast time all 5,800 ROKs, the members of the KMAG liaison group, and 1,200 civilian refugees had been evacuated, along with some 100 vehicles.

This first amphibious operation in reverse of the Korean War was thus a signal success. The ROK 3rd Division, following its ordeal, was treated to a relaxing 30-mile sea voyage to Kuryongp'o, where Admiral Doyle’s LSTs had landed Cavalry Division gear a month before,

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biography

The division completed loading the next morning, including 125 wounded in the perimeter, and the last LST pulled away from the beach at 0700.

 The division at this time consisted of the 22nd and 23rd Regiments and 1,200 attached National Police. More than 9,000 men of the division, the 1,200 National Police, and 1,000 laborers, together with all their weapons, ammunition and equipment, escaped to the waiting vessels under cover of darkness and naval gunfire. After daylight of the 17th the Fifth Air Force helped maintain a curtain of fire around the beach.

 

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0725 Korean Time

 

      

Brigade artillery fired its preparation as planned; but due either to the hasty registration of the previous day or to error on the part of observers, the shelling was not effective against the enemy on Objective One. It was so inaccurate, in fact, that many officers of 2/5 thought there had been no preparation at all.[26] To make matters worse, air attacks scheduled to begin at 0725 did not materialize until 0740; and the 18 Corsairs assigned to the job had time for only one strike before H-hour.[27]

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0730 Korean Time

 

biography

but the last Marines were not in place until 0730 on the seventeenth. The overall scheme of maneuver called for the Marines to push forward to the Naktong River in order to support by fire an army attack to push the enemy farther north.

Lieutenant Colonel Murray's plan was to attack in a column of battalions.

 The 3rd Battalion would hold Observation Hill and support the other attacks with fire.

The 2nd Battalion would seize the first objective, Obong-ni Ridge, by taking the northern slope and then pushing uphill to successively seize Hills 102, 109, 117, 143, 147, and 153.

The 1st Battalion would jump off to take Hill 207 located about halfway to the Naktong River after Obong-ni was in friendly hands.

Hopefully, this ambitious plan could be completed by mid-afternoon. The last objective, Hill 311, would be taken by the 3rd Battalion, which would move forward from Observation Hill on order.

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0735 Korean Time

 

A 10-minute artillery preparation, falling on areas back of Obong-ni, began at 0735. Intentionally, there was no artillery preparation on Obong-ni itself. Instead, eighteen Corsairs delivered an air strike on the ridge. The strike was impressive. To observers, Obong-ni seemed to be blowing up-"was floating," as General Church described it. [17-67]

[note]

 

0740 Korean Time

 

To make matters worse, air attacks scheduled to begin at 0725 did not materialize until 0740; and the 18 Corsairs assigned to the job had time for only one strike before H-hour.[27]

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Army units already in the area included a battalion in blocking position on the left, two battalions north of the Yŏngsan-ni, road, and two regiments under orders to attack from the northeast. The Marines, on their arrival, were ordered to attack westward along the road at 0800 on the 17th, with Obong-ni Ridge, running northwest-southeast across the entrance to the bulge, as their first objective.

Shortage of transport had delayed the arrival of the brigade and had adversely affected the artillery preparation; a misunderstanding with the Army unit on the right led to a lack of flank support; the air strike from the escort carriers was 15 minutes late, so that the 18 Corsairs had only half their intended time to work over enemy positions.

[note]

 

Two companies, E on the left and D on the right, moved out from the line of departure at 0800, using the red gash on Obong-ni as the boundary between their zones of advance. Four platoons, numbering about 120 men, constituted the assault formation that crossed the valley and started up the slope. From the ridge itself they encountered no enemy fire, but from Tugok village across the road to their right (north) came heavy small arms and machine gun fire Some fire also came from their left flank near Obong village. Mortar fire fell on the assault group when it reached the slope of Obong-ni.

At one point only did any of the marines reach the crest. This was just to the right of the red gash where a rain-formed gully led upwards. Near the crest the gully was so shallow it provided scarcely enough cover to protect one man lying down. Using this gully as cover for part of his platoon, 2nd Lt. Michael J. Shinka reached the top with twenty of his original thirty men. As they scrambled into empty North Korean foxholes, grazing enemy machine gun fire from the right swept over them and North Koreans in a second row of foxholes a few yards down the reverse slope jumped up and attacked them with grenades. Five marines were casualties in this attack; Shinka ordered the rest off the ridge. They complied quickly, pulling their wounded back on ponchos. [17-68]

Corsairs now returned and worked over the Obong-ni Ridge line and reverse slope with a hail of explosives. A shortage of fuel tanks prevented use of napalm. After the strike ended, the marines started upward again from halfway down the slope where they had waited. Tanks moved out into the low ground east of the ridge and supported the second attack by direct fire into Tugok village and against the ridge line. At first there was little enemy fire. Within a few minutes after the air strike had ended, however, the North Koreans moved into their forward foxholes at the crest. From these points they placed automatic fire on the climbing marines and rolled grenades down on them. Again, only Shinka's platoon reached the top. This time, starting with fifteen men, he had nine when he got there. The small group could not stay on the crest, and they fell back down the slope. Shinka crawled to the crest to see if he could find any marine wounded on top; enemy fire hit him twice, one bullet shattering his chin, another entering his right arm. He rolled down the hill. Enemy fire, inflicting heavy casualties, pinned the other units to the ground on the side of the ridge.

The heavy enemy fire from Tugok and part of Cloverleaf Hill on the right (north) was an important factor in turning back the Marine attack on Obong-ni.

[note]

 

      biography   biography

General Walker reported to General MacArthur the next day that the damage done to the enemy by the "carpet bombing of 16 August could not be evaluated." Because of smoke and dust, observation, he said, was difficult from the air and the impact area was too far to the west to be observed by U.S. and ROK ground troops. Ground patrols sent out to investigate the bombed area never reached it. One 1st Cavalry Division patrol did not even get across the river, and enemy fire stopped another just after it crossed.

 The U.N. Command could not show by specific, concrete evidence that this massive bombing attack had killed a single North Korean soldier. [19-56] Information obtained later from prisoners made clear that the enemy divisions the Far East Command thought to be still west of the Naktong had, in fact, already crossed to the east side and were not in the bombed area. The only benefit that seemingly resulted from the bombing was a sharp decrease in the amount of enemy artillery fire that, for a period after the bombing, fell in the 1st Cavalry and ROK 1st Division sectors.

biography   biography   biography

Generals Walker, Partridge, and O'Donnell reportedly opposed future massive carpet bombing attacks against enemy tactical troops unless there was precise information on an enemy concentration and the situation should be extremely critical. The personal intercession of General Stratemeyer with General MacArthur caused the cancellation of a second pattern bombing of an area east of the Naktong scheduled for 19 August. [19-57]

[note]

 

biography

The attack began at 0800 on 17 August with Roise's 2nd Battalion pushing toward Obong-ni. Captain Zimmer led Company D across the silent rice paddies and up some scrub covered slopes reminiscent of Camp Pendleton's rolling hills. About halfway to the top of the first slope, enemy machine guns found the range and forced most of the attackers to seek cover. However, ten men were able to seize the crest of  Hill 109. On the left, Lieutenant Sweeney's hard luck Easy Company was first hit by short rounds from American artillery and then suffered more hits from an American air strike. This attack finally stalled when enemy machine gunners ranged the Marine lines.

[note]

 

biography

The two rifle companies of the 2nd Battalion jumped off abreast at 0800. On the right was Captain Zimmer's Company D, emerging into the open from the road cut between Hill 125 and Observation Hill.[28]

Zimmer ordered the 2nd Platoon into reserve on the southern spur of Hill 125 and established his OP there. The 3rd Platoon, commanded by Second Lieutenant Michael J. Shinka, stepped from the road bend below the spur into the rice paddy. Advancing behind this unit were the 1st Platoon and a rocket section, the latter stopping in positions along the road bend to protect the MSR. Halfway across the rice paddy, Staff Sergeant T. Albert Crowson led his 1st Platoon to the right from behind the 3rd, and both units approached the base of the ridge on line.

On Shinka’s left was the 2nd Platoon of Company E. An eerie silence pervaded the front while the assault platoons crossed the wide open area unmolested.

Providing covering fire from its positions on Hill 125, Technical Sergeant Sidney S. Dickerson’s 2nd Platoon was hit by long-range machinegun bursts from Hills 117 and 143 on Obong-ni. Company D’s first two casualties were taken.

While General Craig watched from the road cut, and Lieutenant Colonel Roise from his OP on Observation Hill, Company D’s assault platoons began to ascend the objective. Gradually turning its back on the village of Tugok, Crowson’s unit traced the draw on the right of the spur leading to Hill 102, while Shinka led his 3rd Platoon up the gully on the left. The infantrymen were almost halfway up the slope when a battalion of the NKPA 18th Regiment opened fire with dozens of machineguns.

Despite the hail of lead, Shinka and Crowson edged their units upwards. The fire from Hills 117 and 143 finally became so intense, however, that the 3rd Platoon was momentarily unable to emerge from its gully. Almost simultaneously, enemy machineguns poured it into the 1st Platoon, pinning that unit down and inflicting heavy casualties.

[note]

 

At 0800 Lieutenant Sweeney had ordered his 1st and 2nd Platoons of Easy Company into the attack from their line of departure on the southern portion of Observation Hill. Although the boundary separating the zones of Companies E and D extended from the left of Hill 109 and down through the red slash, Sweeney centered his advance on the village of Obong-ni, directly below Hills 143 and 147.[29]

 

 

The leading platoons encountered nothing more than scattered shots crossing the rice paddy. Before they could gain a foothold on the slope of the objective, however, heavy fire from the village ripped into the skirmish line.

In the center, Second Lieutenant Nickolas A. Arkadis led his 1st Platoon through the hail of bullets and drove through the village to the slopes of the ridge.

On the right the 2nd Platoon faltered and lost its momentum. Then a number of North Korean machineguns poured in flanking fire from Hills 147 and 153. Sweeney, from his OP on the southern slope of Observation Hill, tried to get an artillery mission on the two dominating peaks, but his forward observer was unable to contact the rear. Nor could the 4.2 mortar observer be located.

Faced with the necessity of giving his assault elements some protection, the company commander committed 2nd Lieutenant Rodger E. Eddy’s 3rd Platoon, sending it to the spur on the left of the village. Working its way up the nose which led to Hills 147 and 153, Eddy’s unit was able to concentrate its fire on the enemy-held peaks and relieve pressure on the other two platoons.

With enemy fire gradually increasing from new positions on the lower slopes of the ridge to the south of the village, Sweeney ordered the mortar section and all of his headquarters personnel into the valley to block the southern approach through the rice paddy. Leaving this flank guard in command of his executive officer, First Lieutenant Paul R. Uffelman, the company commander rushed to the base of the objective. Every single man in his unit was now committed.

Sweeney found the 2nd Platoon leaderless and disorganized. The 1st had fought its way well up the slope, aided by excellent supporting fire from 2/5’s 81-mm. mortars. As that dogged group of Marines neared the crest, it was stopped when a friendly artillery barrage fell short, searing the skirmish line with white phosphorus.

[note]

 

 

0810 Korean Time

Shortly after 2/5’s jump-off on 17 August, the M–26’s of the 3rd Platoon, Able Company Tanks, moved forward of the road cut and supported the advance by 90-mm. and machinegun fire. The Marine armor, led by Second Lieutenant Granville G. Sweet, concentrated on heavy NKPA weapons along the crest of Objective One and knocked out at least 12 antitank guns and several automatic weapons. In return, 1 M–26 withstood 3 direct hits by enemy mortars, and the 4 vehicles combined were struck by a total of 23 antitank projectiles. Neither tanks nor crews were bothered appreciably, and only one man was slightly wounded.[4]

After the 1st Battalion had passed through 2/5, a section of tanks moved forward on the road and blasted several North Korean positions in Tugok. When Company B seized the northern tip of the objective, Sweet led all his vehicles back to the tank CP, 1,000 yards east of Observation Hill.

[note]

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   6th US Marine Regiment.png

The third regiment was activated as the 7th Marines on 17 August at Camp Pendleton. Two understrength battalions of the 6th Marines from Camp Lejeune and individual Regulars and Reserves were assigned to the new regiment. Its other battalion, the peace-strength battalion from the Mediterranean, sailed directly to Japan from its post with the fleet.

 A third rifle company and third platoons for the battalion's other two companies formed with the main body of the 7th Marines. [09-26]

[note]

 

biography   biography  

It was apparent during the morning that the Marine planes had failed to destroy the enemy soldiers in their deep foxholes on the reverse slope of Obong-ni ridge. It was also clear that the heavy enemy fire from gun positions in Tugok village and on the high spurs of Cloverleaf had worked havoc among the marines trying to climb the exposed slope of Obong-ni. In the plan for resuming the attack there was one important change. Colonel Murray, now convinced that it would be necessary for the 9th Infantry on his right to attack Cloverleaf simultaneously with his attack against Obong-ni, went to  General Church and told him of his changed view. Church said the 9th Infantry would attack after an artillery preparation.

[note]

 

Koread-War

The next day, 16 August, the prisoners were moved around a great deal with their guards. One of the mortarmen, Cpl. Roy L. Day, Jr., spoke Japanese and could converse with some of the North Koreans. That afternoon he overheard a North Korean lieutenant say that they would kill the prisoners if American soldiers came too close. That night guards took away five of the Americans; the others did not know what became of them.

On the morning of 17 August, the guards [of the POW's] exchanged fire with U.S. soldiers.

[note]

A shortage of trucks meant the Marines had to shuttle to the battle area battalion by battalion throughout the evening of the sixteenth and during the following morning.

[note]

 

biography     

17 called for the Marines to go first, with the Army's 9th Infantry providing supporting fire from Hill 125. The Marines then would support the  9th Infantry  when it launched its own attack on the ridge west of Tugok. Unfortunately, the Marine preparatory artillery fire fell beyond the objective for the most part and was ineffective. The planned airstrike was so late the Corsairs had time for just one pass at Obong-ni before the infantry moved out.

[note]

 

  biography   biography

Compensating, numerically at least, for this slight understrength of the 7th Division, MacArthur, after conceiving the idea that South Korea might be called on to provide soldiers for American units, attached more than 8,000 Koreans to the division. On 11 August he directed General Walker to procure, screen, and ship to Japan for use in augmenting the 7th
Division approximately 7,000 able-bodied male Koreans. Fortunately the ROK Government cooperated since no American commander had authority beyond merely requesting these men.

As a commentary on the desperation out of which this measure was born, General Wright on 17 August talked to the chief of staff, GHQ, by telephone from Korea. He told him that about 7,000 Koreans were being shipped out of Pusan that day. "They are right out of the rice paddies," he said, "and have nothing but shorts and straw hats. I understand they have been inoculated, given a physical examination and have some kind of paper. I believe we should get busy on equipment." [09-37] These Korean men were brought to Japan, equipped and trained briefly, and then attached to the 7th Division.

[note]

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biography

 

Dog Company

Again pushing upward despite mounting casualties, the 3rd Platoon attempted to assault Hill 109 about 1000. Communist automatic weapons and a shower of hand grenades from the crest sent the thin skirmish line of Marines reeling back down the barren slope.

As the 3rd Platoon came under increasing machinegun and mortar fire from Hills 117 and 143, Zimmer decided to commit his reserve. Realizing the apparent futility of pressing the attack up the 3rd Platoon’s gully, he ordered Dickerson to attempt an assault through the draw in which the 1st Platoon was pinned down.

The 2nd Platoon crossed the rice paddy, following the route used earlier by the 3rd. Reaching the draw in which the latter was regrouping after its abortive assault, Dickerson led his men over Hill 102’s spur, attempting to gain the avenue of approach being used by Crowson’s unit. In the process he came under heavy automatic weapons fire from both flanks—Hills 117 and 143 on the left, and the hillside north of Tugok across the MSR.

At this time the company commander spotted North Korean positions above the village and realized why his pinned-down 1st Platoon was taking so many casualties. From their vantage point in the 9th RCT zone, the Communists were firing on the flank and rear of the Marines along the northwest approaches of Objective One.

 

Zimmer requested that 2/5 lay supporting fires on Tugok. When he got no response, his forward observer, Lieutenant Wirth, transferred the mission to 1/11. But the 105’s had scarcely begun firing when they were cut off because the impact area was in the 9th RCT’s zone. The company commander turned his own 60-mm. mortars on the enemy machineguns, only to discover that the target lay beyond effective range.

Zimmer had more success with supporting arms when the enemy posed another threat. Practically all the machinegun fire had been coming from the north and south of Hills 102 and 109, while the enemy on these summits relied on rifles and vast numbers of hand grenades. Then, apparently shaken by the 3rd Platoon’s tenacity, the Communists tried to wheel a heavy machinegun into position on the saddle between the northernmost peaks.

Twice the mounted weapon was hauled up, and twice pulled back under heavy Marine fire. By this time Zimmer had requested battalion to use a 75-mm. recoilless rifle on the target. When the persistent North Koreans wheeled the machinegun onto the saddle a third time, one round from a Marine 75 obliterated gun and crew.

[note]

 

1030 Korean Time

 

USN_Units

The USS Helena (CA-75) and several destroyers escorted the evacuation LST's to [the far side of Yŏngil Bay and the east side of the peninsula to the port of] Kuryongp'o-ri where they arrived at 1030. The division unloaded at once, and received orders to move the next day into battle positions south of P'ohang-dong. [18-27]

[note]

 

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Dog Company

With only 15 men left in his platoon, Shinka prepared for a second assault on Hill 109. Following an air strike at 1100, the Marines stormed the high ground and overran enemy positions on the crest. Only a squad of North Koreans could show similar determination on the reverse slope, but the enemy’s small-scale counterattack was stopped cold by Company D’s riflemen.

One of the few Marines who reached Obong-ni’s summit during 2/5’s attack and lived to tell the story, Shinka later related the events following his seizure of Hill 109:

“Fire from Hill 143 was gaining in intensity, and they had observation over our position. Fire was also coming from the hill to our front [Hill 207]. I reported the situation to Captain Zimmer. A short time later phosphorus shells were exploding in Hill 143. This slowed the fire but it never did stop.

“My resupply of ammo did not arrive. Running short of ammo and taking casualties, with the shallow enemy slit trenches for cover, I decided to fall back until some of the fire on my left flank could be silenced. I gave the word to withdraw and take all wounded and weapons. About three-quarters of the way down, I had the men set up where cover was available. I had six men who were able to fight.

“I decided to go forward to find out if we left any of our wounded. As I crawled along our former position (on the crest of Hill 109), I came across a wounded Marine between two dead. As I grabbed him under the arms and pulled him from the foxhole, a bullet shattered my chin. Blood ran into my throat and I couldn’t breath. I tossed a grenade at a gook crawling up the slope, didn’t wait for it to explode, turned and reached under the Marine’s arms and dragged him as far as the military crest.

“Another bullet hit my right arm, and the force spun me around. I rolled down the hill for a considerable distance before I could stop myself.

“I walked into my lines and had a battle dressing tied on my face and arm. I learned that the ammo was up and that a relief was contemplated; and then I walked back to 2/5’s aid station where they placed me on a jeep and took me to regimental aid.”

Lieutenant Shinka was later awarded the Bronze Star for this action.

[note]

 

 

Late morning found part of the company closing on the crest; but shortly before 1130, the attackers were ordered to pull back in preparation for an air strike by MAG–33. The planes came in quickly, and some of Company E’s men, within 25 yards of the summit, were caught in the strafing.

[note]

 

1130 Korean Time

 

During the hammering by the Corsairs, the 3rd Platoon slipped back 100 yards, leaving the critical left flank open to enemy-infested peaks 147 and 153. This time the hail of enfilade fire from Communist machineguns caught the remnant of Company E rifleman exposed on the higher slopes, and the Marine advance crumbled.

[note]

 

Unit Info  

During the morning, heavy artillery preparations pounded the enemy positions on Hill 303, the 61st Field Artillery Battalion alone firing 1,159 rounds. The 5th Cavalry at 1130 asked the division for assistance and learned that the Air Force would deliver a strike on the hill at 1400. [19-39]

[note]

 

 

1155 Korean Time

      biography

General Walker, who had seen the medium bombers in action for the first time, stated that the strike had helped the morale of his troops and had the opposite psychological effect upon the enemy.#109

[note]

 

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biography

 

By noon on 17 August, the 2nd Battalion, (D and E Company) 5th Marines was wobbling. In 4 hours of fighting it had lost 23 dead and 119 wounded, practically all of the casualties being taken by the 2 rifle companies. Every officer in the Brigade could lament the lack of a third company in each battalion; for just when 2/5’s assault needed the added punch of a reserve unit, the outcome of battle had to rest on the failing strength of six depleted rifle platoons. The ridge could not be taken. This was unfortunate, since there was clear evidence that the NKPA 4th Division was weakening.

Although not apparent to the men of Companies D and E, their repeated attempts to carry the ridge had torn gaps in the enemy’s defenses. Bodies, weapons and wreckage were strewn along the entire northern crest.[30]

Marine air and artillery, having settled down after a fumbling start, not only blasted the North Korean lines, but also wrought havoc throughout the entire bridgehead. A large number of enemy mortars and field pieces were knocked out, troop concentrations cut down or scattered while trying to reinforce the front lines, and supply points obliterated. There were definite signs of increasing confusion in the enemy’s rear.[31]

  

 

General Craig had become alarmed at the lack of activity in the 9th RCT’s zone, resulting in the enemy being left free to pound the Brigade’s right flank from the Tugok area. When he inquired concerning the Army’s supposed failure to advance on schedule, he first learned of the pre-battle agreement reached by Murray and Hill. It was then that he requested the village be taken under fire.

Deeply concerned himself over the situation on the right, particularly since no supporting fire at all had been received from the 9th RCT, Murray tried to contact Hill and request that he commit his regiment. Unable to get the message through immediately, he was forced to leave the matter dangling while directing the conduct of the battle.[32]

[note]

The advance uphill, against a numerically superior and entrenched enemy, was carried out with great bravery but at heavy cost; of the 240 men of the 2nd Battalion which led the attack, 142 had become casualties by mid-day.

[note]

 

Koread-War   Unit Info  

Toward noon the North Korean unit holding the Americans placed them in a gulley with a few guards. Then came the intense American artillery preparations and the air strike on the hill. At this time a North Korean officer said that American soldiers were closing in on them, that they could not continue to hold the prisoners, and that they must be shot. The officer gave the order and, according to one of those who participated, the entire company of fifty men fired into the kneeling Americans as they rested in the gulley. Some of the survivors said, however, that a group of 14 to 20 enemy soldiers ran up when 2 of their guards yelled a signal and fired into them with burp guns.

Before all the enemy soldiers left the area, some of them came back to the ravine and shot again those who were groaning. Cpl. James M. Rudd escaped death from the blazing burp guns when the man at his side fell dead on top of him. Rudd, hit three times in the legs and arms, burrowed under the bodies of his fallen comrades for more protection. Four others escaped in a similar way. Two of them in making their way down the hill later were fired upon, but fortunately not hit, by 5th Cavalry soldiers attacking up the hill, before they could establish their identity. [19-44]

[note]

 

     

At noon the next day, 17 August, Eighth Army ordered the 27th Infantry to move its headquarters and a reinforced battalion "without delay" to a point across the Kŭmho River three miles north of Taegu on the Tabu-dong-Sangju road "to secure Taegu from enemy penetration" from that direction. ROK sources reported that a North Korean regiment, led by six tanks, had entered the little village of Kŭmhwa, two miles north of Tabu-dong.

The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry; a platoon of the Heavy Mortar Company; and the 8th Field Artillery Battalion, less B Battery, moved north of Taegu at noon.

[note]

 

biography

Casualties were heavy: by noon 2/5 had lost 23 dead and 119 wounded of the 240 men in the assault waves.

[note]

 

1245 Korean Time

biography

At 1245 Colonel Murray relayed the order to Colonel Newton to move his 1st Battalion in position to resume the attack on Obong-ni.

[note]

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About 1300 the 5th Marines commander ordered the 1st Battalion to pass through the 2nd and seize Obong-ni Ridge. While Newton moved his unit forward from its assembly area, MAG–33, 1/11 and Able Company tanks laid down devastating fires on the blackened objective.

[note]

 

But the enemy, too, was suffering, and with the commitment of the 1st Battalion at 1300 the forward movement continued.

[note]

 

biography

About an hour later, Lieutenant Colonel Newton's 1st Battalion passed through and resumed the Marine assault. Not long after that, Captain Tobin was seriously wounded and Capt. Francis I. "Ike" Fenton Jr. assumed command of Company B.

[note]

 

biography   biography   biography

Johnnie Walker and Hap Gay had no reserves to send Crombez. Walker called on FEAF for help. It responded in the early afternoon on August 17 with the most effective FEAF strike of the war: an awesome and dramatic air assault which wiped out the NKPA battalions and the supporting armor.

[note]

 

1315 Korean Time

 

This first amphibious operation in reverse of the Korean War was thus a signal success. The ROK 3rd Division, following its ordeal, was treated to a relaxing 30-mile sea voyage to Kuryongp'o-ri, where Admiral Doyle’s LSTs had landed Cavalry Division gear a month before, and where in the afternoon the rescue ships beached to put the Koreans back in the fight. By this time relieving forces from the south had fought their way through the pseudo-refugees, ROK and American units went over to the offensive, and on 18 August the enemy was again chased out of P'ohang.

[note]

 

1330 Korean Time

biography

SHORTLY AFTER 1330, WHILE reporting his situation to the battalion commander, Captain Zimmer was wounded by enemy machinegun fire which ripped into his OP and caused several other casualties. Crawling to the company CP on the reverse slope of the spur, he turned his command over to Lieutenant Hanifin, who went forward. Zimmer then joined the steady stream of casualties returning through the road cut to the battalion aid station.[1]

On the way, he met Captain Tobin leading Company B forward for the attack, and paused long enough to warn him about the enemy guns in Tugok. Company D, its part in the battle having come to an end, prepared to withdraw to positions on Observation Hill. The long list of wounded for 17 August included the names of Dickerson and Wirth.[2]

Newton established his OP near that of Roise on Observation Hill. The 1st Battalion CP and aid station were set up with those of 2/5 immediately behind the road cut, while farther back Major John W. Russell placed 1/5’s Weapons Company in position.

Tobin deployed his 3rd Platoon and machineguns on the forward slopes of Observation Hill to support Company B’s attack.

[note]

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The 5th Cavalry at 1130 asked the division for assistance and learned that the Air Force would deliver a strike on  Hill 303 at 1400. SCHEDULED FOR 1400

[note]

 

The air strike on  Hill 303 came in as scheduled, the planes dropping napalm and bombs, firing rockets, and strafing. The strike was on target and, together with an artillery preparation, was dramatically successful.

[note]

 

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The 1st and 2nd Platoons, the latter on the left, crossed the rice paddy and at 1500 passed through Company D on the slopes of the objective. Lieutenant Schryver led his 1st Platoon toward Hill  102 along the same avenue used by Crowson before him, while Lieutenant Taylor moved the 2nd Platoon up the gully leading to the saddle between 102 and 109.

On Observation Hill Captain Tobin noted the rapidity of the advance and called his executive officer, Captain Fenton, preparatory to joining the two assault units. While briefing his assistant at the road bend, he was felled by a burst of machinegun fire. Fenton directed the evacuation of the seriously wounded officer, then took command of the company and joined the attackers on the ridge.

By this time both assault platoons had been pinned down, the 1st about two-thirds of the way up the slope, the 2nd only half that distance. The latter was taking heavy casualties from Communist guns on Hills 109, 117, and 143, Taylor himself sustaining a mortal wound.

Fenton and his gunnery sergeant, Master Sergeant Edward A. Wright, were stalled with the 2nd Platoon. Since Schryver’s unit was also held up, the company commander radioed Observation Hill and committed his 3rd Platoon. Schryver realized that the main obstacle to his advance was the fire hitting his flank from Tugok, and he requested a fire mission from 1/5’s Weapons Company.

[note]

 

Able Company August 17, 1950 1500

Leaving the line of departure from the southern reaches of Observation Hill, the 1st and 2nd Platoons of Company A crossed the rice paddy while Marine air and artillery savagely blasted the forward and reverse slopes of the objective. The two assault units, each with a machinegun section attached, passed through Company E at 1500 and scrambled up the scarred hillside. [3]

Sweeney’s battle-worn company withdrew, carrying its dead and wounded back to Observation Hill. The list of casualties included Lieutenant Arkadis, wounded while spearheading the unit’s advance.

As Company A’s assault wave passed the halfway point of ascent, it met only sniping fire from the crest and forward slopes of Obong-ni Ridge. But any delusions that the enemy had quit were soon shattered when the summit suddenly came alive with Communist machineguns.

Intense fire poured down on the attackers, and Marines pitched forward to roll limply down the hillside. First Lieutenant Robert C. Sebilian, leading the 1st Platoon up the draw between Hills 109 and 117, ignored the storm of steel and urged his men forward. Standing fully exposed while pointing out enemy positions to his NCO’s, the young officer was struck by an explosive bullet which shattered his leg. Technical Sergeant Orval F. McMullen took command and resolutely pressed the attack.

The 1st Platoon reached the saddle above the draw just as Company B was taking Hill 109. When McMullen tried to advance southward to 117, he and his men were pinned down by a solid sheet of Communist fire.

On the left, North Korean guns had already cut Second Lieutenant Thomas H. Johnston’s 2nd Platoon in half. The pint-sized platoon leader proved to be a giant in courage. He pushed doggedly up the draw between Hills 117 and 143, but casualties bled his skirmish line white and finally brought it to a stop.

Marines watching the battle from Observation Hill saw Company A’s attack bog down, despite the ceaseless pounding of Hills 117 and 143 by Brigade supporting arms. Startled, the observers noted a lone figure who bolted forward from the 2nd Platoon’s draw and stubbornly scrambled up the hill. It was Johnston attempting a single-handed assault on the core of enemy resistance.

The astonished onlookers saw him reach the saddle north of Hill 143. That he survived to this point was remarkable enough, yet he continued to push forward. Then, at the base of the blazing peak, the little figure sagged to the ground and lay motionless.

Technical Sergeant Frank J. Lawson immediately took over the platoon, displaying outstanding leadership in his attempt to continue the attack. Communist guns and grenades prevailed, however, and again the line of infantrymen stalled. The 2nd Platoon now consisted of a squad.

Captain Stevens radioed Lieutenant Colonel Newton from his OP and requested permission to commit his 3rd Platoon, then deployed on Observation Hill as battalion reserve. The request granted, First Lieutenant George C. Fox led the platoon forward into the rice paddy just as a heavy mortar barrage fell in the area. One of Fox’s men was killed outright.

Moving quickly to Obong-ni Ridge and ascending the slope, the 3rd Platoon was joined by Lawson and the remnants of Johnston’s outfit. The skirmish line passed the critical halfway point, and again enemy machineguns and grenades opened up.

Twice Fox attempted to develop an assault, failing both times to get his platoon through the curtain of fire above the gully. While Technical Sergeant Stanley G. Millar was reorganizing the skirmish line, the platoon leader and Private First Class Benjamin C. Simpson of the 2nd Platoon made an attempt to reach Johnston.

The pair climbed to a point above the gully from which Simpson could see the fallen officer. Assured now that Johnston was dead, and unable to recover the body because of interlocking machinegun fire across the area, Fox and the rifleman slid down the draw to the 3rd Platoon lines.

By this time Stevens had moved to the base of Obong-ni Ridge, but he had lost radio contact with the three units high on the hillside. He could see the combined 2nd and 3rd Platoons; but the 1st was out of sight, leaving the company commander unaware of a limited success that could have been exploited.

[note]

 

 

At 1500 the 2nd Battalion held positions about halfway up the slope. In seven hours it had lost 23 killed and 119 wounded-a casualty rate of almost 60 percent of the 240 riflemen who had taken part in the attack. [17-69]

Because of the heavy losses in the 2nd Battalion [2/5], General Craig had already decided he would have to pass the 1st Battalion through it if the attack was to continue.[ Some kind of mind reader, see 12:45" - about half way through the attack]

[note]

 

biography   biography   biography

 Murray informed Church and Hill shortly after 1500 that the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, would be ready to launch its attack at 1600. [17-71]

[note]

 

biography  

Captain Stevens's Company A moved through Company E at about 1500 and immediately came under heavy machinegun fire. This attack stalled in the saddle between Hills 117 and 109 when small arms, machine guns, and grenades pinned down Company A.

[note]

 

1530 Korean Time

 

biography

After the strike, the infantry at 1530 attacked up the hill [Hill 303] unopposed

[note]

 

1550 Korean Time

 

Shortly before 1600, the 24th Division began to deliver scheduled preparatory fires on Cloverleaf, raking it from top to bottom. Part of the fire was time-on-target air bursts. The flying shell fragments of the air bursts spread a shroud of death over the crest and reverse slope.

[note]

 

1600 Korean Time

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biography  

The latter [1/5] completed the relief of the 2nd Battalion on the slopes by 1600. [17-70]

[note]

 

  

 

Then, at 1600, the 9th Infantry and the marines began their co-ordinated attack. The 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry, took Cloverleaf without difficulty. The artillery barrage had done its work; enemy soldiers surviving it fled down the hill. From Cloverleaf, the 9th Infantry now supported with its fire the attack of the marines against Obong-ni. [17-72]

At Obong-ni, the North Koreans again stopped the frontal attack of the marines. But this time, with enemy fire from Tugok and Cloverleaf almost eliminated, the right-hand platoon of B Company near the boundary with the 8th [9th] RCT was able to move to the right around the northern spur of Obong-ni and reach its crest here above the road.

[note]

 

biography

In its wake Crombez attacked Hill 303 with another infantry-armor task force and by late afternoon the 5th Cav had regained Hill 303 and its lost honor.

[note]

 

  

These actions at Waegwan and Hill 303, however, cost the 5th Cav heavy casualties. Many company and platoon commanders were killed or wounded; one soldier remembered that a platoon leader in B Company deliberately shot himself in the foot. Dozens of GIs were killed or wounded or fell exhausted from the heat. By the end of the action the combined strength of Clifford's F and G companies was merely sixty men.

There was a grisly aftermath. After regaining the hill Clifford and his men found the bodies of twenty-six mortar men of H Company. They had been captured and bound hands tied behind their backs then murdered with burp guns by the NKPA. Five American POWs had escaped to confirm the murders. When informed of these atrocities MacArthur broadcast a message to the NKPA high command decrying the "outrage," declaring he would hold the NKPA "criminally accountable under the rules and precedents of war."

     

 

These actions of the 1st Cav Division, which resulted in the virtual destruction of two NKPA divisions (3rd and 10th), were encouraging. It appeared quite possible that notwithstanding its terrible losses the division now had the grit to hold its sector until reinforcements could arrive. Walker's big worry was that the ROK 1st Division on the right of the 1st Cav would collapse, exposing the 1st Cav to encirclement from the rear.[4]

The ROK 1st Division had been under heavy attack for days by strong elements of three NKPA divisions: the half-strength 1st and 15th and the full-strength but green 13th (about 20,000 men in total). The ROKs were fighting valiantly, inflicting harsh casualties on the NKPA (1,500 in the 13th Division in one week), but they were outnumbered about two to one, and they were exhausted from weeks of unrelieved combat.

[note]

 

  

After some problems in communications–and tough fighting–massed 24th Division artillery raked Cloverleaf  late in the afternoon with airbursts. The 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry, then took both Cloverleaf and Tugok without difficulty, as surviving enemy soldiers fled. The 9th now could protect and support the Marine right flank.

[note]

 

1630 Korean Time

 

After the strike, the infantry at 1530 attacked up the hill unopposed and secured it by 1630. The combined strength of E and F Companies on top of the hill was about sixty men. The artillery preparations and the air strike killed and wounded an estimated 500 enemy troops on Hill 303. Approximately 200 enemy bodies littered the hill. Survivors had fled in complete rout after the air strike. [19-40]

tragedy on Hill 303

In regaining Hill 303 on 17 August the 5th Cavalry Regiment came upon a pitiful scene-the bodies of twenty-six mortarmen of H Company, hands tied in back, sprayed with burp gun bullets. First knowledge of the tragedy came in the afternoon when scouts brought in a man from Hill 303, Pvt. Roy Manring of the Heavy Mortar Platoon, who had been wounded in both legs and one arm by burp gun slugs. Manring had crawled down the hill until he saw scouts of the attacking force. After he told his story, some men of the I&R Platoon of the 5th Cavalry Regiment under Lt. Paul Kelly went forward, following Manring's directions, to the scene of the tragedy. One of those present has described what they saw:

The boys lay packed tightly, shoulder to shoulder, lying on their sides, curled like babies sleeping in the sun. Their feet, bloodied and bare, from walking on the rocks, stuck out stiffly ... All had hands tied behind their backs, some with cord, others with regular issue army communication wire. Only a few of the hands were clenched. [19-41]

The rest of the I&R Platoon circled the hill and captured two North Korean soldiers. They proved to be members of the group that had captured and held the mortarmen prisoners. From them and a third captured later, as well as five survivors among the mortarmen, have come the following details of what happened to the ill-fated group on Hill 303. [19-42]

Def

 

Tragedy on Hill 303

 

[note]

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By evening the northern end of the ridge had been taken and a counterattacking tank force destroyed; north of the road Army troops had moved up to parallel the brigade’s advanced position; in the northern hills troops of the 24th Division had reached their objectives.

Strong enemy counterattacks during the night brought bitter fighting along Obong-ni Ridge, but the North Koreans proved unable to exploit their gains,

[note]

 

The marines captured this knob, Hill 102, about 1700. Then the next two knobs southward, Hills 109 and 107 [should be Hill 117] , fell to a flanking attack from the direction of Hill 102, supported by fire from that hill. Enemy fire from the next knob southward, Hill 143, however, soon forced the A Company platoon from the crest of Hill 117 back to its eastern slope.

[note]

 

1710 Korean Time

       

As 81-mm. mortar shells rained down on the village, the 1st Platoon worked westward to the spur above the MSR and outflanked the NKPA 18th Regiment. A quick assault carried Hill 102 at 1710.

[note]

 

1725 Korean Time

biography

With Schryver’s men driving down from the south and Company B’s machineguns pouring fire on peaks 117 and 143, the 2nd Platoon barreled its way up the draw and seized Hill 109 at 1725.

[note]

1800 Korean Time

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Unit Info

That night additional atrocities occurred near Hill 303. Near Waegwan, enemy antitank fire hit and knocked out two tanks of the 70th Tank Battalion.

[note]

 

The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry; a platoon of the Heavy Mortar Company; and the 8th Field Artillery Battalion, less B Battery, moved north of Taegu at noon.

Later in the day this force moved two miles farther north to Ch'ilgok where the ROK 1st Division command post was located. By dark, the entire 27th Regiment was north of Taegu on the Tabu-dong road, reinforced by C Company, 73rd Tank Battalion. Alarm spread in Taegu where artillery fire to the north could be heard. Eighth Army ordered the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, less A Battery, to move from the Yŏngju-P'ohang-dong area, where a heavy battle had been in progress for days, for attachment to the 27th Infantry Regiment in order to reinforce the fires of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion above Taegu. It arrived there the next day. [19-59] To the south at this same time the critical battle at Obong-ni Ridge and Cloverleaf Hill was still undecided.

In its part of the Perimeter battle, the N.K. 13th Division had broken through into the Tabu-dong corridor and had started driving on Taegu. This division had battled the ROK 11th and 12th Regiments in the high Yuhak-san area for a week before it broke through to the corridor on 17 August. A regimental commander of the division said later it suffered 1,500 casualties in achieving that victory.

[note]

 

As the tired Marines prepared night defensive positions, word filtered back that the NKPA was mounting an armored attack spearheaded by T34s, the Soviet supplied tanks that had thus far been nearly invulnerable to UN fire. This warning gave the Marine air-ground team another chance to show its stuff. Chance Vought F4U4 Corsairs from MAG 33 were called in. They located the column, destroyed one tank, and dispersed the accompanying infantry. When the remaining enemy approached the Marine positions, a 75mm recoilless rifle knocked out the lead T34 and the other two fell victim to bazooka rocket launchers and fire from 90mm tank guns. The supposed invincibility of the T34 was thus proved to be no more than a sea story in less than five minutes by the skillful use of combined arms.

Numerous reporters located on Observation Hill admiringly described this victorious fight for "Red Slash Hill" in the national media. This hopeful news dramatically reversed the bleak outlook for the Pusan Perimeter, and MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo could begin to once again think seriously about offensive action instead of planning a Dunkirk like amphibious withdrawal from the Korean Peninsula.

       

That night, 1/5 on Obong-ni was hit by well placed mortar fire that was followed by two counterattacks. The hard pressed Marines held, although they were pushed back in some spots.

[note]

1900 Korean Time

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1920 Sunset

[note]

 

2000 Korean Time

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At 2000, while still refueling and replenishing ammunition stocks, the tankmen learned that four enemy T34s were approaching the Brigade lines on the MSR. The Marine armor was clanking toward the front within a matter of seconds. About 300 yards from the road cut, the tankmen had to jump from their vehicles to remove trucks blocking the MSR. Then, approaching the narrow defile, Sweet ordered his 1st Section to load their 90 mm M-3 gun, with 90-mm. armor-piercing shells.

Company B, consolidating its positions on Hills 102 and 109, had first noticed the four NKPA tanks and a column of infantry moving toward its lines at 2000. Corsairs of MAG–33 screamed down immediately, destroying the fourth armored vehicle and dispersing the Red riflemen. The first three tanks came on alone, passed Finger and Obong-ni Ridges, and approached the road bend at Hill 125.

Preparing a reception for the T–34’s were the 1st 75-mm. Recoilless Gun Platoon on Observation Hill, and the rocket section of 1/5’s antitank assault platoon on Hill 125. As the first enemy tank reached the bend, it took a hit in the right track from a 3.5" rocket. Shooting wildly, the black hulk continued until its left track and front armor were blasted by Second Lieutenant Paul R. Fields’ 75’s. The enemy vehicle burst into flame as it wobbled around the curve and came face to face with Technical Sergeant Cecil R. Fullerton’s M–26.

Still aimlessly firing its 85-mm. rifle and machinegun, the T–34 took two quick hits from the Marine tank’s 90-mm. gun and exploded. One North Korean got out of the burning vehicle but was cut down instantly by rifle fire. He crawled beneath the blazing wreckage and died.

The second T–34 charged toward the bend, taking a 3.5 rocket hit from Company A’s assault squad. Weaving crazily around the curve, with its right track damaged, the cripple was struck in the gas tank by a rocket from 1/5’s assault section before meeting the fury of Field’s recoilless rifles. It lurched to a stop off the road behind the first tank, and the 85-mm. gun fired across the valley into the blue yonder.

By this time a second M–26 had squeezed next to that of Fullerton on the narrow firing line, and the two Marine tanks blasted the T–34 with six 90-mm. shells. Miraculously, the Communist vehicle kept on shooting, although its fire was directionless. Marine armor poured in seven more rounds, which ripped through the turret and exploded the hull.

Before the kill, one Red tank-man opened the turret hatch in an effort to escape. A 2.36" BAZOOKA white phosphorus round, fired by a 1st Battalion rocket man, struck the open lid and ricocheted into the turret. The enemy soldier was knocked back into the tank as the interior turned into a furnace.

The third T–34 raced around the road bend to a stop behind the blazing hulks of the first two. Marine tanks, recoilless rifles, and rockets ripped into it with a thundering salvo. The enemy tank shuddered, then erupted in a violent explosion and died. Thus the Brigade shattered the myth of the T–34 in five flaming minutes. Not only Corsairs and M–26’s, but also every antitank weapon organic to Marine infantry had scored an assist in defeating the Communist armor.

[note]

 

       

Just before dark the North Koreans made their first use of tanks in this battle of the Naktong Bulge. While digging in for the night, men on Hill 102 noticed three T34 tanks coming from the west. A fourth tank, not in view at first, followed. They came steadily along the road toward the pass between Obong-ni and Cloverleaf . By radio, B Company notified its battalion command post in the valley that tanks were approaching.

Three American Pershings (M26's) clanked forward to positions at a curve in the road in front of the Marine 1st Battalion command post. The 75-mm. recoilless rifles already commanded the road where it emerged from the pass. Two 3.5-inch rocket launcher teams hurried into position at the north side of the road. Three Air Force P-51's sighted the enemy tanks and made several strafing runs over them but without visible effect. Marines on Hill 102 watched with fascination as the T34's rumbled into the pass.

Down below, a dust cloud rising over a shoulder of ground warned the waiting bazooka teams that the T34's were about to come around the bend in the road. Seeing the steel hulk of the leading tank slowly come into view, one of the bazooka teams fired the first shot at a range of 100 yards, hitting the tank in its treads. The tank came on with all guns firing. A second rocket struck it just as a shell from a 75-mm. recoilless rifle tore a hole in its hull. The tank stopped but continued firing its guns. In another moment, the foremost American Pershing scored a direct hit on this T34, setting it on fire. At least one enemy crew member abandoned the tank. Small arms fire killed him. The second enemy tank now came into view. The bazooka teams knocked it out. Two Pershing tanks destroyed the third T34 the moment it swung into sight. Air action destroyed the fourth tank before it reached the pass and dispersed enemy infantry accompanying it. In this action, Pershing tanks for the first time came face to face with the T34. [17-73]

[note]

 

The fortunes of war in the east at last seemed to be veering in favor of the South Koreans. By nightfall of 17 August, ROK attacks in the vicinity of An'gang-ni threatened to surround the 766th Independent Regiment, and it withdrew to the mountains north of Kigye. Battling constantly with ROK troops and suffering severely from naval gunfire and aerial strikes, the N.K. 12th Division that night began to withdraw from the hills around P'ohang-dong. At 2000, 17 August, the 12th Division ordered all its units to withdraw through Kigye northward to the Top'yong-dong area. The division suffered heavy casualties in this withdrawal.

[note]

 

        

The day ended with Marines on Hills 102  and 109 and in the gully between 109 and 117. On the 24th Division's right flank, the 34th and 19th Infantry regiments had taken Ohang Hill that afternoon. About 8 p.m., four enemy tanks clanked forward toward the Marines north of Obong-ni. They were met by 75mm recoilless rifles, 3.5-inch rocket launchers and fire from two Marine tanks. Three enemy tanks were quickly destroyed. While retreating, the fourth tank was destroyed by a rocket-launcher team from Company F, 9th Infantry.

[note]

 

     

A North Korean attack that night on Company F, 9th Infantry, west of Tugok, netted 100 yards. On Obong-ni, the enemy attacked down Hill 117, splitting Marine A Company, shattering its center platoon and driving it to the bottom of the ridge. The enemy assault then sputtered and receded. They made no attempt to flank the company position, nor to attack one of its platoons that was dug in by itself. Some officers believed that the attack was designed to conceal an enemy withdrawal.

[note]

 

2030 Korean Time

biography1st Battalion 5th Marines

Throughout 17 August the evacuation of dead and wounded had been a major concern of every Marine, from fire team leaders up to the Brigade commander. Men risked their lives dragging casualties off the blazing slopes of Obong-ni Ridge to relative safety at the base. Litter bearers plodded back and forth across the fire-swept rice paddy, and a steady stream of wounded passed through the 1st and 2nd Battalion aid stations behind the road cut. Medical officers of the two battalions, Lieutenants (jg) Bentley G. Nelson and Chester L. Klein, worked tirelessly with their corpsmen.

In the rear, Lieutenant Commander Byron D. Casteel had to commandeer every ambulance in the area—including 16 Army vehicles—to evacuate wounded to and from his 5th Marines aid station. So acute was the shortage of hospital corpsmen that the Brigade’s Malaria and Epidemic Control Unit was used to reinforce the regimental medical staff. Even so, the hospital tents were busy for a straight 18 hours.[5]

The small number of deaths from wounds attested to the speed and effectiveness of helicopter evacuations; for the pilots of VMO–6 were ferrying the more serious casualties from the regimental aid station to the Army’s 8076 Surgical Hospital at Miryang, some 20 miles away.

While medics toiled to save lives, the spiritual needs of casualties were filled by the inspiring labor of the 5th Marines’ naval chaplains, Lieutenant Commander Orlando Ingvolstad, Jr., Lieutenant William G. Tennant, and Lieutenant (jg) Bernard L. Hickey. A familiar figure at the front, frequently exposed to enemy fire as he administered to fallen Marines, was Lieutenant Commander Otto E. Sporrer, beloved chaplain of 1/11.

Two serious obstacles to the various missions behind the front were the dud-infested area east of Observation Hill and a section of collapsed MSR in the river bed occupied by the 5th Marines CP. First Lieutenant Wayne E. Richards and his 2nd Platoon, Able Company Engineers, spent most of 17 August at the tedious task of removing unexploded missiles from the forward assembly areas. The engineers’ 1st Platoon had to tear down part of an unoccupied village for material to reinforce the sinking road over which the jeep ambulances and supply trucks were struggling.

As the sun dropped behind Obong-ni Ridge, activity on the MSR continued unabated, although the battle for Objective One had diminished to a crackle of rifle fire and occasional machinegun bursts. Company A had been unable to take Hill 117 and 143, still bristling with enemy automatic weapons. At 2030, shortly after the smashing victory over North Korean armor, Captain Stevens contacted his 1st Platoon and learned that it was on the saddle between peaks 109 and-117. Although tied in on the right with Company B, the platoon was separated by a 100-yard gap from Stevens’ other two platoons on the slopes to the left.[6]

The company commander called Fox (3rd Plt), Lawson (2nd Plt), and McMullen (1st Plt) together near the base of the ridge to consult them on continuing the attack. All platoon leaders advised against it, since darkness was falling and their units needed rest, food, water, and ammunition. Moreover, the enemy’s bold tank attack had convinced the infantry leaders that a larger counter-stroke by the Communists was imminent, and they wanted time for preparation.[7]

Stevens informed Newton of the situation by radio, and the battalion commander ordered him to discontinue the attack and tie in with  Fenton’s unit for the night. It was already dark when the 2nd and 3rd Platoons shifted to the right from their positions below Hills 117 and 143.

Company B had been busily consolidating its high ground since the seizure of Hills  102 and 109 earlier in the evening. While Fenton’s machineguns dueled with those of the Reds on 117, his 1st and 2nd Platoons deployed defensively on the forward slopes of the two captured peaks, and the 3rd went into reserve on the reverse slope.[8]

Company A’s front extended left from the southern part of Hill 109—where the 1st Platoon was linked to Fenton’s unit—to the center of the saddle toward 117. There the line bent down in an arch, formed by the 2nd Platoon, to the spur below the enemy-held peak. Able Company’s left was actually perpendicular to the ridgeline, for Fox’s 3rd Platoon was deployed up and down Hill 117’s spur.[9]

To complete the Brigade front, Headquarters Company of 1/5 was to have extended across the rice paddy from Observation Hill and tied in with Company A’s left flank. Due to the casualties and workload of the headquarters troops, this connection was never made, with the result that Fox’s platoon remained dangling.[10]

[note]

 

           

 

Across the MSR, the 9th RCT had launched its attack earlier in the evening, clearing Tugok and seizing Finger Ridge against negligible resistance. By darkness, the 19th and 34th Regiments were also sitting on their objectives to the north, leaving the 4th NKPA Division clamped in a vice. To the southeast, the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, was holding its blocking position with no difficulty.[12]

[note]

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biography

When General Craig returned to his CP near Yŏngsan-ni, on the night of 17 August, he was not unduly concerned about the tactical situation. Although the Brigade had been thinned by heavy casualties, Murray’s disposition in depth across a narrow front gave the Marines the advantages of concentrated strength and firepower. If the enemy attempted his usual night envelopment, both 2/5 and 3/5 could strike back from their reserve positions on Observation and Cloverleaf Hills.[11]

[note]

 

       

 

six knobs-Hills 102, 109, 117, 143, 147, and 153-

When darkness fell, the marines dug in on a perimeter defense where they were. From  Hill 102, B Company extended its line over Hill 109 to the saddle between it and Hill 117 ; there it met the defense line of A Company which bent back down the east slope of 117 to the base of the ridge. During the day the marines had 205 casualties-23 killed, 2 dead of wounds, 180 wounded. [17-74]

    

 

While this severe day-long battle had been in progress at Obong-ni, the 34th and 19th Infantry Regiments on the 24th Division right started their attacks late in the afternoon after repeated delays. Heavy air attacks and artillery barrages had already hit on Ohang Hill during the afternoon. This attack moved forward, but with heavy casualties in some units, notably in L Company, 34th Infantry, (No KIA in the 34thIR today) which came under enemy fire from the rear at one point. Ohang Hill, overlooking the Naktong River at the northern end of the bulge, fell to the 19th Infantry by dusk. That night the 24th Division intercepted an enemy radio message stating that North Korean troops in the bulge area were short of ammunition and requesting permission for them to withdraw across the Naktong. [17-75]

Obong-ni Falls

That evening, 17 August, American mortars and artillery registered on corridors of enemy approach to Obong-ni and Cloverleaf and on probable centers of enemy troop concentrations. Some artillery pieces fired on the river crossing sites to prevent enemy reinforcements arriving in the battle area. On Obong-ni that night, the marines, sure of an enemy counterattack, set trip flares in front of their positions. One quarter of the men stood guard while the remainder rested. On the left of the line, A Company had lost its 60-mm. mortars in the evening when four white phosphorus mortar shells struck in the mortar position, destroying the weapons and causing eighteen casualties.

 

 

[note]

 

2130 Korean Time

 

biography

Late on 17 August, when the attack on Obong-ni Ridge ceased, General Craig  sent a message to his subordinate commanders, directing them to “. . . consolidate positions for night, account for location of each individual and be prepared for counterattack; carefully prepare plan of fires for night to include plans for fires within and in rear of positions; wire in where possible in front line elements.”[13]

[note]

 

2147 Korean Time

 

       

 

six knobs-Hills 102, 109, 117, 143, 147, and 153-

Long after nightfall, the weary Marines of both front line companies were still digging foxholes and organizing their defenses. While this work continued in spite of sporadic Communist fire from Hill 117, the South Korean laborers were transporting supplies to the ridgeline or carrying casualties back to the rear.

Captain Stevens established Company A’s command post at the top of the draw leading to the saddle between Hills 109 and 117. His 60-mm. mortar section set up its weapons in the gully itself.

[note]

 

 

2200 Korean Time

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2300 Korean Time

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Shortly before 2200, the telltale whine and rattle of mortar shells cut through the darkness and the men of Company A crouched in their holes.

The explosions were followed by a shower of fire as white phosphorus enveloped the center of the company area. Almost every man in the gully was painfully wounded, leaving Captain Stevens without a mortar section. The edge of the barrage hit the 3rd Platoon’s area, wounding  Fox and several of his men.

Two riflemen had to be evacuated, but the platoon leader and the others applied first aid and remained in the line.

After this brief flurry the front settled down to an ominous quiet interrupted only occasionally by North Korean guns to the south.

  [note]

 

biography   

At midnight, 17 August, Lieutenant Colonel Murray had issued 3/5 a warning order for continuing the attack on the 18th.

[note]

 


Casualties

Thursday August 17, 1950 (Day 54)

90 Casualties

 

19500817 0000 Casualties by unit

 

1 11TH ENGINEER COMBAT BATTALION
5 19TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
1 1ST SERVICE BATTALION - MARINES
1 21ST INFANTRY REGIMENT
2 23RD INFANTRY REGIMENT
1 30TH ORDNANCE HEAVY MAINTENANCE COMPANY
2 35TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
45 5TH CAVALRY REGIMENT
26 5TH MARINE REGIMENT
1 619TH ORDNANCE AMMUNITION COMPANY
1 65TH ENGINEER COMBAT BATTALION
1 7TH CAVALRY REGIMENT
2 9TH INFANTRY REGIMENT
1 NAVY HOSPITAL CORPSMAN
   
   
   
90 19500817 0000 Casualties by unit

As of August 17, 1950

 

Date USAF USA USMC USN Other Total
Previous  71 4036 64 10 4181
Today   62 27 1 90
Total 71 4098 91 11 4271

Aircraft Losses Today 001

 

 

Notes for Thursday August 17, 1950 (Day 54)

 

 

 

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