9th Infantry Regiment

Infantry Regiment Organization

Known as the Manchu Regiment because of its part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the 9th Infantry was one of the oldest regiments in the United States Army.

When South Korea was invaded in 1950 the Manchus returned to the far east and the Korean Peninsula. Manchu troops were the first of the 2nd Infantry Division to engage North Korean forces, at Yongsan in August 1950, against numerically superior force.[6]

They were later successful at Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, Old Baldy, Pork Chop Hill, and T-Bone Hill. During the Korean War, the regiment earned an additional Presidential Unit Citation for its gallant service at Hongchon, and six of its members received the Medal of Honor:

 

 

1st Battalion

2nd Battalion

3rd Battalion    All Black - Segrated unit

Commanding Officer

Executive Officer

S1- Personnel

S2-Intellegence

S3-Plans and Operations

S4-Logistics

Heavy Weapson Company

I & R Platoon

 

 

CO Commanding Officer

Rank Name From To Status
Col.  John G. Hill      
 
         

XO Executive Officer

Rank Name From To Status

S-1 Personnel

Rank Name From To Status
             
             

S-2 Intelligence

Rank Name From To Status
             
             

S-3 Plans and Operations

Rank Name From To Status
             
             

S-4 Logistics

Rank Name From To Status
           
             

Heavy Weapons Company

Rank Name From To Status
           
           

I & R Platoon

Rank Name From To Status
           
           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 17 , 1950

The 2d Battalion of the regiment sailed from Tacoma, Washington, 17 July, the first Army infantry troops to depart continental United States for Korea.

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The 2nd Battalion [9th IR] of the regiment sailed from Tacoma, Washington, 17 July, the first Army infantry troops to depart continental United States for Korea.

 

July 29, 1950

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Desperately short of men himself, General Walker urgently appealed to General MacArthur on 29 July for the 7th Division's 32nd Infantry to be flown into his perimeter.

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This appeal came shortly before the 5th RCT, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, and the 9th RCT of the 2nd Division landed at Pusan.

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Knowing that these three regiments were to arrive and aware of the low combat potential of the 32nd Infantry, General MacArthur denied this request, explaining that granting it "would completely emasculate present plans for the entire 7th Division, which is being reconstituted and will move to Korea, probably in late September." [09-31]

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July 31, 1950

Into Pusan harbor on the same day, 31 July, came the first ground troops from the United States, the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2d Infantry Division. Known as the Manchu Regiment because of its part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the 9th Infantry was one of the oldest regiments in the United States Army.

The 9th Infantry, commanded by Col. John G. Hill, proceeded immediately to Kyŏngsan, ten miles southeast of Taegu, and was placed in army reserve. The 15th Field Artillery Battalion accompanied the regiment as its artillery support unit.

July 31, 1950

Into Pusan harbor on the same day, 31 July, came the first ground troops from the United States, the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. Known as the Manchu Regiment because of its part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the 9th Infantry was one of the oldest regiments in the United States Army.

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Korean_War


[The 2nd Battalion of the regiment sailed from Tacoma, Washington, 17 July, the first Army infantry troops to depart continental United States for Korea.] The 9th Infantry, commanded by Col. John G. Hill, proceeded immediately to Kyŏngsan, ten miles southeast of Taegu, and was placed in army reserve. The 15th Field Artillery Battalion accompanied the regiment as its artillery support unit.

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Korean_War Korean_War

Into Pusan harbor on the same day, 31 July, came the first ground troops from the United States, the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division. Known as the Manchu Regiment because of its part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the 9th Infantry was one of the oldest regiments in the United States Army.

The 2nd Battalion [9th IR] of the regiment sailed from Tacoma, Washington, 17 July, the first Army infantry troops to depart continental United States for Korea.

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August 1950

August

During early Aug 1950, the 9th Infantry Regiment's black 3rd Bn and the black 503rd Field Arty Bn arrived in Korea with other 2nd Division elements. Initially, the black bn, a black arty battery, a tank company, and a company of engineers were detached and withheld front frontline action and assigned to guard an airfield near P'ohang.

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August August

In August 1950, for example, initial replacements for battle (p. 434) casualties in the 9th Infantry of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division included two black officers and eighty-nine black enlisted men. The commander assigned them to units in his severely undermanned all-white 1st and 2nd Battalions.

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August 2, 1950 0130

At 0130, 2 August, Eighth Army ordered Colonel Hill to be ready to move his regiment on 1-hour notice after 1600 that day. [15-38]

August August

Into Pusan harbor on the same day, 31 July, came the first ground troops from the United States, the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2d Infantry Division. Known as the Manchu Regiment because of its part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the 9th Infantry was one of the oldest regiments in the United States Army. The 2d Battalion of the regiment sailed from Tacoma, Washington, 17 July, the first Army infantry troops to depart continental United States for Korea. The 9th Infantry, commanded by Col. John G. Hill, proceeded immediately to Kyŏngsan, ten miles southeast of Taegu, and was placed in army reserve. The 15th Field Artillery Battalion accompanied the regiment as its artillery support unit. At 0130, 2 August, Eighth Army ordered Colonel Hill to be ready to move his regiment on 1-hour notice after 1600 that day. [15-38]

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August 3, 1950

August

Eighth Army on 3 August defined the boundary between the 24th and 25th Divisions as the south bank of the Naktong River, and made the commanding general of the 24th Division responsible for bridges, ferries, and small boats along the stream. General Church was to remove to the north bank, and destroy as he deemed advisable, all boats and ferries, and to prepare all bridges for demolition and blow them at his discretion.

     

At this time, Eighth Army planned for the 9th and 23rd Regiments of the 2nd Infantry Division to relieve the 24th Division in its sector of the line the night of 8 August, but events were to make this impossible. [15-22]

Opposite the 24th Division stood the N.K. 4th Division.

Above the 24th Division, the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division extended the line 18 air miles to a point 3 miles north of Waegwan. The actual river line was about 35 miles. The 7th Cavalry (less the 1st Battalion, which was in division reserve), the 8th Cavalry, and the 5th Cavalry Regiments were in position in the division sector, in that order from south to north. The division command post was at Taegu. Taegu, also Eighth Army headquarters, lay about 10 miles east of the Naktong River behind the center of the 1st Cavalry Division front. [15-23]

Opposite the 1st Cavalry Division was the N.K. 3rd Division.

The three American divisions each had fronts to defend from 20 to 40 miles long. The Naktong River Line at this time resembled closely the German front before Moscow after the first German withdrawal in 1941, when Guderian's divisions each had a front of 25 to 35 miles to defend. [15-24]

North of Waegwan, the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions of the ROK II Corps extended the line north along the Naktong for 20 more air miles, and thence north-east for about 10 miles toward Uisŏng. From there the 8th and Capital Divisions of the ROK I Corps continued the line northeast through Uisŏng where it turned east toward Yŏngdök on the coast. On the east coast the ROK 3rd Division held the right anchor of the U.N. line. The ROK Army headquarters was at Taegu with a forward command post at Sinnyong. ROK I Corps headquarters was at Uisŏng; ROK II Corps headquarters at Kunwi. [15-25]

North of Waegwan, the N.K. 15th and part of the 13th Divisions faced the ROK 1st Division; eastward, part of the N.K. 13th and the 1st Division faced the ROK 6th Division; beyond them the N.K. 8th Division stood in front of the ROK 8th Division; next in line, the N.K. 12th Division confronted the ROK Capital Division below Andong; and, finally, on the east coast the N.K. 5th Division and the 766th Independent Infantry Regiment faced the ROK 3rd Division. [15-26]

In summary then, the ROK Army held the east half of the line from a point just above Waegwan; the U.S. Eighth Army held the west or southern part. The ROK sector extended for about 80 air miles; the Eighth Army's for about 65 air miles. The ROK troops held the most mountainous portions of the line and the part with the poorest lines of communications.

The North Korean Army comprised two corps: I Corps controlled operations generally along the western side of the perimeter opposite the American units; II Corps controlled operations along the northern or eastern half of the perimeter opposite the ROK units. This enemy corps alignment remained unchanged throughout the Pusan Perimeter period of the war. [15-27]

The N.K. Army had activated its I Corps at P'yŏngyang about 10 June 1950, its II Corps at the same place about 12 June 1950. In early August 1950, the N.K. I Corps included the 3rd, 4th, and 6th (later also the 2nd, 7th, 9th, and 10th) Divisions; II Corps included the 1st, 5th, 8th, 12th, 13th, and 15th Divisions. Tanks and personnel of the 105th Armored Division were divided between the two corps and supported both of them.

The establishment of the Pusan Perimeter may be considered as a dividing line in viewing and appraising the combat behavior of the American soldier in the Korean War. The Pusan Perimeter for the first time gave something approaching a continuous line of troops. With known units on their left and right and some reserves in the rear, the men showed a stronger disposition to fight. Before the Pusan Perimeter, all through July and into the first days of August, there was seldom a continuous line beyond a battalion or a regimental position. Both flanks were generally wide open, and enemy troops moving through the hills could easily turn a defensive position. Supporting troops were seldom within reach. American soldiers, realizing the isolated nature of their positions, often would not stay to fight a losing battle. Few in July 1950 saw any good reason for dying in Korea; with no inspiring incentive to fight, self-preservation became the dominating factor.

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August 4, 1950

August

On August 4, elements of the North Korean 16th Infantry Regiment staged an assault across the Naktong between Companies I and L, 3/34 Infantry, and overwhelmed most of their positions.

NKPA troops drove about five miles into the 24th Division sector, precipitating the First Battle of the Naktong Bulge, which eventually involved the entire 24th Division, the U.S. 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the newly arrived 9th Infantry Regiment and 1/23rd Infantry (both from the 2nd Infantry Division) and the 2/27th Infantry. The struggle lasted until August 19.

The 34th Infantry gave its all. Company K stayed on its 7,500-yard front along the Naktong alone until ordered out on about August 14. At the outset, the 1/34th launched a counterattack, but part of Company C was trapped in a grist mill, where the men valiantly held out until rescued. Captain Albert F. Alfonso, with remnants of Companies A, C and L, held a small perimeter at the nose of the bulge until ordered out on the night of August 8-9. Elements of the regiment took part in a number of counterattacks between August 6 and 18.

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August 8, 1950

On August 4, elements of the North Korean 16th Infantry Regiment staged an assault across the Naktong between Companies I and L, 3/34 Infantry, and overwhelmed most of their positions. NKPA troops drove about five miles into the 24th Division sector, precipitating the First Battle of the Naktong Bulge, which eventually involved the entire 24th Division, the U.S. 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the newly arrived 9th Infantry Regiment and 1/23rd Infantry (both from the 2nd Infantry Division) and the 2/27th Infantry. The struggle lasted until August 19.

The 34th Infantry gave its all. Company K stayed on its 7,500-yard front along the Naktong alone until ordered out on about August 14. At the outset, the 1/34th launched a counterattack, but part of Company C was trapped in a grist mill, where the men valiantly held out until rescued. Captain Albert F. Alfonso, with remnants of Companies A, C and L, held a small perimeter at the nose of the bulge until ordered out on the night of August 8-9. Elements of the regiment took part in a number of counterattacks between August 6 and 18.

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August 6, 1950

August August August

As a partial replacement for the ROK unit, Eighth Army gave Church the 1st Battalion of the 9th Infantry and a battery of the 15th Field Artillery Battalion. These units, which had just arrived in Korea as part of the 2d Infantry Division, reached the battlefront on the evening of 6 August. The infantry battalion took a position at Ch'angnyŏng as division reserve, while the artillery battery established firing positions west of Yŏngsan to support the 19th Infantry.

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August August

At noon General Church sent the 24th Division Reconnaissance Company to block the Naktong River-Ch'angnyŏng road adjacent to I Company's former position. The Reconnaissance and I Companies then attacked an enemy force that had by now occupied a hill near Pugong-ni, but they were repulsed with considerable loss. [17-21]

By midmorning, General Church had become convinced that the bulk of the enemy east of the river were in the bulge area. He thereupon committed the 19th Infantry in an attack west along the northern flank of the 34th Infantry. In this attack, the 19th Infantry trapped approximately 300 enemy troops in a village east of Ohang Hill, a mile from the river, and killed most of them. [17-22]

The day's action had not been without creditable performances by the American troops. The counterattack of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, had driven back the enemy's advanced units and regained part of Cloverleaf Hill.

This, together with the fact that K, L, and A Companies held hill positions above the Naktong without any sign of panic, prevented the enemy from seizing at the outset the road net through Yŏngsan-ni,.

August August

Also, it gave time for the 19th Infantry, and later the 9th Infantry, to move up for counterattack.

Artillery fire and aircraft had kept the crossing sites covered, and after daylight prevented enemy reinforcements from reaching the east side of the river.

Just as the battle of the Naktong Bulge got under way, regrouping of ROK troops made it necessary for Eighth Army to order the ROK 17th Regiment released from the 24th Division. This regiment had been holding the right flank of the division line. To take its place temporarily in the emergency, General Church hastily formed Task Force Hyzer (3rd Engineer Combat Battalion, less A Company; 78th Heavy Tank Battalion, less tanks; and the 24th Division Reconnaissance Company).

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August

On the next night, August 6-7, the ROK 17th Infantry repulsed enemy attempts to cross the Naktong in the northern sector. By prior plan, the ROK unit then traded off with fresh American troops while the U.S. 21st Infantry halted the enemy after they developed a lodgment in the village of Sadung near the river. Three companies of the 34th also held to their riverside positions for the moment.

August August

Now, too, the 19th and elements of the 34th were poised for a counterattack against the northern shoulder of the enemy penetration. Local counterattacks had gained time for the 19th and, later, the 9th Infantry–a new and untried regiment from the freshly arriving 2nd Infantry Division–to move against the North Koreans.

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August 7, 1950

August August August

Eighth Army allowed Church to keep the ROK 17th Regiment in line the night of 6-7 August, and before dawn it repulsed several enemy crossing attempts in its sector.

On the morning of 7 August Task Force Hyzer relieved it, and the ROK 17th Regiment moved to Taegu to rejoin the ROK Army. This weakening of the line had been partly offset the previous afternoon by the arrival of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, at Ch'angnyŏng for attachment to the 24th Division. [17-24]

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August August August

The continuation of the American counterattack in the bulge, on the morning of 7 August, by the 19th Infantry and B Company of the 34th Infantry was a feeble effort. Extreme heat and lack of food and water were contributing factors in the failure to advance. The situation was not helped when friendly aircraft mistakenly strafed the 19th Infantry positions. In its zone, B Company, 34th Infantry, fell back after rescuing a few men of the Heavy Mortar Company who had been missing since the previous morning. On their part, the North Koreans pressed forward and occupied the greater part of Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni Ridge. In doing this, they established themselves on dominating and critical terrain astride the main east-west road in the bulge area. [17-27]

From the crests of Cloverleaf and Obong-ni the North Koreans could see the American main supply road stretching back to Yŏngsan-ni, five miles away and, for a distance, beyond that town toward Miryang. Cloverleaf (Hill 165), as its name indicates, is shaped like a four-leaf clover with its stem pointing north. Cloverleaf is somewhat higher than Obong-ni Ridge across the pass to the south of it. Obong-ni Ridge is a mile and a half long, curving slightly to the southeast with a series of knobs rising from 300 to 500 feet above the rice paddies at its base. The road, where it passes between Cloverleaf and Obong-ni, follows a winding, narrow passage of low ground. The village of Tugok (Morisil) lies at the southern base of Cloverleaf just north of the road. [17-28] Obong village lies at the eastern base of Obong-ni Ridge half a mile south of the road. These two related terrain features, Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni Ridge, were the key positions in the fighting of the Naktong Bulge. The battle was to rage around them for the next ten days.

August

On the morning of 7 August, while the North Koreans were seizing Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni Ridge, Col. John G. Hill received a summons to come to the 2nd Division headquarters. There he learned from the division commander [Laurence B. Keiser] that General Walker had ordered the 9th Regiment (-) to report to General Church.

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August 8, 1950

The first of the 2nd divisions units to reach Pusan was the 9th ("Manchu) Regiment. Mated with the 15th FAB, commanded by John W. Keith, the 9th was a fully manned and equipped and powerful RCT. But it had two possible weaknesses: a "bastard" command setup and one all black battalion.

Before its alert for duty in Korea the 9th had been commanded by West Pointer (1926) Charles C. ("Chin) Sloane, Jr., forty-eight. During World War II Sloane had been G2 to Eisenhower and Mark Clark in London, North Africa, and Italy. More recently he had gained fame for conceiving the idea of a well trained permanent "aggressor force" for Army war games, which had been publicized in Life magazine. After the 2nd Division had been alerted, Dutch Keiser "recalled many of his recently departed officers, Chin Sloane among them.[7-59]

August 8, 1950

August August

Colonel Hill had received reports as early as 8 August that the North Koreans were working at night on an underwater bridge across the Naktong at the Ki hang, or Paekchin, ferry site in the middle of the bulge.

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August

By this time the 2nd Infantry Division was disembarking in Pusan. Owing to the immediate need for reinforcements on the Taegu front and other factors, Johnnie Walker had vetoed the proposed plan for the 2nd Division to relieve the 24th Division en bloc in the Naktong Bulge. However, in view of John Church's inability to clear the NKPA from the Naktong Bulge, Walker ordered the 2nd Division to send forces to assist.

The 2nd Infantry Division, composed of the 9th, 23rd, and 38th regiments, was one of the most famous outfits in the Army. Owing to its outstanding performance in the ETO in World War II especially in the Battle of the Bulge it had been selected to be retained in the ever shrinking postwar Army. But it too had felt the money pinch. When the division was alerted for duty in Korea in early July it was short 5,000 men. However, the ranks were hurriedly filled by various means before the division embarked and it arrived in Korea at full combat strength.[7-55]

The commander of the 2nd Infantry Division was Laurence B. ("Dutch") Keiser, fifty-five. He was a West Point classmate (1917) of Joe Collins, Matt Ridgway, and Mark Clark. One of the few officers in that class to see combat in World War I, Keiser had been a sensation on the battlefield. At age twenty-three he was named to command an infantry battalion in the 5th Division and won a Silver Star for gallantry. But that was the last time Keiser commanded troops in combat. During World War II he served in Italy for five months as chief of staff of VI Corps under John P. Lucas, who was sacked at Anzio. He finished the war a brigadier general and chief of staff of the Fourth Army in Texas, lagging far behind his more illustrious classmates, who by then were wearing three and four stars.

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August

During his peacetime career Keiser had twice served with the 2nd Infantry Division, and like many alumni of that famous outfit, he was drawn to it again. In November 1948, after a postwar tour with the Army's advisory group in China, Keiser joined the 2nd Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, as ADC. In February 1950 Joe Collins promoted him to two stars and command of the division, a capstone to Keisers thwarted career.

August 8, 1950

Keiser's chief assistants were the usual mixed bag of a peacetime Army division. His ADC, Joseph Sladen Bradley, fifty, was a West Point classmate (1919) of Bill Kean's. During World War II Bradley had served in the Southwest Pacific with the 32nd Division as chief of staff and commander of an infantry regiment, winning a DSC, two Silver Star medals, and other awards. He made no secret of his desire to command a division. The artillery commander was Loyal M. Haynes (Knox College, 1917), fifty-five, who had fought with the AEF in France, but who manned Stateside desks throughout World War II. In the opinion of the senior officers in the division Haynes "was not physically and mentally up to the job. Nor was the very senior chief of staff, West Pointer (1916) Joseph M. Tully, who "went bananas" shortly after arriving in Korea and was replaced.[7-57]

As a division commander Dutch Keiser was not universally loved. Mike Michaelis put it bluntly: "Frankly, Dutch Keiser was a lousy commander. Keiser's new chief of staff, Gerald G. ("Gerry) Epley (West Point, 1932), promoted from division G2, more or less agreed. Epley found Keiser "alert and "lucid" and admired him personally, but "he wasn't the kind of commander a division should have. He rarely left his CP to visit units in the field. He communicated with his field commanders by telephone and sent Sladen Bradley [7-the ADC] out to serve as his eyes and ears."

The first of the divisions units to reach Pusan was the 9th ("Manchu) Regiment. Mated with the 15th FAB, commanded by John W. Keith, the 9th was a fully manned and equipped and powerful RCT. But it had two possible weaknesses: a "bastard" command setup and one all black battalion.

Before its alert for duty in Korea the 9th had been commanded by West Pointer (1926) Charles C. ("Chin) Sloane, Jr., forty-eight. During World War II Sloane had been G2 to Eisenhower and Mark Clark in London, North Africa, and Italy. More recently he had gained fame for conceiving the idea of a well trained permanent "aggressor force" for Army war games, which had been publicized in Life magazine. After the 2nd Division had been alerted, Dutch Keiser "recalled many of his recently departed officers, Chin Sloane among them.[7-59]

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August August

Unknown to Keiser at the time he recalled Sloane, the Pentagon had sent him a batch of new senior commanders. Among them was a colonel, John G. Hill, fifty, who was directed to take command of the 9th Infantry. Hill had fought ably as an enlisted man in the AEF and afterward attended West Point (1924). But like Keiser, Hill had not commanded troops in combat in World War II. In the postwar years he had served four years in Europe as a senior staff officer. His son, John Hill Jr. (West Point, 1946), was then serving in the 7th Cav.

Keiser was very fond of Sloane and angry that the Pentagon had forced on him these new commanders, especially Hill, whom he did not know and whom he ridiculed as a "damn staff officer" (dismissing Hill's long peacetime service with troops). The upshot was that Keiser appointed Hill commander of the 9th RCT and left Sloane as 9th regimental commander. It was an unwise and completely unworkable compromise which, in effect, gave the 9th dual or co-commanders. (Note reference to BASTARD command structure)

The 9th Infantry's black battalion was its 3rd. It was composed of veterans of the deactivated 25th Infantry and other black outfits, plus a large number of postwar volunteers and draftees. Its commander was a capable, combat experienced white, former National Guard officer D. M. ("Mac") McMains, thirty-nine. He had fought in the 112th Cavalry Regiment in the Southwest Pacific, rising to battalion commander and regimental exec. After the war he had returned to civilian life, but in 1948 he went on fulltime active service, first as commander of the 3/9, then a year later (when it was decided all officers of the 3/9 should be black) as exec of the 9th Infantry.

Shortly before the Korean War broke out, McMains was routinely transferred to the Far East. While on leave he suffered severe head and face injuries in an automobile accident which required hospitalization and plastic surgery.

Upon receiving the war alert, Dutch Keiser recalled McMains to resume command of the 3/9 from the black officer who had succeeded him, H. Y. Chase. Notwithstanding his injuries, McMains was pleased to return to command the 3/9, which he had trained well. He and a new combat experienced white exec, William H. Frazier, Jr., forty-two, had supervised its preparations for shipment to Korea and combat.

August August August August

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]

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August August August

On the morning of August 8, while Ned Moore's 19th Infantry was engaged in yet another futile counterattack, John Hill jeeped forward to confer with John Church. The NKPA, Church said, had "busted right through" the 24th Division center. He wanted Hill to "attack at once," not later than 3:00 P.M. Hill protested: His troops had been on the road from Pusan all night; most were green; they needed a rest and time to steady down and get their bearings. Church gave Hill one extra hour. The two battalion 9th Infantry would attack at 4:00 P.M. directly west into the NKPA, throw them out, and regain the Naktong River positions.

These vague and impetuous orders were ill considered and unfortunate. As it happened, unknown to Church, the NKPA had made a serious penetration farther south in the division's left sector, loosely held by Gines Perez's 3/34. These NKPA troops were moving eastward and would soon pose a serious threat to the division's rear and to its road net.

In hurriedly committing the 9th Infantry, Church had blundered badly. As one professional analyst of the battle put it, "The result was to squander the 24th Division's only foreseeable major reinforcement in simply bolstering the center of the threatened sector, while the enemy continued to exploit an opening of major proportions on the division's left."

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      Bio

On the morning of 7 August, while the North Koreans were seizing Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni Ridge, Col. John G. Hill received a summons to come to the 2d Division headquarters. There he learned from the
division commander that General Walker had ordered the 9th Regiment (-) to report to General Church.

Hill started his troops to the bulge area at 0130,

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and [John G. Hill] reported to General Church about 0830, 8 August. Church told Hill he wanted him to attack at once and drive the North Koreans from the bulge salient. [17-29] After some discussion it was agreed that the 9th Infantry would attack at 1600.

The 9th Infantry, at full strength in troops and equipment and its men rested, contrasted strongly with the regiments of the 24th Division on the line.

On 8 August, the strength of the 24th Division regiments was approximately as follows:

The combat effectiveness of the 24th Division then was estimated to be about 40 percent because of shortage of equipment and under strength units. Fatigue and lowered morale of the men undoubtedly reduced the percentage even more.

Hill's 9th Infantry relieved B Company, 34th Infantry, on part of Cloverleaf Hill  and members of the Heavy Mortar Company who were fighting as riflemen across the road near Obong-ni Ridge. Colonel Hill placed the 1st Battalion of the 9th Infantry on the left of the Yŏngsan-ni, road, the 2nd Battalion on the right side. His command post was at Kang-ni, a mile and a half eastward toward Yŏngsan-ni,. Two batteries of the 15th Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzers) supported his attack, with twelve 155-mm. howitzers [from the 11th FAB] and additional 105-mm. howitzers of the 24th Division on call. Hill's immediate objectives were Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni Ridge. [17-31]

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Colonel Hill's 9th Infantry attacked straight west late in the afternoon of 8 August against Cloverleaf and Obong-ni. On the right, the 2nd Battalion [2/9] succeeded in capturing part of Cloverleaf by dark, but not control of it or that side of the pass. On the left, the 1st Battalion likewise succeeded in gaining part of Obong-ni Ridge.

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August 8, 1950 - Harassed and rushed, Hill got his two battalions and Keith's artillery batteries in place and attacked late, at 4:45 P.M., in utterly strange terrain and with no overall picture of the friendly and enemy dispositions in his mind.

The full-strength (850 men) 1/9, commanded by John E. Londahl, forty-two, attacked on the right.

The full-strength 2/9, commanded by Fred L. Harrison, attacked on the left.

Most of the men were green to combat; many were in poor physical condition. The intense heat and humidity came as a terrible shock and, as one Army historian put it, "slowed the advance to a crawl." Meeting heavy NKPA fire, Londahl's 1/9 recoiled and drifted northwesterly, away from the center of the fighting. Harrisons 2/9, advancing against lesser resistance, however, made fair progress. Even so, the 9th Infantry was soon compelled to stop, well short of the Naktong, having achieved very little.

(Notes)

  

August 8, 1950 - Harassed and rushed, Hill got his two battalions and Keith's artillery batteries in place and attacked late, at 4:45 P.M., in utterly strange terrain and with no overall picture of the friendly and enemy dispositions in his mind.

The full-strength (850 men) 1/9, commanded by John E. Londahl, forty-two, attacked on the right.

The full-strength 2/9, commanded by Fred L. Harrison, attacked on the left.

Most of the men were green to combat; many were in poor physical condition. The intense heat and humidity came as a terrible shock and, as one Army historian put it, "slowed the advance to a crawl." Meeting heavy NKPA fire, Londahl's 1/9 recoiled and drifted northwesterly, away from the center of the fighting. Harrisons 2/9, advancing against lesser resistance, however, made fair progress. Even so, the 9th Infantry was soon compelled to stop, well short of the Naktong, having achieved very little.

envolved the entire 24th Division, the U.S. 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the newly arrived 9th Infantry Regiment and 1/23rd Infantry (both from the 2nd Infantry Division) and the 2/27th Infantry. The struggle lasted until August 19.

The 34th Infantry gave its all. Company K stayed on its 7,500-yard front along the Naktong alone until ordered out on about August 14. At the outset, the 1/34th launched a counterattack, but part of Company C was trapped in a grist mill, where the men valiantly held out until rescued. Captain Albert F. Alfonso, with remnants of Companies A, C and L, held a small perimeter at the nose of the bulge until ordered out on the night of August 8-9. Elements of the regiment took part in a number of counterattacks between August 6 and 18.

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Commitment of the fresh 9th Infantry did not appreciably help the American situation. On the night of August 8-9, Captain Albert F. Alfonso's force of A and L companies was ordered back from its exposed position along the Naktong. One platoon kept close to the road instead of moving south around Obong-ni, and suffered heavy casualties. The rest of the group entered U.S. lines well after daylight.

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August 9, 1950

  

Colonel Hill's 9th Infantry attacked straight west late in the afternoon of 8 August against Cloverleaf and Obong-ni. On the right, the 2d Battalion succeeded in capturing part of Cloverleaf by dark, but not control
of it or that side of the pass. On the left, the 1st Battalion likewise succeeded in gaining part of Obong-ni Ridge. But that night the North Koreans regained the ridge. This situation changed little the next day. [17-
32]

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Commitment of the fresh 9th Infantry did not appreciably help the American situation.

On the night of August 8-9, Captain Alfonso's force of A and L companies was ordered back from its exposed position along the Naktong. One platoon kept close to the road instead of moving south around Obong-ni, and suffered heavy casualties. The rest of the group entered U.S. lines well after daylight.

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   Bio  

During that night (August 8 - 9) the NKPA exploited the penetration in Perez's 3/34 sector on the left (or south). But John Church, fixated on his center, continued to dismiss this growing threat. At dawn on August 9 he ordered John Hill's 9th Infantry to resume its attack toward the Naktong. Londahl's 1/9 and Harrison's 2/9 responded, but again the attack did not go well. Both battalions ran straight into a strong NKPA counterattack. Casualties in the 2/9 were heavy. The commander, Fred Harrison, lost a leg; his exec, Joseph A. Walker, assumed command of the battalion.[7-66]

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By the morning of August 9 John Church was exhausted and nearly at wits' end. The heretofore ignored NKPA infiltrators closed in on the 24th Division CP at Ch'angnyŏng, forcing it to displace fifteen miles to the rear, to KYungyo. During this chaotic and humiliating displacement, Johnnie Walker flew in unannounced and raised all kinds of hell. Had he had a free hand, Walker probably would have relieved John Church of command. However, MacArthur had sent Church to Korea; he was thus MacArthur's boy" and an untouchable. The upshot was a decision to mount an all-out coordinated division counterattack in the center at 5:00 P.M., employing all surviving forces of Hill's 9th, Moore's 19th, and Beauchamp's 34th Infantry. FEAF close air support and the 11th, 13th, and 15th FABs would "soften up" the NKPA prior to the jump-off.

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The attack went off as scheduled, but it, too, utterly failed. Numbed with exhaustion, the survivors of the 19th and 34th regiments were simply incapable of further action. In Moore's 19th Regiment, an Army historian wrote, Tom McGrail's 1/19 ([2/19] about 300 men) "did not even attempt to advance." Robert Rhea's 2/19 ([1/19] about 280 men) made a feeble stab, but casualties from enemy fire and the heat continued to be heavy. Rhea and his S3 were evacuated with heat prostration. The story in Beauchamp's shattered 34th Infantry was similar. Neither Red Ayres in the 1/34 (about 300 men) nor Gines Perez in the 3/34 (about 300 men) was able to mount any sort of offensive action.

The burden of the attack thus fell on the 9th Infantry. Londahl's 1/9 and Walker's 2/9 made a mighty effort but little progress. A platoon commander in the 9th Heavy Weapons Company, William R. Ellis, a veteran of combat in the ETO, remembered that then and later the "9th fought magnificently" in the Naktong Bulge and took grievous losses, especially among the officers. He wrote: "The original group of officers was gallant (far beyond those who followed) and far under ranked as well. Most of the rifle company commanders were [7-only] first lieutenants, which was a disgrace in itself. They were forty-year-old, gray-haired World War II combat veterans and still lieutenants in combat in 1950. I knew all of them and have regretted at times that I did not join them [7-in death] for they by-and-large died unknown and unrewarded for their bravery."

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August 10, 1950

    

That afternoon, the North Koreans began registering mortar and artillery fire on A Company's position, but ceased firing as soon as their registration was accomplished. Alfonso and his men noticed an enemy column far off, moving toward them. From this and the mortar and artillery registrations, they concluded that the enemy would deliver a co-ordinated attack against them that night. Alfonso requested permission to withdraw at 2300, and this was approved by both the battalion and regimental commanders.

At 2230, Alfonso removed his wounded to the base of the hill; the others followed. As "A" company started to withdraw along the road, heavy enemy fire fell on their vacated position. The North Koreans soon learned that the Americans were not there and redirected fire along the road. The company was supposed to withdraw to friendly lines south of the road at the southern end of Obong-ni Ridge. But, in a series of mistakes, one platoon kept to the road or close to it and ran into an enemy position at the northern end of Obong-ni. There it lost heavily. The rest of "A" company and the L Company men with it finally reached the 1st Battalion lines east of Obong-ni well after daylight, 9 August.

Farther south near the river that morning, K Company received enemy attacks, one enemy group overrunning the company's forward observation post. Even though the enemy was behind it, the company received orders to hold.

The next day, 10 August, reorganized L Company took positions behind its [K company] right flank. [17-34]

  

On 10 August, at the critical battleground within the bulge, the North Koreans on Cloverleaf Hill launched an attack which met head-on one by the 9th Infantry. Officer losses had been severe in the 2nd Battalion on 8 and 9 August. On the 10th, F was the only rifle company in the battalion with more than one officer.

In this fighting the North Koreans regained all the ground they had lost earlier at Cloverleaf. But north of Cloverleaf, the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry[???who 9th???], succeeded in capturing several hills along the Naktong, the most important being Ohang Hill. The enemy repulsed all its efforts to advance south from Ohang. The fighting on 10 August in the vicinity of Ohang Hill reduced the 2nd Battalion, 79th? [19th] Infantry, to about 100 effective men in the rifle companies. [17-35]

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The IX Corps was activated on 10 August at Fort Sheridan, Ill., with Maj. Gen. Frank W. Milburn in command.

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Bio        

Church, meanwhile, had ordered yet another "all-out attack in the division center. Essentially a duplication of the previous day's attack, it was mounted on August 10 by the survivors of the 9th, 19th, and 34th regiments. Again Hill's 9th carried the burden of the attack. Again Hill's casualties were frightful, especially in Walker's 2/9, where only one of his four companies had more than one officer left. Again results were disappointing. The 2/9, hit by a severe NKPA counterattack, was thrown back one mile.

That same morning, August 10, the NKPA, exploiting the penetration in the divisions southern sector, closed in around the village of Yŏngsan-ni,, eight miles east of the Naktong. Below the village the NKPA established a roadblock which cut the division's main supply route (MSR) from the south. This dire circumstance finally compelled Church and the exhausted division staff to focus on this serious NKPA penetration.

Bio   Bio  

Since the NKPA was still not a serious threat in the divisions northern sector, Church ordered Dick Stephens to send Brad Smiths 1/21 (less its C Company) and Peter Hyzer to send the division Recon Company to Yŏngsan-ni, to break the block. Meanwhile, Church also urgently requested that Johnnie Walker give him additional major reinforcements from the Fire Brigade, Michaelis' 27th Infantry Wolfhounds.

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Wading through chest-deep water by night, pulling crude rafts loaded with vehicles, heavy weapons and supplies, the North Koreans placed an entire reinforced regiment on the east bank by 8 August. Termite tactics during the next 2 days broadened their foothold until the Naktong Bulge was overrun by most of the NKPA 4th Division.

Consisting of the 5th, 16th, and 18th Infantry Regiments and strongly supported by artillery and armor, the 4th Division was among the most distinguished of the major Communist units. With the 107th Tank Regiment attached at the outset of the invasion, it had breezed through Uijŏngbu before sharing in the capture of Sŏul.

On 5 July 1950, the 4th became the first NKPA outfit to tangle with the newly arrived United States Army forces.

Task Force Smith delayed it a few hours near Osan, despite the Reds’ great advantage in numbers and armor. Later, after capturing Nonsan and aiding in the reduction of Taejŏn, the unit was selected to spearhead the assault over the Naktong.

In an effort to plug the hole in the Pusan Perimeter, General Walker attached the 9th Infantry (2nd Infantry Division) commanded by Colonel John G. Hill, to the 24th Division. In turn,  General Church placed Colonel Hill in control of all units in his southern zone and ordered a counterstroke against the Naktong Bulge.

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Meanwhile, in response to a request from General MacArthur that the corps commander and his planning staff come by air to Tokyo to plan the details of the forthcoming amphibious operation, General Coulter, the commanding general, and selected members of his staff landed at Tokyo on 10 August. [07-57]

The IX Corps, activated by Fifth Army, was to be prepared to move by 15 September. No training time was allowed.

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And on August 10, Church created Task Force Hill, giving command of the 9th Regiment (less the 3rd Battalion), 19th and 34th regiments, and the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, to Colonel John G. Hill of the 9th.

But the 19th and 34th were mere shadows of regiments, both reduced by casualties to about 1,100 men each.

Bio    

The entire 24th Division now totaled 9,755 men, with 5,401 more being attached, including elements of the 2nd and 25th Infantry divisions. The addition of 247 replacements and weapons manned by the replacement crew helped minimally.

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On August 10, the 9th Infantry lost 2,000 yards of critical terrain. The enemy also set up a roadblock on the Namji-ri-Yŏngsan-ni, road. Only along the Naktong were the Americans successful. The 19th took Ohang Hill, but its 2nd Battalion was reduced to about 100 effectives in each rifle company.

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Bio

That evening  General Church placed Colonel Hill in command of all troops in the Naktong Bulge. The troops comprised the

This command was now designated Task Force Hill. [In effect the 9th Regimental Commander was given command of the 24th Division.]

General Church ordered Colonel Hill to attack the next morning and restore the Naktong River line. Hill and the other commanders involved worked out the attack plan during the night. It called for the 9th and 19th Regiments to drive southwest through the heart of the bulge. The 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, was to move during the night from the northern part of the division zone to a point near the southern end of Obong-ni Ridge, and from there attack southwest on the left of the 9th Regimental Combat Team. Meanwhile, the 34th Infantry would protect the left flank of the combat team at Obong-ni. [17-37]

As it chanced, enemy reinforcements reached the east side of the river during the night and vastly increased the difficulty of this attack. [Colonel Hill had received reports as early as 8 August that the North Koreans were working at night on an underwater bridge across the Naktong at the Ki hang, or Paekchin, ferry site in the middle of the bulge.] The enemy 4th Division completed this underwater bridge during the night of 10 August, and before daylight had moved trucks, heavy mortars, and approximately twelve artillery pieces to the east side of the Naktong. Some of the equipment crossed on rafts. Additional infantry units of the enemy division also crossed the river during the night. A few tanks may have crossed at this time. [17-38]

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August 11, 1950

By the morning of August 11 the situation in the 24th Division sector was chaotic and desperate. Hundreds of the NKPA had swarmed through the southern sector to reinforce the earlier infiltrators near Yŏngsan-ni, and the roadblocks on the MSR south of the town. No area in the division rear was safe from enemy snipers or organized formations. Yŏngsan-ni, itself had come under heavy NKPA artillery fire. As a result,  John Church was finally compelled to cease offensive operations toward the Naktong River to deal with the enemy in his rear. Every available unit was thrown into the task: Brad Smiths 1/21; the division Recon Company; engineers; F Company of Joe Walkers 2/9; even the division band.

Meanwhile, Michaelis Fire Brigade 27th Infantry was mounting a rescue operation from the south. Wary of over committing this precious reserve, Johnnie Walker initially restricted Michaelis to one battalion combat team Michaelis gave the task to Gordon Murch's 2/27, supported by a battery of Gus Terry's 8th FAB. Hurrying north toward Yŏngsan-ni,, Murch plowed into the flanks of the NKPA and soon found himself in a terrific fight. As he slowly crawled north, his 2/27 pushed the NKPA against Yŏngsan-ni,, increasing the pressure on the disparate elements of the 24th Division, which were barely holding on.

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Consolidating all troops in the southern part of his division zone under the command of Col. John G. Hill (whose 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, was attached to the 24th Division to help restore the Naktong line)  General Church ordered a counterattack on 11 August. [02-4]

Task Force Hill's attack ran squarely into strong enemy attacks, and the entire operation lost its direction and impetus in the resulting confusion. With communications lacking much of the time and enemy forces scattered throughout a large area, one regimental commander summed up the chaos by saying,

"There are dozens of enemy and American forces all over the area, and they are all surrounding each other." [02-5]

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   9th RCT

Task Force Hill attacked on 11 August but lost its momentum in a confused situation which found the enemy attacking at the same time. Reinforced to a strength of three infantry regiments, Hill’s provisional unit again struck out against the bridgehead on 14 and 15 August.

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Ten miles north of Kyŏngju and at a point about a mile east of An'gang-ni, the road bent sharply right [East] in the Hyŏngsan-ni,-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, blocking 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 Kyŏngju; approximately 120 members of the company, including two officers, reached the town. [18-14]

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"

Learning of the ambush, Sladen Bradley at Yŏnil 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 40 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 Yŏngdök, had come in behind P'ohang-dong by way of mountain trails.

   Bio

 

In the early afternoon, 11 August, Johnnie Walker ordered the Tank Company, 9th Infantry, which had stopped at Kyŏngju 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]

Aerial reconnaissance showed the K Company ambush site was still held by enemy troops. Well aware of this, Captain Darrigo, KMAG adviser with the ROK 17th Regiment at An'gang-ni, volunteered to lead an armored patrol through to P'ohang-dong and Yonil. Darrigo rode the first of five tanks. Four F-51 fighter planes took off from Yonil Airfield and delivered a strike on the enemy positions at the ambush site just as the tanks arrived there. This air strike flushed enemy troops from concealment at just the right moment. Tank machine gun fire killed many of them; in one group about seventy North Koreans were caught in the open. This tank column arrived at Yonil Airfield about 2030, 11 August, and were the first tanks to reach the airstrip. They were immediately placed in the perimeter defense. Darrigo was the same officer who had escaped from Kaesong at dawn, 25 June, when the North Koreans began their attack across the 38th Parallel. One who saw this courageous 30-year-old soldier when he arrived at Yonil said he looked to be fifty. [18-17]

While these events were taking place behind and to the east of it, Task Force P'ohang attacked north from the An'gang-ni area the morning of 11 August.

 (Map 12) It came to grief almost at once. At one place the enemy annihilated two companies of the ROK 25th Regiment. The task force, and also the ROK Capital Division, lost ground. The day was blazing hot. Great dust clouds hung over the roads. Fighter planes shuttled constantly from Yonil Airfield to the numerous nearby points where enemy troops were active, trying to stabilize the situation. One pilot, speaking of that day, said, "I barely had my wheels up before I started my strafing runs." But it was not all one-sided for the fighter planes.

The day before, enemy small arms and machine gun fire had shot down four of them. By evening of 11 August, North Korean patrols reportedly were operating three miles south of P'ohang-dong.

Eighth Army during the day ordered the ROK forces in the east to fall back to new positions during the nights of 12 and 13 August. [18-18]

The main enemy force encountered by Task Force P'ohang on 11 August seems to have been advance elements of the 12th Division. This division had now crossed the mountains from Andong and was debouching at Kigye into the valley west of P'ohang-dong. There, in a series of battles, fought by the North Koreans almost entirely with automatic weapons and small arms, the 12th Division drove back the ROK Capital Division and Task Force P'ohang. In this series of action the 12th lost about 800 casualties, according to prisoner reports. [18-19]

That night, 11 August, the fighter planes at Yonil flew to another airfield for security, but returned the next day. From hills to the south and southwest of the airstrip enemy troops delivered long-range, ineffective fire against it. Even though this fire did no damage, it created a state of alarm. The next day, 12 August, 28-year-old Colonel Kim Hi Chun, acting on General Walker's orders, in a successful attack eastward from An'gang-ni, led his ROK 17th Regiment into Yonil, greatly to the relief of everyone there. Enemy forces first entered P'ohang-dong on 10 or 11 August. ROK sources reported on the 11th that an estimated 300 enemy soldiers from the 766th Independent Regiment and the 5th Division had entered the town and seized the railroad station. But they did not remain there more than a few hours. Naval gunfire and aerial strikes drove them out to seek comparative safety in the nearby hills. The town of P'ohang-dong now became a no man's land. Patrols from ROK and North Korean units entered the town at night but neither side held it. The battle swirled around it on the adjacent hills. [18-20]

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By the morning of 11 August, therefore, five days after the initial crossing, the North Koreans had heavy weapons and equipment across into their bridgehead.

The North Koreans built many underwater bridges across the Naktong during August, 1950. They consisted of sandbags, logs, and rocks to a point about one foot below the surface of the water. In effect, they constituted shallow fords. In muddy water they were hard to detect from the air. Underwater bridges similar to them had been built, and used extensively, by the Russians in World War II, often as a surprise factor in battles on the Eastern Front. They played an important part, for instance, in the crucial battle of Stalingrad.

  

The attack on 11 August; intended to push the enemy into the river, failed completely. The N.K. 4th Division fought the 9th and 19th Regiments to a standstill at their lines of departure and in their positions. Furthermore, the enemy drove the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, from its assembly area before it could start its part of the attack. During the morning a new feature appeared in the bulge battle-North Korean use of artillery in three groups of 6, 4, and 4 pieces, all emplaced near Kogong-ni, about a mile behind the enemy positions on Cloverleaf and Obong-ni. In the afternoon General Church found it necessary to change the order for Task Force Hill from attack to one of dig in and hold. The greater part of the N.K. 4th Division had now crossed into the bulge area. That night the division completed its crossing of the river. [17-39]

Yŏngsan-ni, Under Attack

During 10-11 August, when the North Korean build-up on Obong-ni and Cloverleaf was increasingly apparent, enemy groups also began to appear in the extreme southern part of the 24th sector. [17-40]

By 11 August there was unmistakable indication that enemy forces in some strength had moved around the main battle positions at Cloverleaf and Obong-ni and were behind Task Force Hill.

On that day enemy artillery fire brought Yŏngsan-ni, under fire for the first time. East of the town, enemy sniper fire harassed traffic on the road to Miryang. South of Yŏngsan-ni,, an enemy force drove back a patrol of the 24th Reconnaissance Company. And during the morning, North Koreans surprised and killed a squad of K Company, 34th Infantry, guarding the bridge over the Naktong at Namji-ri. Enemy control of this bridge cut the Yŏngsan-ni,-Masan road and broke the only direct vehicular communication link between the 24th and 25th Divisions. The situation was confused south of Yŏngsan-ni, on 11 August, at the very moment Task Force Hill's attack was being thrown back a few miles westward. In this emergency, General Church dispatched the 14th Engineer Combat Battalion [there is a 14rh IR in the 25th ID] to Yŏngsan-ni,, and General Walker ordered the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, in army reserve at Masan behind Task Force Kean, to attack north across the Naktong River over the Namji-ri bridge into the southern part of the 24th Division zone. [17-41]

[17-41]

That night, 11-12 August, North Koreans built up their roadblock east of Yŏngsan-ni, to greater strength and extended it to a point three miles east of the town.

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   9th RCT


Task Force Hill was supposed to drive the enemy across the Naktong on the 11th by a general counterattack, driven ahead by the 9th and 19th regiments. But the enemy launched a surprise attack against the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, while in its assembly area at about 9 a.m. Although few casualties resulted, the attack was disconcerting. Task Force Hill's general attack failed.


The situation around Yŏngsan-ni, by now had so deteriorated that one regimental commander was moved to remark:

'There are dozens of enemy and American forces all over the area. And they are surrounding each other.'


In response to a call for help from Church, a composite company of men from A Company, 14th Engineers, plus cooks and staff from its headquarters, was sent to Yŏngsan-ni. Their force numbering fewer than 100 men, the engineers set up four separate positions at about 800-yard intervals along the road from Yŏngsan-ni,.

Another ad hoc force, under Captain George Hafeman (commander, 24th Division Headquarters Company), was deployed at the Simgong-ni and Wŏnjon passes, farther east. Known as Task Force Hafeman, it consisted of clerks and bakers from Hafeman's unit, military police personnel, men from the 24th Recon Company and others from eight different units, all supported by two tanks.

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At the K Company, 34th Infantry, ambush casualties were greater. By afternoon, 7 dead and at least 40 wounded were reported. About 25 members of C Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, were also lost in this ambush.

August

[18-Caption] AERIAL VIEW OF P'OHANG-DONG

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 Yŏngdök, had come in behind P'ohang-dong by way of mountain trails.

In the early afternoon, 11 August, General Walker ordered the Tank Company, 9th Infantry, which had stopped at Kongju to wait upon repair of a damaged bridge, to proceed to the Yŏnil 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]

Aerial reconnaissance showed the K Company ambush site was still held by enemy troops. Well aware of this, Captain Darrigo, KMAG adviser with the ROK 17th Regiment at An'gang-ni, volunteered to lead an armored patrol through to P'ohang-dong and Yŏnil. Darrigo rode the first of five tanks. Four F-51 fighter planes took off from Yŏnil Airfield and delivered a strike on the enemy positions at the ambush site just as the tanks arrived there. This air strike flushed enemy troops from concealment at just the right moment. Tank machine gun fire killed many of them; in one group about seventy North Koreans were caught in the open.

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   Bio

On August 12 Johnnie Walker again flew in to confer with  John Church. He found complete chaos. The NKPA forces were swarming all over the MSR and had all but surrounded Yŏngsan-ni,. The three infantry regiments dug in facing the Naktong (9th; 19th; 34th) were desperately repelling new all-out NKPA assaults. Gordon Murch's 2/27 and George De Chow's 3/27 were coming up from the south toward Yŏngsan-ni,; but the Wolfhounds had run head-on into thousands of fleeing refugees, and progress was slow. Worse yet, every yard gained pushed more unwanted NKPA troops against Yŏngsan-ni,.

The situation convinced Walker that unless he committed further reserves, there was danger that the NKPA might capture Yŏngsan-ni, and continue east to Miryang and block the main Taegu - Pusan road and railway. He therefore reluctantly ordered 2nd Division commander Dutch Keiser to provide a battalion combat team from another of his regiments, the 23rd Infantry.

The 23rd, like the 9th, also had a brand-new Pentagon assigned commander, West Pointer (1929) Paul F. Freeman, forty-three. Freeman was an "old China hand." He had first served there with the 15th Infantry Regiment from 1933 to 1936. Three years later he returned to China as a language student and intelligence officer and was still in China when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. As the Pacific War spread, he migrated to India, where he became G4 to Joseph W. ("Vinegar Joe") Stilwell, and later organized Stilwell's commando team, which became famous in Burma as Merrill's Marauders.

Returning to the Pentagon in mid1943 as Stilwell's emissary, Freeman was drafted into the Army's war plans group. After working on the plan for the invasion of the Philippines, in late 1944 he joined the operation, serving as chief of staff of the 77th Division on Leyte and Luzon and the Sixth Army and I Corps G3. On Leyte he had a brief tour of combat leadership when he led a two company task force and "got shot at."

After the war George Marshall invited him to join his China mission, but Freeman was "fed up" with China and declined, choosing instead duty in the Army's Latin America section, working with or under Matt Ridgway and Godwin Ordway.

Upon the outbreak of the Korean War Freeman was ordered to command the 23rd Infantry. Like John Hill, he was appointed RCT commander, leaving in place the incumbent regimental commander, West Pointer (1931) Edwin J. (Ed") Messinger, forty-three, a noted athlete and paratrooper who had fought with the 17th Airborne Division in the ETO. However, unlike Hill, Freeman knew Dutch Keiser well from prior service and balked at this "bastard" command arrangement. Upon his arrival in Korea, the RCT title was abolished. Freeman took direct command of the regiment, and Ed Messinger was demoted to exec. In return, Freeman remained deeply loyal to Keiser and, almost alone among the senior officers of the division, defended Keiser's style of commanding from his CP.

Thanks to the fine work of Messinger and others, Freeman found the 23rd Regiment to be well trained and officered. Mated to the 37th FAB, commanded by West Pointer (1933) William H. Richardson, it arrived in Pusan ready for combat.

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A staff officer awakened Colonel Hill before daylight to inform him that the enemy had ambushed several ambulances and trucks two miles east of Yŏngsan-ni,. Although hard-pressed at Cloverleaf, Hill immediately ordered F Company, 9th Infantry, out of the line there and dispatched it together with a platoon of mortars to attack the roadblock. The 15th Field Artillery Battalion helped by turning some of its guns to fire on it.

Simultaneously, 24th Division headquarters assembled from eight different units about 135 men, including clerks, bakers, military police, and Reconnaissance Company troops, under the command of Capt. George B. Hafemen, commanding officer of Headquarters Company.

This force hurriedly moved west from Miryang and took up a position at the pass near Simgong-ni on the Yŏngsan-ni,-Miryang road. Its mission was to block further eastward penetration of the enemy. Two tanks accompanied Hafeman's force. Hafemen and his men held this position all afternoon against North Korean attack. Three times armored cars came through to them with food, water, and ammunition. [17-42]

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August 13, 1950

        

Battle at Cloverleaf-Obong-ni

During the enemy infiltration around Yŏngsan-ni,, fighting continued at Cloverleaf, Obong-ni, and northward. There, the 9th Regimental Combat Team, the 19th Infantry, and elements of the 34th Infantry succeeded in denying gains to the enemy division, and so tied down its main force that the N.K. 4th Division could not exploit its penetrations southward.

Task Force Hill still had its mission of driving the enemy out of the bulge and back across the Naktong. With the North Korean penetration south and east of Yŏngsan-ni, eliminated on 13 August, Colonel Hill planned an attack the next day with his entire force against the Cloverleaf-Obong-ni positions.

One hundred aircraft were to deliver a strike on these positions. Artillery was to follow the strike with a concentrated barrage. The attacking ground formations were essentially the same, and held the same relative positions, as during their abortive attack three days earlier.

 The enemy division apparently had its 5th Regiment on the north in front of the 19th Infantry, the 16th Regiment on Cloverleaf and Obong-ni, part of the 18th Regiment back of the 16th, and the remainder of it scattered throughout the bulge area, but mostly in the south and east. [17-50]

August

[17-Caption] POINT OF A COMBAT COLUMN moving toward its position near Yŏngsan-ni,.

Page 306 SOUTH TO THE NAKTONG, NORTH TO THE YALU

Task Force Hill was far from strong for this attack. The two battalions of the 9th Infantry were down to approximately two-thirds strength, the 19th Infantry was very low in combat-effective troops, and the three rifle companies of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, had a combined strength of less than that of one full strength rifle company. [17-51]

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Led by Barberis, the 1/23 attacked toward Yŏngsan-ni,, in conjunction with the 2/27 and 3/27, on August 13. Like most American units newly committed to combat in Korea, the 1/23 had a rough first day. One Army historian wrote: "Unprepared for the heat and humidity of a Korean August and poorly conditioned for hill climbing, the men struggled slowly from one ridge to the next. Meanwhile, the combat hardened 2/27 and 3/27 cracked through the NKPA and cleared the MSR and went into Yŏngsan-ni,.

Later that day Hutchin himself led a patrol of his 1/23 into the town. Still later the rest of his battalion marched wearily in behind him. Credited with another smashing triumph ("saving the 24th Division), the Wolfhounds withdrew that night for other missions. Hutchin's 1/23 remained to reinforce the division and to guard the MSR against further NKPA incursions.

        

With his rear at last under control, Church refocused his attention on his "front. The situation there was still grave. In renewed, vicious attacks, wave after wave of stoic NKPA troops had inflicted further grievous casualties on the 9th and the ragged remnants of the 19th and 34th regiments.

The 9th, bravely attempting to preserve its honor, was hit particularly hard. In E Company of Walker's 2/9 all the officers had been wiped out on five separate occasions. Throughout the regiment sergeants routinely commanded platoons in place of lieutenants. In all, on August 13 the 9th suffered 140 battle casualties and 59 non-battle casualties, mostly from heat exhaustion. Ned Moore's 19th Infantry journal noted that the men of Londahl's 1 /9 were "too exhausted even to remove their own dead."

Charles Payne of the 1/34 remembered the fighting:

Masses of gooks poured over the hills and through the gaps like a flood. Our people were fighting like seasoned troops but were just being overpowered.... Hour after hour we held the North Koreans off. . . . Time and time again the gooks rushed us. Each time we'd lose a man, the gooks would lose many. The ground was covered with their dead. We stacked our dead around us for protection. The battle seemed to go on forever.[7-73]

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   Task Force Hill

Determined finally to eject the NKPA from the 24th Division front, Church that night (August 13) ordered Hill, John G. [Col CO 9thIR] to take command of all the available infantry and launch yet another counterattack on the following day. Reeling with fatigue and lack of sleep, Hill summoned the no less exhausted Beauchamp, Charles Edward [Col. CO 34thIR], Moore, Ned Dalton [Col. CO 19thIR], and Smith, Charles Brad [Lt. Col. CO 1bn21stIR]  to his CP.

They drew plans which would employ all seven depleted infantry battalions (about 4,000 men), backed by all available artillery (five batteries, mounting thirty howitzers) and (they hoped) supported by FEAF close air. Hill also attempted to draw Hutchin, Claire E.[Officer CO 1Bn23rdIR] 's newly arrived and powerful 1/23 (900 men) into this combined force.

Barberis, Cesidio V. "Butch"[Maj. 1Bn9thIR] remembered:

"I stopped off at John Hill's Ninth Regiment CP and told him the MSR was clear and we would be happy to help evacuate his wounded, et cetera, et cetera. Hill was in quite a dither. In fact, in my estimation he was not in control of his faculties. He was quite irrational. He ordered me to position the battalion in the line. I explained we were not under his command but under Church's direct command. He was quite forceful in telling me that he was giving me a direct order and that I would comply with that direct order. I telephoned Church, and in short order he countermanded Hill and told me to maintain my vigil on the MSR and await further orders."

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On August 4, elements of the North Korean 16th Infantry Regiment staged an assault across the Naktong between Companies I and L, 3/34 Infantry, and overwhelmed most of their positions. NKPA troops drove about five miles into the 24th Division sector, precipitating the First Battle of the Naktong Bulge, which eventually involved the entire 24th Division, the U.S. 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the newly arrived 9th Infantry Regiment and 1/23rd Infantry (both from the 2nd Infantry Division) and the 2/27th Infantry. The struggle lasted until August 19.

The 34th Infantry gave its all. Company K stayed on its 7,500-yard front along the Naktong alone until ordered out on about August 14. At the outset, the 1/34th launched a counterattack, but part of Company C was trapped in a grist mill, where the men valiantly held out until rescued. Captain Albert F. Alfonso, with remnants of Companies A, C and L, held a small perimeter at the nose of the bulge until ordered out on the night of August 8-9. Elements of the regiment took part in a number of counterattacks between August 6 and 18.

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August 11, 1950

   9th RCT

Task Force Hill attacked on 11 August but lost its momentum in a confused situation which found the enemy attacking at the same time. Reinforced to a strength of three infantry regiments, Hill’s provisional unit again struck out against the bridgehead on 14 and 15 August.

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   9th RCT

Task Force Hill attacked on 11 August but lost its momentum in a confused situation which found the enemy attacking at the same time. Reinforced to a strength of three infantry regiments, Hill’s provisional unit again struck out against the bridgehead on 14 and 15 August.

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