34th Infantry Regiment
Yet, deep down, Bill Dean must have suspected rougher times than he let on. Soon after the alert he requested that Eighth Army send him three combat experienced men to shore up the command in the 34th Regiment. Two of these men had fought with Dean in the 44th Division in the ETO: Robert R. Martin (Purdue University, 1924), forty-eight, and Robert L. ("Pappy") Wadlington, forty-nine. The other, Harold B. ("Red") Ayres, thirty-one, then serving in the 25th Division, had won a DSC in Italy and was reputed to be the "best battalion commander in the Far East."
Pappy Wadlington replaced the exec; Ayres would replace the 1/34 commander.
Robert Martin, who had commanded a regiment in Dean's 44th Division in the ETO, would be near at hand should Lovless fail.[4-21]
July 12, 1950
The last of the infantry and
Colonel Ayres, the
Battalion commander, crossed at dusk. General Dean's instructions were to "leave
a small outpost across the river. Blow the main bridge only when enemy starts to
cross." To implement this order
Colonel Wadlington had
L Company hold the bridge
and outpost the north bank for 600 yards.
July 14, 1950
The NKPA 16th Infantry also attacked the 63rd Field Artillery Battalion (FAB). At least two of the battalion's howitzers were destroyed by North Korean mortar fire. The men were unable to get the other eight guns out, so they disabled them. Ayres' 1/34th was ordered to the 63rd FAB positions to "save any men or equipment in the area," but was told to return at dark. His men met intense small-arms and machine-gun fire from high ground overlooking the artillery position. After locating a few wounded men and some jeeps in operating condition, he withdrew the battalion to Nonsan at nightfall.
July 15, 1950 1600
On Bill Dean's orders Pappy Wadlington had gone to the rear that day to scout deeper defensive positions. At about 4:00 P.M., when he returned to his CP and learned of this latest disaster in the 34th, he gave orders for Red Ayres's 1/34, which was in reserve behind the 3/34, to attack and, if possible, to recapture the 63rd's artillery pieces and gunners before dark.
July 15, 1950 1700
Ayres jumped off at about 5:00 P.M.; but while approaching the 63rd FAB site, he ran into heavy enemy fire, and as instructed, he withdrew the 1/34 without having achieved anything.
Meanwhile, Pappy Wadlington, still temporarily commanding the 34th, withdrew it down the fork to Kongju, pursued by the NKPA 4th Division. The 34th's principal surviving force was Red Ayres's 1/34, reorganized and partly reequipped while the 3/34 was being mauled at Chonan.
Wadlington was backed by some batteries of Robert Dawson's 63d FAB, four newly arrived light tanks, and some combat engineers.
Three of the four tanks were lost, but Wadlington got the shattered 34th and the 63d FAB guns behind the Kum River with minimal casualties, a tribute to the professionalism and courage of Red Ayres, who commanded the rear guard.[4-85]
July 15, 1950
At 8:00 A.M. the NKPA swarmed across the river on barges or wading or swimming. Lantron called for artillery fire from Dawson's 63rd FAB and Ben Allen's more distant 11th FAB, but the response was desultory or ineffective or worse. (The 63rd's commander, Dawson, temporarily felled by a "blood infection," was being evacuated, relieved by William E. Dressler.) One of Lantron's 3/34 companies (I) held, but the other (L) abandoned its position and fled to the rear. Subsequently Lantron relieved the L Company commander.[5-27]
July 22, 1950
Yŏngdong-Kŭmsan area westward?]
Most of the 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry, reached Kŭmsan and there turned eastward to come through friendly lines at Yŏngdong. Included in these parties were Colonels McGrail and Ayres and Captains Montesclaros and Slack. They arrived at Yŏngdong on 21 and 22 July.
August 6, 1950
At 1030 the battery [B Battery, 13th Field Artillery Battalion] commander assembled about 50 men and withdrew along a narrow road with one howitzer, four 2 1/2-ton trucks, and three smaller vehicles. They abandoned four howitzers and nine vehicles. The battery lost 2 men killed, 6 wounded, and 6 missing. [17-16]
Meanwhile, in its attack, C Company had no chance of success; enemy troops were on higher ground in superior numbers. The North Koreans let loose a heavy volume of small arms and automatic fire against the company, and soon the dry creek bed in which the men were moving was strewn with dead and dying. After Colonel Ayres had dashed from the culvert across the rice paddy, Lieutenant Payne and Lt. McDonald Martin, the latter wounded, ran from the same culvert to a grist mill a short distance away, and south of the road. There, others joined them in the next few minutes. In the fight outside, more than half the company became casualties. According to the recollection of the battalion commander, there were about thirty-five survivors in the company. [17-17]