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:
Martin, Robert R.
[Col CO 34thIR] (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]
During the fight for Ch'ŏnan, the Americans set one T-34 tank afire with five grenades and used rocket launchers to destroy two others. Colonel Martin joined a tank-hunter team, but he was killed by the tank they were hunting. The executive officer, Lt. Col. Robert L. "Pappy" Wadlington, assumed command of the 34th.
Dean laid the blame for the failure of his blocking plan not on its design but on the 34th Regiment. He was "quite bitter about the 34th Infantry," Dick Stephens wrote, and became determined to "instill a will to fight in that regiment." Since the exec, Pappy Wadlington, temporarily commanding the 34th's survivors, was too old and "too weak" to continue as top man, and there was no logical replacement in South Korea, Dean asked Walker to send a new regimental commander from Japan.[4-73]
July 8 0600
Back at Taejŏn, Dean had spent a sleepless night as the messages came in from the 34th Regiment. In the morning, General Walker flew in from Japan and told Dean that the 24th Division would soon have help-that the Eighth Army was coming to Korea. Walker and Dean drove north to the last hill south of Ch'ŏnan. They arrived in time to watch the remnants of the 3d Battalion escape from the town. There they learned the news of Martin's death.
Dean ordered Wadlington to assume command of the regiment and to withdraw it toward the Kum River. Just south of Ch'ŏnan the highway splits: the main road follows the rail line southeast to Choch'iwŏn; the other fork runs almost due south to the Kum River at Kongju. Dean ordered the 21st Infantry to fight a delaying action down the Choch'iwŏn road; the 34th Infantry was to follow the Kongju road. The two roads converged on Taejŏn. Both had to be defended.
July 15, 1950
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.
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]