The Rock of Chickamauga
Heavy Weapons Company
I & R Platoon
1st Battalion ABCD
2nd Battalion EFGH
3rd Battalion IKLM No 3rd Battalion initially
4th Battalion 1/29th attached July 24, 1950
5th Battalion 3/29th attached July 24, 1950
|Guy Stanley ("Stan") Meloy||16Jul50||WIA|
|LtCol||Thomas M. McGrail||16Jul50||temp|
|Col||Ned Dalton Moore|
|1st Sgt. James W. R. Haskins|
|Capt.||Edgar R. Fenstermacher||16Jul50||WIA|
|Chaplain Herman G. Felhoelter|
|Capt. Linton J. Buttrey|
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|19th Infantry Regiment|
Coat of arms
|Active||1861 - present|
|Branch||United States Army|
|Part of||US Army Training and Doctrine Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Ft. Benning, Georgia|
|Nickname(s)||"The Rock of Chickamauga" (special designation)|
|Motto||The Rock of Chickamauga|
American Civil War
War with Spain
World War II
|Distinctive unit insignia|
|U.S. Infantry Regiments|
|18th Infantry Regiment||20th Infantry Regiment|
The 19th Infantry Regiment ("Rock of Chickamauga") is a United States Army infantry regiment which is assigned to the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, with the assignment of conducting Basic and Advanced Infantry Training.
Reactivated on the island of Okinawa in May, 1949, the 29th Regiment was attached to the 24th and 25th Divisions from 24 July 1950 to 5 September 1950. The 1st and 3rd Battalions suffered heavy losses during fighting in the vicinity of Chinju, Masan, and during the establishment of the Pusan perimeter in the Korean War. The regiment returned to Okinawa in September 1950 where it remained until it returned to Fort Benning in November 1954.[
From July 12, 1950 to June 21, 1953 1,609 men were lost from this unit.
The other regiments of the 24th Division-the 34th and 19th Infantry, and the remainder of the 21st Infantry, plus supporting units-moved to Korea rapidly.
Less than a week later, on 4 July, Brig. Gen. Crump Garvin and members of his staff arrived at Pusan to organize the Pusan Base Command, activated that day by orders of the Far East Command. [note]
The third and last regiment of the 24th Division, the 19th Infantry, commanded by Col. Guy S. Meloy, Jr., began to arrive in Korea on 4 July.
Nearly ninety years earlier the 19th Infantry Regiment had won the sobriquet, "The Rock of Chickamauga," in a memorable stand in one of the bloodiest of Civil War battles.
Fourteen years earlier General Dean had served as captain in the regiment in Hawaii. [note]
These two battalions had come from the 29th Infantry Regiment on Okinawa. Until alerted for movement on July 5, both units were at half strength (about 500 men each) and had received no field training other than simulated deployment to protect the Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases on Okinawa. Both had brand-new commanders with no prior combat experience. West Pointer (1929) Wesley C. Wilson, who was Ned Moore's age (forty-three) and a year senior to him at the academy, commanded the 1/29. Harold W. Mott commanded the 2/29.[6-68]
On 7 July, he ordered General Dean to halt hostile troops moving south along the east coast near Yŏngdök, and instructed him to provide security for Col. Robert Witty and his 35th Fighter Group at the air base being established at Yŏnil, five miles south of P'ohang-dong. Pursuant to these instructions, General Dean ordered the 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, then assembling at Taegu, to proceed to P'ohang-dong, [where it arrived on 8 July. ]
The General Reserve held only eighteen battalions of infantry at this time. From this small reservoir the Department of the Army finally selected for the Far East Command 2 full battalions and 3 battalion cadres from the 3rd Infantry Division; 1 full battalion from the 14th RCT; and 3 battalions from the 5th RCT on Hawaii. The remaining 2 battalions were taken from the 29th RCT on Okinawa. This unit was already part of the Far East Command and its disposition did not affect the General Reserve.
Before Walker returned to Japan that day, he and Bill Dean reviewed options. It was decided that the city of Taejŏn, where Dean had located the 24th Division CP, was now the key real estate and that an all-out effort would be made to hold it for as long as possible. The major elements of Dean's 24th Division - the surviving units of the 21st and 34th regiments plus the newly arriving 19th Regiment - would consolidate where they might have been more effectively deployed in the first place: in a defensive line along the meandering Kum River, north of Taejŏn.[4-75]
[Pursuant to these instructions, General Dean ordered the 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, then assembling at Taegu, to proceed to P'ohang-dong, ] where it arrived on 8 July.
Beginning on 9 July [thru 7/25] a succession of American units had performed security missions at [K-3] Yŏnil Airfield below P'ohang-dong; first the 3rd battalion of the 19th Infantry [24ID],
July 10: Carefully timing airstrikes to coincide with the departure of USAF counter-air patrols for refueling, four enemy Yaks bombed and strafed the USA 19th Infantry Regiment at Ch'ŏngju.
24th ID, 19th IR, 21st IR, 34th IR
Toward evening of the 11th, after he had full information of the fate of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, General Dean ordered A Company, 3rd Engineer Combat Battalion, to prepare every possible obstacle for the defense of the Choch'iwŏn area and to cover, if necessary, the withdrawal of the regiment.
Dean also started the 18th [19th?] Infantry Regiment and the 13th Field Artillery Battalion from Taegu and P'ohang-dong for Taejŏn during the day. [07-46]
That night the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, rested uneasily in its positions two miles north of Choch'iwŏn. It had to expect that the North Koreans would strike within hours.
The N.K. 3rd Division Crosses the Kum Against the 19th Infantry
Now, on 11 and 12 July General Dean moved the 1950 version of the regiment to Taejŏn as he concentrated the 24th Division there for the defense of the city.
Before dark of the 12th, the 19th Infantry was in position to relieve the 21st Infantry Regiment on the south bank of the Kum, [but the formal relief and transfer of responsibility for the regimental sector did not take place until 0930 the next day.] [10-29] Fourteen years earlier General Dean had served as captain in the regiment in Hawaii. [10-29]
The 19th Infantry's zone of responsibility was a wide one, extending from high ground just east of the railroad bridge, 8 miles due north of Taejon, westward along the river to within 3 miles of Kongju. This was an airline distance of 15 miles or a river distance of almost 30 miles because of the stream's numerous deep folds. Necessarily, there were wide gaps between some of the units in disposing a regiment-a 2-battalion regiment at that-over this distance. The main regimental position was astride the Seoul-Pusan highway where it crossed the Kum River at Taep'yong-ni, about midway of the regimental sector. (Map 7)
The battalion commander, Welborn G. ("Tom") Dolvin (West Point, 1939), thirty-four, who had fought in Italy and the ETO, remembered how his outfit was thrown together:
"On July twelfth, while on the golf course, I. got verbal word that my orders had been changed to Korea. I met a cadre of a hundred fifty-five men from the Second Armored Division in California on July seventeenth. We flew to Tokyo, arriving on July nineteenth, where we picked up another cadre of seventy men.
My A Company left Tokyo by ship on July twenty-fourth and arrived in Pusan on July thirty-first. I flew over and met them on the dock at Pusan that day a mere fifteen days after activation of the outfit . We left Pusan for Masan, joining the Nineteenth and Twenty-seventh regiments on the following day."[7-3] [August 1st]
By the early hours of July 12 the remnants of Stephens's 21st and Wadlington's 34th regiments were at last digging in behind the Kum River, backed up by artillery batteries of 11th, 52nd, and 63rd FAB's.
The infantry forces were wretchedly weak: Brad Smith's mauled 1/21 on the right, plus a few stragglers from the shattered 3/21; Red Ayres's 1/34 on the left, plus a few stragglers of Lantron's 3/34.
Replacements and fillers were
rushing north from Pusan to the 34th, but as yet there were none for the 21st.
Consequently, Dean decided to pull the 21st to the rear and replace it with his
fresh but green
19th Infantry, then arriving in the battle zone from Pusan.
* * *
On man died of a heart attack near Taejon, South Korea today, Cpl. JOHN CARLYLE SMITH E Company 19th Infantry
Two men were lost today:
CPL SAMUEL LOSADA BELASKI C Company
PFC CLARENCE TURCOTT A Company
There were now only two understrength rifle companies of the 34th Infantry in front of Kongju-L Company on the left and I Company on the right of the road on the river hills, with some mortars of the Heavy Weapons Company behind. These troops knew of no friendly units on their left (west).
From the 19th Infantry on their right, Capt. Melicio Montesclaros had visited the I Company position and told the men there was a 2-mile gap between that flank and his outpost position eastward on the regimental boundary.
Joe Collins and Hoyt Vandenberg arrived in Tokyo on the morning of July 13, the day after Bill Dean had emplaced his 19th and 34th regiments behind the Kum River.
Dean's newly arrived 19th Regiment had relieved the shattered 21st on the river, backed up closely by Miller Perry's 52nd FAB and more deeply by Allen's 11th and the 13th FABs.
On the left of the 19th was the reorganizing 34th Regiment, backed up closely by Dawson's 63rd FAB. Dean still had no faith in the 34th.
On July 13, the 34th and 19th Infantry regiments, plus the divisional recon company and the I&R platoon, defended a 34-mile-long line on the Kum River, the first major obstacle to the NKPA's advance since they had crossed the Han River farther north.
The 34th's 3rd Battalion was on the river, and the 1/34th was at Yongsŏng, about two miles to the south.
An estimated 5,000 to 6,000 troops of the NKPA 4th Division, backed by 20 tanks of the 105th Brigade's 793rd Tank Battalion, were poised to attack the 34th Regiment at Kongju, while roughly the same number of men from the NKPA 3rd Infantry Division prepared to take on the 19th.
American front-line strength along the Kum was not more than 2,000 men. Communications within the 3/34th were poor. Telephone wire was almost unobtainable, and most radios lacked replacement batteries. All three rifle companies of the battalion were distributed along a two-mile river front. That night the 40 exhausted men of Company K were evacuated to Taejŏn, leaving about 104 men in the remaining two units to carry on the defense.
The command situation for Colonel Wadlington continued to worsen as both the regimental S-2 and S-3 were evacuated because of combat fatigue. Then, that night, K Company, a composite group of about forty men of the 3rd Battalion in such mental and physical condition as to render them liabilities in combat, was withdrawn from the Kum River Line with division approval and taken to Taejŏn for medical disposition. [10-11]
There were now only two understrength rifle companies of the 34th Infantry in front of Kongju - L Company on the left and I Company on the right of the road on the river hills, with some mortars of the Heavy Weapons Company behind. These troops knew of no friendly units on their left (west). [and the 19th was 2 miles away on their right]
From the 19th Infantry on their right, Capt. Melicio Montesclaros had visited the I Company position and told the men there was a 2-mile gap between that flank and his outpost position eastward on the regimental boundary.
Before dark of the 12th, the 19th Infantry was in position to relieve the 21st Infantry Regiment on the south bank of the Kum,
but the formal relief and transfer of responsibility for the regimental sector did not take place until 0930 the next day [13th]. Fourteen years earlier General Dean had served as captain in the regiment in Hawaii. [10-29]
The 19th Infantry's zone of responsibility was a wide one, extending from high ground just east of the railroad bridge, 8 miles due north of Taejŏn, westward along the river to within 3 miles of Kongju. This was an airline distance of 15 miles or a river distance of almost 30 miles because of the stream's numerous deep folds. Necessarily, there were wide gaps between some of the units in disposing a regiment-a 2-battalion regiment at that-over this distance. The main regimental position was astride the Sŏul-Pusan highway where it crossed the Kum River at Taep'yong-ni, about midway of the regimental sector. (Map 7)
See larger map
Two men were lost today:
PFC HENRY E HINSON D Company
Pvt. JAMES A WALLACE G Company
At Taep'yong-ni the Kum River in mid-July 1950 was 200 to 300 yards wide, its banks 4 to 8 feet high, water 6 to 15 feet deep, and current 3 to 6 miles an hour. Sandbars ran out into the streambed at almost every bend and the channel shifted back and forth from the center to the sides. The river, now swollen by rains, could be waded at many points when its waters fell.
On the 19ths regimental right, the railroad bridge lay just within the ROK Army zone of responsibility. A mile and a half west of the railroad bridge a large tributary, the Kap-ch'on, empties into the Kum.
On high ground west of the railroad and the mouth of the Kap-ch'on, E Company in platoon-sized units held defensive positions commanding the Kum River railroad crossing site. West of E Company there was an entirely undefended 2-mile gap. Beyond this gap C Company occupied three northern fingers of strategically located Hill 200 three miles east of Taep'yong-ni. [10-31]
Downstream from C Company there was a 1,000-yard gap to where A Company's position began behind a big dike along the bank of the Kum. The A Company sector extended westward beyond the Sŏul-Pusan highway at Taep'yong-ni. One platoon of A Company was on 500-foot high hills a mile south of the Taep'yong-ni dike and paddy ground.
The command post of Lt. Col. Otho T. Winstead, commander of the 1st Battalion, was at the village of Kadong, about a mile south of the Kum on the main highway. Colonel Meloy's regimental command post was at the village of Palsan, about a mile farther to the rear on the highway. [10-32]
The 2nd Battalion with two of its rifle companies was in reserve back of the 1st Battalion. Behind A Company, east of the highway, were two platoons of G Company; behind B Company, west of the highway, was F Company. The 4.2-inch mortars of the Heavy Mortar Company were east of the highway.
Artillery supporting the 19th Infantry consisted of
Lt. Col. Charles W. Stratton, commanding officer of the 13th Field Artillery Battalion, coordinated their firing.
The 52nd Field Artillery Battalion, in position along the main highway at the village of Tuman-ni, about three miles south of the Kum, was farthest forward.
Behind it two miles farther south were the 11th and the 13th Field Artillery Battalions. [10-33]
The larger parts of the 26th Antiaircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion and of A Company, 78th Heavy Tank Battalion (light M24 tanks), were at Taejŏn.
Johnnie Walker and Bill Dean had great faith in Dean's green 19th Infantry Regiment, which had taken up positions on the Kum River with the 34th. Historically the 19th was famous for its stand in the Civil War battle at Chickamauga, where it well earned its sobriquet "The Rock of Chickamauga." Its men proudly called themselves "Chicks." Upon graduation from West Point, Walker had served first with the Chicks in Texas, later joined by young Eisenhower. In the mid1930s Bill Dean had served a two-year hitch with the Chicks in Hawaii.[5-22]
One reason for the optimism was the 19th's commander, a brainy, highly regarded West Pointer (1927), Guy Stanley ("Stan") Meloy, forty-seven. Like Stephens of the 21st, Meloy had not ever commanded troops in battle. He, too, had been chief of staff of an infantry division in the ETO, the 103rd, which had often fought side by side with Dean's 44th in Seventh Army and Haislip's XV Corps. Beginning in early 1945, Meloy's boss, the 103rd's commander, had been the tough-minded Army hero of Bastogne: Anthony C. ("Tony") McAuliffe, former artillery commander of the 101st Airborne Division, who had spurned a German demand for surrender with the most famous Allied cry of defiance in World War II: "Nuts!"[5-23]
By the time the 19th Regiment relieved the 21st Regiment on the Kum River, the fluke cold wave had passed and the Korean weather had returned to normal for mid-July: blazing hot and jungle humid. The summer days were sixteen hours long: 5:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. The enervating weather, long daylight hours, stink of the rice paddies, and utter lack of any creature comforts were a rude shock to the Chicks.[5-24]
More so was the rude introduction to combat. The Americans had blown the Kum River bridges and dug in on the south bank, but the river did not stop the NKPA artillery, mortars, tank and machinegun fire. It was vicious and accurate and seemingly without respite. Stan Meloy judged it to be as intense as the worst the Germans had thrown at his 103rd Division in the ETO. The majority of the Chicks, green to combat, were terrified.[5-25]
From the 19th Infantry on their right, Capt. Melicio Montesclaros had visited the I Company position and told the men there was a 2-mile gap between that flank and his outpost position eastward on the regimental boundary.
Shortly after daybreak of the 14th, American troops on the south side of the Kum at Kongju (34th IR) heard enemy tanks in the village across the river. By 0600, enemy flat trajectory weapons, possibly tank guns, were firing into I Company's area. Their target apparently was the mortars back of the rifle company. Simultaneously, enemy shells exploded in air bursts over L Company's position but were too high to do any damage. Soon thereafter, L Company lookouts sent word that enemy soldiers were crossing the river in two barges, each carrying approximately thirty men, about two miles below them.[vicinity of Odong-ni]
Aerial strikes on the 14th failed to prevent the build-up of enemy armor on the north side of the Kum opposite Taep'yong-ni. Tanks moved up and dug in on the north bank for direct fire support of a crossing effort. Their fire started falling on the south bank of the Kum in the 19th Infantry's zone at 1300, 14 July. Late in the day an aerial observer reported seeing eleven enemy tanks dug in, camouflaged, and firing as artillery. There were some minor attempted enemy crossings during the day but no major effort. None succeeded. [10-34]
The afternoon brought the bad news concerning the left flank-the collapse of the 34th Infantry at Kongju.
Two men were lost
PFC LLOYD JOHAN BOSBEN Hq Hq Company (Recon)
SGT JOSEPH LEBIEDZ Hq Hq Company
The 34th and 19th Regiments of the 24th Infantry Division engage two North Korea divisions in the hills and rice paddies around Taejŏn. They would pull out the next day, but MacArthur says the two undermanned regiments have set back the invaders' timetable.
"The North Koreans penetrated the US 24th Infantry Division’s defense and crossed the Kum River. The 19th Infantry Regiment lost twenty percent of its fighting force, the 1st Battalion alone losing 338 out of 785. The 63rd Field Artillery Battalion (Backing up the 34th IR) was overrun and sustained heavy casualties."
Of the eleven infantry battalions requested by General MacArthur in early July to make up shortages within the infantry divisions of the Far East Command, two battalions from the 29th Infantry Regiment on Okinawa
19th Infantry Regiment on Okinawawere the first to arrive in Korea. The history of these units between the time they were alerted for probable combat use in Korea and their commitment in battle shows the increasing sense of urgency that gripped the Far East Command in July, and how promises and estimates made one day in good faith had to be discarded the next because of the growing crisis in Korea. And it also shows how troops not ready for combat nevertheless suddenly found themselves in it.
About the middle of July, Maj. Tony J. Raibl, Executive Officer, 3d Battalion, 29th Infantry Executive Officer, 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry,, learned in Tokyo that the Far East Command expected that the regiment would have at least six weeks' training before being sent to Korea. 
Yet, immediately after making that estimate, the Far East Command issued orders to the regiment on 15 July to prepare for movement.
All troops were placed in two battalions, the 1st and 3rd. Lt. Col. Wesley C. Wilson commanded the 1st Battalion and Lt. Col. Harold W. Mott, the 3rd Battalion. The regimental headquarters was to remain behind as a nucleus for a new regiment that would assume responsibility for the ground defense of Okinawa.
In their first day of attack against it, the North Koreans had widely breached the Kum River Line. Not only was the line breached, but the 19th Infantry's left flank was now completely exposed. The events of 14 July must have made it clear to General Dean that he could not long hold Taejŏn.
The next morning, July 15, at 0700, Colonel Meloy received word from his extreme left flank that North Koreans were starting to cross there. An aerial strike and the I&R Platoon's machine gun fire repelled this crossing attempt. But soon thereafter enemy troops that had crossed lower down in the 34th Infantry sector briefly engaged the Reconnaissance Platoon when it tried to establish contact with the 34th Infantry. [10-35]
These events on his exposed left flank caused Colonel Meloy to reinforce the small force there with the remainder of G Company, 1 machine gun platoon and a section of 81-mm. mortars from H Company, 2 light tanks, and 2 quad-50's of the Battery A, 26th Anti-aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion - in all, two thirds of his reserve.
Called "Task Force McGrail", after Lt. Col. Thomas M. McGrail, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, accompanied these troops to the left flank. Meloy now had only F Company in reserve behind the 1st Battalion in the main battle position. [10-36]
Late that afternoon Bill Dean, having been apprised of the 34th's collapse, sent an encouraging message to Wadlington and Meloy:
"Hold everything we have until we find out where we stand - might not be too bad - may be able to hold - make reconnaissance - may be able to knock those people out and reconsolidate."
But these words were scarcely on the way when an entirely new threat to Taejŏn appeared to be developing. Intelligence reported that the ROKs on the "central front" were giving way in panic, possibly opening the way for the NKPA to attack Taejŏn from the northeast.
To meet this new threat, Dean ordered Stephens's regrouped 21st Regiment (1,100 men) to deploy to Okch'ŏn, due east of Taejŏn, to prevent an encirclement which might cut off the 19th and 34th.[5-30]
The collapse of Wadlington's 34th Regiment left only Stan Meloy's Chicks holding the Kum River line. Initially Meloy had deployed the Chicks thus:
the 1/19, commanded by Otho T. Winstead, thirty-five, at the river;
the 2/19, commanded by Thomas M. McGrail forty-one, in reserve, except for its E Company, which held the extreme east flank on the river.
The Chicks were supported by the 13th FAB, commanded by Charles W. Stratton, two batteries of Perry's 52nd FAB and Ben Allen's 11th FAB. When the 34th melted away Meloy was compelled to commit McGrail's reserve 2/19 to fill the void on his left, holding merely one rifle company (F) to serve as regimental reserve.[5-31]
As evening of 15 July approached, Colonel Meloy alerted all units in battle positions for an enemy night crossing. Supporting mortars and artillery fired on the enemy-held villages across the river. This and air strikes during the evening set the flimsy Korean wood-adobe-straw huts on fire and illuminated the river front with a reddish glow.
Enemy sources indicate that all day the N.K. 3rd Division had made preparations for an attack on the river line, and that repeated air attacks seriously hampered the movement of its heavy equipment and instilled fear in the minds of its soldiers. Political officers tried to raise the lowering morale of the troops by promising them a long rest after the capture of Taejŏn and by saying that when the city fell the Americans would surrender. [10-39]
Just before dusk, 2nd Lt. Charles C. Early, platoon leader of the 3rd Platoon, B Company, from his position above the Kum, saw an enemy T34 tank come around a bend in the highway across the river. While he telephoned this information to his company commander, he counted eight more tanks making the turn in the road. He could see them distinctly with the naked eye at a distance of about two miles. Three of the tanks pulled off the road, swung their turrets, and fired on Early's position. Most of their rounds passed overhead. Enemy artillery began firing at the same time.
The 1st Battalion had called for an air strike when the enemy tanks opened fire, and now two planes appeared. When the planes arrived over the river all the tanks except one took cover in a wooded area. The strike left the exposed tank burning on the road. The two planes stayed over the area until dark. Upon their departure, enemy infantry in trucks moved to the river's edge. [10-40]
Small groups of enemy soldiers tested the American river defenses by wading into the river; others rushed out to the end of the blown bridge, jumped into the water, and began swimming across. Recoilless rifle and machine gun fire of the Heavy Weapons Company inflicted heavy casualties on this crossing attempt at and near the bridge, but some of the North Koreans got across under cover of tank fire.
Upstream in front of Hill 200 another enemy crossing attempt was under way in front of C Company. The combined fire from all company weapons supported by that from part of the Heavy Weapons Company repelled this attack and two more that followed after short intervals.
Some rounds falling short from friendly 81-mm. mortars knocked out two of the company's 60-mm. mortars and broke the base plate of the remaining one. PFC Tabor Corporal Tabor improvised a base plate and, holding the tube in his hand, fired an estimated 300 rounds. With his first river crossing attacks repulsed, the enemy made ready his major effort.
After dark Lantron's outflanked I Company 34th IR, decamped and escaped to the rear.
[Wadlington's entire 34th was just east of Nonsan (The 34th Infantry occupied new positions just east of Nonsan early in the morning of 15 July.)]
The action that day was another decisive victory for the NKPA. It had swiftly crossed a river in the face of an American defense, shattered yet another American infantry battalion, overrun and captured most of a field artillery battalion, and beaten back Red Ayres's counterattack. Moreover, the collapse of the 34th Regiment laid bare the entire left flank of Stan Meloy's green 19th Infantry.[5-29]
Several hundred man lost this date.
The 19th Infantry and its attached artillery lost nearly one-fifth of their men and officers while vainly trying to keep the superior enemy force from crossing the Kum on 16 and 17 July. Having breached American defenses on the last natural barrier before the key railroad center of Taejŏn, the enemy slashed southward, intent on taking Taejŏn with a further view, apparently, of capturing the new South Korean capital of Taegu.
The 19th Infantry regimental headquarters and the 1st Battalion lost nearly all their vehicles and heavy equipment north of the roadblock. The 52nd Field Artillery Battalion lost 8 105-mm. howitzers and most of its equipment; it brought out only 1 howitzer and 3 vehicles. The 13th and 11th Field Artillery Battalions, two miles south of the 52nd, withdrew in the late afternoon to the Taejŏn airstrip without loss of either weapons or vehicles. [10-69]
The battle of the Kum on 16 July was a black day for the 19th Infantry Regiment. Of the approximately 900 men in position along the river only 434 reported for duty in the Taejŏn area the next day.
A count disclosed that of the 34 officers in the regimental Headquarters, Service, Medical, and Heavy Mortar Companies, and the 1st Battalion, 17 were killed or missing in action. Of these, 13 later were confirmed as killed in action.
All the rifle companies of the 1st Battalion suffered heavy casualties, but the greatest was in C Company, which had total casualties of 122 men out of 171. The regimental headquarters lost 57 of 191 men. The 1st Battalion lost 338 out of 785 men, or 43 percent, the 2nd Battalion, 86 out of 777 men; the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion had 55 casualties out of 393 men, or 14 percent.
The total loss of the regiment and all attached and artillery units engaged in the action was 650 out of 3,401, or 19 percent. [10-70]
In the early morning hours of July 16, in complete darkness, the NKPA 3rd Division, backed by heavy artillery, tank, and machinegun fire, crossed the Kum River and hit Meloy's Chicks. Winstead's 1/19 absorbed the initial blow.
Winstead urgently requested Allen's 11th FAB to fire flares to light up the battlefield, but owing to a communications foul-up, there was an agonizing delay.
During it hundreds of NKPA got across the river and overran and outflanked Winstead's 1/19 position. Meloy, who stood side by side with Winstead in the thick of this fighting, urgently summoned reinforcements from his thin reserve, then bravely led a counterattack, during which the 1/19's exec, John M. Cook, the S1, Alan Hackett, and the S3, Wayne B. Macomber, were killed.[5-32]
At 0300 Sunday, 16 July, an enemy plane flew over the Kum and dropped a flare. It was the signal for a co-ordinated attack. The intensity of the fire that now came from enemy guns on the north bank of the river was as great, General Meloy has said, as anything he experienced in Europe in World War II.
Under cover of this intense fire the North Koreans used boats and rafts, or waded and swam, and in every possible way tried to cross the river. American artillery, mortar, and supporting weapons fire met this attack. [10-41]
Representative of the accidents that weigh heavily in the outcome of most battles was one that now occurred. One of the 155-mm. howitzers of the 11th Field Artillery Battalion had been as signed to fire flares over the river position on call. At the most critical time of the enemy crossing, the 1st Battalion through the regiment requested a slight shift of the flare area.
Normally this would have taken only a few minutes to execute. But the artillery personnel misunderstood the request and laid the howitzer on an azimuth that required moving the trails of the piece. As a result of this mishap there were no flares for a considerable period of time.
Colonel Winstead, the 1st Battalion commander, said that mishap and the resulting lack of flares hurt his men more than anything else in their losing the south bank of the river. [10-42]
At 03:00 on 16 July, the North Koreans launched a massive barrage of tank, artillery and mortar fire on the 19th Infantry's positions and North Korean troops began to cross the river in boats. The North Korean forces gathered on the west bank and assaulted the positions of 1st Battalion's C and E companies, followed by a second landing against B Company. North Korean forces pushed against the entire battalion, threatening to overwhelm it. The regimental commander ordered all support troops and officers to the line and they were able to repulse the assault. However, in the melee, North Korean forces infiltrated their rear elements, attacking the reserve forces and blocking supply lines. Stretched thin, the 19th Infantry was unable to hold the line at the Kum River and simultaneously repel the North Korean forces.
Enemy troops succeeded in crossing the river at 0400 in front of the gap between C and E Companies on the regimental right and struck the 1st Platoon of C Company for the fourth time that night. In the midst of this attack, Lt. Henry T. McGill [MacGill]called Lt. Thomas A. Maher, the 1st Platoon leader, to learn how things were going. Maher answered, "We're doing fine." Thirty seconds later he was dead with a burp gun bullet in his head.
North Koreans in this fourth assault succeeded in overrunning the platoon position. The platoon sergeant brought out only about a dozen men. C Company consolidated its remaining strength on the middle finger of Hill 200 and held fast. But the North Koreans now had a covered route around the east end of the 1st Battalion position. They exploited it in the next few hours by extensive infiltration to the rear and in attacks on the heavy mortar position and various observation and command posts. [10-43]
Simultaneously with this crossing at the right of the main regimental position, another was taking place below and on the left flank of the main battle position. This one lasted longer and apparently was the largest of all.
At daybreak, men in B Company saw an estimated 300 to 400 North Korean soldiers on high ground southwest of them-already safely across the river. And they saw that crossings were still in progress downstream at a ferry site. Enemy soldiers, 25 to 30 at a time, were wading into the river holding their weapons and supplies on their heads, and plunging into neck-deep water. [10-44]
From his observation post, Colonel Meloy could see the crossing area to the left but few details of the enemy movement. Already B Company had called in artillery fire on the enemy crossing force and Colonel Meloy did likewise through his artillery liaison officer. Capt. Monroe Anderson of B Company noticed that while some of the enemy moved on south after crossing the river, most of them remained in the hills camouflaged as shrubs and small trees. Lieutenant Early, fearing an attack on his rear by this crossing force, left his 3rd Platoon and moved back to a better observation point. There for an hour he watched enemy soldiers bypass B Company, moving south. [10-45]
By this time it seemed that the North Koreans were crossing everywhere in front of the regiment. As early as 0630 Colonel Winstead had reported to the regiment that his command post and the Heavy Mortar Company were under attack and that the center of his battalion was falling back. The enemy troops making this attack had crossed the river by the partly destroyed bridge and by swimming and wading.
They made deep penetrations and about 0800 overran part of the positions of A Company and the right hand platoon of B Company behind the dike. They then continued on south across the flat paddies and seized the high ground at Kadong-ni.
Lt. John A. English, Weapons Platoon leader with B Company, seeing what had happened to the one platoon of B Company along the dike, ran down from his hill position, flipped off his helmet, swam the small stream that empties into the Kum at this point, and led out fourteen survivors. [10-46]
This enemy penetration through the center of the regimental position to the 1st Battalion command post had to be thrown back if the 19th Infantry was to hold its position.
Colonel Meloy and Colonel Winstead immediately set about organizing a counterattack force from the 1st Battalion Headquarters and the Regimental Headquarters Companies, consisting of all officers present, cooks, drivers, mechanics, clerks, and the security platoon. Colonel Meloy brought up a tank and a quad-50 antiaircraft artillery half-track to help in the counterattack.
This counterattack farce engaged the North Koreans and drove them from the high ground at Kadong-ni by 0900. Some of the enemy ran to the river and crossed back to the north side. In leading this attack, Maj. John M. Cook, the 1st Battalion Executive Officer, and Capt. Alan Hackett, the Battalion S-1, lost their lives. [10-47]
Colonel Meloy reported to General Dean that he had thrown back the North Koreans, that he thought the situation was under control, and that he could hold on until dark as he, General Dean, had requested. It was understood that after dark the 19th Infantry would fall back from the river to a delaying position closer to Taejŏn. [10-48]
Roadblock Behind the 19th Infantry
But events were not in reality as favorable as they had appeared to Colonel Meloy when he made his report to General Dean. Colonel Winstead, the 1st Battalion commander, soon reported to Colonel Meloy that while he thought he could hold the river line to his front he had no forces to deal with the enemy in his rear.
Fire from infiltrated enemy troops behind the main line was falling on many points of the battalion position and on the main supply road. Then came word that an enemy force had established a roadblock three miles to the rear on the main highway.
Stopped by enemy fire while on his way forward with a resupply of ammunition for the 1st Battalion, 2nd Lt. Robert E. Nash S-4 telephoned the news to Colonel Meloy who ordered him to go back, find Colonel McGrail, 2nd Battalion commander, and instruct him to bring up G and H Companies to break the roadblock. Almost simultaneously with this news Colonel Meloy received word from Colonel Stratton that he was engaged with the enemy at the artillery positions. [10-49]
All morning the hard-pressed men of the 19th Infantry had wondered what had happened to their air support. When the last two planes left the Kum River at dark the night before they had promised that air support would be on hand the next morning at first light. Thus far only six planes, hours after daylight, had made their appearance over the front. Now the regiment sent back an urgent call for an air strike on the enemy roadblock force.
About 1000, Colonel Perry, commanding officer of the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion, from his command post near Tuman-ni three miles south of the Kum River, saw a long string of enemy soldiers in white clothing pass over a mountain ridge two miles westward and disappear southward over another ridge.
He ordered A Battery to place fire on this column, and informed the 13th Field Artillery Battalion below him that an enemy force was approaching it. A part of this enemy force, wearing regulation North Korean uniforms, turned off toward the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion and headed for B Battery
Men in B Battery hastily turned two or three of their howitzers around and delivered direct fire at the North Koreans. The North Koreans set up mortars and fired into B Battery position.
One of their first rounds killed the battery commander and his first sergeant. Other rounds wounded five of the six chiefs of sections. The battery executive, 1st Lt. William H. Steele, immediately assumed command and organized a determined defense of the position. Meanwhile, Colonel Perry at his command post just south of B Battery assembled a small attack force of wire, medical, and fire direction personnel not on duty, and some 19th Infantry soldiers who were in his vicinity.
He led this group out against the flank of the North Koreans, directing artillery fire by radio as he closed with them. The combined fire from B Battery, Colonel Perry's group, and the directed artillery fire repelled this enemy attack. The North Koreans turned and went southward into the hills. [10-52]
Scattered, spasmodic firing was still going on in the center when Colonel Meloy and his S-3, Maj. Edward O. Logan, left the regimental command post about an hour before noon to check the situation at the roadblock and to select a delaying position farther back.
Before leaving the Kum River, Meloy gave instructions to Colonel Winstead concerning withdrawal of the troops after dark. [10-50]
The enemy soldiers who established the roadblock behind the regiment had crossed the Kum below B Company west of the highway. They bypassed B and F Companies, the latter the regiment's reserve force. Only enough enemy soldiers to pin it down turned off and engaged F Company.
During the morning many reports had come into the
regimental command post from F Company that enemy troops were moving south past
its position. Once past F Company, the enemy flanking force turned east toward
the highway. [10-51]
Before noon the enemy force again turned east to the highway about 800 yards south of the 52nd Field Artillery position.
There it opened fire on and halted some jeeps with trailers going south for ammunition resupply. Other vehicles piled up behind the jeeps. This was the beginning of the roadblock, and this was when Colonel Meloy received the telephone message about it. South of the roadblock the 11th and 13th Field Artillery Battalions came under long range, ineffective small arms fire.
The artillery continued firing on the Kum River crossing areas, even though the 13th Field Artillery Battalion Fire Direction Center, coordinating the firing, had lost all communication about 1100 with its forward observers and liaison officers at the infantry positions. [10-53]
The North Korean roadblock, a short distance below the village of Tuman. where the highway made a sharp bend going south, closed the only exit from the main battle position of the 19th Infantry. At this point a narrow pass was formed by a steep 40-foot embankment which dropped off on the west side of the road to a small stream, the Yongsu River, and a steep hillside that came down to the road on the other side. There was no space for a vehicular bypass on either side of the road. South of this point for approximately four miles high hills approached and flanked the highway on the west. As the day wore on, the enemy built up his roadblock force and extended it southward into these hills.
When Colonel Meloy and Major Logan arrived at the roadblock they found conditions unsatisfactory. Small groups of soldiers, entirely disorganized and apathetic, were returning some fire in the general direction of the unseen enemy. While trying to organize a group to attack the enemy on the high ground overlooking the road Colonel Meloy was wounded. He now gave to Colonel Winstead command of all troops along the Kum River.
In the battle of the Kum River on 16 July one sees the result of a defending force lacking an adequate reserve to deal with enemy penetrations and flank movement. Colonel Meloy never faltered in his belief that if he had not had to send two-thirds of his reserve to the left flank after the collapse of the 34th Infantry at Kongju, he could have prevented the North Koreans from establishing their roadblock or could have reduced it by attack from high ground.
The regiment did repel, or by counterattack drive out, all frontal attacks and major penetrations of its river positions except that through C Company on Hill 200. But it showed no ability to organize counterattacks with available forces once the roadblock had been established. By noon, demoralization had set in among the troops, many of whom were near exhaustion from the blazing sun and the long hours of tension and combat. They simply refused to climb the hills to attack the enemy's automatic weapons positions.
The N.K. 3rd Division, for its part, pressed home an attack which aimed to pin down the 19th Infantry by frontal attack while it carried out a double envelopment of the flanks. The envelopment of the American left flank resulted in the fatal roadblock three miles below the Kum on the main supply road. This North Korean method of attack had characterized most other earlier actions and it seldom varied in later ones.
Meloy believed that this counterattack might have temporarily stabilized the situation and that he could hold the line at least until dark. But he was overly optimistic; the NKPA had outflanked him in the thin seam between the 19th and 34th. The NKPA infantrymen moving to the rear soon attacked Perry's 52nd FAB position and threw up a strong roadblock behind the buckling 1/19.
Learning of this, Meloy and his S3, Edward O. Logan, twenty-eight, gathered a pickup force to break the roadblock and headed south about noon. In the fight to break the block, Meloy was severely wounded in the calf by shell fragments and was no longer capable of commanding, but he refused evacuation. To succeed him temporarily Meloy bypassed his inexperienced (West Point, 1940) exec, coast artilleryman Homer B. ("Chan") Chandler, and chose the 1/19's commander, infantryman Otho Winstead.[5-33]
Major Logan established communication with General Dean about 1300. He told him that Meloy had been wounded, that Winstead was in command, and that the regimental situation was bad. Dean replied that he was assembling a force to try to break the roadblock but that probably it would be about 1530 before it could arrive at the scene. He ordered the regiment to withdraw at once, getting its personnel and equipment out to the greatest possible extent. Soon after this conversation, enemy fire struck and destroyed the regimental radio truck, and there was no further communication with the division. Colonel Winstead ordered Major Logan to try to reduce the roadblock and get someone through to establish contact with the relief force expected from the south.
Winstead inherited a confused and disintegrating flock of Chicks. At that point his former outfit, the 1/19, now commanded by Robert M. Miller, was flying apart and trying to withdraw but was thwarted by the roadblock at the rear. Perry's 52nd FAB was under heavy attack; the more rearward 11th and 13th FABs were loading up and pulling out.
In the left (or west) sector Tom McGrail and his 2/19 forces were falling back under vicious fire, bypassing the roadblock to the west, as instructed by Meloy. Leaving Logan to try to break the roadblock, Winstead went forward to steady the 1/19 and probably to find some way of evacuating the wounded Meloy around the roadblock. Shortly thereafter Winstead was killed by enemy fire.[5-34]
Apprised of this latest disaster, Bill Dean came forward from Taejŏn, leading a mini-rescue force: two light tanks and four antiaircraft (A/A) vehicles.* South of the roadblock Dean met the regimental S3, Ed Logan, and the 2/19 commander, Thomas M. McGrail, both of whom had skirted around it with various forces.
Logan volunteered to lead the rescue team against the road block, but Dean chose McGrail for that mission, ordering Logan to the rear to find and prepare a new defensive line in front of Taejŏn.
Developed - or over-developed - in World War II as A/A weapons to fend off prop planes, they were obsolete A/A weapons in the jet plane age. However, in Korea, these weapons, each with terrific firepower, proved to be highly useful in supporting the infantry. Hence A/A battalions were to be much in demand.[5-35]
While this discussion was going on, the exec, Chan Chandler, came barreling south on the road in a jeep, leading four other jeeps loaded with wounded, all of which had run the roadblock. In this perilous journey all the wounded men had been hit again one or more times; Chandler himself had been struck in the leg. Chandler continued going south and was eventually evacuated, along with other wounded Chicks, to a hospital in Japan, where he was to remain for forty-five days before rejoining the regiment.[5-36]
Winstead then started back to his 1st Battalion along the river. Shortly after 1330 he ordered it to withdraw. In returning to the Kum, Winstead went to his death. [10-54]
During the previous night the weather had cleared from overcast to bright starlight, and now, as the sun climbed past its zenith, the temperature reached 100 degrees. Only foot soldiers who have labored up the steep Korean slopes in midsummer can know how quickly exhaustion overcomes the body unless it is inured to such conditions by training and experience.
As this was the initial experience of the 19th Infantry in Korean combat the men lacked the physical stamina demanded by the harsh terrain and the humid, furnace-like weather. And for three days and nights past they had had little rest. This torrid midsummer Korean day, growing light at 0500 and staying light until 2100, seemed to these weary men an unending day of battle. [Sunrise 0522 1949 Moonrise 0554 2054]
When the 1st Battalion began to withdraw, some of the units were still in their original positions, while others were in secondary positions to which enemy action had driven them. In the withdrawal from Hill 200 on the battalion right, officers of C Company had trouble in getting the men to leave their foxholes. Incoming mortar fire pinned them down. Cpl. Jack Arawaka, a machine gunner, at this time had his gun blow up in his face. Deafened, nearly blind, and otherwise wounded from the explosion, he picked up a BAR and continued fighting. Arawaka did not follow the company off the hill.
As 2nd Lt. Augustus B. Orr led a part of the company along the base of the hill toward the highway he came upon a number of North Korean soldiers lying in rice paddy ditches and partly covered with water. They appeared to be dead.
Suddenly, Orr saw one of them who was clutching a grenade send air bubbles into the water and open his eyes. Orr shot him at once. He and his men now discovered that the other North Koreans were only feigning death and they killed them on the spot. [10-55]
When C Company reached the highway they saw the last of A and B Companies disappearing south along it. Enemy troops were starting forward from the vicinity of the bridge. But when they saw C Company approaching from their flank, they ran back. Upon reaching the highway, C Company turned south on it but soon came under enemy fire from the hill east of Palsan-ni.
An estimated six enemy machine guns fired on the company and scattered it. Individuals and small groups from the company made their way south as best they could. Some of those who escaped saw wounded men lying in the roadside ditches with medical aid men heroically staying behind administering to their needs.
On the west side of the highway, F Company was still in position covering the withdrawal of B Company. At the time of the withdrawal of the 1st Battalion, F Company was under fire from its left front, left flank, and the left rear. [10-56]
As elements of the withdrawing 1st Battalion came up to the roadblock, officers attempted to organize attacks against the enemy automatic weapons firing from the high ground a few hundred yards to the west.
One such force had started climbing toward the enemy positions when a flight of four friendly F-51's came in and attacked the hill.
This disrupted their efforts completely and caused the men to drop back off the slope in a disorganized condition.
Other attempts were made to organize parties from drivers, mechanics, artillerymen, and miscellaneous personnel to go up the hill-all to no avail.
Two light tanks at the roadblock fired in the general direction of the enemy. But since the North Koreans used smokeless powder ammunition, the tankers could not locate the enemy guns and their fire was ineffective.
Lt. Lloyd D. Smith, platoon leader of the 81-mm. mortar platoon, D Company, was one of the officers Major Logan ordered to attack and destroy the enemy machine guns. He and another platoon leader, with about fifty men, started climbing toward the high ground. After going several hundred feet, Smith found that only one man was still with him. They both returned to the highway. Men crowded the roadside ditches seeking protection from the enemy fire directed at the vehicles. [10-57]
Several times men pushed vehicles blocking the road out of the way, but each time traffic started to move enemy machine guns opened up causing more driver casualties and creating the vehicle block all over again. Strafing by fighter planes seemed unable to reduce this enemy automatic fire of three or four machine guns. Ordered to attack south against the enemy roadblock force, F Company, still in its original reserve position, was unable to do so, being virtually surrounded and under heavy attack.
McGrail climbed in a jeep and led the mini-rescue team up the road to break the roadblock. It soon came under heavy NKPA machinegun fire. All four A/A vehicles, on which McGrail was counting heavily, were knocked out with 90 percent casualties. The two light tanks fired off all their ammo and then withdrew.
McGrail managed to crawl away from his wrecked jeep and escape south unhurt. Later in the day Dean named him to temporary command of what was left of the 19th. A second effort to break the roadblock, led by a tough and skilled company commander, Michael Barszcz, was called off just as Barszcz made contact with the NKPA.[5-37]
About 1430, Major Logan placed Capt. Edgar R. Fenstermacher, Assistant S-3, in command at the roadblock, and taking twenty men he circled eastward and then southward trying to determine the extent of the roadblock and to find a bypass.
After expending their ammunition, the tanks about 1600 turned around and headed back down the road. McGrail crawled back along the roadside ditch and eventually got out of enemy fire. The personnel in the four antiaircraft vehicles suffered an estimated 90 percent casualties. The location of the wrecked Meloy and Logan jeeps would indicate that McGrail's relief force came within 300 to 400 yards of the regimental column piled up behind the roadblock around the next turn of the road. [10-61]
Back near Kongju on the regimental west flank, G Company came off its hill positions and waited for trucks to transport it to the roadblock area.
Elements of H Company went on ahead in their own transportation. Captain Montesclaros stayed with the I&R Platoon, and it and the engineers blew craters in the road. They were the last to leave.
At Yusŏng General Menoher met Capt. Michael Barszcz, commanding officer of G Company, when the company arrived there from the west flank. Fearing that enemy tanks were approaching, Menoher ordered him to deploy his men along the river bank in the town.
Later Barszcz received orders to lead his company forward to attack the enemy-held roadblock. On the way, Barszcz met a small convoy of vehicles led by a 2 1/2 ton truck. A Military Police officer riding the front fender of the truck yelled, "Tanks, Tanks!" as it hurtled past. Barszcz ordered his driver to turn the jeep across the road to block it and the G Company men scrambled off their vehicles into the ditches. But there were no enemy tanks, and, after a few minutes, Barszcz had G Company on the road again, this time on foot. Some distance ahead, he met General Dean who ordered him to make contact with the enemy and try to break the roadblock. [10-62]
In carrying out Meloy's instructions and going back down the road to find Colonel McGrail and bring G and H Companies to break the roadblock, Nash ran a gantlet of enemy fire. His jeep was wrecked by enemy fire, but he escaped on foot to the 13th Field Artillery Battalion position. There he borrowed a jeep and drove to McGrail's command post at Sangwang-ni on the regimental extreme left flank near Kongju.
After delivering Meloy's orders, Nash drove back to Taejŏn airstrip to find trucks to transport the troops. It took personal intercession and an order from the assistant division commander, General Menoher, before the trucks went to pick up G Company. Meanwhile, two tanks and the antiaircraft vehicles started for the roadblock position. Colonel McGrail went on ahead and waited at the 13th Field Artillery Battalion headquarters for the armored vehicles to arrive. They had just arrived when Logan met General Dean. [10-59]
Logan told General Dean of the situation at the roadblock and offered to lead the armored vehicles to break the block. Dean said that Colonel McGrail would lead the force and that he, Logan, should continue on south and form a new position just west of Taejŏn airfield. While Logan stood at the roadside talking with General Dean, a small group of five jeeps came racing toward them. Lt. Col. Homer B. Chandler, the 19th Infantry Executive Officer, rode in the lead jeep. He had led four jeeps loaded with wounded through the roadblock. Every one of the wounded had been hit again one or more times by enemy fire during their wild ride. [10-60]
McGrail now started up the road with the relief force. One light tank led, followed by the four antiaircraft vehicles loaded with soldiers; the second light tank brought up the rear. About one mile north of the former position of the 13th Field Artillery Battalion, enemy heavy machine gun and light antitank fire ripped into the column just after it rounded a bend and came onto a straight stretch of the road. Two vehicles stopped and returned the enemy fire. Most of the infantry in the antiaircraft vehicles jumped out and scrambled for the roadside ditches. As McGrail went into a ditch he noticed Colonel Meloy's and Major Logan's wrecked jeeps nearby. Enemy fire destroyed the four antiaircraft vehicles.
About 1800, several staff officers decided that they would place Colonel Meloy in the last tank and run it through the roadblock. The tank made four efforts before it succeeded in pushing aside the pile of smoldering 2 1/2-ton trucks and other equipment blocking the road. Then it rumbled southward.
About twenty vehicles followed the tank through the roadblock, including a truck towing a 105-mm. howitzer of the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion, before enemy fire closed the road again and for the last time.
A few miles south of the roadblock the tank stopped because of mechanical failure. There Captain Barszcz and G Company, withdrawing toward Yusŏng, came upon it and Colonel Meloy.
No one had been able to stop any of the vehicles for help that had followed the tank through the roadblock. Instead, they sped past the disabled tank. The tank commander, Lt. J. N. Roush, upon Colonel Meloy's orders, dropped a thermite grenade into the tank and destroyed it. Eventually, an officer returned with a commandeered truck and took Colonel Meloy and other wounded men to Yusŏng. [10-64]
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 six miles north of Yusŏng and two miles south of Tuman-ni, G Company came under long-range enemy fire.
Barszcz received orders to advance along high ground on the left of the road. He was told that enemy troops were on the hill half a mile ahead and to the left. While climbing the hill the company suffered several casualties from enemy fire. They dug in on top at dusk.
A short time later a runner brought word for them to come down to the road and withdraw. That ended the effort of the 19th Infantry and the 24th Division to break the roadblock behind the regiment. [10-63]
Efforts to break the enemy roadblock at both its northern and southern extremities disclosed that it covered about a mile and a half of road. The enemy soldiers imposing it were on a Y-shaped hill mass whose two prongs dropped steeply to the Yongsu River at their eastern bases and overlooked the Sŏul-Pusan highway.
Behind the roadblock, the trapped men had waited during the afternoon. They could not see either of the two attempts to reach them from the south because of a finger ridge cutting off their view. Not all the troops along the river line, however, came to the roadblock; many groups scattered into the hills and moved off singly or in small units south and east toward Taejŏn.
About an hour after the tank carrying Colonel Meloy had broken through the roadblock, Captain Fenstermacher, acting under his authority from Major Logan, ordered all personnel to prepare for cross-country movement. The critically wounded and those unable to walk were placed on litters. There were an estimated 500 men and approximately 100 vehicles at the roadblock at this time. Captain Fenstermacher and others poured gasoline on the vehicles and then set them afire. While so engaged, Captain Fenstermacher was shot through the neck.
About 2100 the last of the men at the roadblock moved eastward into the hills. [10-65]
One group of infantrymen, artillerymen, engineers, and medical and headquarters troops, numbering approximately 100 men, climbed the mountain east of the road. They took with them about 30 wounded, including several litter cases.
About 40 men of this group were detailed to serve as litter bearers but many of them disappeared while making the ascent. On top of the mountain the men still with the seriously wounded decided they could take them no farther.
Chaplain Herman G. Felhoelter remained behind with the wounded. When a party of North Koreans could be heard approaching, at the Chaplain's urging, Capt. Linton J. Buttrey, the medical officer, escaped, though seriously wounded in doing so. From a distance, 1st Sgt. James W. R. Haskins of Headquarters Company saw through his binoculars a group of what appeared to be young North Korean soldiers murder the wounded men and the valiant chaplain as the latter prayed over them. [10-66]
Ten men were lost on this date.
July 24, 1950
Instead, when the two battalions (1&3/29) disembarked at Pusan the morning of 24 July orders from Eighth Army awaited them to proceed to Chinju. There they would be attached to the 19th Infantry Regiment.
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.
August 10. 1950
On 10 August F-80 's strafed elements of the American 19th Regiment, causing three casualties; a newspaper reporter claimed that the strafing forced a withdrawal of the unit, but this was denied by the 24th Division and EUSAK.