Bernard G. Teeters USA
The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry) Bernard George Teeters, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Lieutenant Colonel Teeters distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Chungam-ni, Korea, on 19 and 20 September 1950. Colonel Teeters' battalion launched an attack on Chungam-ni, the initial battalion objective in the Pusan perimeter breakthrough. A ridge occupied by a numerically superior, fanatical, and determined enemy commanded the approach. At 0800 hours on 19 September 1950, immediately upon crossing the line of departure, the attacking elements as well as the battalion command post and the reserve company were subjected to intense and uncannily accurate machine-gun, artillery, and mortar fire. When it became apparent that the attack was faltering and many casualties were imminent, Colonel Teeters purposely rose from his position of safety, exposing himself to the enemy with the view of instilling courage and aggressiveness in the wavering attack elements. The attacking force, inspired by his action, rallied and pressed forward. He then calmly moved forward with the lead attacking elements and, in full view of the enemy, directed and coordinated the attack. As a result of his skillful, heroic, and inspirational leadership, the strategic ridge was secured and many of the enemy were killed. On the morning of 20 September 1950, he prepared and coordinated an attack plan for the final assault upon Chungam-ni. As the lead elements prepared to launch their attack, the enemy again concentrated a furious and withering blanket of artillery fire on the position. Colonel Teeters, again moved from his position of safety and, with utter disregard for the hostile fire, reconnoitered a relatively safe route which enabled the companies to advance with a minimum of casualties. The skillful leadership, calmness, and confidence displayed by Colonel Teeters contributed immeasurably to the successful accomplishment of the battalion's mission.General Orders: Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea: General Orders No. 76 (1951)
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry) Bernard George Teeters, United States Army, was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in connection with military operations against the enemy while serving as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, in Korea.General Orders: Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 324 (1950)
The last of Bill Kean's 25th Division major combat elements, the 35th Infantry, arrived in Pusan on July 13.
It was commanded by Horton White's West Point (1923) classmate, Henry G. ("Hank") Fisher, fifty. The 35th was mated with the 64th FAB, commanded by West Pointer (1932) Arthur H. Hogan, forty-two, to form an RCT.[6-29] Although Hank Fisher was a year older than White - by George Marshall's reckoning too old for regimental command - his attitude was completely different from White's: He was itching for a fight. Fisher well knew how to fight and command troops. Like Mike, [of the 27th RCT) he had successfully commanded an infantry regiment (the 317th of the 80th Division) through many months of tough fighting in the ETO.
The Army historian wrote that Fisher, "ruddy faced and possessed of a strong, compact body," was a "fine example of the professional soldier." He was "one of the ablest regimental commanders in Korea," who possessed an "exact knowledge" of weaponry and tactics. One of Fisher's young West Point (1945) officers, Sydney B. Berry wrote:
He was a professional in the finest sense of the word. He set high standards for his soldiers and his regiment and saw to it that we lived up to his expectations for us. He drove us in training with a sense of urgency and purpose. . . . Because "Hammering Hank Fisher," as we called him, had trained us in a tough, demanding, professional manner, we won battles in Korea from the beginning. Indeed, combat seemed easier than training under Hammering Hank Fisher. Many of us survived because of the tough, effective training Colonel Fisher had provided us.[6-30]
Upon landing at Pusan, the 35th, like the 27th Infantry, was fragmented. Johnnie Walker ordered Kean to send the 1/35, commanded by West Pointer (1939) Bernard G. Teeters, thirty-five, to P'ohang to relieve Mike's 2/27, so that the latter could rejoin its parent organization. Fisher, his regimental headquarters, and his 2/35, commanded by John L. Wilkin, Jr., forty-two, camped for a few days in a rear area near Yŏngju. This brief interlude before battle provided Fisher and his men with time to adjust to Korea, assimilate fillers, and engage in training exercises.[6-31]
The right (or north) sector of the 25th Division was occupied by Hank Fishers's 35th Infantry. Owing to the temporary detachment of Teeters's 1/35 to guard P'ohang [on 7/13] for the 1st Cav landing, Fisher at first had merely one battalion: Wilkin's 2/35, supported by artillery and a platoon of five light tanks. The division ADC, Vennard Wilson, who was designated tactical commander in this sector, further weakened Fisher's position by drawing off one company (F) to backstop the ROK forces in Fisher's right flank.[6-6o]
The NKPA 1st Division began probing attacks in Fisher's sector on July 22. Under growing pressure, the ROKs on his right broke and fled, leaving Wilkin's green F Company alone and exposed. The NKPA infantry flanked F Company and brought it under fire from the rear, causing panic and a BUGOUT. Most of the Americans escaped, but some were lost trying to get across a stream swollen by the incessant rain. In what the Army historian described as a "fiasco," F Company was thoroughly disorganized and sustained heavy casualties.[6-61]
The next day, July 23, the NKPA infantry, led by five T-34 tanks, hit Fisher hard. However, in an astonishing display of marksmanship, the 155-mm batteries of James V. Sanden's 90th FAB knocked out four of the five tanks with HEAT shells. (A timely FEAF air strike got the fifth.)
This feat gave the depleted 2/35 heart, and it held its ground until later in the day, when yet another collapse of the ROKs on the right and growing lack of confidence in the 24th Infantry induced Bill Kean to pull the 35th south to help the 24th defend Sangju. By then Teeters's 1/35, relieved at P'ohang, was en route to join Fisher, but Kean had to divert it to the left flank of the 24th Infantry, adjacent to the Wolfhounds, where the NKPA 2nd Division was threatening to force a breakthrough at Hwanggan.[6-62]
By daylight on July 25 the NKPA had overwhelmed or scattered three of the four infantry battalions of the 5th and 8th Cav. Of the four, only Robert Kane's 1/8 on the Taegu - Taejŏn road had held together.
By that time the 7th Cav, commanded by West Pointer (1923) Cecil W. Nist, forty-nine, had landed at P'ohang. Ordered to leave the 1/7 at P'ohang to relieve Teeters's 1/35, Nist came up with his headquarters elements and the 2/7 to help the 5th and 8th Cav's.
Flung willy-nilly into battle, the 2/7, commanded by Herbert B. Heyer, thirty-nine, buckled and began what the 7th Cav historian charitably characterized as "a chaotic withdrawal."[6-48]
In sum, except for Kane's 1/8 and the uncommitted 1/7, the 1st Cav Division failed in its first action.
The fault was mostly Walker's for rushing the green, under strength, ill-equipped battalions pell-mell into the teeth of the oncoming enemy and especially for fragmenting the 8th Cav, which necessitated a major diversion of effort to rescue Field's 2/8.
Had Walker adopted Hap Gay's plan to advance slowly and keep the regiments intact and in lateral contact, the introduction of the division to combat might have been less traumatic.
There was another problem.
The regimental commanders Palmer, Rohsenberger, and Nist were "too old" and not experienced at leading troops in combat.
The 7th Cav's S-2, William J. ("Mike") Cochrane, Jr., who had fought in the regiment in World War II, remembered:
"The division and its regiments [6-in Japan] served as a place to give senior officers a `going away present' before they went home and retired."
Ray Palmer had served throughout World War II on Patton's headquarters staff; Cecil Nist had served as John Hodges's G-2 in XXIV Corps in the Southwest Pacific. The West Point artilleryman Billy Harris did not believe any of the three should have been allowed to command regiments in Korea. The division chief of staff Ernest Holmes explained:
"I doubt if there was ever a thought given to the age or experience of the regimental commanders. We used what we had. There was little thought about an extensive conflict. Remember, we were [6-originally] supposed to land at Inch'ŏn and see the tail end of the North Koreans heading back north."[6-49]