Replaced by the 14th IR in August 1951
|Col.||Horton V. White||8/6/50|
|Col.||Champeny, Arthur S. "Art"[Col. KMAG]||8/6/50|
|Col.||John T. Corley|
|LtCol||Paul F. Roberts|
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|24th Infantry Regiment|
|Active||1869 – 1951; 1995 – present|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort Wainwright, Alaska|
|Nickname||Deuce Four (special designation)|
|Motto||"Semper Paratus" (Always Prepared)|
|Colors||Blue and white|
War with Spain
World War II
|Distinctive unit insignia|
The 24th Infantry Regiment was a unit of the United States Army, active from 1869 until 1951, and again from 1995 until 2006. The regiment is notable for having a colorfully checkered history, with a record of mostly meritorious service and valorous combat performance, marred by episodes such as the Houston Riot of 1917 and deficiencies in command leadership during the Korean War.
The 24th Infantry Regiment (one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments) was organized on November 1, 1869 from the 38th and 41st (Colored) Infantry Regiments. All the enlisted soldiers were black, either veterans of the U.S. Colored Troops or freedmen. From its activation to 1898, the 24th Infantry served throughout the Western United States. Its missions included garrisoning frontier posts, battling American Indians, protecting roadways against bandits, and guarding the border between the United States and Mexico.
The year 1898 saw the 24th Infantry deployed to Cuba as part of the U.S. Expeditionary Force in the Spanish-American War. Elements of the 24th participated in the storming of the Spanish fortress in the Battle of El Caney. At the climactic battle of San Juan Hill, supported by intensive fire from the Gatling Gun Detachment, units of the 24th Infantry, accompanied by elements of the 6th and 13th Infantry Regiments, assaulted and seized the Spanish-held blockhouse and trench system atop San Juan Hill.
In 1899 the regiment deployed to the Philippine Islands to help suppress a guerrilla movement in the Philippine-American War. The regiment returned to the Islands in 1905 and 1911. Though the 24th fought a number of battles in the Philippines, one of the most notable occurred on December 7, 1899, when nine soldiers from the regiment routed 100 guerrillas from their trenches.
In 1916 the 24th Infantry guarded the U.S.-Mexico border to keep the Mexican Revolution from spilling on to U.S. soil. When it did, the 24th joined the "Punitive Expedition" under General Pershing and entered Mexico to fight Pancho Villa's forces. In 1919, rebels and troops of the Mexican government fought in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, which borders the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. The 24th Infantry crossed over again to engage the rebels, ensuring that no violence erupted across the U.S. border.
The Houston Riot (1917) was a mutiny by 150 black soldiers of the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry, called the Camp Logan Riots. Sergeant Vida Henry of I Company, 3rd Battalion led about 150 black soldiers in a two-hour march on Houston because they had suffered racial discrimination in the city.
The soldiers were met by local policemen and a great crowd of Houston residents, who had armed themselves. When the soldiers killed Captain J.W. Mattes of the Illinois National Guard (after mistaking him for a local policeman), the battalion fell into disarray. Sgt. Henry shot himself, distraught over having killed another serviceman. In their two-hour march on the city, the battalion killed 15 armed whites, including four policemen, and seriously wounded 12 others, one of whom, a policeman, subsequently died. Four black soldiers were killed. Two were accidentally shot by their own men, one in camp and the other on San Felipe Street. The riot lasted one afternoon, and resulted in the deaths of four soldiers and 15 civilians. The rioters were tried at three courts-martial. Fourteen were executed, and 41 were given life sentences.
At the start of World War II, the 24th Infantry was stationed at Fort Benning as School Troops for the Infantry School. They participated in the Carolina Maneuvers of October – December 1941. During World War II, the 24th Infantry fought in the South Pacific Theatre as a separate regiment. Deploying on April 4, 1942 from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, the regiment arrived in the New Hebrides Islands on May 4, 1942. The 24th moved to Guadalcanal on August 28, 1943, and was assigned to the US XIV Corps. 1st Battalion deployed to Bougainville, attached to the 37th Infantry Division, from March to May 1944 for perimeter defense duty. The regiment departed Guadalcanal on December 8, 1944, and landed on Saipan and Tinian on December 19, 1944 for Garrison Duty that included mopping up the remaining Japanese forces that had yet to surrender. The regiment was assigned to the Pacific Ocean Area Command on March 15, 1945, and then to the Central Pacific Base Command on May 15, 1945, and to the Western pacific Base Command on June 22, 1945.
The regiment departed Saipan and Tinian on July 9, 1945, and arrived on the Kerama Islands off Okinawa on July 29, 1945. At the end of the war, the 24th took the surrender of forces on the island of Aka-shima, the first formal surrender of a Japanese Imperial Army garrison. The regiment remained on Okinawa through 1946.
From the end of World War II through 1947, the 24th occupied Okinawa, Japan, after which it relocated to Gifu, Japan. On February 1, 1947, the regiment reorganized as a permanent regiment of the 25th Infantry Division. Despite the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in 1948 by Executive Order 9981, the 24th Infantry remained predominantly African–American, with an officer corps of both African and European Americans. In late June 1950, soon after North Korea invaded South Korea, the 24th deployed to Korea to assist in the Korean War.
The 24th Infantry fought throughout the entire Korean peninsula, from the defense of the "Pusan Perimeter" to its breakout and the pursuit of communist forces well into North Korea, to the Chinese counteroffensives, and finally to U.N. counteroffensives that stabilized near the current Demilitarized Zone. The regiment received the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for its defense of the Pusan Perimeter. The regiment also had two posthumous Medal of Honor recipients, Cornelius H. Charlton and William Thompson.
The cases of Lieutenant Leon Gilbert, court martialed for refusing an order from the 24th's commanding officer (who was white), and of some other members of the 24th, helped bring greater attention to problems of segregation and discrimination within the U.S. military.
Upon landing at Pusan the 25th Infantry Division was initially positioned some one hundred miles north of Pusan and given the mission of blocking and delaying advancing North Korean forces down the Naktong River valley from the northwest.
July 21, 1950
On 21 July 1950 the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry supported by other elements of the 24th Regimental Combat Team conducted the first major offensive mission of the 25th Infantry Division with its recapture of the vital road junction town of Yechon driving out the North Korean defenders and repulsing a North Korean attempts to retake the town. It was considered by the Congress and the Department of Defense as the first sizeable American ground victory of the war.
The 25th Infantry Division remained in the upper Naktong River valley into August in the area near the town of Sangju. The regiments of the 25th conducted delaying actions, trading space for time against ever increasing North Korean pressure.
August 1, 1950
Fearing a North Korean breakthrough to Pusan along the South Korean coast the 25th Infantry Division was transferred by Eighth Army over one hundred miles by trains and trucks on 1-3 August 1950 to the vicinity of the city of Masan situated astride the southern coast road approaching Pusan from the west.
August 3, 1950
By 3 August the 25th was in its new defensive positions extending some twenty miles in width from the southern coast north to the confluence of the Naktong and Nam rivers.
The 24th Infantry Regiment held the center of the line in rugged mountain ridges and peaks of Subok-san to include Hill 665 which was to become known as Battle Mountain and Hill 743 known as Pil-bong. These mountain peaks had no roads or trails leading up their eastern slopes making it extremely difficult for U.S. forces to attack up them, as well as taking hours to re-supply units on them and to bring down casualties. Strong North Korean attacks with overwhelming force hit the 25th Infantry Division time-and-again. In the 24th Infantry sector, Battle Mountain and Pil-bong were often overrun and then retaken in hand-to-hand combat with heavy casualties.
August 6, 1950
On 6 August during an ambush of elements of the 3rd Battalion near the village of Haman, PFC William Thompson, Company M, 24th Infantry, manned a machine gun in an exposed position and placed accurate fire on the attacking North Koreans until mortally wounded giving his unit time to react to the attack. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism. Through August and into September the 25th Infantry Division successfully held its defensive sector preventing the North Korean forces from breaking through to Pusan. For this significant achievement the division including the 24th Infantry, was awarded a Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
August 8, 1950
The next day, 8 August, the regiment [2/35] advanced to the high ground just short of the Much'on-ni road fork. There Fisher received orders from General Kean to dig in and wait until the 5th Regimental Combat Team could come up on his left and join him at Much'on-ni. While waiting, Fisher's men beat off a few enemy attacks and sent out strong combat patrols that probed enemy positions as far as the Nam River. [16-12]
Behind and on the left of the 35th Infantry, in the mountain mass that separated it from the other attack columns, the fight was not going well. From this rough ground surrounding Sobuk-san, the 24th Infantry was supposed to clear out enemy forces of unknown size, but believed to be small.
September 15, 1950
The landing at Inch'ŏn by U.S. and ROK forces on September 15 finally compelled the North Koreans to withdraw from the Pusan Perimeter.
September 15, 1950
In conjunction with General MacArthur’s surprise landing of the X Corps at Inchon on 15 September 1950 the United Nations forces in the Pusan Perimeter went on the offensive. In the 25th Division sector strong enemy resistance on the mountain peaks of the Subok-san delayed undertaking the offensive until 19 September when the mountain peaks and ridges had been cleared by the 24th Infantry in the face of weakening but stubborn enemy resistance.
Once the mountains were in friendly hands the 25th went on the offensive. An attack to the west on two axes of advance was to be conducted with motorized task forces one of which consisted primarily of the 24th Infantry Regiment. Starting on 27 September and moving rapidly that task force brushed aside North Korean delaying actions rapidly seizing several Korean towns and in the process managed to liberate close to one hundred American prisoners.
September 27, t910
The 24th Infantry was divided into Task Forces Blair and Task Forces Corley (named for their commanders), and they, along with several from other commands, began pursuing the enemy on September 27.
September 30, 1950
By 30 September the 24th Infantry had reached and liberated the west coast port city of Kunsan.
In October, after linking up with the X Corps, the Eighth Army crossed the 38th Parallel into North Korea while the 25th Division remained in South Korea. The 24th Infantry and the other elements of the 25th Division were given the mission of eliminating surviving fragments of North Korean units south and east of the city of Taejon which had been bypassed by American forces and were threatening the American supply lines. By early November the 25th Division had successfully accomplished its mission of securing and stabilizing the area around Taejon and was moved north to Kaesong to continue the mission of eliminating pockets of bypassed enemy units along the 38th Parallel.
November 19, t950
After rapidly completing that mission, the 25th was moved north and on 19 November 1950 into the front lines which by then were deep into North Korea near Anju. Taking the offensive, the Tropic Lightning quickly ran into stiff resistance and was thrown onto the defensive as massive Chinese Communist Forces attacked and penetrated the Eighth Army line to the right of the 25th Division and opened up the 25th Division’s right flank held by the 24th Infantry Regiment. Taking heavy casualties as the Chinese hit the right flank of the 2nd Battalion,
The 25th Division remained in South Korea until ordered north in late November to participate in the Chongchon operation. Later in November, overwhelming assaults by Chinese troops forced the U.S. Eighth Army to withdraw.
November 29, 1950
On November 29, the Chinese 40th Army flanked the 24th Infantry's line north of the Chongchon River in North Korea, forcing the neighboring 9th Regiment of the 2nd Division to withdraw.
November 30, 1950
On November 30, the 3/24th was at Kunu-ri, on the division's open right flank, with Chinese troops behind it. With the help of air support, the battalion extricated itself, losing one soldier killed, 30 wounded and 109 missing. Overall, the 24th Infantry lost one-fifth of its officers and one-third of its enlisted men in the withdrawal across the Chongchon. Colonel Corley blamed the disarray of the 3rd Battalion on its commander, Lt. Col. Melvin E. Blair, whom he summarily relieved.
The Eighth Army's withdrawal did not cease until the force was well below the 39th parallel north. But by early March 1951, the American and ROK troops were again ready for a full-scale offensive.
December 8-14th 1950
24th Infantry and with Chinese troops moving to their rear, the 24th Infantry along with the rest of the 25th Division began a series of delaying actions back down the peninsula, reaching Kaesong on 8 December and then south of the Imjin River in South Korea by the 14 December.
January 3, 1951
Continuing Chinese pressure forced the Eighth Army including the 25th Division to withdraw further south to the 37th Parallel near Osan by 3 January 1951.
January 25, 1951
On 25 January the 25th Division participated in the United Nations counteroffensive reaching the Han River by 19 February.
Mrch 7, 2951
On 7 March the 24th Infantry conducted a well executed assault crossing of the Han as the 25th drove north inflicting heavy casualties on the Communist forces reaching and holding a line just south of the city of Chorwon by the end of March.
April 11, 1951
After crossing the Hantan River on April 11, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry attacked a steep ridge line defended by heavily dug-in Chinese forces and was initially repulsed. Two days later in bitter fighting the ridge was taken by the 24th Infantry.
April 22, 1951
On 22 April the Chinese started a new offensive that pushed back the United Nations forces including the 25th Division to the area just north of Seoul.
May 20 1951
Another UN counteroffensive beginning on 20 May drove the Chinese back north across the 38th Parallel.
June 2, 1951
On 2 June 1951 near the town of Chipo-ri, Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry was assaulting a heavily defended ridge line when the platoon leader became a casualty. Sergeant Cornelius Charlton took command and led a charge up the ridge wiping out three enemy bunkers with his rifle and grenades despite receiving serious wounds. His bravery inspired his platoon to seize the crest of the ridge in one final charge. He succumbed to his wounds and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his extreme gallantry.
June 15-21 1951
By the middle of June the 25th Division had captured the town of Kumhwa and then on 21 June the Tropic Lightning was taken off the line and placed in reserve near Uijongbu. Armistice negotiations started on 10 July 1951. In mid July the 25th went back on the line to its previous positions near the towns of Chorwon and Kumhwa.
While the armistice negotiations were underway the two sides went on the defensive. The 24th Infantry Regiment like the other Eighth Army units in contact with the enemy, restricted their offensive actions to company-sized limited objective attacks and patrolling.
March 6, 1951
On March 6, the 25th Division advanced across the Han River. The 1/24th did well, moving over difficult terrain against an entrenched enemy. The 3rd Battalion initially also performed well, executing a hastily devised river crossing and advancing through rough country against well dug-in Chinese troops, far from the 1st Battalion. While climbing up steep terrain, however, the 1/24th reportedly collapsed under Chinese fire and withdrew in disorder. When the division commander learned of that action, his confidence in the 24th plummeted. Many soldiers of the 24th ran away from the fight, tossing their weapons and equipment aside. A derisive poem throughout the U.S. Army stated: When them Chinese mortars begins to thud, the Old Deuce-Four begin to bug.
Although the 24th performed well in the attack north of the Han and the subsequent general withdrawal of the Eighth Army after the Chinese spring offensive of 1951, its reputation was somewhat tarnished. But it performed well in the Army's drive back north in May and June 1951.
In August, the regiment's new commander, Colonel Thomas D. Gillis, prodded by the division commander, closely examined the 24th's record in Korea. Determining that leadership had been the problem, he relieved a number of officers. After the change in command,
September 15, 1951
Company F conducted a valiant bayonet and grenade charge on September 15. But, the positive performance of Company F was ignored by higher commands and the news media.
One of the last significant combat actions of the 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea involved the regiment’s Company F which on 15 September 1951 near the village of Mando captured a key Communist outpost with a gallant bayonet and grenade charge.
Shortly thereafter in conjunction with the integration of the US Army the 24th Infantry ...
October 1, 1951
By October 1, 1951, the 24th was dissolved.
Regiment was inactivated effective 1 October 1951 at Chipo-ri, Korea after six Korean War campaigns and 85 years of continuous service in the United States Army.
The other two elements of the 24th Regimental Combat Team, the 159th Field Artillery Battalion and the 77th Engineer Combat Company both of which had rendered excellent direct support to the 24th Infantry through six Korean campaigns were integrated and remained active, serving in all ten campaigns of the Korean War.
The 77th continued to serve with the Tropic Lightning until the 1953 then was inactivated. While assigned to the Tropic Lightning the 159th Field Artillery Battalion received a Navy Presidential Unit Citation for its support of the 1st Marine Division near Wonju in April 1951.
November 12, 1951
On 12 November 1951 the 159th was reassigned to the Eighth Army and remained in Korea until 1955.
The 24th Infantry was re-instituted in 1995 and assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division in Fort Lewis, Washington. The regiment served in the Iraq War from 2004 to 2005, and was decorated for its service. In 2006, during a re-organization of the Army, the regiment was re-flagged; however, the 1st Battalion was not included, and so it alone retains the regimental designation and carries on its legacy. It is now part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
They were assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division "Lightning" (a Stryker brigade), and served in Iraq from October 2004 to October 2005. The battalion came home with 5 Silver Stars, 31 Bronze Stars, and 181 Purple Hearts and played a crucial role in the Battle of Mosul (2004). During that battle, the battalion saw some of the heaviest, sustained fighting of the insurgency to date. The unit was also awarded with the Valorous Unit Award as being part of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (SBCT).
The unit has now been reflagged as the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and moved to Vilseck, Germany. The 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment has replaced the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment of the now decommissioned 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team as of December 14, 2006. The 1–24 Infantry is now part of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. The 24th Infantry Regiment also served under 1-25 SBCT in Afghanistan in 2011-2012. The 1st BN, 24th Infantry was stationed at FOB Lagman in Zabul Province. 1-24 lost several soldiers to Taliban attacks throughout their yearlong deployment, including an "insider attack" in Qalat.
American military history records the feats of many famous commands, such as the ‘Big Red One’ (1st Infantry Division), the 7th Cavalry and the 27th (‘Wolfhound’) Infantry regiments. But accounts of the Korean War scarcely mention the 24th and 34th Infantry regiments. Both gave distinguished service, yet both were disbanded in Korea and their men used to form battalions in other regiments. Some veterans of the two commands remain bitter over what they consider unnecessary and vindictive action on the U.S. Army’s part.
The 24th Infantry Regiment was formed a few years after the end of the Civil War, when the Army organized the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry regiments and 24th and 25th U.S. Infantry regiments, each comprised of black soldiers led by white officers. Those four regiments served for some 20 years on the Western frontier.
July 1, 1898
Later, during the Spanish-American War, the 24th Infantry participated in the July 1, 1898, assault on San Juan Hill and suffered 40 percent casualties.
The 24th Regiment saw little combat during World War II, but in December 1944 it was sent to garrison the supposedly secure islands of Saipan and Tinian.
As late as April 1945, troops of the 24th found and destroyed residual pockets of resistance on both islands. In July, it was sent to mop up the remaining Japanese in Kerama Retto, west of Okinawa.
August 22, 1945
On August 22, the regimental commander accepted the surrender of Japanese forces on Aka Island, in the Kerama Island group.
February 1, 1946
The 24th was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division on February 1, 1946. It was the only one of the 12 U.S. Army infantry regiments of the four divisions occupying Japan that had all three of its authorized battalions. The other 11 had only two battalions each.
June 16, 1916
The 34th U.S. Infantry Regiment was formed on June 3, 1916. During World War I, it fought in France with the 7th Infantry Division from August to November 11, 1918, and was awarded the French Battle Honors of Lorraine.
In 1941, the 34th was named outstanding regiment during the Army’s Carolina maneuvers. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, it was sent to Hawaii and,
June 12, 1943
on June 12, 1943, became part of the recently formed 24th Infantry Division, participating in operations at Tanahmerah and Hollandia, New Guinea, in 1944. Subsequently attached to the 41st Infantry Division, the 34th seized the Sorido and Boroke airbases on Biak Island, and spearheaded the division’s drive across Leyte in the Philippine Islands, remaining in constant contact with Japanese forces for 75 consecutive days. The 1st Battalion of the 34th (1/34th) earned a Distinguished Unit Citation.
Attached to the 38th Infantry Division in January 1945, the 34th Infantry fought at Subic Bay and Bataan (where its Company F suffered 90-percent casualties in one day), at Zig Zag Pass and at Corregidor, rejoining the 24th Division for the Mindanao campaign.
The 34th earned four battle streamers during World War II. It then joined with the 24th Division to occupy the island of Kyushu, Japan.
After North Korea invaded the South on June 25, 1950, the U.S. Army committed its first divisions to battle by battalion. Their mission was to delay the enemy advance. The battalions usually fought alone, often without much artillery, heavy mortar or air support. Troops of the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) easily flanked each American unit out of position within hours of contact.
The 34th Infantry, as part of the 24th Division, arrived in Korea on July 3 with 1,898 officers and enlisted men. The 1st Battalion numbered just over 600 men, and the 3rd (there was no 2nd) had about 640. A full U.S. Army battalion normally numbered 900 troops. On July 5, Lt. Col. Harold ‘Red’ Ayres, a World War II infantry battalion commander, took command of the 1/34th.
Major General William F. Dean, the 24th Division’s commander, ordered Ayres’ battalion to a blocking position near Pyongtaek and Asan Bay on South Korea’s west coast, and Lt. Col. David H. Smith’s 3rd Battalion to a similar position at Ansong, about 10 miles east of Pyongtaek. Brigadier General George B. Barth informed Ayres that Task Force Smith–a half-battalion force from the 21st Infantry–had been defeated earlier in the day and admonished Ayres to delay the enemy but not allow his battalion to’suffer the same fate as…Smith’s.’
The North Korean 4th Infantry Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Lee Kwon Mu, attacked the 1/34th around 5 a.m. on the 6th. The American battalion had no artillery support, and the few rounds available for its 4.2-inch mortars were soon expended. Although the Americans had a few recoilless rifles, there was no ammunition for them. Meantime, the regimental commander, Colonel Jay Lovless, sent Major John J. Dunn, his regimental S3 (operations officer), to Ayres with orders to hold as long as possible, ‘and then fall back to a position in the vicinity of Chonan….’ The battalion held for about five hours, with a loss of 18 troops wounded and 33 missing. Then, as North Korean infantry flowed around the 1/34th’s flank, Ayres decided to withdraw.
Barth later wrote that he had instructed Ayres to delay in successive positions, not move south directly to Chonan. Ayres, however, believed the new orders from the commander of the 34th, Lovless, superseded Barth’s, since an artillery commander is not ordinarily in an infantry chain of command. Unknown to Lovless and Ayres, however, Dean had appointed Barth to head a task force consisting of the 34th Infantry and two artillery battalions. That arrangement resulted in confusion as to whose order to obey. Barth, at some point, also ordered the 3/34th to withdraw from Ansong.
Dean was furious when he learned that the 34th had not delayed in successive positions but pulled back some 13 miles to Chonan. He blamed Lovless for the rapid fallback and called Colonel Robert R. Martin, who had served alongside Dean in the 44th Division during World War II, to his headquarters.
August 7, 1950
Martin arrived in the 34th Regiment’s command post (CP) at Chonan around 7 a.m. on the 7th and stayed with Lovless the rest of the day. Lovless had sent a reinforced rifle company from the 3/34th forward on reconnaissance early that morning, following it with the remainder of the battalion, as Dean had ordered. At about 4 p.m., an air-dropped message from Dean advised him to ‘proceed with greatest caution,’ and that large numbers of enemy troops were on his flanks. Lovless immediately ordered the 3rd Battalion to withdraw, then went to inform Ayres of the situation. At Ayres’ CP, Lovless was given written orders by the assistant division commander relieving him of his command, which was given to Martin.
As the 3/34th dug in at new positions, Company L was sent forward to rescue some troops of the regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance (I&R) platoon who had been left behind when that unit had fought its way out of an ambush. Then the 3/34th began withdrawing, as Lovless had ordered. Major Dunn, who had been with Company L, was surprised at the withdrawal. He came into the regimental CP and said that the battalion was leaving one of the best defensive positions he had seen. Martin directed Dunn to ‘put them back on that position,’ but he failed to tell him that the 3/34th had been withdrawn on regimental orders, because NKPA troops had been spotted on both of its flanks.
A confused 3/34th was turned around again and began moving north out of Chonan. Suddenly, the lead elements were fired upon, to which they reacted by deploying and returning fire. Then the battalion suddenly began to withdraw through the town. Martin ordered it back in to defend Chonan, but by then Dunn had been wounded and taken prisoner, while the battalion S3, Major Boone Seegers, who was also hit, had bled to death.
July 8, 1950
On the following day, July 8, the 34th fought advancing troops of the NKPA 4th Division’s 16th and 18th Infantry regiments, backed by T-34/85 tanks of the 105th Armored Brigade. During the fight for Chonan, the Americans set one T-34 tank afire with five grenades and used rocket launchers to destroy two others. Colonel Martin joined a tank-hunter team, but he was killed by the tank they were hunting. The executive officer, Lt. Col. Robert L. ‘Pappy’ Wadlington, assumed command of the 34th.
The regiment had lost two commanders in two days, along with the operations officers of the regiment and of the 3rd Battalion. A number of other senior officers were also gone. Moreover, the two battalions of the 34th had been placed in no-win situations, as at Pyongtaek and Chonan.
July 12, 1950
At about 5 p.m. on July 12, the NKPA attacked the 1/34th near Kongju.
July 13, 1950
The battalion held until about 2:30 a.m. on the 13th, then silently withdrew, concealed in the shadow of a hill.
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 1st was at Yongsong, 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 Taejon, leaving about 104 men in the remaining two units to carry on the defense.
July 14, 1950
On the 14th, while North Korean mortar and artillery fire fell on the battalion, an estimated 500 soldiers of the NKPA 16th Regiment crossed the Kum River about two miles to the south. Believing his position untenable, the Company L commander, 1st Lt. Archie L. Stith, withdrew his unit around 11 a.m. Stith then left to find the battalion CP, which he finally located 20 miles south of Konju, and reported his decision to the new battalion commander, Major Newton W. Lantron–who summarily relieved him of command and threatened to court-martial him.
The NKPA 16th Infantry also attacked the 63rd Field Artillery Battalion (FAB). At least two of the battalion’s howitzers were destroyed by North Korean mortar fire. The men were unable to get the other eight guns out, so they disabled them.
Ayres’ 1/34th was ordered to the 63rd FAB positions to’save any men or equipment in the area,’ but was told to return at dark. His men met intense small-arms and machine-gun fire from high ground overlooking the artillery position. After locating a few wounded men and some jeeps in operating condition, he withdrew the battalion to Nonsan at nightfall.
Company I had stayed in its Kum River position. Except for shelling, the NKPA left the unit alone. It was withdrawn at 9:30 p.m.
July 19, 1950
On July 19, the 1/34th Infantry was positioned along the Kapchon River west of Taejon, astride the Kongju Road. The 2/19th Infantry, south of the 1/34th, was also on the Kapchon, defending the Nonsan Road.
July 20, 1950
At daylight on July 20, the NKPA 4th Division’s 5th Infantry Regiment struck the 1/34th with infantry and six to eight tanks, forcing Company B northward. Company A held until about 11 a.m., when it withdrew toward Taejon. The battalion CP was attacked at 4 a.m. and forced to displace an hour later.
The 2/19th Infantry was also attacked. Since the 1/34th had apparently withdrawn, the 2/19th commander began withdrawing his battalion. By 10 a.m., both battalions had pulled out, opening the way to Taejon.
In the battle for Taejon, rocket-launcher teams from several units including the 3/34th (which had been deployed to the rear of the 1st Battalion and on the northern road into Taejon) knocked out eight T-34 tanks. However, a counterattack into the gap between the 1st Battalion and 2/19th Infantry by elements of the 3/34th Infantry shortly after daylight was thwarted by six North Korean tanks and a battalion of the 5th Infantry.
Elements of the 34th Infantry, remnants of the division’s artillery battalions, the division recon company, engineer battalion and part of the 19th Infantry tried to defend Taejon, but they were overwhelmed and forced to withdraw through enemy fire. It was a rout. Company L, 34th Infantry, which remained in the city as a rear guard, lost 107 out of 153 men.
The 34th lost at least 530 men out of its total strength of 1,549 present at Taejon. Leadership losses in the regiment since entering combat included four regimental commanders and two operations officers in just over two weeks.
July 20, 1950
The 1st Battalion lost its executive officer on July 20, and the 3/34th lost two battalion commanders (Lantron was taken prisoner on July 20) and its operations officer. The division commander, General Dean, was also missing in action. It was later learned that he, too, had been taken prisoner.
July 29, 1950
On July 29, the 34th was dug in near Kochang. The regiment had no switchboard and was short of mortars, rocket launchers and machine guns. Its commander, Colonel Charles E. Beauchamp (appointed just before the struggle for Taejon), wanted to pull his regiment back three miles, but the new division commander, Brig. Gen. John H. Church, ordered him to stand fast. Two NKPA attacks at 5 a.m. cut off Company I of the 3/34th and pushed the 1/34th out of position. Beauchamp halted the battalion on the road. The 1st Battalion later rescued all but one platoon of the cut-off unit. That same afternoon the 34th withdrew some 15 miles to the east.
At the beginning of August, the 24th Division deployed behind the Naktong River on a 40-mile front, with the 34th, 21st and ROK (Republic of Korea) 17th Infantry regiments on line from south to north. The 34th’s sector was some 34,000 yards, along which were deployed the 493 remaining troops of the 3rd Battalion. The 515 troops of the 1/34th waited in reserve at Kang-ni, about two miles from the river. The 34th numbered 1,402 men, less than half the authorized regimental strength. All three rifle companies of the 3/34th were scattered in small enclaves and outposts along the river. The regiment was critically short of vehicles, 4.2-inch mortars and Browning automatic rifles, the mainstays of Korean Warera rifle squads.
August 4, 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.
August 6-18, 1950
Elements of the regiment took part in a number of counterattacks between August 6 and 18.
The 34th made its last attack on the 18th, during which Company C was reduced to 37 men and Company A to 61. Company L lost more than 20 men in a few minutes to a counterattack.
August 22, 1950
The 34th Infantry was deactivated August 22, 1950.
August 25, 1950
When it was relieved by the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division on August 25, the 24th Division numbered 10,600 men–8,000 short of full strength. Only 184 of the original regimental strength of 1,898 men remained in the 34th Infantry.
Augus 27, 1950
On August 27, Lt. Gen. Walton Walker, U.S. Eighth Army commander in Korea, dissolved the 34th, converting the 1/34th into the 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry, and the 3/34th into the 2nd Battalion, 21st Infantry. The 5th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) became the 2nd Division’s third regiment. General Church preferred having the 5th fully manned to rebuilding the 34th. He then reassigned the men of the 34th to give his other two regiments their authorized third battalions. The 34th was reconstituted in Japan and later served again in Korea.
While confusion in its command structure bedeviled the 34th Infantry, the 24th, commanded by Colonel Horton V. White, suffered because of an additional factor–segregation. Many of the black regiment’s white officers held prejudices that affected both their leadership and their later evaluations of the 24th’s troops.
The regiment experienced its first significant action in Korea when its 3rd Battalion, under Lt. Col. Samuel Pierce, Jr., tried to retake the town of Yechon on July 19, 1950. Darkness intervened in the attack, but the 3rd seized the town on the following day with little trouble. Taking Yechon was unimportant in itself, but it greatly boosted regimental morale, since that was the first town retaken by U.S. troops since the war began. Yechon was turned over to troops of the ROK Capital Division’s 28th Regiment, who later lost it during an enemy counterattack.
August 6, 1960
On August 6, Company L was ambushed near the town of Sobuk with a fury and suddenness that left the unit in disarray. Company M was struck that night. During that fight, machine-gunner Pfc William Thompson gave his life to stop the enemy and save many of his comrades, for which he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Meanwhile, a task force built around Company I and a platoon of another segregated unit, the black 77th Engineer Combat Company (ECC), was ambushed on its way to contact U.S. forces near Chindong-ni. At least 12 men were killed and an unknown number wounded, and seven or eight members of the 77th ECC were missing. The unit’s commander, Captain Charles M. Bussey, later rescued those men in a daring foray.
That day, too, a sick Colonel White was relieved of command by 57-year-old Colonel Arthur S. Champeny, and Colonel Pierce of the 3/24th was wounded in action. Lt. Col. John T. Corley, a highly respected officer, took command of the 3/24th on August 9.
August 12, 1950
On the 12th, his battalion attacked through the rugged mountains just south of Sobuk-san (Hill 738), an area of high, very steep, narrow-topped ridges and deep valleys. By the 13th, it was stalled by terrain and a stubborn enemy. A long, bloody struggle for control of some of those ridges went on from mid-August until the breakout from the perimeter in late September.
August 15, 1950
On August 15, the 24th Infantry held the center of the 25th Division’s Pusan perimeter line. In the north, its positions were on relatively low ground, but as they went south, the line extended along ever steeper and more rugged ridges. The line included Battle Mountain (also known as Hill 665, Old Baldy, Napalm Hill or Bloody Knob), the Rocky Crags and Pil-bong (Hill 743) and extended to a point about 4,000 yards short of Sobuk-san (a k a Bloody Sobuk). A force of ROK troops was placed on Sobuk. From Sobuk, the ridges gradually became smaller as they neared Korea’s southern coast, where the 5th RCT was located.
There were no trails or roads up either Battle Mountain or Pil-bong. It took climbers in good condition two to three hours to ascend Pil-bong, and three or four hours to climb Battle Mountain. Supply bearers needed six hours for a Battle Mountain round trip.
Maintaining wire communications was a nightmare. North Korean patrols constantly cut the wire, then ambushed wiremen trying to find the break. Evacuation of the wounded was even more difficult. It took six men to carry a stretcher off the mountain, often accompanied by an aid man and escorted by riflemen for protection. When it rained, the terrain was almost impossible to negotiate. That demoralizing situation would improve later in the war, when helicopters were introduced to evacuate the wounded.
August 18, 1950
On August 18, elements of the NKPA 6th Division attacked the 2/24th on Battle Mountain, overrunning Company E, and
August 19, 1950
on the 19th they attacked the 1/24th, driving Company C from its position. Company A held on. According to Lt. Col. Roy Appleman, author of the Army’s official history, the attack on the 18th tore a hole ‘nearly a mile wide in the line north of Pilbong,’ which the enemy could exploit.
August 20, 1950
The NKPA did not exploit the gap, but they attacked the 1/24th on the 20th, again driving Company C from its position. The 3rd Battalion counterattacked, regaining most of the lost ground. In that assault, 2nd Lt. Ted Swett served as the ninth platoon leader that the 3rd Platoon of Company L had had so far in the war. He was wounded on the 21st, and it took six hours to carry him down the mountain. That same morning, Companies I and L retook lost ground but were again driven off by an estimated two-battalion NKPA assault.
The struggle for Battle Mountain went on through the rest of August. At times, according to an Army historian, individuals in the front-line units of the 24th pulled out of position without orders, or ‘bugged out’ in Korean War terminology. No doubt some men did bug out, but most of the troops stayed, fought and died, inflicting heavy casualties on the North Koreans. The 24th’s own battle losses were severe, and division reserves were scarce.
At one point, the 77th ECC and ROK troops were committed to the bloody defensive battle. The summit of Battle Mountain changed hands 19 times between August 15 and August 31, according to calculations of the Intelligence sergeant of 1st Battalion. The 24th regiment suffered 500 battle casualties in August. In that month, too, the 3/34th had three different battalion commanders.
The 2nd Battalion held 6,000 yards of the regiment’s right on hills west and southwest of Haman. Company F held 1,300 yards on the right. Next was Company G, also on a 1,300-yard frontage. Company E, to the left of G, held twice the frontage of either of the other two units, but one platoon was positioned by itself 1,300 to 1,400 yards south of the bulk of Company E.
August 31, 1950
On August 31, the NKPA launched a general offensive against the 24th and the neighboring 35th Infantry regiments of the 25th Division. Clay Blair, in The Forgotten War, writes that the enemy attacked the 24th and 35th with two regiments each. The main thrust at the 24th, by elements of the North Korean 6th and 7th Infantry divisions, came against the 2nd Battalion. The battalion line was soon penetrated. Remnants of Company F pulled back, while Company G was fragmented early on, and the bulk of Company E was also displaced. According to the Army’s official history, there were several instances of 24th soldiers’ bugging out during that action. Some were later substantiated, but others proved to be false.
The 2nd Battalion rear area was chaotic, teeming with North Korean soldiers as well as men from the overrun units, mortarmen, medics, engineers, headquarters personnel, military policemen, vehicles from those units, the artillery, etc. Because of the chaos in the battalion’s rear, including at the battalion CP, it seemed that no one was in charge.
The entire 24th Regiment has been condemned ever since for its perfomance at that time, but two factors contributed to the situation. First, less than three rifle companies of the battalion were struck by overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops. Second, as was the case with the 34th Infantry, some unit leadership in the 2/24th failed. The battalion CP was destroyed, and the battalion commander lost control almost from the beginning. The regimental CP also was forced to displace, contributing significantly to the loss of command and control. With the breakdown in leadership came a breakdown among the troops.
The NKPA attack on the 35th Infantry, on a broader front, penetrated the center of its line, held by 300 ROK policemen. Soon hundreds of North Koreans were also in the 35th’s rear areas. The 27th Infantry counterattacked and with elements of the 24th and 35th battled NKPA troops in the rear areas for more than a week, finally wiping them out. More than 2,000 North Korean dead were buried behind the lines.
September 6, 1950
On September 6, Colonel Champeny was wounded and replaced by Colonel Corley.
September 14, 1950
On September 14, an estimated 400 to 500 North Koreans stormed Companies I and L of the 24th Infantry on Pil-bong. The companies repulsed several attacks, but finally control broke down. Company L was reduced to about 40 men. The other members of the company had either been wounded or killed or had left without orders. Major Melvin R. Blair, the new battalion commander, took charge, but he was wounded in the leg by a North Korean sniper while trying to hold the summit. An American attempt to retake Pil-bong on the 16th failed. A task force of two infantry companies and more than a company of engineers, supported by the recon company and the 3/24’s heavy weapons company, launched another counterassault, but that also failed.
September 15, 1950
The landing at Inchon by U.S. and ROK forces on September 15 finally compelled the North Koreans to withdraw from the Pusan perimeter.
September 27, 1950
The 24th Infantry was divided into Task Forces Blair and Corley (named for their commanders), and they, along with several from other commands, began pursuing the enemy on September 27.
October 1, 1950
By October 1, 1950, the NKPA troops were fleeing back across the 38th parallel.
The 25th Division remained in South Korea until ordered north in late November to participate in the Chongchon operation. Later in November, overwhelming assaults by Chinese troops forced the U.S. Eighth Army to withdraw.
Nobermer 29, 1950
On November 29, the Chinese 40th Army flanked the 24th Infantry’s line north of the Chongchon River in North Korea, forcing the neighboring 9th Regiment of the 2nd Division to withdraw.
November 30, 1950
On November 30, the 3/24th was at Kunu-ri, on the division’s open right flank, with Chinese troops behind it. With the help of air support, the battalion extricated itself, losing one soldier killed, 30 wounded and 109 missing. Overall, the 24th Infantry lost one-fifth of its officers and one-third of its enlisted men in the withdrawal across the Chongchon. Colonel Corley blamed the disarray of the 3rd Battalion on its commander, Lt. Col. Melvin E. Blair, whom he summarily relieved.
The Eighth Army’s withdrawal did not cease until the force was well below the 39th parallel.
But by early March 1951, the American and ROK troops were again ready for a full-scale offensive.
March 6, 1950
On March 6, the 25th Division advanced across the Han River. The 1/24th did well, moving over difficult terrain against an entrenched enemy. The 3rd Battalion initially also performed well, executing a hastily devised river crossing and advancing through rough country against well dug-in Chinese troops, far from the 1st Battalion. While climbing up steep terrain, however, the 1/24th reportedly collapsed under Chinese fire and withdrew in disorder. When the division commander learned of that action, his confidence in the 24th plummeted.
Although the 24th performed well in the attack north of the Han and the subsequent general withdrawal of the Eighth Army after the Chinese spring offensive of 1951, its reputation was somewhat tarnished.
May and June 1951
But it again performed well in the Army’s drive back north in May and June 1951.
In August, the regiment’s new commander, Colonel William D. Gillis, prodded by the division commander, closely examined the 24th’s record in Korea. Determining that leadership had been the problem, he relieved a number of officers.
September 15, 1951
After the change in command, Company F conducted a valiant bayonet and grenade charge on September 15. However, the positive performance of Company F was ignored by higher commands and the news media.
October 1, 1951
By October 1, 1951, the 24th had passed into history.
The 24th and its black members were tagged with every stereotypical racial slur possible–blacks were afraid of the dark, wouldn’t fight, were undependable, hated whites, resented white leadership, were disloyal, etc. Racial prejudice and stereotypical notions also affected how some white officers in the regiment handled their charges. The 24th had an inordinately high turnover of senior NCO and officer leadership at the company level, and had seven regimental commanders in 14 months, when other regiments in Korea had two to four. Three changes were made in the first two months. The 1st Battalion saw three different commanders in the first three months, while the 2nd and 3rd battalions had five each in the same period. Continuity of leadership, purpose and command cannot be attained when commanders change so rapidly.
The 34th had also suffered from a rapid turnover of senior leadership–four different regimental commanders within two weeks. Its 1st Battalion also had three commanders in the same period. The long withdrawals from Pyongtaek and Ansong, the confusion at Chonan, the disaster on the Kum River and the debacle at Taejon–all were blamed in varying degrees on the 34th Infantry and its leadership. Colonel Beauchamp of the 34th was in overall command at Taejon, yet he and his executive officer, Colonel Wadlington–along with General Dean, who was also there and not in command–were all out of Beauchamp’s CP at the same time, but none of them told anyone there where they were going, how long they expected to be absent or how to handle an emergency.
The 24th and 34th Infantry regiments acquired bad reputations in Korea, but to a large extent both units were victims of the perceptions, prejudices and expedients of the time. They were also fighting against a tough, well-trained enemy that the U.S. military had seriously underestimated at the time they were committed to the fighting. Besides hard lessons in leadership learned by both regiments, the 24th’s experience demonstrated that integration within the U.S. Army was long overdue.
Retired Brigadier General Uzal W. Ent served in Korea with the 27th Infantry Regiment and later in the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today!