August 8 Johnnie Walker decided not to commit it directly into hard combat. Instead, he ordered that the 3/9, plus one of Keith's 15th FAB batteries, a company of Shermans of the 72nd Tank Battalion, engineers of the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, and other forces, be sent to guard the FEAF airfield at Yŏnil, near P'ohang. This task force was commanded by the ADC, Sladen Bradley, and Chin Sloane. "Called Task Force Bradley"
The Department of the Army notified General MacArthur on 10 July that it planned to ship these battalions to the Far East as the quickest way it could devise of getting medium tanks and trained crews to the battlefield.
Ships carrying these three tank battalions sailed from San Francisco on 23 July and arrived at Pusan on 7 August.
The tank battalions unloaded the next day [8/8].
The 6th Medium Tank Battalion served as Eighth Army reserve near Taegu in August;
the 70th joined the 1st Cavalry Division on 12 August;
and the 73rd on army orders sent its companies to support various ground operations around the Pusan Perimeter
-A Company to Ulsan guarding the eastern main supply route,
C Company to the 27th Infantry in the Bowling Alley north of Taegu.
August 8, 1950
No doubt owing to the perceived problems in Champeny's 24th Infantry, Eighth Army did not fully trust the 3/9. Upon its arrival in Pusan, Johnnie Walker decided not to commit it directly into hard combat. Instead, he ordered that the 3/9, plus one of Keith's 15th FAB batteries, a company of Shermans of the 72nd Tank Battalion, engineers of the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, and other forces, be sent to guard the FEAF airfield at Yŏnil, near P'ohang. This task force was commanded by the ADC, Sladen Bradley, and Chin Sloane. "Called Task Force Bradley" In this way the 3/9 was introduced to combat in Korea gradually and the Hill-Sloane command problem was temporarily postponed. However, the deletion of the 3/9 left the 9th Infantry with merely two infantry battalions (and two supporting artillery batteries), a composition that would considerably penalize and confuse its leaders, who were accustomed to the standard three battalion formation.[7-64]
August 9, 1950
Just after daylight, at 0500 on 9 August, a great explosion rocked the area of the bridge. The commanding officer of the ROK 22d Regiment had ordered the bridge blown without securing approval from Major Britton. About 350 ROK soldiers of the regiment were still north of the Osip-ch'on when the bridge dropped. Many of these soldiers drowned in trying to cross the deep estuary flowing into the Japan Sea. The ROK division chief of staff demanded that the regimental commander be relieved or he would court martial him and place him before a firing squad. The Korean Army relieved the regimental commander at once. The blowing of the Kanggu-dong bridge compelled the withdrawal southward of the ROK command post to Changsa-dong on the afternoon of 9 August to escape enemy artillery fire.
As soon as Eighth Army learned that enemy forces had cut off the ROK 3d Division above P'ohang-dong, General Walker instructed Colonel Emmerich to meet him at Yonil Airfield. Emmerich radioed to the American cruiser Helena, offshore, for a helicopter to fly him to the airstrip, where he met General Walker, General Partridge, and Brig. Gen. Francis W. Farrell, Chief of KMAG.
General Walker instructed Emmerich to have the ROK 3d Division hold in place around Changsa-dong, twenty miles north of P'ohang-dong, and to prevent the enemy 5th Division from moving its tanks and artillery down the road to the P'ohang area. If enemy tanks and artillery got through on the coastal road they would render Yonil Airfield untenable. Emmerich returned at once to Changsa-dong and relayed the orders to Brig. Gen. Kim Suk Won, the ROK 3d Division's new commander. The division then went into a perimeter defense extending along the coast from a point four miles north of Changsa-dong to a point seven miles south of the town. [18-11]
August 10, 1950
On 10 August N.K. 5th Division soldiers infiltrated around the ROK 3d Division and cut the coastal road below it at Hunghae, five miles north of P'ohang-dong. The ROK 3d Division was virtually surrounded on that date. [18-10]
The sudden appearance of strong enemy army units near P'ohang-dong on 10 August surprised many American officers, including General Walker. He had just asked General Farrell if the ROK troops in the east would need American help to assure the defense of P'ohang-dong and Yonil Airfield. Farrell had advised Walker that the ROK troops would be able to protect these places. This opinion reflected that prevailing at the time-that the North Koreans would not be able to move through the mountains in sufficient strength to make an effective attack on P'ohang-dong from the rear. [18-12]
After his conference with Colonel Emmerich at Yonil Airfield, General Walker returned to Taegu. From there he sent an order by courier at 1735 to Maj. Gen. Lawrence B. Keiser, commanding the U.S. 2d Division at Kyongsan, to move the remaining elements of the 8th Regiment from that point to Yonil Airfield at once. This task force was to be commanded by Brig. Gen. Joseph S. Bradley, Assistant Division Commander, 2d Division. Task Force Bradley was to report directly to General Walker. [18-13]
[18-13] As finally constituted, Task Force Bradley comprised the 3d
Battalion, 9th Infantry; Tank Company, 9th Infantry; A Company, 2d
Engineer Combat Battalion; A Battery, 82d Antiaircraft Artillery
(Automatic Weapons) Battalion; C Battery, 15th Field Artillery
Battalion; 3d Platoon, Heavy Mortar Company, 8th Infantry; and medical
and signal detachments. EUSAK WD, 10 Aug 50, Msg at 101735, CG EUSAK to CG 2d Div; Ibid., POR 87, 10 Aug 50; Ibid., Briefing for CG, 10 Aug 50;
1st Lt Robert J. Teitelbaum, Debriefing Rpt 47, Arty School, Ft. Sill,
Okla., 14 Dec 51; 82d AAA Bn WD, Summ, Aug 50; Ltr, Lt Col D. M.
McMains to author, 27 May 53 (McMains commanded the 3d Bn, 9th Inf of TF Bradley); Rpt, The Korean Campaign, Arty School Rep, Army Field Forces Observer Team 2.
This task force moved toward P'ohang-dong and Yonil after dark, 10 August, over the main road through Kyongju. The command group and the 3d Battalion, 9th Infantry, except K Company, reached Yonil Airfield shortly before midnight and General Bradley assumed responsibility for the ground defense of the airstrip.
August 11, 1950
Ten miles north of Kyongju and at a point about a mile east of An'gang-ni, the road bent sharply right in the Hyongsan-gang valley toward P'ohang-dong, seven miles eastward. Just after making this turn the road swung around the base of a steep mountain which crowded it close against the river near the village of Tongnam-ni. Company K and four vehicles of C Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, were ambushed at this point at 0120, 11 August. Enemy fire suddenly hit the driver of the leading truck and his vehicle swerved, blacking the road. Automatic weapons fire swept over the column, bringing death and destruction. The K Company convoy fell into confusion. As many men as could fled back toward Kyongju; approximately 120o members of the company, including two officers, reached the town. [18-14]
Learning of the ambush, General Bradley at Yonil Airfield ordered I Company to return to An'gang-ni, to K Company's rescue. West of P'ohang-dong it, too, was ambushed. Informed by radio of this second ambush, Bradley sent two MPG vehicles, with their heavy armament of four .50-caliber machine guns each, to the scene. All but about twenty-five men of I Company got back to the airfield during the day. [18-15]
At the K Company ambush casualties were greater. By afternoon, 7 dead and at least 4o wounded were reported. About 25 members of C Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, were also lost in this ambush. The enemy soldiers who had cut the road west of P'ohang-dong the night of 10-11 August and staged these ambushes apparently were from the 766th Independent Regiment. This regiment, leaving the 5th Division in the vicinity of Yongdok, had come in behind P'ohang-dong by way of mountain trails.
August 11, 1950
In the early afternoon, 11 August, General Walker ordered the Tank Company, 9th Infantry, which had stopped at Kyongju to wait upon repair of a damaged bridge, to proceed to the Yonil Airfield. He also ordered the ROK 17th Regiment released from Task Force P'ohang and to proceed from An'gang-ni to the airstrip. [18-16]