|When 100,000 enemy troops invaded Korea on June 25, 1950, South Koreans could not withstand the
onslaught. The natives of South Korea came very close to losing sovereignty in their country. American troops
stationed in Japan were rushed to Korea to help halt the enemy invasion of South Korea. These U.S.
soldiers, followed by U.S. Marines, were sent into the fray in order to stop the entire peninsula from being
captured by Communist forces. With great courage and much human sacrifice, American veterans foiled the
invasion. Because American veterans tenaciously held on to the toehold known as the Pusan Perimeter, South Korea
is free today. - They held!!
The story of the Pusan Perimeter is simultaneously an American disgrace and an
American triumph. The triumph is that, on very short notice, against a numerically-superior, highly-trained, and
well-supplied enemy, American veterans came to the rescue of South Koreans and stopped Communist forces from
taking over the entire peninsula. The disgrace rests squarely on the shoulders of American politicians who sent
our young men into battle with insufficient training, insufficient weapons, insufficient clothing, insufficient
food, and insufficient information regarding the enemy that they were ordered to face in battle.
It is with a great sense of awe and appreciation for the men of the United States Army and the 1st
Provisional Marine Brigade that the Korean War Educator publishes their story on the World Wide Web.
[This page is heavily under construction, so visit often to view the updates and
Most recent update: February 16, 2006.
Table of Contents
Back to Contents
A Few Facts about the Perimeter
Size & location of Pusan Perimeter at beginning of war
It was a rectangular area approximately 100 by 50 miles in the southeast corner of Korea. Western
boundary = Naktong River; northern boundary = a line through the mountains from Naktong-ni to Yongdok on the
east coast; eastern boundary = East Sea (Sea of Japan); southern boundary = Tsushima Strait.
First Army infantry unit to arrive
Part of 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Division (airlifted from Japan on the morning of July
Battalion Commander of above battalion
Lt. Col. Charles B. Smith
Other American early arrivals on the Korean peninsula
- 34th Infantry Regiment
- a field artillery battalion of the 24th Infantry Division
The 1st Battalion moved into three early positions
- Ansong (a village ten miles east of Pyongtaek)
- Osan (north of Osan, twelve miles north of Pyongtaek)
Officer in charge of Company A, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, 24th Division
Capt. Leroy Osburn - Co. A had about 140 men and officers at the time.
Commander of 24th Division Artillery
Brig. Gen. George B. Barth
First casualty of the Korean War (of Army ground troops)
(Click picture for a larger view)
This is a controversial subject that has not yet been resolved on the KWE.
Pvt. Kenneth Shadrick of Skin Fork, Wyoming County, West Virginia, became the first reported
casualty of the Korean War when he died around 4 or 5 p.m. on July 5, 1950 near Sojong, Korea, from a bullet
wound to his chest. His Serial Number was RA15273308, and his MOS was 04745. He was born in 1931.
A member of a bazooka squad, he was killed as a photographer took his picture after he had fired his weapon at
a Soviet-made tank. When he stood up to see if his ammunition had penetrated the tank, the enemy
struck him down. The remaining members of the bazooka team carried his body out. Shadrick's death
was reported by reporter Maggie Higgins, who erroneously stated that he was the first American GI killed in
Korea. Higgins was not only among the first reporters in Korea, she was also the first female reporter
Those who were in Korea those first days of the war know positively that Kenneth Shadrick was not the first
American G.I. killed in Korea. The battle of Osan on July 5 started around 7:30 a.m. According to
George Weidensall of Beckley, West Virginia, a number of soldiers were killed before Shadrick, who died in the
late afternoon. The KIA's were all members of the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division.
Who the very first G.I. killed in Korea was is not known, other than the fact that he was a machinegunner in
the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Some say he was in B Company. Others say he
was in Headquarters Company of the 21st.
The 19th, 21st, and 34th Infantry Regiments of the 24th Division stationed in Japan were brought over to
defend South Korea when hostilities broke out. Because men from several companies were hastily mixed
together in the first shipment of American troops to form a still-under-strength battalion, Weidensall
explained that no one was familiar with all of the members of the regiments fighting on July 5th. Hence,
the names of the first casualties have not been confirmed for the Korean War Educator. Weidensall said
that Kenny Shadrick was in the 34th Infantry Regiment, which was several miles behind the 21st Infantry
Regiment on July 5th.
A reference and footnote in Roy Applemann's book South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, pointed
out by KWE visitor Lisa Sholl, state the following, indicating that the first GI killed in Korea was with
The two damaged tanks pulled off to the side of the road, clearing the way for those following. One of
the two caught fire and burned. Two men emerged from its turret with their hands up. A third jumped out with
a burp gun in his hands and fired directly into a machine gun position, killing the assistant gunner. This
unidentified machine gunner probably was the first American ground soldier killed in action in Korea. 
American fire killed the three North Koreans. The six rounds of HEAT ammunition at the forward gun were soon
expended, leaving only the HE shells which ricocheted off the tanks. The third tank through the pass knocked
out the forward gun and wounded one of its crew members.
 Interv, author with 1st Lt Lawrence C. Powers, 2 Aug 51. Powers was Headquarters Company
Communications Officer, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, at Osan, 5 July. He said he saw this action.
Other early actions in the Perimeter
- Ch'onan (6-8 July)
- Ch'ongju (10 July)
- Choch'iwon (11-12 July)
- Kum River (15-16 July)
- Taejon (19-20 July)
- Yongdong (25 July)
- Masan (5-12 August)
- Naktong (12-16 August)
- Taegu (18-25 August)
America's 8th Army forces in Perimeter
- 24th Infantry Division
- 25th Infantry Division
- 1st Cavalry Division
- 5th Regimental Combat Team (reinforcement troops)
- 1st Marine Provisional Brigade (reinforcement troops)
- 2nd Infantry Division (some regiments)
- British 27th Infantry Brigade (reinforcement troops from England)
Republic of Korea Army forces in Perimeter
- ROKA 1st Division
- ROKA 6th Division
- ROKA 8th Division
- ROKA Capital Division
North Korean People's Army forces in Perimeter
- 1st NKP Division
- 2nd NKP Division
- 4th NKP Division
- 3rd NKP Division
- 5th NKP Division
- 6th NKP Division
- 7th NKP Division (entered war about middle of August)
- 8th NKP Division
- 9th NKP Division (entered war about middle of August)
- 10th NKP Division (entered war about middle of August)
- 13th NKP Division
- 12th NKP Division
- 15th NKP Division
- 105th NKP Armored Division
- 83rd NKP Motorized Regiment (detached from 105th Armored)
- 766th Independent Infantry Regiment
Task Forces in the Pusan Perimeter
First U.S. Army unit to enter combat in Korea. Consisted of half of the battalion headquarters
company, half of the communications platoon, rifle companies B & C (understrength), a medical platoon from
the 21st Regimental Medical Company; and two 4.2 mortars from the 21st Infantry's heavy mortar company.
The mission of Task Force Smith was to provide an "arrogant display of strength" as a delaying tactic until
other allied forces could arrive in Korea to help.
This task force was the combined Army/Marine force that launched the first Allied counterattack of the
war on 7 August 1950.
A combined force of the 25th Division, 5th Regimental Combat Team, and the 1st Marine Brigade (35th
Infantry Regiment of the 25th Division; 5th RTC; and the 5th Marine Regiment). This was the
first major offensive of the 8th Army. It stopped the KPA's southward push to Pusan. Task force
dates: 9-12 August 1950.
This task force included the 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division and elements of the U.S.
Army's 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division. This task force followed the NKP troops
that were withdrawing from the Korean peninsula on 23 September 1950.
Back to Contents
1st Provisional Platoon - Camp Pendleton
In April of 1950, a group of young Marines from the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton were selected to
form a provisional platoon and to serve aboard the USS Juneau when it joined a fleet of other ships in a
peacetime mission to the Far East. The following Marines were serving onboard the USS Juneau when the Korean War
broke out. The ship was in Korean waters the day after the war began and began firing missions from its
five inch guns in support of the South Korean and U.S. Army units that had been attacked by the North Koreans.
In the first week of the war, the Juneau, along with other allied ships, was attacked by six North Korean PT
boats and general quarters were sounded. Five of those boats were sunk and one got away. The
Marines, firing their quad forty mm guns, sank one of the boats.
- CO - Capt. C.F. Hamlin Jr.
- PltLdr - 2dLt R.M. Johnson
- 1stSgt - 1stSgt W.A. Umlauf
- PltSgt - S/Sgt. G.L. Mason
- PltGuide - Sgt A.J. Boudreau
- Msgr - Pfc. G. Dally
|SqdLdr Sgt. - W.S. Gerighten
||Sgt. R.H. Arnie
||SqdLdr - - Col. E.B. Carney Jr.
|FtLdr - Cpl. A.R. Lewis
||Cpl. Jim O'Connor
||Gunner - Pfc. W.H. Gunter
|BAR - Pfc. D.E. Armstrong
||Pfc. V.D. Hack
||AGunner - Pfc. W.J. Ghrist
|ABAR - Pfc. V.A. Akers
||Pfc. R.A. Hamilton
||AmmoCar - Pfc. F.R. Brown
|R - Pfc. R.S. Deja
||Pfc. C.E. Puckett
||AmmoCar - Pfc. N.K. Amstutz
||AmmoCar - Pfc. L.L. Pederson
||AmmoCar - Pfc. P. Meier
|FtLdr - Pfc. C.L. Moore
||Pfc. J.G. Kelly
||AmmoCar - Pfc. W.H. Popp
|BAR - Pfc. J.L. Pope
||Pfc. F.L. Orrell
|ABAR - Pfc. R.C. Stachulak
||Pfc. F.J. Palgua
||AdminSgt. - R. Cash
|R - Pfc. W.H. Middendorf
||PFC M.A. Skinner
||Supply - Col. R. Olson
|FtLdr - Pfc. R.E. Dugan
||Pfc. R.G. Olague
|BAR - Pfc. J.B. Walker
||Pfc. J.E. Weber Jr.
|ABAR - Pfc. W.K. Crider
||Pfc. To Moody Jr.
|R - Pfc. F.A. Rowinsky
||Pfc. J. McGill
Note: Popp came down with polio in the middle of the firing on Korea in July. He was the cook.
He was evacuated from the ship Juneau to the Helena. Later he was flown to Japan. He survived the
polio. Pederson was replaced by Tom King of Texas because Pederson had tuberculosis.
1st Provisional Platoon - USS Juneau
USS Juneau (CL/CLAA-119)
Courtesy Conrad J Rozelle
(Click picture for a larger view)
USS Juneau (CL/CLAA-119)
Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
Courtesy Conrad J Rozelle
(Click picture for a larger view)
Just two weeks after the war began, the Juneau put ashore a small raiding part of sailors and Marines at
night to mine a railroad tunnel in North Korea. The mission was successful and a train was blown up within
the tunnel, thereby halting the only North Korean supply route from the north for days. Following is an
after action report on the covert mission:
13 July 1950
Report of Second Lieutenant Richard M. Johnson (049750), U.S. Marine Corps, (0302), concerning the
activities on the night of 11-12 July 1950.
At about 1930, the following named officers and men comprising a demolition team of four (4) bluejackets,
a security element of four (4) marines, a demolition officer, and a demolition patrol commander, departed
from the USS Juneau (CLAA 119) for the USS Mansfield (DD728) by motor whale boat:
Commander W.B. Porter (75778), USN - Demolition Patrol Commander
Second Lieutenant R.M. Johnson (049750), USMC - Demolition Officer
Gunners Mate Chief Myron K. Lovejoy (3369051), USN - Demolition Team
Gunners Mate Third Class Junior E. Wilson (3861715), USN - Demolition Team
Gunners Mate Third Class Howard C. Scheunemann (6105313), USN - Demolition Team
Boatswain Mate Second Class Paul A. Keane (4155817), USN - Demolition Team
Private First Class Willard L. Crider (1090718), USMC - Security Element
Private First Class Robert E. Dugan (1090722), USMC - Security Element
Private First Class William J. Ghrist (1083135), USMC - Security Element
Private First Class Jack L. Pope (1088517), USMC - Security Element
This patrol was assigned the mission of mining a railroad tunnel in the vicinity of Sangchon, Korea.
We carried with us the below items of equipment
2 entrenching tools; 2 pick mattocks; 2 pair binoculars; 6 Lensatic compasses; 10 flashlights; 10 sheath
knives; 144 pounds of TNT in 1/2 pound blocks; 40 feet of time fuse; 6 Fuse lighters; 4 rolls of tar tape; 5
carbines, Cal. .30M2; 4 Thompson sub-machine guns, Cal. 45; 1 pistol cal. 45; 400 rounds of carbine
ammunition; 261 rounds of 45 ammunition; 10 fragmentation hand grenades; 1000 feet of demolition cord; 40
blasting caps, non-electric; 4 pairs of crimpers; 3 SCR 536.
The patrol arrived aboard the USS Mansfield at 1945 and completed plans for Naval Gunfire support on
call. At 001, 12 July 1950, the USS Mansfield went to General Quarters and made for its station some
3,000 yards from the beach. At approximately 0105, the whale boat, containing the demolition patrol
and its equipment, left for the beach. The boat crew was supplied by the USS Mansfield. Through
radio communication from the USS Mansfield and radar facilities aboard, we were kept on course until about
500 yards from the beach. The Commander navigating, we continued to the beach. At an estimated
200 yards, we could see the beach, however, all estimates at night were difficult to make. The surf
did not seem too great. Several large rocks were observed in the water from one foot to 25 feet high.
When it appeared that we were about 30 yards from shore, we dropped our stern anchor and paid out nearly 45
fathoms of line. Soundings were attempted with paddles, but the bottom, at this point, could not be
located. More line was bent on to the anchor line, because we still had an estimated 20 yards to go to
At this point, a locomotive appeared, at what seemed to be directly over our heads. It was found
later to be actually about 150 feet up and 500 yards inland. All hands laid low in the boat until the
train passed. We had not heard the train coming, it just suddenly appeared (we surmised it must have
come out of the tunnel) continued on for about 300 yards and disappeared in another tunnel. We were
confident we were on the right part of the beach.
During the above locomotive episode, the boat drifted seaward a bit and when the engine in the boat was
started again, the anchor line had become fouled with the propeller. The Chief Boatswain Mate, acting
as boat officer, went over the side and, with difficulty, cut the line loose. We could not retrieve
the anchor without wasting valuable time. Still some 10 yards from the beach, the sailor acting as bow
hook and the Marines disembarked and pulled the boat closer to shore. The Marines then made a
perimeter of defense while we unloaded the boat. The boat was going to have to lay off shore until we
returned because the rocks near and on shore were hazardous. The surf was not a problem. Two Marines
were left on the beach and the rest of the patrol proceeded inland toward the railroad track.
The beach was covered with loose rock and walking was hazardous, especially with the loads of explosive
we were carrying. We estimated the track to be 150 feet to 200 feet above us, up a very steep slope.
I decided to climb to the high ground to look for the track. Everyone fell on the rocks at one time or
another. After 30 minutes, we reached the high ground, but still could not see the tracks. I
sent scouts out 100 yards in each direction until the track was found. We had been standing on top of
the tunnel. We slid down the steep grade as cautiously as possible until reaching the tracks.
Once on the tracks, our machinery was set to work. Into the tunnel, guards were posted and two
demolition men, each digging in their explosives with the aid of another man. The Commander, who had
been in constant communication with the USS Mansfield, kept them advised of our activities. Three
charges were laid, two of about 25 pounds each three feet apart and 80 feet away, another single charge of
40 pounds. All three charges were connected with two lines of primacord, one on the inboard side of
each track. The two 25-pound charges were put within 50 yards from the tunnel entrance. The
40-pound charge was dug in about 100 yards from the other tunnel entrance. The ties and track were
laid on a charcoal and cinder base. Since digging with shovels made too much noise, the men dug with
their hands. After the charges were placed in their holes and completely covered, I inspected each
position. I cleared the tunnel of all but one and taped the primacord with blasting caps onto the
tracks. Two pieces of primacord, one on each track, had three non-electric blasting caps taped on, and
the primacord was then taped to the track. The entire operation in the tunnel took about 45 minutes.
We left the tunnel and made a quick trip over a much easier route back to the boat. We joined the
two Marines who were left on the beach, loaded the unused equipment, and waded out to the boat. All
personnel accounted for, we made for the USS Mansfield, arriving there about 0330. Mission
accomplished. - R. M. Johnson, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps.
After serving about 6 months on the Juneau, the Marines were transferred ashore in Korea, and most rejoined
the units that they had formerly served in while stationed at Camp Pendleton. These Marines, commanded by
Capt. (now Major) Curtis F. Hamlin USMC Ret., are now all retired and live all over the USA. Two of them
were later killed in action. Others have died. Each year, some of them attend a reunion of the USS
Back to Contents
Task Force Smith
Task Force Smith Facts
- Total American troops in Task Force Smith = 406
- Total enemy fought = 20,000 (two divisions)
- Total Task Force Smith troops that got out alive = 250
- Total Task Force Smith troops captured = 83
- Total killed on the hill = 73
- Total who came home from the 83 captured = 51
"7 Bloody Hours That Saved Korea"
by Major Walter Pennino
[The following story was reprinted on the Korean War Educator with the permission of Major
Pennino's son. It was published in "Real" magazine around October or November 1952. The major (a
Bostonian) died several years ago. He served in four big campaigns in Europe, was twice decorated for
heroism, once wounded. As MacArthur's News Chief in Tokyo, Pennino wrote the widely published
eyewitness account of the Tojo hanging. On a special mission touring the Pusan Perimeter in the grim
days from August to October, 1950, he ran into the story of Task Force Smith. He later became the
commander of the Army Home Town News Center in Kansas City.]
This is the epic story, told here for the first time, of the first handful of American ground troops
ordered into combat in Korea. They were only 406 men, dug in on a hill near Osan, but they blasted hell
out of 20,000 onrushing Communist troops spearheaded by 33 Russian-made T-34 tanks.
With their seven-hour gory stand on Heartbreak Highway, Task Force Smith--consisting of only two
understrength American rifle companies--forced the Reds to slow down their headlong assault, deploy their
forces and thus lose the impetus that would have carried them to the docks of Pusan just a few days after the
outbreak of war.
In what may have been the seven most crucial hours of that war, Task Force Smith changed the pattern of the
whole conflict and perhaps the course of history.
Of the 406 grim and ill-equipped Americans who manned that hill near Osan, only 250 came out alive...
"The Lid Has Blown Off"
Lt. Col. Charles Bradford Smith, scrappy 34-year-old commander of the 1st Battalion, 21st Regiment, 24th
Infantry Division, was asleep when the phone call came through: "Brad, the lid has blown off. Get your
fighting clothes and report to the C.P." The routine seemed familiar. Smith, a West Pointer, had
been routed out of bed at Pearl Harbor to rush his 120 infantrymen to defend an eight-mile stretch of Hawaiian
beach. Now it was Korea.
This was on June 30th, four days after the Reds started their invasion of South Korea. The 24th
Division was stationed at Kyushu, southernmost island of Japan. Less than 12 hours after orders left
Washington authorizing the use of U.S. troops, C-54's began landing Smith's battalion on a rain-soaked runway
13 miles out of Pusan, Korea. On the wall of a barracks, one of Smith's men found time to scribble this
classic little jingle: "Clap your hands and jump for you. You were here before Kilroy!"
There was little joy among this meager, jittery vanguard of the great army that was to halt the Reds.
The men were wet, tired, bewildered. Swept from a quiet spot in peaceful Japan, they were being tossed
to an enemy they knew nothing about, in a sickening country, in a confusing, mysterious war. And yet
this understrength battalion and its 19 jeeps represented the hope of 53 United Nations countries to hold the
Red forces plunging toward Pusan.
The Battalion was "Red Hot"
Only about one in seven of the men were combat veterans; the rest were green. The bulk of the
riflemen, machine gunners and mortar men were 20 years old or less. But the battalion had reached its
peak of training; in Army parlance, 1st Battalion, 21st Regiment, was "red hot."
Supporting the riflemen were four heavy machineguns, two 75mm recoilless rifles, six bazookas, two mortars,
and a promise and a prayer that a battery of artillery would join them soon.
Major General William F. Dean, commander of the 24th (later captured by the Reds), had said to Smith: "When
you get to Pusan, commandeer trucks, trains, anything else you can get your hands on. Head for Taejon.
We've got to block the main Seoul-Pusan road as far north as possible."
There was no other information; no estimate of the enemy situation; no indication of what would be on the
battalion's flanks; and no idea of when it could expect any reinforcements.
At Taejon, Smith met Brig. Gen. John Church, MacArthur's advance commander in Korea. "Well, Smith, we
have a little action up here," said Church, pointing on a map to a strip of main highway south of Seoul.
"All we need is an outfit up there that won't run when they see tanks."
Smith decided to look over the land he was to defend. Taking a handful of his battalion officers, he
drove to a spot north of Osan and surveyed the high ground commanding the two avenues of approach into the
town. Jutting out of the rich Uijongbu valley was a large hill, flanked on the east side by a railroad
and on the west by the main highway.
"If we had to fight in this vicinity, here is the spot we could best defend," Smith told his officers.
Then he mapped out supporting fires and final protective lines, dovetailed plans for company and platoon
defensive positions and covering fires.
This was to be the first planned American battle line since the end of World War II.
Shortly after midnight, July 5, 1950, all of Task Force Smith moved out to Osan. By this time, the
communists had made a clean breakthrough and there was nothing between Smith and the Red spearhead even to
begin to slow the enemy down. Task Force Smith was the only organized resistance remaining on the bloody
highway between Seoul and Pusan.
Task Force Smith Digs In
Smith's men moved into their positions rapidly. Foxholes were dug, communication wire was laid, ammo
and rations were unloaded and distributed. At the first light, the men scanned their fields of fire.
In spite of the rain they had about 10,000 yards' visibility right down the main highway and railroad bed.
Meanwhile, word had come through that the promised artillery had showed up--Battery "A" of the 52nd Field
Artillery was digging in 1500 yards to the rear of Smith's position and was ready to start shooting. By
7:30 a.m., Task Force Smith was trimming up its positions. It had test-fired its guns and rifles, and
the artillery had fired several registrations on likely target areas in front of the riflemen's positions.
"B" Company with supporting elements was responsible for the highway, one 75mm recoilless rifle was
assigned to cover it. "C" Company was to cover the railroad. The second 75 recoilless rifle was
trained down the railroad tracks.
M/Sgt. Harvey Vann, a Texan, had bought a new car in Japan just before the battalion was flown to Korea.
Now standing on the hill north of Osan, he offered it for sale. "It's a good buy, men," he assured his
dug-in comrades, "And I'm willing to sell it at a loss." He had no takers.
Daylight brought more rain--and the enemy. The weather doused any hope of air support for the
At 7:30 a.m., July 5th, the Communists struck. A column of thirty-three Russian-made T-34 tanks came
rumbling out of Suwon down the highway toward the Americans on the hill.
Task Force Smith trained all its guns on the enemy. The artillery opened up at Colonel Smith's call,
but the infantry held its fire, waiting for the order to shoot. The initial enemy fire attack came when
the tanks were at about 1500 yards. They approached without caution, apparently not expecting to run
into a force that would stand and fight.
"They couldn't have been surprised that we were on the hill," Smith recounted. "After all, we made
plenty of noise when we test-fired and registered our guns at daybreak. They must have heard us."
The Communists Blast Our Hill
The American artillery continued to fire as the T-34's paused on the winding highway to pour shells into
the U.S. positions. Smith ordered the fire of the 75mm recoilless rifles held until 700 yards range
because of the shortage of ammunition. For the rest of the infantrymen, the order was, "Don't shoot till
you see the slant of their eyes!" The tanks came on.
Sergeant Pugh was in command of the 75 rifle responsible for the highway. When the back blast of his
gun immediately disclosed his position to the oncoming tanks, the Communists blasted his position, killing one
soldier and wounding another. The sergeant and his remaining men moved the gun about 100 feet and
resumed firing, continuing until their ammunition was exhausted. Because the bulk of their ammunition
was the wrong type (probably high explosive and not armor piercing) no visible damage was done by their fire.
The tanks were slowed down, but they weren't stopped. For an hour, they inched forward toward the
The tragedy of the defense was the failure of the anti-tank rockets to knock off the lead tank.
Moving under the direction of Lt. Janson Cox, a Missourian who has since been reported missing in action, the
bazooka teams edged down to the road to engage the tanks. "It was heart breaking," reported Capt. Doody
of "B" Company, "to watch those men firing pointblank and doing little damage. Rockets hit the tanks in
the tracks, turrets and bogies, and still couldn't stop them!"
Lieutenant Ollie Conner, standing behind a knocked-out vehicle, fired 22 rockets from about 15 feet into
the tanks as they went by. He stood upright in the smoke and the rain, defying the enemy tankers, and
cursing as his shots, all excellent hits by World War II standards, failed to cripple the tankers. Yet
before his ammo was gone, Conner managed to knock out two of the tanks, a feat for which he later was awarded
the Silver Star.
There were no live demolitions or mines to hinder the enemy. The tanks moved right through the hail
of fire coming down on them from the hill.
"If one anti-tank crew had been able to pick off the lead and rear tank, the others would have been sitting
ducks," reported Lt. Col. Miller Perry, the artillery commander, as he recounted the action. "Four or
five tanks, all medium, just sat near our positions with their hatches battened down, blasting away at our
line. The infantry took a terrific pounding as the other tanks came down the road. The tanks swung
their turrets on our artillery positions, letting us have it. In a direct fire duel at 100 yards range,
we struck back with our 105's and stopped four of them."
Battle Was Costly
Colonel Smith moved from company to company to make sure his men held their positions in the tank attack.
It wasn't easy for some men. When Smith passed the gun emplacement of a young Iowan, Pfc. John Crespo, a
60mm mortarman, Crespo held up the bipod. It had been shattered by shell fragments. "What do I do
now?" he asked. Crespo fought on as a rifleman, but following that engagement was reported missing in
Not far from Crespo, Brad Smith could see the rest of the 60mm mortar team, blasted by tank fire.
Sgt. Calvin Patterson of Oregon had been struck in the neck with shell fragments, but refused evacuation to
the aid station. "We won't get out anyway," he explained. He stayed with the small mortars until
out of ammunition and then directed his platoon, including Crespo, as riflemen.
The hour-long tank battle had been costly. About 20 Americans had been killed and wounded holding
their positions as the tanks went through and past them, leaving six burning hulls on the road. Task
Force Smith had been ordered to hold. General Church had said, "All we need is an outfit up there that
won't run when they see tanks." Task Force Smith did not run.
But the main attack had not yet been launched. On the road south from Suwon, 10,000 yards away, the
Americans could see countless trucks loaded with troops. Why they did not dismount and fight with the
tanks is a mystery to Smith. Had they fought as a tank infantry team, Task Force Smith would have been
slaughtered in the first assault.
Forty-five minutes after the tanks had passed through Task Force Smith's position, the trucks started up.
They rolled along the highway much as the tanks had. None of the troops got out ahead to scout the
A column of enemy five miles long came out in the open, and when the leading elements were within 1000
yards, Task Force Smith "threw the book at them." The column was raked with machine gun, mortar and
artillery fire. Trucks went up in flames. Enemy dead and wounded cluttered the road. Others
fled in panic into adjacent rice paddies. This was not the war the Reds had been used to during the past
The enemy's approach was slowed down, which gave Task Force Smith a chance to consolidate its positions and
move up more ammunition. They discovered then that the tanks had shot up many of the 19 jeeps which had
been pooled in the rear.
The tanks continued to speed down the main highway toward Pyongtaek while Task Force Smith engaged the
infantrymen to the front. As the T-34's rolled by, they tore up the communications lines to the
artillery battery. This destroyed the last communications Smith had, other than messengers. Most
of his jeeps were gone, his radios were inoperative from the constant rain, and now the tanks had chewed up
The artillery was 100 yards off the road in position when the tanks went by. They suffered only a few
casualties, including Col. Perry, the artillery commander, who received a shell fragment in the knee.
Reds Collect Their Wits
Once the tanks cleared, Task Force Smith never saw or heard them again. What the advance guard of
Americans did not know was that by this time the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry of the 24th Division, commanded
by Lt. Col. "Red" Ayers, was approaching a new line near Pyongtaek to fight the first in a planned series of
long delaying actions. The T-34's were rolling head on into this force as the Red infantrymen, several
miles behind the tanks, were collecting their wits. The initial shock against Task Force Smith had been
severe for them. Losses were great.
"It seemed that we mowed down hundreds, but it was hard to tell," Smith said. By 10:45 a.m. the Reds
resumed the offensive, this time dismounted. Artillery and mortar fire began to fall on the U.S.
position. From under this cover, swarms of Communist soldiers 1000 yards from Task Force Smith fanned
out in a wide enveloping movement, sweeping in from the east and west up the far slopes of the hill.
Task Force Smith held tenaciously, fighting off wave after wave.
Smith decided that the only way to prolong survival was to bring his forces together on one side of the
road and fight in a perimeter defense, Indian fashion, as long as he could. But getting his men across
the road was difficult. The highway was covered by a screen of enemy fire, and the enemy had already set
up machine guns on the slopes immediately below the American positions.
Dug in on the slopes overlooking the Reds was quiet, determined Pfc. Florentine Gonzales. He was a
machine gunner who had always said he would never leave his machine gun. He had all but hand-carried the
weapon from Japan to that hill, and now as the enemy came in his sights he splattered them with a fury of
fire. As his buddies tried to close into the defense perimeter, Gonzales covered them, yelling
encouragement as he traversed his gun across the ranks of the attacking Communists. By the time the last
American dashed across the road under Gonzales' covering fire, they noticed that he was bleeding from head to
chest. But his gun was still pouring out a volley of death. He clung to his gun, half-blind with
blood and rage. All the strength he had left in his body was on the handgrip of his machine gun as the
communists swarmed his position. (He was later reported as a captive by the enemy.)
The perimeter was established but by 2:30 in the afternoon, with one quarter of its force wounded or
killed, very little ammunition left, no communications and no transportation, Task Force Smith was virtually
surrounded. The only area from which it was not getting a heavy volume of fire was to the right rear.
Gets No Support
There was no air support, not even a liaison cub plane to guide Task Force Smith out of this hell.
There was no hope of any ground support punching its way through to them, not while 37 Russian tanks were on
the highway between Osan and Pyongtaek. The road was under fire, preventing any opportunity to open wire
communications to the artillery.
Sergeant First Class Loran Chambers of Mt. Sterling, Ill. was a rough-tough soldier. In World War II
he had collected five Purple Hearts, and this was the day for his sixth combat wound. He was a platoon
guide in "C" Company, directing all available fire on the attacking North Koreans. A gruff, profane, but
colorful sergeant, Chambers called back over the sound-power telephone for some 60mm mortar support. The
answer came back. "Won't reach that far."
"How about some 81's?" Chambers shouted.
"We don't have any."
"Well, for C____ sake, throw in some 4.2's."
"We're out of that, too," came the plaintive response from the mortar platoon.
Then Chambers asked, "How about the artillery?"
"How about the Air Force?"
"We don't know where they are."
"Then, dammit, call the Navy!" Chambers demanded.
"They can't reach this far."
Chambers was exasperated but not undone. "Send me a camera," he yelled over the phone. "I want to
take a picture of this." A few minutes later Chambers was struck by mortar fragments, for his sixth
Purple Heart. He went on to earn five more Purple Hearts and a commission, and was rotated home before
his luck ran out.
At 2:30 Colonel Smith issued orders to his companies to fight their way through the light spray of fire to
the right rear. "B" Company would cover the withdrawal as "C" Company with attachments, the medics, the
walking wounded and Battalion Headquarters fought their way southward toward a smaller hill to the rear.
From here "C" Company would in turn support the withdrawal of "B" Company.
The positions were littered with American dead. There were many critically wounded men lying on
litters, on the ground and in the air station. Use of the few remaining jeeps for evacuation purposes
was impossible, as the enemy controlled the road, and the rice paddies were rich with mud and fertilizer.
Litter bearers carrying wounded through hip-deep mud in rice paddies would have progressed so slowly that the
bearers themselves would certainly have become casualties.
"That's the worst part of a deal like that," Smith said, "to leave wounded and dying men yelling for you to
help them, and there was no way to help them. We had a lot of casualties getting out of that position, how
many I don't know."
One of Smith's lieutenants, hurt badly, was dragging himself to the rear. There were six men lying on
the ground, unable to walk. "Lieutenant, what is going to happen to us?" one of them cried out.
The lieutenant passed him a hand grenade. "This is the best I can do for you."
Machine Gun is Silenced
The withdrawal was made more difficult by an enemy machine gun nest 40 yards away from the route. It
sprayed the hillside and rice paddies every time one of the infantrymen tried to move.
This murderous gun wasn't silenced until Lt. Raymond E. "Bodie" Adams of Baltimore, Maryland, star pitcher
and captain of the regimental baseball team, tossed a grenade 40 yards directly into the gun next and
destroyed the position. Bodie Adams, who had to take considerable risk and fully expose himself, got the
Silver Star for this action.
There was no indication of where the tanks had gone and Smith did not know how large a force he was
fighting. Actually it was two divisions, led by the tank spearhead that hit him seven hours earlier.
Now these two divisions--about 20,000 men--had already suffered thousands of casualties and were fully
deployed along the strategic Seoul-Pusan highway.
"In an obviously hopeless situation with many casualties, no communications, no transportation, ammo gone
and the enemy tanks now well behind me, I was faced with a decision: what the hell to do? To stand and
die or try to get the remains of my task force out of there. I could last, at best, only another hour
and then lose everything I had. I chose to try to get out in hopes that we would live to fight again
another day," Smith said.
Smith gave orders to his men to try and find their way to friendly positions. Certainly other U.S.
units were set up by now. He told his men to assemble in company groups. The situation on the
distant flanks and rear was unknown. It seemed reasonable to expect that other enemy units were
advancing down parallel roads. The ammunition was exhausted, and Smith felt that small groups of five or
six unarmed men would have better chances of survival than company-size groups of unarmed men. "Meet me
at Chonan, 20 miles south of here. Keep off the main roads. Good luck."
Some Men Made It
Some men walked 60 miles, wading through muddy and malodorous rice paddies and over mountains to get to
that position, but they made it. Others never made it. Lt. Col. Smith with four or five volunteers
sloshed through open rice paddies in hip-deep mud to notify the artillery battery that the infantry was
pulling out. Because of lack of communications, there was no other way to notify the artillerymen who
were still in good shape and had lost no equipment. This seemed a miracle, since Task Force Smith had
observed the tanks firing at 100-yard range into the battery position.
For several days men of the battalion filtered back to the rear. Perhaps the most unusual odyssey of
escape was the story of Sgt. William F. Smith. Hiding out behind enemy lines, he worked his way with the
aid of friendly South Koreans to the west coast, where fishermen took him south by boat. Abut two weeks
later, he regained friendly lines where he was hospitalized with a case of pneumonia.
Captain William "Chief" Wyrick, a good infantryman with some Indian blood in him, took a small group south
across the railroad tracks. Wyrick moved east with his group, which included the chaplain. They
ran into a group of about ten Koreans. Not knowing whether they were South or North Koreans, they forced
the natives to join them. They struck out for Ansong and from there south to Chonan. The further they
went the more disorderly the march became. However, they managed to take care of the wounded, feeding
them rice balls which were provided by the Koreans, who turned out to be friendly, and eventually made their
way to Chonan.
The artillery battery moved out in its trucks, leaving in their wake destroyed equipment. En route
over open country and back roads the trucks picked up all the infantrymen they could locate. On July 6
about 185 men from Task Force Smith had reassembled as instructed at Chonan, ready for what might come.
Not Yet Out of Trouble
Task Force Smith still wasn't out of trouble. As the men straggled
into Chonan, they were directed to a schoolhouse where they hoped to rest and get cleaned up a bit. Just
as Smith had gotten out of his dirty fatigues, he received word that the town was now "No-man's land"--in
other words, in front of the front lines!
Smith hurriedly dressed and together with some of his men dashed into the town, hoping to scrounge some
trucks. There he saw his "C" Company Commander, Capt. Richard W. Dashner, of Waco, Texas, with a group
of 65 men who had just arrived. This brought the survival total to 250 exhausted men. Smith told
them to stand fast right where they were while he continued on in search of trucks. Going to the
railroad station, Smith and his group were fortunate in securing four trucks from the South Koreans and were
also able to borrow six more trucks from the Service Company of the 35th Infantry, which was in the process of
moving supplies to the south.
Task Force Smith - now 250 strong - got on the trucks and on General Barth's order proceeded to Taejon for
rest and equipment. About 155 men were killed, wounded or missing in the seven-hour fight at Osan.
But the enemy tanks, which sped down the main highway through Smith's positions while Task Force Smith held
its ground, were in far worse trouble. For one thing they had taken serious losses for the first time
since they launched their aggression. Six tanks were a lot of casualties of the 33 tanks in the short
fight. They did not know how large or small a force they had hit.
Moreover, the Red tankers did not know what was holding up their infantrymen to the rear and therefore, did
not dare attack without infantry the positions at Pyongtaek held by the 34th Infantry Regiment.
The 34th got a break then, in that it was able to move back to a position just south of Chonan with
little trouble and there set up a better position for delay. This time it was with a greater force,
including "A" Company and the reminder of "D", the companies Smith had left behind in Japan.
Task Force Loses Identity
Task Force Smith--what remained of it--was soon reunited with the other units of the 1st Battalion, and
lost forever its identity as Task Force Smith. It became once again the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry
Regiment, 24th Division. Its valiant men went right back into battle no longer green kids but bitter and
hardened combat veterans. They now knew what kind of an enemy they were facing in the swarming hordes of
fanatical Communists who were determined to drive them from Korea.
It was a long time before any of the men of Task Force Smith realized what they had accomplished.
When they had time to reflect, or when someone who knew "the big picture" explained it to them, they could
realize the magnitude of their success. With 406 men they had forced two North Korean tank-led divisions
to slow down a drive that would have easily brought them to Pusan, for on July 5 no firm defense was set up
anywhere behind Task Force Smith to stop the Reds.
Two days later, when General MacArthur announced in Tokyo, "The enemy have lost their opportunity for
victory in Korea by deploying too soon," he was thinking about Task Force Smith. He was thinking about
the momentous decision which had sent a handful of men against 20,000 well-trained, well-equipped Communists.
He was thinking about Brad Smith's decision to stand at Osan.
It was the seven-hour fight of Task Force Smith at Osan that gave the free world the margin of time it
needed to get more troops to the Korean peninsula and stop the Reds.
Letters to the Editor
In response the Pennino's article in "Real" magazine, readers responded with the following Letters to the
Editor that were posted under the title "The Lesson of Korea":
"We in the first Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, were proud to lead the United Nations' assault in
Korea.... Much of the credit rightly belongs to Brigadier General Richard W. Stephens.... The United
States fought the early phase of the Korean War on a shoestring basis--as usual. Have we relearned the
obvious lesson? Let's stay strong!" - Lt Col. Brad Smith, Fort MacArthur, California
"... I wish to thank you for the opportunity to read the article "7 Bloody Hours That Saved Korea."
Major Pennino has done a fine job of telling the story of Task Force smith, the outfit which "bought time" for
us and the United Nations in the early days of Korea. "Real" is to be complimented on its service in
publishing this great story about the Army." - John F. Kane, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the
Army, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
On April 5, 1995, Walter Pennino wrote a letter to the editor of the Fairfax, Virginia, newspaper in response
to an article by Peter Bacque. Bacque had criticized the United States for "first battles" in time of war,
citing deficiencies in Task Force Smith. Pennino responded in the following manner:
"Peter Bacque's account in the Journal that the United States had 'an ugly record in first battles...'
picked an inappropriate example when he cited Task Force Smith in Korea. That unit of only 406 men, less
than a battalion of the 21st Regiment of the 34th Infantry Division, had a single mission: to delay the
enemy until a greater force could be put in place. For seven bloody hours, dug in on a hill at Osan,
this small force blasted hell out of 20,000 onrushing communist troops spearheaded by 33 Russian-made T-34
tanks, forcing the early deployment of the truck-mounted North Korean infantry and halting the surprised
Had it not been for Task Force Smith (named after its scrappy commander, Charles Bradford Smith), the North
Koreans would have driven, virtually unmolested, to Pusan and the war would have ended in a North Korean
victory in just a few days. By any definition of 'mission accomplished', it was a battle won by Task
Force Smith, not a battle lost. I was there. I know." - Walter A. Pennino
Back to Contents
Beilstein Research – July 5, 1950*
Jim Beilstein on the General Patch on his way to Germany circa 1952.
Photo courtesy Marty O'Brien
(Click picture for a larger view)
|The significance of the pictures is that
Shadrick was the first group troop killed in the Korean War. A photographer asked him and his partner to
pose for a picture, and while he was posing he was killed by a sniper. Very rare photos.
(Click picture for a larger view)
James Beilstein's Research Report... James B. decided that he didn't like having to go to the bottom of a
page of reading to find the footnotes on a particular subject, so he inserted the footnotes between each line
His report is available for viewing in your choice of PDF File or MS Word 2000 document:
*KWE Note: Beilstein's research is his own, and it is up to the visitors of the KWE to determine the
validity of his facts. KWE has received about the accuracy of some of Beilstein's sources. As
always, reader comments are welcome. Send them to
Back to Contents
Beilstein Research – July 6, 1950
Back to Contents
1st Provisional Marine Brigade
Special Action Report
An excellent source of information about 1/5 Marines involved in the Pusan Perimeter is a
Special Action Report that appears on the Pusan Perimeter page of the Korean
Brigade Roster (compiled by Bob Speights of Austin, Texas)
Following is a roster of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, Reinforced for August and September 1950 while
in action in Korea. It was compiled by Robert J. Speights, Austin, Texas, who thought it should be done.
This roster of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, Korea 1950 is a list of men who raised the title Marine
to a new level. During the months of August and September the pressure on the Pusan Perimeter was
relieved to the degree that in three operations better than three North Korean divisions were rendered
ineffective. History is not within the scope of this work, but these are the men who made the legends.
Back to Contents
The Pusan Perimeter: Fight for a Foothold
By Lynn Montross, Historical Division, Headquarters, USMC
Reprinted from June 1951 issue of The Marine Corps Gazette with permission
The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade lost no time at going into action in Korea. On 14 July 1950,
when the ground troops sailed from San Diego, their destination was Japan for a brief training period. During
the next 10 days, however, the military situation deteriorated so rapidly that Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered
the Brigade to proceed directly to Korea.
On 2 August, as the men landed at Pusan, the enemy was about 40 miles from that seaport. The next morning
the main body of the Brigade moved east by rail to a bivouac near Masan in Eighth U.S. Army reserve. And on 7
August, the eighth anniversary of the Guadalcanal landing, the Marines launched the first of three
counter-attacks which would restore Eighth Army lines.
Not much encouragement could be derived at that date from the political and strategic background. As early
as 10 May the Defense Minister of the Republic of Korea had warned the United Nations Commission that North
Korean forces were moving toward the 38th Parallel. He estimated their total strength at 183,000
men and 173 tanks, including 25,000 veterans of Chinese Communist campaigns. The ROK army, hastily built up
from a national constabulary, numbered about 100,000 men. Most of the units had received little training, but
there was a general lack of such arms as tanks, artillery, and antitank weapons.
On 25 June 1950, when the first NK columns crossed the 38th Parallel, it could not be doubted
that the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea was carrying out Soviet policies. Nor was it any secret
that the invading army had been trained by Soviet instructors and armed with Soviet weapons.
The United Nations and President Truman met the challenge with dramatic promptness. Military sanctions were
ordered against the aggressors on 28 June, and four days later the first U.S. Army troops landed in Korea.
On 2 July the Chief of Naval Operations, with the concurrence of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, granted Gen.
MacArthur’s request for a Marine RCT with its own air. This was the inception of the 1st
Provisional Marine Brigade, made up of the 5th Marine Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the
11th Marines, and MAG-33—a total of 6,534 men, including supporting troops.
BrigGen Edward A. Craig commanded this air-ground team composed largely of troops stationed in California.
On 13 July, as Marine embarkation began, LtGen Walton W. Walker assumed command of the Eighth U.S. Army in
Korea (EUSAK), numbering 43,146 men in Korea and Japan.
Gen MacArthur had already warned the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9 July to expect a major conflict against a
well-trained and equipped enemy. His prediction was confirmed during the next three weeks as U.S. and ROK
troops fell back before materially superior invaders. Taejon had to be evacuated on 21 July when the line of
the river Kum could not be held. The out-weighed UN forces, their left flank dangling, were unable to prevent
the enemy from making an end run in the direction of Pusan.
Nonsan, Namwon, and Hadong fell in dismaying succession to invaders sweeping around to the UN rear, opposed
only by militarized ROK police. Gen Walker met the threat on 25 July by shifting the 24th Division
(less the 21st Infantry) to the Chinju area with a blocking mission. The North Koreans continued to
make daily gains, however, with an estimated two to three regiments of the 6th Division. On the
last day of the month they drove southward and eastward to the occupation of Chinju, about 50 miles west of
Pusan. On the central front other enemy forces reached the river Naktong, and on the east coast a NK column
pushed southward to capture Youngdok from ROK defenders.
EUSAK spokesmen described the situation as "fluid," but the Pusan perimeter was already taking shape. Taegu,
the hub of the rail net, was about 50 miles from Pusan, which meant that EUSAK had a larger perimeter than its
scanty forces could defend except at key points. The intermittent "line" of defense positions stretched from
the secondary port of Pohang on the east coast to the Naktong, then dipped to the south coast in the vicinity
of Masan, only 35 miles from Pusan.
This irregular semicircle, about 120 miles in length, or a smaller one, had to be held at the peril of a
new Dunkirk. The defenders had only seven under-strength divisions on 1 August. EUSAK consisted of the 24th
Division and most of the elements of the 25th and 1st Cavalry Divisions—42,199 men in
all, including supporting troops. Air Force units added 3,527 to the total. Alongside these U.S. divisions
were four battered ROK divisions, in action since 25 June.
Eleven enemy divisions had been identified by this date. The seven which launched the invasion were those
numbered from the 1st to 6th, including a large proportion of veterans of Chinese
Communist campaigns, and the 15th. Four more divisions, hastily raised from border constabulary
units, were thrown into action before the end of July.
At the outset Gen MacArthur had necessarily to draw upon occupation forces in Japan, including many recent
recruits not ready for combat. The first contingents, making contact with the enemy on 5 July, found
themselves plunged into a melancholy land of bleak mountains and fetid rice paddies. Friend could not readily
be distinguished from foe in a swarming Oriental population, and too often a group of supposed South Korean
civilians proved to be disguised enemy soldiers.
Throughout July an atmosphere of failure and confusion oppressed the men at the front and communicated
itself to the public at home. Pearl Harbor had been a shock that energized and united Americans in a day.
Korea, in contrast, was only enough of a disillusionment to arouse grumbling. It was hard for soldiers and
civilians alike to realize that an Asiatic peninsula might become the Spain of a third World War.
August threatened to be a critical month for Pusan, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Thus
the arrival of the Marines was timely, following the debarkation of the 2nd Infantry Division and
Army 5th RCT at Pusan the day before.
Reinforcements were sorely needed at a time when five of the seven UN divisions had neared exhaustion.
Since the perimeter could not be held in strength everywhere, EUSAK orders of 2 August called for
counterattacks against penetrations to disorganize enemy columns, keep them off balance, and prevent them from
launching a coordinated effort. At this turning point the Marine air-ground team constituted a welcome unit to
be shifted from one sector to another as a mobile, self-contained reserve.
On 4 August the Plans Section of EUSAK completed a study of plans, later approved, for a counterattack
along the Masan-Chinju-Hadong axis. Two days later Task Force Kean—named after MajGen William B. Kean, CG of
the 25th Division—was organized with a mission of driving west toward Chinju to secure Masan, a
secondary port, from future enemy attempts. The primary object was to prevent NK forces n the Chinju area from
cutting the Eighth Army off from its Pusan base. This peril was considered imminent in view of reported large
hostile troop movements toward the southern front. Later intelligence led to the conclusion that the main
enemy effort would be made farther north in the Yongsan sector of the central front. But the plans were not
changed, as it was hoped that the Chinju operation would relieve NK pressure on the threatened central front.
Task Force Kean had as its components the 25th Division, the 1st Provisional Marine
Brigade (plus an ROK police company), and the Army 5th RCT. The main body of the Marine ground
forces, after proceeding by rail on 3 August from Pusan to the Changwon bivouac near Masan, spent three days
in EUSAK reserve. Routine patrols were sent out while the Brigade occupied tactical dispositions astride the
Masan-Changwon corridor in preparation for further operations. Nervous bursts of night firing occurred in all
battalion areas, but no casualties resulted.
These patrols were believed to have provided the occasion for the first air-drops of rations and water by
helicopter as well as evacuation of heat casualties. The presence of an enemy patrol was confirmed only once,
but no contact could be made with North Korean soldiers who abandoned their observation post and escaped.
The three days in EUSAK reserve were valuable as an orientation and training period. Despite its hasty
buildup, the Brigade could be considered an outfit of combat-ready troops. The 1st Battalion,
commanded by LtCol George R. Newton, was fairly typical. About 300 of the men had been training at Camp
Pendleton when the Brigade was activated. Most of the remaining 400 troops of the battalion had thereafter
joined from posts and stations on the West Coast. The latter had received no training with the battalion on
field problems, but all were basically well grounded. An experienced and able group of officers and NCOs
provided a high order of leadership. During the trans-Pacific voyage they conducted shipboard instruction at
the squad and platoon level.
The Brigade moved into an assembly area at Chindong-ni (Map, page 30) on 6 August after being attached to
the 25th Division. Relief of a battalion of the 27th Infantry was accomplished by 3/5,
under control of CO 27th Infantry for this action. Gen Craig resumed full Brigade control after his
other two battalions moved into attack positions that night.
A new chapter of Marine Corps history had begun, and it was fitting that a rifle platoon should draw first
blood. Shortly after dark, while the Brigade was still under Army control, CO 27th Infantry
directed that a platoon of 3/5 proceed several miles forward to protect the flank of a company reporting heavy
pressure. The 1st Platoon of George Company and a MG section were sent by CO 3/5 with a mission of
seizing a ridge line. During the advance the first Marine battle casualties of Korea occurred about 0500 on 7
august when enemy artillery shells wounded tow men. Two hours later Lt John H.J. Cahill led 39 men up a slope
swept by NK automatic fire. He took his objective at 0900, after making contact with the 27th’s
infantry company, and held for 24 hours under sporadic mortar and automatic fire until being relieved the next
morning by Dog Company of 2/5. Six men of the detachment were killed and 12 wounded, in addition to heat
The story of the war in Korea might have been written in terms of such rifle platoon actions. Although he
American public had been conditioned by irresponsible concepts of push-button warfare, the actual showdown
called for the timeworn fundamentals of sound infantry training.
The attack plan of 7 August provided for the Army 5th RCT to jump off at 030 from positions just
beyond Chindong-ni after a brief air-artillery preparation. These assault troops had orders to pass through
and relieve the 27tn Infantry before advancing to clear the road junction west of Chindong-ni . When that
mission had been accomplished, the Marine Brigade was to jump off from the road junction and initiate its
attack along the route toward Kosong. Meanwhile the 5th RCT would continue to advance along the
northern fork of the road toward Chinju.
This plan remained in effect until the Army 5th RCT was held up by opposition northwest of
Chindong-ni. CG 25th Division then directed that a battalion of Marines relieve the 2d Battalion,
Army 5th RCT, so that the attack could proceed. This mission fell to 2/4 of the Marines, and at
1100 the battalion moved out from Sangnyong-ni. Enemy automatic and mortar fire held up the advance, but the
extreme heat did as much to delay troops making an exhausting climb. At dusk the Marine shad not been able to
complete the relief, and an early morning attack was necessary to fight through and relieve the Army
battalion. Eight men were killed and 28 wounded in the Marine battalion.
Such stubborn enemy resistance had developed in this area that three days and nights of slugging would
ensure before the road junction had been fully cleared. This task absorbed the efforts of the Marine Brigade
as well as elements of the Army 5th and 27th Regiments. At 1120 on 7 august Gen Craig
was directed by CG 25th Division to assume command of all Army as well as Marine units in the
area—a responsibility which he held until relieved by oral instructions late in the afternoon of 9 august
after the road junction was cleared.
Where possible the Marine Brigade operated in a column of battalions passing through and relieving one
another at successive objectives. Not only was the rugged terrain a factor, but the battalions still had only
two rifle companies. [At Camp Pendleton, as part of the transition from a peace to war footing, third platoons
were activated on 5 July. Third companies did not join the Brigade, however, until after operations ended in
the Pusan Perimeter.] The great frontages typical of the Korean operations required battalions to commit two
companies abreast, leaving no reserve echelon.
Slow progress in clearing the road junction was made during the daylight hours of 8 August by the Brigade
and Army troops against enemy units identified as the 82rd Motorized and the 13th and 15th
Infantry of the 6th Division. The Marines learned to respect a hardy enemy for his skill at
camouflage, ambush, infiltration and use of cover. They learned that supporting air and artillery fires often
had limited effect on a foe making clever use of reverse slope defenses to offset Marine concentrations. Thus
a ridge might protect and conceal an enemy strong point until attackers were too close for supporting fires.
At that stage the affairs turned into a fire fight with small arms in which the North Koreans were at no
disadvantage despite their handicap in air and artillery.
Rear areas and supply routes were seldom safe from infiltration. A noteworthy example was supplied on the
night of 8 August when the enemy threw a road block across the Masan-Chindong-ni MSR behind 2/5, delaying the
relief of that Marine battalion by a battalion of the 24th Infantry. CG Brigade ordered 3/5 to the
rescue form positions in the vicinity, with two battalions of the 24th Infantry in support. Slow
progress was made in staggering heat on the morning of 9 August. Artillery fires and napalm strikes were
delivered to enable How Company to seize the high ground commanding the road block. Not until late that
afternoon was the weary 2d Battalion relieved.
Meanwhile 1/5 had been ordered on 8 August to advance from defense positions at 2300 in conjunction with an
Army 5th RCT effort to complete its mission of clearing the road junction. Although the
Leathernecks had to cross a mile-long rice paddy to relieve an Army's 5th RCT battalion, not a shot
was fired at the single-file column. At 0600, after completing relief, the Marines attacked to seize Objective
1, the high ground to the immediate front. Again the lack of resistance was bewildering, and orders were
received to continue to advance along the road toward Paedun-ni. About a third of the distance had been
covered without opposition when the battalion set up defense positions for the night.
The late afternoon of 9 August dated a turning point. Army 5th RCT reported that the road
junction had at last been cleared, permitting forward movement along the northern route toward Chinju. Three
days of hard and often confused fighting had dislodged the enemy and forced him into full retreat along both
roads in the direction of Kosong and Chinju. These results had been accomplished during a decisive first phase
in which Gen Craig held overall command in the forward area. Then, on 10 August, Army elements of the 5th
and 27th Regiments reverted from Brigade command to 25th Division control.
The fleeing enemy offered little opposition to the advance of the 10 August. After occupying Paedun-ni at
dawn, the Marines advanced 10 miles along the road without any serious action except an attempted enemy ambush
defeated by Lt Col Harold S. Roise’s 2d Battalion with air and tank support.
Fatigue and heat continued on 11 August to be the main foes of troops who had known little sleep or rest in
four days and nights. As the Brigade moved toward Kosong against light opposition, the 35th RCT had
covered most of the distance to Chinju along the northern axis. Pockets of resistance were encountered, but
the enemy was withdrawing everywhere and even abandoning equipment. The 1st Battalion, 11th
Marines hastened this process by shelling Kosong. Enemy transport led a disorderly flight from the town, and
Marine air had a turkey shoot at the expense of a column estimated at 40 vehicles. About half were destroyed
and the rest damaged in repeated attacks by the Corsairs.
Although the UN forces were criticized for being road bound, this episode hinted that the enemy had fewer
difficulties because he had fewer vehicles. Only human transport could traverse the rice paddies and hilltops;
but the North Koreans were driven to that expedient by UN planes which controlled the roads in daylight hours.
The enemy, according to EUSAK estimates, began the invasion with 122 planes of all types, most of which
were destroyed by the middle of July. Only infrequent flights by single aircraft were reported afterwards, and
Marine fliers met no resistance in their element. Despite the enemy’s lack of air reconnaissance, his
artillery was surprisingly effective at times. As an example, a 122mmprojectile knocked out one of our 105mm
howitzers with a direct hit on 7 August, killing two men and wounding eight of B Battery, 11th
Marines. Enemy intelligence commanded respect, and his intermittent firing practices permitted well
camouflaged gun positions to be long concealed form air observation.
The evacuation of Kosong occurred just as LtCol Robert D. Taplett’s 3/5 passed through the other two
battalions. Beyond the town the fast-moving advance troops bore down on the NK 83rd Motorized in
the confusion of escape, and infantry combined with air to leave the road strewn with enemy dead and wrecked
transport. Some of the Soviet-made vehicles were captured intact and put to good use by Marines slowed by
transport shortages and limitations. [Many vehicles were left on the dock at San Diego because of shipping
shortages. But the Brigade discovered that even the full allowance of equipment would not have been
At dusk on 11 August, after reaching high ground 2,400 yards west of Kosong, the Brigade halted with orders
to attack toward Sachon in the morning. The 1st Battalion leapfrogged the 3rd at
daybreak and advanced for seven hours against negligible opposition to a ridge within sight of Sachon. It
could hardly have been imagined at this moment that a beaten enemy was coiled to strike his two boldest blows
of the campaign.
The first developed when 24th Infantry elements were surprised by enemy infiltrating 25 miles to
the rear and overrunning artillery positions on the MSR west of Chindong-ni. At noon on 12 August, CO 5th
Marines, carrying out 25th Division instructions, ordered 3/5 to the new road block by motor lift.
Arriving at 1600, G and H companies attacked to secure their first objectives before dusk. Several hot fire
fights took place the next day before How Company advanced with supporting air, artillery, and 4.2 mortar
fires to clear the MSR.
Meanwhile, as the other two Marine battalions continued the advance toward Sachon, the enemy demonstrated
that ambush as well as infiltration was an ever-present threat of North Korean tactics. At 1400 on 12 August
the 1st Battalion, with a reconnaissance company detachment leading, entered a U-shaped defile east
of the town.
This was the beginning of the affair known as the Sachon Ambush. As a test of Marine and enemy techniques,
it is perhaps the most instructive fire fight of the operation.
The reconnaissance detachment, acting as the point, promptly unmasked enemy intentions by spotting four NK
soldiers hurrying toward their machine gun emplacements (Point C). Fire was immediately opened when return
fire revealed additional positions (Points A). Baker Company deployed on the left side of the road and Able on
A platoon of tanks, attached to the battalion, soon got into the fight. Maneuver was prevented by rice
paddies lying between the road and high ground. But tank fires were directed by platoon leaders using such SCR
536s as had not been put out of commission by mud and water. CO Baker Company, after orienting himself,
further briefed the tanks on his SCR 300. After rogering for this orientation, the tanks put down the fire
requested by platoon leaders.
Tanks covered the laborious advance of the 3rd Platoon of Baker Company across an ankle-deep
rice paddy to seize a hill on the left flank. Covered by these supporting fires, the 3rd Platoon
reached the crest of Hill 202 but was driven back by superior enemy numbers counter-attacking from the reverse
slope. Artillery was called into action to get the platoon off the hill. The Corsairs strafed the indicated
area with repeated runs, and artillery laid down about 30 minutes of fire.
Nearly every supporting arm had figured in a combat which might otherwise have cost Baker Company far more
than the actual three dead and 13 wounded. At 1745 the battalion advanced again to occupy the high ground to
defend for the night. This advance caught the enemy withdrawing and killed 38 at no cost to the Marines in
Word came just before midnight that the Brigade had 25th Division orders to move to a new front.
In the 1st Battalion area the two rifle companies were separated by a gap of 800 yards covered by
4.2 mortars and artillery. At 0450, with the withdrawal beginning, a flare revealed artillery as well as 4.2
and 81 mortar fire laid down almost in the laps of the infantry. As a final touch, three .5 rocket launchers
were credited with knocking out two machine guns and killing the crews.
By daybreak Baker Company had reorganized for a counterattack, but Battalion ordered the withdrawal to
continue as supporting fires escorted the covering 2nd Platoon safely down the slope. This last
fight cost the company 12 killed, 16 wounded, and nine missing, presumed dead.
The Leathernecks were reluctant to turn their backs on Sachon with the final objective within grasp. It
doubtless seemed to them that the six-day operation had accomplished nothing, since Army units advancing on
Chinju were also pulled back from their objective. But events were to prove that the enemy had been stopped
cold after penetrating within 35 miles of Pusan—the high tide of the North Korean advance. Never again would
the invaders be able to mount a serious threat on this sensitive southern front. In this operation Brigade
estimates placed the casualties of the three NK regiments at about 1,900.
CG 25th Division ordered the Marines to withdraw from the vicinity of Sachon by motor and LST to
the Chindong-ni area, and the 3rd Battalion (with its road clearing mission completed) reverted to
Brigade control. The men proceeded from Chindong-ni by motor lift to the railhead at Masan, where they had
their first hot meal since landing in Korea nearly two weeks before. Unhappily, the train pulled in before
half of them had eaten. The Brigade reached its assembly area at Miryang on 14 August. There it passed by
EUSAK orders to operational control of the 24th Division.
The Marines had scarcely time to clean their weapons at Miryang before being sent back into action again.
Enemy pressure in the Naktong Bulge of the central front had created a menace even before the Sachon-Chinju
operation ended. This situation resulted in 24th division orders for the Brigade to move by Army
and organic motor lift on 16 August to previously reconnoitered positions in the Yongsan area.
Back to Contents
Army Veterans’ Memoirs
See these memoirs on the Korean War Educator:
Back to Contents
Marine Veterans’ Memoirs
See these memoirs on the Korean War Educator:
Back to Contents
See these brief accounts of the Korean War on the Korean War Educator, which include summaries of the action
in the Pusan Perimeter:
Back to Contents
- Korea 1950
Center of Military History, Department of the Army [CMH Pub. 21-1], reprinted 1989. For sale by the
Superintendent of Documents, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
- Fighting On The Brink: Defense of the Pusan Perimeter
BG Uzal W. Ent, USA, Retired, Turner Publishing Company, 412 Broadway, PO Box 3101, Paducah, KY 42002-0121,
- In Mortal Combat Korea, 1950-1953
John Toland, Quill, William Morrow, NY, 1991.
- Counterattack on the Naktong, 1950
Leavenworth Paper series. Dr. William Glenn Roberston, Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General
Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, December 1985. The book studies the withdrawal by the 24th Infantry
division to the Perimeter, their defensive battles along the Naktong River and counterattack by the division
on August 17, 1950 with the aid of the Provisional Marine Brigade. Available free from the college (USA C&GSC)
- Combat Support in Korea, by John G. Westover
- Combat Action in Korea, by Russell A. Gugeler
- Policy and Direction: The First Year, by James F. Schnabel
- South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, by Roy E. Appleman
Back to Contents
By Marty O'Brien, Augusta, Maine
United Nations Commander General Douglas MacArthur planned an amphibious invasion of Korea as early as June
27, 1950. The plan envisioned landing an invasion force on the Western coast as early as July 20 consisting of
the 1st Cavalry Division, an Army Amphibious brigade, an Army Regimental Combat Team, and a Marine Regiment. The
goal was the capture of Inchon and Seoul in order to cut off the flow of supplies North Korean Peoples Army
troops and supplies to the South. The plan was dubbed "Operation Bluehearts."
Soon, however, events in Korea on the ground forced General MacArthur to scrap the plan and instead send the
1st Cavalry Division to P'ohang-dong to reinforce the Pusan Perimeter. Although Bluehearts was scrapped, it
served as the model for the successful "Operation Chromite" or "Inchon Landing" on September 15.
The landing at P'ohang-dong took place over a period of several days, July 17-19. It was an unopposed landing.
The main enemy forces were installed to the North, but were taking a pounding from the air and sea. On July 17,
a battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment landed near Yonil to secure the airfield there. Typhoon Helene prevented
the remainder of the regiment and the 82d Field Artillery Battalion from landing until July 22.
The 5th Cavalry Regiment and the 8th Cavalry Regiment, organized into Regimental Combat Teams, including
supporting division troops, arrived on July 18 and 19. Both RCTs quickly moved west by truck and rail toward the
vicinity of Taejon, arriving on July 22. Their mission was to relieve embattled 24th Infantry Division troops in
the vicinity and to secure the Taejon-Yongdong-Taegu highway corridor which led directly south to the airfield
in Taegu and beyond to the ports on the Sea of Japan.
Pohang Attack Force
Task Force 90
Attack Force. Rear Admiral J.H. Doyle
Task Force 91
Landing Force. Major General Hobart Gay, USA.
Task Group 90.1
Tactical Air Control Group
Commander Elmer Moore, USN
Task Group 90.2
USS McKinley (AGC-7) fleet flagship
USS Cavalier (APA-37)
USS Oglethorpe (AKA-100)
USS Titania (AKA-13)
USS Union (AKA-106) Captain Virginius R. Roane, USN
1 Amphibious Command Ship
1 Amphibious Transport
3 Amphilious Cargo Ships
Task Group 90-3 - Tractor Group
15 Scajap LST
USS Cree (ATF-84)
USS Lipan (ATF-85)
USS Conserver (ARS-39)
Captain Norman W. Sears, USN
1 Landing Ship Tank
15 Supreme Commander Allied Powers, Japan LST as assigned
2 Fleet Tugs
1 Salvage Ship
6 Landing Ship Utility
Task Group 90-4 . Protective Group
90.41 Mine Squadron 3
USS Pledge (AM-277)
USS Chatterer (AMS-40)
USS Kite (AMS-22)
USS Redhead (AMS-34)
90.42 Mine Division 31
USS Mockingbird (AMS-27)
USS Osprey (AMS-28)
USS Partridge (AMS-31)
90.43 Destroyer Screen
USS Higbee (DD-806)
USS James B. Kyes (DD-787) LCDR Darcy V. Shouldice, USN
LCDR Darcy V. Shouldice, USN
3 Coastal Minesweepers
3 Coastal Minesweepers
2 Destroyers (as screen for movement of objective then under TG 96.5)
Task Group 90-7 . Reconnaissance Group
USS Diachenko (APD-123)
UDT-3 detachment. LCDR. James R. Wilson, USN
1 High Speed Transport
Underwater Demolition Team
Task Group 90.8. Control Group.
USS Diachenko (APD-123)1
USS Lipan (ATF-85) ATF 2 LCDR Clyde E. Allmon, USN
1 High Speed Transport
1 Fleet Tug
Task Group 90.9. Beach Group
1 Beachmaster Unit detachment,
UDT-3 Detachment LCDR Jack L. Lowentrout, USN
Underwater Demolition Team
Task Group 90.0 . Follow-up Shipping Group
USNS Ainsworth (T-AP)
USNS Shanks (T-AP)
12 Scajap LST
4 Maru. Captain Daniel J. Sweeney, USN
12 Supreme Commander Allied Powers, Japan Landing Ship Tanks
Task Group 96.5. Gunfire Support Group.
USS Juneau (CL-119)
USS Coller (DD-730)
USS Higbee (DD-806)
USS James B. Kyes (DD-787)
HMAS Bataan Rear Admiral John H. Higgins, USN
1 Light Cruiser
Australian Navy Destroyer
Close air support from Seventh Fleet; deep air support from FEAF; patrol
aircraft from Task Group 96.2
1 From Task Group 90.7
2 From Task Group 90.3
32 DD from Task Group 90.4
Famous Korean War Battle Sites in South Korea
[KWE Note: This chronological list of famous Korean War battle sites in South Korea was compiled by the
Department of the Army.]
Task Force Smith at Osan, 5 July 1950. Unit: Battalion combat team from 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If
you know yourself, but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you
know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Task Force Smith, comprised of elements of the 24th Division's 21st Regiment, then based in Japan, was the
first American unit to fight in Korea. The initial 406 members of Task Force Smith arrived at Pusan by
air on 1 July 1950 and were rushed north by train and truck. On 4 July they were joined at Pyongtaek by
134 men of their division's 52d Field Artillery Battalion which had crossed from Japan on an LST.
A little after midnight on 5 July the infantry and artillery of the Task Force moved out of Pyongtaek.
Their leader, LTC Charles B. Smith had to commandeer Korean trucks and miscellaneous vehicles to mount his
men. The native Korean drivers deserted when they found that the vehicles were going north.
American soldiers took over in the driver's seats. BG George B. Barth, Acting commanding General of the
24th Division Artillery, and Colonel Smith followed the task force northward. On the way, General Barth
tried to halt the ROK demolition preparations by telling the engineer groups that he planned to use the
bridges. At one bridge, after talk failed to influence the ROK engineers, Barth threw the boxes of
dynamite into the river. It was only twelve miles to Osan, but it took two and a half hours to get there
because ROK soldiers and civilians fleeing south filled the road and driving was under blackout conditions.
About 0300 on 5 July, the delaying force reached the position which Smith had previously selected.
The infantry units started setting up weapons and digging in at the predesignated places. LTC Miller O.
Perry, 52d FA Battalion commander, moved his guns into the positions behind the infantry that he had selected
the previous afternoon. All units were in place, but not completely dug in, before daylight.
In seeking the most favorable place to pass through the ridge, the railroad bent eastward away from the
highway until it was almost a mile distant. There the railroad split into two single-track lines and
passed over low ground between hills of the ridge line. On his left flank Colonel Smith placed one
platoon of B Company on the high knob immediately west of the highway; east of the road were B Company's other
two rifle platoons. Beyond them eastward to the railroad tracks were two platoons of C Company.
This company's third platoon occupied a finger ridge running south, forming a refused right flank along the
west side of the railroad track. Just east of the highway B Company emplaced one 75-mm recoilless rifle;
C Company emplaced the other 75-mm recoilless rifle just west of the railroad. Colonel Smith placed the
4.2-inch mortars on the reverse, or south slope, of the ridge about 400 yards behind the center of B Company's
position. The infantry line formed a 1-mile front, not counting the refused right flank along the
railroad track. The highway, likely to be the critical axis of enemy advance, passed through the shallow
saddle at the infantry position and then zigzagged gently downgrade northward around several knoblike spurs to
low ground a little more than a mile away. There it crossed to the east side of the railroad track and
continued on over semi-level ground to Suwon.
Two thousand yards behind the infantry, Colonel Perry pulled four 105-mm howitzers 150 yards to the left
(west) off the highway over a small trail that only jeeps could travel. Two jeeps in tandem pulled the
guns into place. Near a cluster of houses with rice paddies in front and low hills back of them, the men
arranged the guns in battery position. Perry emplaced the fifth howitzer as an antitank gun on the west
side of the road about halfway between the main battery position and the infantry. From there it could
place direct fire on the highway where it passed through the saddle and the infantry positions.
Volunteers from the artillery Headquarters and Service Batteries made up four .50-caliber machine gun and
four 2.36-inch bazooka teams and joined the infantry in their position.
The infantry parked most of their miscellaneous trucks and jeeps along the road just south of the saddle.
The artillerymen left their trucks concealed in yards and sheds and behind Korean houses along the road just
north of Osan. There were about 1,200 rounds of artillery ammunition at the battery position and in two
trucks parked inside a walled enclosure nearby. One or two truckloads more were in the vehicles parked
among the houses just north of Osan. Nearly all this ammunition was high explosive (HE); only 6 rounds
were high explosive antitank (HEAT), and all of it was taken to the forward gun. When the 52d Field
Artillery was loading out at Sasebo, Japan, the battalion ammunition officer drew all the HEAT ammunition
available there--only 18 rounds. He issued 6 rounds to A Battery, now on the point of engaging in the
first battle between American artillery and the Russian-built T34 tanks.
At the Osan position as rainy 5 July dawned were 540 Americans: 389 enlisted men and 17 officers among the
infantry and 125 enlisted men and 9 officers among the artillerymen. When first light came, the infantry
test-fired their weapons and the artillerymen registered their guns. Then they ate their C ration
In spite of the rain Smith could see almost to Suwon. He first saw movement on the road in the
distance near Suwon a little after 0700. In about half an hour a tank column, now easily discernible,
approached the waiting Americans. In this first group there were eight tanks. About 0800 the men
back in the artillery position received a call from the forward observer with the infantry for a fire mission.
At 0816 the first American artillery fire of the Korean War hurtled through the air toward the North Korean
tanks. The number two howitzer fired the first two rounds, and the other pieces then joined in the
firing. The artillery took the tanks under fire at a range of approximately 4,000 yards, about 2,000
yards in front of the American infantry. The forward observer quickly adjusted the fire and shells began
landing among the tanks. But the watching infantrymen saw the tanks keep on coming, undeterred by the
exploding artillery shells.
To conserve ammunition Colonel Smith issued orders that the 75-mm recoilless rifle covering the highway
should withhold fire until the tanks closed to 700 yards. The tanks stayed in column, displayed little
caution, and did not leave the road. The commander of the enemy tank column may have thought he had
encountered only another minor ROK delaying position.
General Barth had gone back to the artillery just before the enemy came into view and did not know when he
arrived there that an enemy force was approaching. After receiving reports from the forward observer
that the artillery fire was ineffective against the tanks, he started back to alert the 1st Battalion of the
34th Infantry, whose arrival he expected at Pyongtaek during the night, against a probably breakthrough of the
When the enemy tank column approached within 700 yards of the infantry position, the two recoilless rifles
took it under fire. They scored direct hits, but apparently did not damage the tanks which, firing their
85-mm cannon and 7.62-mm machine guns, rumbled on up the incline toward the saddle. When they were
almost abreast of the infantry position, the lead tanks came under 2.36-inch bazooka fire. Operating a
rocket launcher from the ditch along the east side of the road, 2d Lt. Ollie D. Connor, fired 22 rockets at
approximately 15 yards' range against the rear of the tanks where their armor was weakest. Whether they
were effective is doubtful. The two lead tanks, however, were stopped just through the pass when they
came under direct fire of the single 105-mm howitzer using HEAT ammunition. Very likely these artillery
shells stopped the two tanks, although the barrage of close-range bazooka rockets may have damaged their
The two damaged tanks pulled off to the side of the road, clearing the way for those following. One
of the two caught fire and burned. Two men emerged from its turret with their hands up. A third
jumped out with a burp gun in his hands and fired directly into a machine gun position, killing the assistant
gunner. This unidentified machine gunner (survivors of Task Force Smith believe he was PFC Kenneth
Shadrock, killed in action at about 0830, 5 July 1950) probably was the first American ground soldier killed
in action in Korea. American fire killed the three North Koreans. The six rounds of HEAT
ammunition at the forward gun were soon expended, leaving only the HE shells which ricocheted off the tanks.
The third tank through the pass knocked out the forward gun and wounded one of its crew members.
The tanks did not stop to engage the infantry; they merely fired on them as they came through.
Following the first group of 8 tanks came others at short intervals, usually in groups of 4. These, too,
went unhesitatingly through the infantry position and on down the road toward the artillery position. In
all, there were 33 tanks in the column. The last passed through the infantry position at 0900, about an
hour after the lead tanks had reached the saddle. In this hour, tank fire had killed or wounded
approximately 20 men in Smith's position.
Earlier in the morning it was supposed to have been no more than an academic question as to what would
happen if tanks came through the infantry to the artillery position. Someone in the artillery had raised
this point to be answered by the infantry, "Don't worry, they will never get back to you." One of the
artillerymen later expressed the prevailing opinion by saying, "Everyone thought the enemy would turn around
and go back when they found out who was fighting." Word now came to the artillerymen from the forward
observer that tanks were through the infantry and to be ready for them.
The first tanks cut up the telephone wire strung along the road from the artillery to the infantry and
destroyed this communication. The radios were wet and functioning badly; now only the jeep radio worked.
Communication with the infantry after 0900 was spotty at best, and, about 1100, it ceased altogether.
The tanks came on toward the artillery pieces, which kept them under fire but could not stop them.
About 500 yards from the battery, the tanks stopped behind a little hill seeking protection from direct fire.
Then, one at a time, they came down the road with a rush, hatches closed, making a run to get past the battery
position. Some fired their 85-mm cannon, others only their machine guns. Their aim was haphazard
in most cases for the enemy tankers had not located the gun positions. Some of the tank guns even
pointed toward the opposite side of the road. Only one tank stopped momentarily at the little trail
where the howitzers had pulled off the main road as though it meant to try to overrun the battery which its
crew evidently had located. Fortunately, however, it did not leave the road but instead, after a moment,
continued on toward Osan. The 105-mm howitzers fired at ranges of 150-300 yards as the tanks went by,
but the shells only jarred the tanks and bounced off. Altogether, the tanks did not average more than
one round each in return fire.
Three bazooka teams from the artillery has posted themselves near the road before the tanks appeared.
When word came that the tanks were through the infantry, two more bazooka teams, one led by Colonel Perry and
the other by Sgt. Edwin A. Eversole, started to move into position. The first tank caught both Perry and
Eversole in the rice paddy between the howitzers and the highway. When Evresole's first bazooka round
bounced off the turret of the tank, he said that tank suddenly looked to him "as big as a battleship."
This tank fired its 85-mm cannon, cutting down a telephone pole which fell harmlessly over Eversole who had
flung himself down into a paddy drainage ditch. A 105-mm shell hit the tracks of the third tank and
stopped it. The other tanks in this group went on through. The four American howitzers remained
After these tanks had passed out of sight, Colonel Perry took an interpreter and worked his way up close to
the immobilized enemy tank. Through the interpreter, he called on the crew to come out and surrender.
There was no response. Perry then ordered the howitzers to destroy the tank. After three rounds
had hit the tank, two men jumped out of it and took cover in a culvert. Perry sent a squad forward and
it killed the two North Koreans.
During this little action, small arms fire hit Colonel Perry in the right leg. Refusing to be
evacuated, he hobbled around or sat against the base of a tree giving orders and instructions in preparation
for the appearance of more tanks.
In about ten minutes the second wave of tanks followed the last of the first group. This time there
were more--"a string of them," as one man expressed it. They came in ones, twos, and threes, close
together with no apparent interval or organization.
When the second wave of tanks came into view, some of the howitzer crew members started to "take off."
As one present said, the men were "shy about helping." The officers had to drag the ammunition up and
load the pieces themselves. The senior noncommissioned officers fired the pieces. The momentary
panic soon passed and, with the good example and strong leadership of Colonel Perry and 1st Lt. Dwain L. Scott
before them, the men returned to their positions. Many of the second group of tanks did not fire on the
artillery at all. Again, the 105-mm howitzers did, however, hit another in its tracks, disabling it in
front of the artillery position. Some of the tanks had one or two infantrymen on their decks.
Artillery fire blew off or killed most of them; some lay limply dead as the tanks went by; others slowly
jolted off onto the road. Enemy tank fire caused a building to burn near the battery position and a
nearby dump of about 300 rounds of artillery shells began to explode. The last of the tanks passed the
artillery position by 1015. These tanks were from the 107th Tank Regiment of the 105th Armored Division,
in support of the North Korean 4th Division.
Colonel Perry estimates that his four howitzers fired an average of 4 to 6 rounds at each of the tanks, and
that they averaged perhaps 1 round each in return. After the last tank was out of sight, rumbling on
toward Osan, the score stood as follows: the forward 105-mm howitzer and 2.36-inch bazookas fired from the
infantry position, had knocked out and left burning 1 tank and damaged another so that it could not move; the
artillery had stopped 2 more in front of the battery position, while three others though damaged had managed
to limp out of range toward Osan. This made 4 tanks destroyed or immobilized and 3 others slightly
damaged but serviceable out of a total of 33.
For their part, the tanks had destroyed the forward 105-mm howitzer and wounded one of its crew members,
had killed or wounded an estimated 20 infantrymen, and had destroyed all the parked vehicles behind the
infantry position. At the main battery position the tanks had slightly damaged one of the four guns by a
near miss. Only Colonel Perry and another man were wounded at the battery position.
Task Force Smith was not able to use any antitank mines--one of the most effective methods of defense
against tanks--as there were none in Korea at the time. Colonel Perry was of the opinion that a few
well-placed antitank mines would have stopped the entire armored column in the road.
After the last of the tank column had passed through the infantry position and the artillery and tank fire
back toward Osan had subsided, the American position became quiet again. There was no movement of any
kind discernible on the road ahead toward Suwon. But Smith knew that he must expect enemy infantry soon.
In the steady rain that continued throughout the morning, the men deepened their foxholes and otherwise
improved their positions.
Perhaps an hour after the enemy tank column had moved through, Colonel Smith, from his observation post,
saw movement on the road far away, near Suwon. This slowly became discernible as a long column of trucks
and foot soldiers. Smith estimated the column to be about six miles long. It took an hour for the
head of the column to reach a point 1,000 yards in front of the American infantry. There were three
tanks in front, followed by a long line of trucks, and, behind these, several miles of marching infantry.
There could be no about about it, this was a major force of the North Korean Army pushing south--the 16th and
18th Regiments of the NK 4th Division, as learned later.
Whether the enemy column knew that American ground troops had arrived in Korea and were present in the
battle area is unknown. Later, Sr. Col. Lee Hak Ku, in early July operations officer of the NK II Corps,
said he had no idea that the United States would intervene in the war, that nothing had been said about
possible US intervention, and that he believed it came as a surprise to North Korean authorities.
With battle against a greatly superior number of enemy troops only a matter of minutes away, the
apprehensions of the American infantry watching the approaching procession can well be imagined. General
MacArthur later referred to his commitment of a handful of American ground troops as "that arrogant display of
strength" which he hoped would fool the enemy into thinking that a much larger force was at hand.
When the convoy of enemy trucks was about 1,000 yards away, Colonel Smith, to use his own words, "threw the
book at them." Mortar shells landed among the trucks and .50-caliber machine gun bullets swept the
column. Trucks burst into flames. Men were blown into the air; others sprang from their vehicles
and jumped into ditches alongside the road. The three tanks moved to within 200-300 yards of the
American positions and began raking the ridge line with cannon and machine gun fire. Behind the burning
vehicles an estimated 1,000 enemy infantry detrucked and started to deploy. Behind them other truckloads
of infantry stopped and waited. It was now about 1145.
The enemy infantry began moving up the finger ridge along the east side of the road. There, some of
them set up a base of fire while others fanned out to either side in a double enveloping movement. The
American fire broke up all efforts of the enemy infantry to advance frontally. Strange though it was,
the North Koreans made no strong effort to attack the flanks; they seemed bent on getting around rather than
closing on them. Within an hour, about 1230, the enemy appeared in force on the high hill to the west of
the highway overlooking and dominating the knob on that side held by a platoon of B Company. Smith,
observing this, withdrew the platoon to the east side of the road. Maj. Floyd Martin, executive officer
of the 1st Battalion, meanwhile supervised the carrying of available ammunition stocks to a central and
protected area back of the battalion command post. The 4.2-inch mortars were moved up closer, and
otherwise the men achieved a tighter defense perimeter on the highest ground east of the road. In the
exchange of fire that went on an increasing amount of enemy mortar and artillery fire fell on the American
position. Enemy machine guns on hills overlooking the right flank now also began firing on Smith's men.
Earlier, Colonel Perry had twice sent wire parties to repair the communications wire between the artillery
and the infantry, but both had returned saying they had been fired upon. At 1300 Perry sent a third
group led by his Assistant S-3. This time he ordered the men to put in a new line across the paddies
east of the road and to avoid the area where the earlier parties said they had received fire.
About 1430, Colonel Smith decided that if any of his command was to get out, the time to move was at hand.
Large numbers of the enemy were now on both flanks and moving toward his rear; a huge enemy reserve waited in
front of him along the road stretching back toward Suwon; and his small arms ammunition was nearly gone.
A large enemy tank force was already in his rear. He had no communications, not even with Colonel
Perry's artillery a mile behind him, and he could hope for no reinforcements. Perry's artillery had
fired on the enemy infantry as long as the fire direction communication functioned properly, but this too had
failed soon after the infantry fight began. The weather prevented friendly air from arriving at the
scene. Had it been present it could have worked havoc with the enemy-clogged road.
Smith planned to withdraw his men by leapfrogging units off the ridge, each jump of the withdrawal covered
by protecting fire of the next unit ahead. The selected route of withdrawal was toward Osan down the
finger ridge on the right flank, just west of the railroad track. First off the hill was C Company,
followed by the medics, then battalion headquarters, and, finally, B Company, except its 2d Platoon which
never received the withdrawal order. A platoon messenger returned from the company command post and
reported to 2d Lt. Carl F. Bernard that there was no one at the command post and that the platoon was the only
group left in position. After confirming this report Bernard tried to withdraw his men. At the
time of the withdrawal the men carried only small arms and each averaged two or three clips of ammunition.
They abandoned all crew-served weapons--recoilless rifles, mortars, and machine guns. They had no
alternative but to leave behind all the dead and about 25 to 30 wounded litter cases. A medical
sergeant, whose name unfortunately has not been determined, voluntarily remained with the latter. The
slightly wounded moved out with the main units, but when enemy fire dispersed some of the groups many of the
wounded dropped behind and were seen no more.
Task Force Smith suffered its heaviest casualties in the withdrawal. Some of the enemy machine gun
fire was at close quarters. The captain and pitcher of the regimental baseball team, 1st Lt. Raymond "Bodie"
Adams, used his pitching arm to win the greatest victory of his career when he threw a grenade forty yards
into an enemy machine gun position, destroying the gun and killing the crew. This particular gun had
caused heavy casualties.
About the time B Company, the initial covering unit, was ready to withdraw, Colonel Smith left the hill,
slanted off to the railroad track and followed it south to a point opposite the artillery position. From
there he struck off west through the rice paddies to find Colonel Perry and tell him the infantry was leaving.
While crossing the rice paddies Smith met Perry's wire party and together they hurried to Perry's artillery
battery. Smith had assumed that the enemy tanks had destroyed all the artillery pieces and had made
casualties of most of the men. His surprise was complete when he found that all the guns at this battery
position were operable and that only Colonel Perry and another man were wounded. Enemy infantry had not
yet appeared at the artillery position.
Upon receiving Smith's order to withdraw, the artillerymen immediately made ready to go. They removed
the sights and breech locks from the guns and carried them and the aiming circles to their vehicles.
Smith, Perry, and the artillerymen walked back to the outskirts of Osan where they found the artillery trucks
as they had left them, only a few being slightly damaged by tank and machine gun fire.
Perry and Smith planned to take a road at the south edge of Osan to Ansong, assuming that the enemy tanks
had gone down the main road toward Pyongtaek. Rounding a bend in the road near the southern edge of the
town, but short of the Ansong road, Smith and Perry in the lead vehicle came suddenly upon three enemy tanks
halted just ahead of them. Some or all of the tank crew members were standing about smoking cigarettes.
The little column of vehicles turned around quickly, and, without a shot being fired, drove back to the north
edge of Osan. There they turned into a small dirt road that led eastward, hoping that it would get them
The column soon came upon groups of infantry from Smith's battalion struggling over the hills and through
the rice paddies. Some of the men had taken off their shoes in the rice paddies, others were without
head covering of any kind, while some had their shirts off. The trucks stopped and waited while several
of these groups came up and climbed on them. About 100 infantrymen joined them in this way. Then,
the vehicles continued on unmolested, arriving at Ansong after dark.
There was no pursuit. The North Korean infantry occupied the vacated positions, and busied themselves
in gathering trophies, apparently content to have driven off the enemy force.
The next morning, 6 July, Colonel Smith and his party went on to Chonan. Upon arrival there a count
revealed that he had 185 men. Subsequently, Capt. Richard Dashmer, C company commander, came in with 65
men, increasing the total to 250. There were about 150 men killed, wounded, or missing from Colonel
Smith's infantry force when he took a second count later in the day. The greatest loss was in B Company.
Survivors straggled in to American lines at Pyongtaek, Chonan, Taejon, and other points in southern Korea
during the next several days. Lieutenant Bernard and 12 men of the reserve platoon of B Company rescued
Chonan two days after the Osan fight. Five times he and his men had encountered North Korean roadblocks.
They arrived at Chonan only half an hour ahead of the enemy. A few men walked all the way from Osan to
the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. One man eventually arrived at Pusan on a Korean sampan from the
None of the five officers and 10 enlisted men of the artillery forward observer, liaison, machine gun, and
bazooka group with the infantry ever came back. On 7 July five officers and 26 enlisted men from the
artillery were still missing.
The N.K. 4th Division and attached units apparently lost approximately 42 killed and 85 wounded at Osan on
5 July. A diary taken from a dead North Korean soldier some days later carried this entry about Osan: "5
Jul 50...we saw vehicles and American PWs. We also saw some American dead. We found four of our
destroyed tanks. Near Osan there was a great battle."
For their valiant holding action which delayed the enemy advance for six precious hours, representatives of
Task Force Smith, including LTC (Later BG) Charles B. Smith, a 34-year-old West Pointer from New Jersey, were
later honored by President Truman at a special ceremony held in Washington, D.C.
Today, on a tree-covered hilltop at Chukmi-Ryung, near Osan, stands an obelisk commemorating the battle at
Osan. The monument was erected in 1954 by the 24th Infantry Division, then based in Korea. The
bi-lingual inscription on the plaque commemorates the spot where the first American ground unit--the vanguard
of the UNC--did battle in Korea against the Communists.
Taejon Defense, July 1950. Unit: 24th US Infantry Division
After Task Force Smith had fought its way out of impending encirclement near Osan, the 24th Division fought
successive holding actions at Chonan, Chonui and Chochiwon and south across the Kum River to the important
town of Taejon. It was a natural location for a determined stand by US troops since it is an important
communications center and is at the head of a highway and double-tracked railroad which twists through the
mountains to Pusan, 125 miles to the southeast. To protect Taejon, the thinning ranks of the 24th
Division were deployed between the town and the Kum River. Engineers blew the bridge crossing the Kum
but, unfortunately, the waters of the river subsided and the enemy was able to ford the river at several
places. On 13 July, before the battle of Taejon began, LTG Walton H. Walker, CG of the Eighth Army, had
assumed command of all ground forces in Korea. He wanted to hold Taejon, but once the Communists forded
the shallow Kum, the fate of the city was decided. Nevertheless, the battle for Taejon was bitter.
There were neither weapons nor troops enough to hold the Communists. In the west, probing attacks were
launched by the enemy up and down the Kum and the established footholds across the river at Samgyo-ri and