July 16, 1950
At about 6:00 P.M. the men who were caring for the wounded Meloy north of the roadblock decided to run the gauntlet. They put Meloy in a surviving light tank and set off, leading about fifteen other vehicles, including a rig towing one of Perry's 105 howitzers. The tank and trucks ran the block without major damage or casualties.
However, south of the block the tank carrying Meloy broke down. The tank crew tried to flag down a truck to pick up Meloy, but disgracefully, all fifteen vehicles in the convoy sped around the tank, leaving the wounded regimental commander to fend for himself. Lucky for Meloy, Mike Barszcz, who was then breaking off his attack, came upon Meloy and provided help and protection.
Soon thereafter Tom McGrail's S3, Kenneth J. Woods, came up and put Meloy in a truck and escorted him to safety. Meloy (who won a DSC for his actions that day) eventually wound up in the same hospital with his exec, Chandler. When he recovered from his wounds, Meloy was rotated to the States to continue an exemplary professional career, which earned him four stars.[5-38]
The shattered Chicks ran, straggled, or marched to the rear by various routes. Dean directed the bulk of them to the division CP area, which had displaced easterly about thirty miles, from Taejŏn to Yŏngdong. There Tom McGrail was able to collect and reorganize his 2/19, and it became the 24th Division reserve.
Fortunately the NKPA, busy regrouping and making plans and celebrating another big victory - and bringing tanks across the Kum River did not press the attack on Taejŏn for another two days.
Dean was to boast in his memoir that the celebrated Chicks "did a lot of killing and made the enemy pay full price for the ground won," but the historical data do not support him. The NKPA suffered hardly at all; the Chicks were thoroughly mauled. Of some 900 men on the river line when the NKPA attacked on July 16, only half that number could be found the next day.
Winstead's 1/19 alone suffered a shocking 43 percent casualties: 388 of 785 men. Seventeen of its senior officers were dead. Miller Perry's 52nd FAB lost [5-left] eight of its nine howitzers, all its ammo, and most of its vehicles.[5-39]
About 1100 Captain Montesclaros of the S-3 Section volunteered to try to get into Taejŏn and reach the regimental headquarters for instruction. Colonel McGrail gave him his jeep and driver for the trip. [11-34]
Montesclaros reached the road junction without incident, saw the burning enemy tanks, met Lieutenant Herbert's platoon at the roadblock, and, much to his surprise, found the road into the city entirely open. At the edge of the city, Montesclaros encountered General Dean. Montesclaros reported to him, gave the position of the 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry, and asked for instructions. General Dean patted Montesclaros on the back and replied,
"My boy, I am not running this show, Beauchamp is."
Dean took Montesclaros to the 34th Infantry command post. Beauchamp was not present, but from a member of his staff Montesclaros obtained a written order. Before placing it in his shirt pocket, Montesclaros glanced at the order. It directed McGrail to bring his battalion back to the west edge of Taejŏn. [11-35]
Montesclaros drove back down the road to the 2nd Battalion command post. He found it deserted. Not a living person was in sight; a dead Korean lay in the courtyard. Puzzled, Montesclaros turned back toward Taejŏn. After driving a short distance, he turned back to the command post to make sure no one was there; he found it the same as before. No one, neither friend nor foe, was in sight. A strange stillness hung over the spot. Again he turned back toward Taejŏn. He overtook E Company on the road and instructed it to go into position there. At the edge of Taejŏn, Montesclaros met 1st Lt. Tom Weigle, S-2 of the battalion, who told him that McGrail had established a new command post on a high hill south of the road, and pointed out the place. Montesclaros set out for it and after walking and climbing for forty-five minutes reached the place. Colonel McGrail and his command post were not there, but a few men were; they knew nothing of Colonel McGrail's location.
Montesclaros started down the mountain with the intention of returning to Taejŏn. On his way he met Lieutenant Lindsay and E Company climbing the slope. They said the enemy had overrun them on the road. Looking in that direction, Montesclaros saw an estimated battalion of North Korean soldiers marching toward the city in a column of platoons. A T34 tank was traveling west on the road out of Taejŏn. As it approached the enemy column, the soldiers scurried for the roadside and ducked under bushes, apparently uncertain whether it was one of their own. Montesclaros decided not to try to get into Taejŏn but to join E Company instead
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What had happened at the command post of the 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry? Simply this, believing that the enemy had cut him off from Taejŏn, Colonel McGrail decided to move his command post to high ground south of the Nonsan road. He instructed E Company to fall back, and then his radio failed. McGrail and his battalion staff thereupon abandoned the command post shortly before noon and climbed the mountain south of Taejŏn. [11-36] Already F Company had given way and was withdrawing into the hills.
Soon not a single unit of the 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry, was in its battle position west of Taejŏn. Nearest to the city, G Company was the last to leave. its place. From his hill position, Barszcz Captain Barszcz, the company commander, had seen enemy tanks two and a half miles away enter Taejŏn just after daylight and had reported this by radio to Colonel McGrail's headquarters. Later in the morning he lost radio communication with McGrail. Shortly after noon, Capt. Kenneth Y. Woods, S-3, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry, arrived at G Company's position and gave Captain Barszcz instructions to join the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, group that had passed him in the morning headed south, and to withdraw with it. The G Company 60-mm. mortars were firing at this time.
Think G is really K?
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