Perimeter Battle

Every battle has a turning point when the slack water of uncertainty becomes the ebb tide of defeat or the flood water of victory.


For most of the men who fought the battles of the Pusan Perimeter in early September 1950, it was a period of confusion. So many actions went on simultaneously that only a wide-screen view could reveal the situation as the commander had to cope with it in its totality. Since this panoramic approach is not feasible, the story in this chapter will follow the battles from the east coast near P'ohang-dong westward to Taegu and the Naktong River for the first two weeks of September. The next chapter will follow the battles for the same period of time in the southern part of the Pusan Perimeter.

It is necessary to keep in mind that not one of the battles in this phase of the war was an isolated event, but that everywhere over the extent of the Perimeter other battles of equal, greater, or lesser intensity were being waged. As an example of their impact, on 3 September 1950 General Walker faced at least five distinct and dangerous situations on the Perimeter-an enemy penetration in the east at P'ohang-dong, severance of the lateral corridor at Yongch'on between Taegu and P'ohang-dong, alarming enemy gains in the mountains north of Taegu, the threat posed by North Korean units slicing through the defenses of the Naktong Bulge area of the lower Naktong, and enemy penetration behind the greater part of the 25th Division in the Masan area in the extreme south. In addition, at this time in the east the ROK II Corps was on the point of collapse; above Taegu the 1st Cavalry Division withdrew closer to that city; and in the south disaster threatened the U.S. 2d and 25th Divisions.

Action in the East-Task Force Jackson

Although the N.K. II Corps' general attack in the north and east was planned for 2 September, the enemy 12th Division, now numbering about 5,000 men, started earlier to move forward from the mountain fastnesses where it had reorganized after its defeat in the Kigye and P'ohang-dong area. (Map 14) The division was low in food supply, weapons, and ammunition, and its men were in a state of lowered morale. On 26 August, American and ROK officers in the P'ohang-dong-Kigye area with great optimism congratulated each other on having repulsed what they thought was the


last serious threat to the Pusan Perimeter. In their view the North Koreans were now on the defensive and the war might end by Thanksgiving.

Nearest to the N.K. 12th Division was the ROK Capital Division. At 0400, 27 August, a North Korean attack overran one company of the ROK 17th Regiment, Capital Division, north of Kigye. This caused the whole regiment to give way. Then the 18th Regiment on the right fell back because of its exposed flank. The 17th Regiment lost the town of Kigye, and the entire Capital Division fell back three miles to the south side of the Kigye valley. This enemy blow fell with startling impact on Eighth Army in the predawn hours of 27 August. [1]

At the briefing at Eighth Army headquarters in Taegu on Sunday, 27 August, General Walker showed his concern over this development. One of those present was Maj. Gen. John B. Coulter who had arrived in Korea about a month earlier. Half an hour after the briefing ended, General Walker called General Coulter to him and said, "I can't get reliable reports. I want you to go to the eastern front and represent me. I am sending a regiment from the 24th Division to help." [2]

Coulter flew to Kyongju at once, arriving there at noon. Walker in the meantime formally appointed Coulter Deputy Commander, Eighth Army, placing him in command of the ROK I Corps, the U.S. 21st Infantry, the 3d Battalion, 9th Infantry, and the 73d Medium Tank Battalion, less C Company. General Coulter designated these units Task Force Jackson and established his headquarters in the same building in Kyongju in which the ROK I Corps commander and the KMAG officers had their command post. He assumed command of Task Force Jackson at 1200, 27 August. [3]

When he arrived at Kyongju that Sunday, General Coulter found the ROK I Corps disintegrating rapidly and in low morale. Coulter talked to the ROK commanders and their staffs about the terrible effect of their failure to stop the North Koreans and the danger it posed for the entire Pusan Perimeter. General Walker had instructed him to issue his orders to the ROK I Corps commander or his chief of staff in the form of advice, which Coulter did. Coulter had the mission of eliminating the enemy penetration in the Kigye area and of seizing and organizing the high ground extending from north of Yongch'on northeasterly to the coast at Wolp'o-ri, about twelve miles north of P'ohang-dong. This line passed ten miles north of Kigye. Coulter was to attack at once with Task Force Jackson, his immediate objective being to gain the first high ground north of Kigye. The U.S. 21st Infantry Regiment on the morning of 27 August was moving to a position north of Taegu, when General Walker revoked its orders and instructed Colonel Stephens to turn the regiment around and proceed as rapidly

[1] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Msg 0655 from KMAG, 27 Aug 50; Ibid., Aug 50 
Summ, p. 77; GHQ FEC C-3 Opn Rpt 64, 27 Aug 50; New York Herald Tribune, 
August 28, 1950. Bigart dispatch of 27 August. 

[2] Interv, author with Lt Gen John B. Coulter, 3 Apr 53. 

[3] Ibid., EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 27 Aug 50; GHQ FEC G-3 Opn Rpt 64, 27 Aug 
50; Ibid., Sitrep, 28 Aug 50; Capt. George B. Shutt, Operational 
Narrative History of Task Force Jackson, MS in National Archives Record 


(MAP 14: THE N.K. ATTACKS IN THE EAST, 27 August-15 September 1950)

as possible to Kyongju and report to General Coulter. The regiment departed Taegu at 1000 and arrived at Kyongju that afternoon. Coulter immediately sent the 3d Battalion north to An'gang-ni where it went into a position behind the ROK Capital Division. [4]

General Coulter's plan to attack on 28 August had to be postponed. The ROK I Corps commander told him he could not attack, that there were "too many enemy, too many casualties, troops tired." Also, the N.K. 5th Division above P'ohang-dong had begun to press south again and the ROK 3d Division in front of it began to show signs of giving way. On the 28th, Colonel Emmerich, the KMAG adviser to the ROK 3d Division, at a time he deemed favorable, advised Brig. Gen. Kim Suk Won, the ROK division commander, to counterattack, but General Kim refused to do so. The next day Kim said he was going to move his command post out of

[4] Ltr, Coulter to author, 7 Jul 53: Ltr, Stephens to author, 14 May 
53; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 27 Aug 50; 21st Inf WD, 27 Aug 50; 24th Div WD, 
27 Aug 50. 


P'ohang-dong. Emmerich replied that the KMAG group was going to stay in P'ohang-dong. Upon hearing that, Kim became hysterical but decided to stay for the time being to avoid loss of face. That day, 28 August, General Walker issued a special statement addressed to the ROK Army, and meant also for the South Korean Minister of Defense. He called on the ROK's to hold their lines in the Perimeter, and said:

It is my belief, that the over-extended enemy is making his last gasp, while United Nations forces are daily becoming stronger and stronger. The time has now come for everyone to stand in place and fight, or advance to a position which will give us greater tactical advantage from which the counter-offensive can be launched. If our present positions are pierced, we must counterattack at once, destroy the enemy and restore the positions.

To you officers and soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Korea, I ask that you rise as one and stop the enemy on your front in his tracks. [5]

The ROK disorganization was so great in the face of continued enemy pressure that Task Force Jackson could not launch its planned co-ordinated attack. Colonel Stephens' 21st Infantry was in an assembly area two miles north of An'gang-ni and ready for an attack the morning of the 28th, but during the night the ROK 17th Regiment lost its position on the high ridge northward at the bend of the Kigye valley, and the attack was canceled. The ROK's regained their position in the afternoon but that night lost it again. At the same time, elements of the enemy 5th Division penetrated the ROK 3d Division southwest of P'ohang-dong. General Coulter directed Colonel Stephens to repel this penetration. During the 29th, B Company, 21st Infantry, supported by a platoon of tanks of B Company, 73d Medium Tank Battalion, successfully counterattacked northwest from the southern edge of P'ohang-dong for a distance of a mile and a half, with ROK troops following. The American units then withdrew to P'ohang-dong. That night the ROK's withdrew, and the next day an American infantry-tank force repeated the action of the day before. Colonel Stephens now received orders to take over from the ROK 3d Division a sector extending 1,000 yards north and 3,000 yards northwest of-P'ohang-dong. [6]

Also on the 29th, the ROK Capital Division, with American tank and artillery support, recaptured Kigye and held it during the night against enemy counterattacks, only to lose it finally at dawn. American air attacks continued at an increased tempo in the Kigye area. On 31 August, the aircraft carrier USS Sicily alone launched 38 sorties. ROK troops reported finding the bodies of many North Koreans, apparently killed by air attack. They also found many suits of white clothing scattered on the ground, abandoned when enemy soldiers changed into uniforms.

Coincidentally with this air action in the Kigye area; U.S. naval vessels continued their efforts to help stop the N.K. 5th Division on the east coast. A

[5] Ltr, Coulter to author, 7 Jul 53; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 28 Aug 50; 21st 
Inf WD, 28 Aug 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 28 Aug 50; Ltr, Emmerich to Farrell, 
29 Aug 50, recommending relief of Gen Kim Suk Won; New York Times, 
August 28, 1950. 

[6] Ltr, Stephens to author, 14 May 53, and accompanying map of 21st Inf 
positions; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Msg 1710 from TF Jackson; 21st Inf WD, 29 
Aug 50. 


cruiser and two destroyers concentrated their fire power on the Hunghae area five miles north of P'ohang-dong where the enemy division's troop assembly and forward supply center were located. On 29 and 30 August the three vessels fired almost 1,500 5-inch shells at enemy targets there in support of the ROK 3d Division. Despite this aerial and naval support, on the last day of August the battle continued to go against the ROK forces both at Kigye and P'ohang-dong. [7]

Aerial observation on 1 September disclosed that North Koreans were moving southward in the mountains above Kigye and P'ohang-dong. The next day another major enemy attack was forming north and northwest of Kigye. In the afternoon, KMAG advisers with the Capital Division estimated that 2,500 enemy soldiers had penetrated a gap between the ROK 17th and 18th Regiments.

At the same time, enemy pressure built up steadily north of P'ohang-dong, where the N.K. 5th Division fed replacements on to Hill 99 in front of the ROK 23d Regiment. This hill became almost as notorious as had Hill 181 near Yongdok earlier because of the almost continuous and bloody fighting there for its control. Although aided by U.S. air attacks and artillery and naval gunfire, the ROK 3d Division was not able to capture this hill, and suffered many casualties in the effort. On 2 September Colonel Stephens' 21st Infantry attacked northwest from P'ohang-dong in an effort to help the ROK's recapture Hill 99. A platoon of tanks followed the valley road between P'ohang-dong and Hunghae. Stephens assigned K Company Hill 99 as its objective. The 21st Infantry made very slow progress in this attack, and in some quarters none at all. Casualties were heavy. By 1525 that afternoon K Company could account for only thirty-five men. The company was unable to take Hill 99 from the well dug-in North Koreans who threw showers of hand grenades to repel all efforts to reach the top. Two tanks of the 6th Tank Battalion were lost in this attack, one in an enemy mine field and another because of a thrown track. At dusk an enemy penetration occurred along the boundary between the ROK Capital and 3d Divisions three miles east of Kigye. [8]

The next morning, an hour and a half after midnight, the N.K. 12th Division, executing its part of the co-ordinated N.K. II Corps general attack, struck the Capital Division on the high hill masses south of the Kigye valley. This attack threw back the ROK 18th Regiment on the left in the area of Hills 334 and 438, and the ROK 17th Regiment on the right in the area of Hill 445. By dawn of 3 September the enemy penetration there had reached the vital east-west corridor road three miles east of An'gang-ni. As a result of this 5-mile enemy gain during the night the Capital Division all but collapsed. [9]

[7] Interv, author with Coulter, 3 Apr 53; GHQ FEC G-3 Opn Rpts 64-68, 
27-31 Aug 50; Ibid., Sitreps, 28 Aug-2 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 31 Aug 
50; Ibid., POR 149, 31 Aug 50; 21st Inf WD, 31 Aug 50.
[8] Ltr and marked map, Stephens to author, 14 May 53; EUSAK WD, G-3 
Jnl, 2 Sep 50; 21st Inf WD, 2 Sep 50; 6th Tk Bn WD, 1-3 Sep 50; 
Emmerich, MS review comments, 30 Nov 57. 

[9] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 0845 3 Sep 50; Ibid., PIR 53, 3 Sep 50; GHQ FEC 
G-3 Opn Rpt 71, 3 Sep 50; Ibid., Sitrep, 3 Sep 50; ROK Army Hq, MS 
review comments, 11 Jul 58.


This dire turn of events forced General Coulter to withdraw the 21st Infantry at once from the line northwest of P'ohang-dong and concentrate it forthwith in the vicinity of Kyongju. The 2d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Gines Perez, had joined the regiment as its third battalion on 31 August, but General Coulter had held it in Task Force reserve at An'gang-ni. That battalion now took up a horseshoe-shaped defense position around the town, with some elements on high ground two miles eastward where they commanded the Kyongju-P'ohang-dong highway. The rest of the regiment closed into an assembly area north of Kyongju. At the same time, General Walker started the newly activated ROK 7th Division toward the enemy penetration. Its 5th Regiment closed at Yongch'on that afternoon, and the 3d Regiment, less its 1st Battalion, closed at Kyongju in the evening. Walker also authorized Coulter to use the 3d Battalion, 8th Infantry; the 9th Infantry Regimental Tank Company; and the 15th Field Artillery Battalion as he deemed advisable. These units, held at Yonil Airfield for its defense, had not previously been available for commitment elsewhere. The two antiaircraft batteries of automatic weapons (D Battery, 865th AAA Battalion, and A Battery, 933d AAA Battalion) were not to be moved from the airfield except in an emergency. [10]

During the day (3 September), Colonel Emmerich at P'ohang-dong sent General Coulter a message that the ROK 3d Division commander was preparing to withdraw from P'ohang-dong. Coulter went immediately to the ROK I Corps commander and had him issue an order that the ROK 3d Division would not withdraw. Coulter checked every half hour to see that the division stayed in its P'ohang-dong positions.

That night, 3-4 September, the ROK I Corps front collapsed. Three enemy tanks overran a battery of ROK artillery and then scattered two battalions of the newly arrived ROK 5th Regiment. Following a mortar preparation, the North Koreans entered An'gang-ni at 0220. An hour later the command post of the Capital Division withdrew from the town and fighting became increasingly confused. By 0400 American tanks ceased firing because remnants of the Capital Division had become hopelessly intermingled with enemy forces. Colonel Perez said, "We couldn't tell friend from foe." At daylight, G Company, 21st Infantry, discovered that it was alone in An'gang-ni, nearly surrounded by the enemy. ROK troops had disappeared. At 1810, G Company withdrew from the town and dug in along the road eastward near the rest of the 2d Battalion at the bridge over the Hyongsan-gang. North Koreans held the town and extended southward along the railroad. [11]

Receiving orders from Colonel Stephens to withdraw the 2d Battalion and join the regiment above Kyongju, Colonel Perez had to fight his way through an enemy roadblock on the east side of

[10] Interv, author with Coulter, 3 Apr 53; Ltr, Stephens to author, 14 
May 53; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl 0840, 1420 3 Sep 50; Ibid., G-3 Sec and Br for 
CG, 3 Sep 50; New York Herald Tribune, September 6, 1950, Bigart 

[11] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 4 Sep 50; 21st Inf WD, 28 Aug-28 Sep 50 Summ, 
for 3-4 Sep: GHQ FEC Sitrep, 4 Sep 50; New York Herald Tribune, 
September 6, 1950, Bigart dispatch. 


[Caption] ASSAULT TROOPS OF COMPANY K, 21st Infantry, under mortar fire on Hill 99, 2 September.

the Hyongsan-gang three miles southeast of An'gang-ni. When he got through he discovered that G Company was missing. Colonel Stephens ordered Perez to turn around and get G Company. The 2d Battalion fought its way back north and found G Company at the bridge. Reunited, the battalion fought its way out again, with tanks firing down the road ahead of the column and into the hills along the sides. Enemy fire knocked the tracks off three Patton tanks. Friendly artillery then destroyed them to prevent enemy use. The 2d Battalion arrived in the Kyongju area shortly before noon. [12]

By noon, 4 September, enemy units had established roadblocks along the Kyongju-An'gang-ni road within three miles of Kyongju. A 2-mile-wide gap existed between the ROK 3d and Capital Divisions in the P'ohang-dong area. But the big break in the United Nations line was in the high mountain mass west of the Hyongsan valley and southwest of An'gang-ni. In this area northwest of Kyongju there was an 8-mile gap between the Capital Division and the ROK 8th Division to the west. From that direction the enemy posed a threat, General Coulter thought, to the railroad and the road net running south through the Kyongju corridor to Pusan. He was not equally concerned about enemy ad-

[12] 21st Inf WD, 5 Sep 50; 24th Div WD, 4 Sep 50; Ltr, Stephens to 
author, 14 May 53.


vances in the P'ohang-dong coastal area. Faced with this big gap on his left flank, Coulter put Stephens' 21st Infantry in the broad valley and on its bordering hills northwest of Kyongju to block any enemy approach from that direction. [13]

The situation at Kyongju during the evening of 4 September was tense. The ROK corps commander proposed to evacuate the town. He said that the North Koreans were only three miles away on the hills to the north, and that they would attack and overrun the town that night. General Coulter told him that he would not move his command post-that they were all staying in Kyongju. And stay they did. Coulter put four tanks around the building where the command posts were located. Out on the roads he stationed KMAG officers to round up ROK stragglers and get them into positions at the edge of the town. One KMAG major at pistol point stopped ROK troops fleeing southward. Most of his staff at Kyongju found Coulter irritable and hard to please, but they also say that he went sleepless and was determined to hold Kyongju. [14]

That night radio conversations between tankers on the road just north of Kyongju, overheard at Coulter's headquarters, told of knocking North Koreans off the tanks. The expected North Korean attack on Kyongju, however, never came. The enemy turned east, crossed the highway a few miles north of the town, and headed toward Yonil Airfield. The next day the Air Force, attacking enemy gun positions four miles north of Kyongju along the road, found enemy targets at many points within the triangle Kigye-Kyongju-P'ohang-dong.

North of P'ohang-dong the situation worsened. At 0200 5 September Colonel Emmerich hastened to Yonil Airfield where he conferred with Lt. Col. D. M. McMains, commanding the 3d Battalion, 9th Infantry, stationed there, and informed him of the situation in P'ohang-dong. Emmerich obtained a platoon of tanks and returned with them to the town. He placed the tanks in position and awaited the expected enemy armored attack. At 0530 he received information that elements of the ROK 22d Regiment had given way. Enemy troops entered this gap and just before 1100 the American tanks in P'ohang-dong were under heavy enemy machine gun fire. Five N.K. self-propelled guns approached and began firing. At a range of one city block the tanks knocked out the lead gun, killing three crew members. In the ensuing exchange of fire the other four withdrew. Emmerich then directed air strikes and artillery fire which destroyed the other four guns. But, nevertheless, that afternoon at 1435 the order came to evacuate all materiel and supplies from the Yonil airstrip. [15]

That night, 5-6 September, events reached a climax inside P'ohang-dong.

[13] Interv, author with Coulter, 3 Apr 53; Ltr, Stephens to author, 14 
May 53; EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 4 Sep 50; 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 4 Sep 50. 

[14] Interv, author with Coulter, 3 Apr 53; Interv, author with Col John 
F. Greco, 12 Aug 51 (Greco was Coulter's G-2 at Kyongju); Interv, author 
with Maj Wm. C. Hungate, Jr., 28 Jul 51; Interv, author with Maj George 
W. Flagler, 28 Jul 51 (both Hungate and Flagler were at Kyongju with 
Coulter); Shutt, History of Task Force Jackson. 

[15] Interv, author with Coulter, 3 Apr 53; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 5 Sep 50; 
Ibid., Br for CG, 5 Sep 50: Ibid., PIR 55, 5 Sep 50; 21st Inf WD, 5 Sep 
50; GHQ FEC Opn Rpt 74, 6 Sep 50; Ibid., Sitrep, 6 Sep 50; Shutt, 
History of Task Force Jackson; Emmerich, MS review comments, 30 Jan 57.


At midnight, after ten rounds of enemy mortar or artillery fire struck near it, the ROK 3d Division command post moved to another location. Enemy fire that followed it to the new location indicated observed and directed fire. The ROK division commander and his G-2 and G-3 "got sick." The division withdrew from P'ohang-dong, and on 6 September this coastal town was again in enemy hands. The ROK Army relieved both the ROK I Corps and the 3d Division commanders. [16]

Because the big gap between the ROK Capital and 8th Divisions made it impossible for I Corps at Kyongju to direct the action of the 8th Division, the ROK Army at 1030, 5 September, transferred that division to the control of the ROK II Corps, and attached to it the 5th Regiment of the ROK 7th Division. This shift of command came just as the N.K. 15th Division penetrated the ROK 8th Division lines to enter Yongch'on in the Taegu-P'ohang-dong corridor. From west of An'gang-ni the ROK 3d Regiment drove toward Yongch'on, still trying to close the gap. [17]

The startling gains of the North Koreans in the east on 4 September caused General Walker to shift still more troops to that area. The day before, he had ordered the 24th Division to move from its reserve position near Taegu to the lower Naktong River to relieve the marines in the Naktong Bulge area of the 2d Division front. It bivouacked that night in a downpour of rain on the banks of the Naktong near Susan-nil. On the morning of the 4th, before it could begin relief of the marines, the 24th received a new order to proceed to Kyongju. General Davidson, the assistant division commander, proceeding at once by jeep, arrived at Kyongju that evening. Division troops and the 18th Infantry started at 1300 the next day, 5 September, and, traveling over muddy roads, most of them arrived at Kyongju just before midnight. General Church had arrived there during the day. All division units had arrived by 0700, 6 September. [18]

General Coulter knew that the N.K. 15th Division had crossed the Taegu lateral corridor at Yongch'on and was heading in the direction of Kyongju. On the 6th, he ordered the 21st Infantry to attack the next day up the valley and bordering hills that lead northwest from Kyongju into the high mountain mass in the direction of Yongch'on. When it attacked there on 7 September the 21st Infantry encountered virtually no opposition.

At 1230 Eighth Army redesignated Task Force Jackson as Task Force Church, and half an hour later General Coulter departed Kyongju for Taegu to resume his planning duties. General Church was now in command on the eastern front. That afternoon, 7 September, General Church canceled General Coulter's order for the 21st Infantry to attack into the mountains. He felt it was a useless dispersion of troops and he wanted the regiment concentrated near Kyongju. Church made still another change in the disposition of the

[16] Interv, author with Emmerich, 5 Dec 51; Interv, author with 
Coulter, 3 Apr 53. 

[17] GHQ FEC Sitrep, 5 Sep 50; Ibid., G-3 Opn Rpts 73-74, 5-6 Sep 50. 

[18] Ltr, Davidson to author, 18 Feb 54; 24th Div WD, 5-6 Sep 50: EUSAK 
WD, G-3 Jnl, 1800 5 Sep 50; EUSAK Opn Ord for CG 24th Div and CG TF 
Jackson, 5 Sep 50.


task force. On the 8th he moved its command post from Kyongju to the vicinity of Choyang-ni, four miles southward. He believed the command post could be more easily defended there in the open if attacked than in a town, and that traffic congestion near it would be less. [19]

Fighting continued between the North Koreans and the ROK Capital Division on the hills bordering the valley from An'gang-ni to Kyongju. The 3d Battalion, 19th Infantry, became involved there just after midnight, 8-9 September. An enemy force attacked K Company and drove it from Hill 300, a defensive position midway between An'gang-ni and Kyongju. North Koreans held the hill during the 9th against counterattack. Farther north, on the left side of the valley, the ROK 17th Regiment attacked and, with the support of the U.S. 13th Field Artillery Battalion, captured Hill 285 and held it against several enemy counterattacks. On the opposite side of the valley (east) the ROK 18th Regiment made limited gains. These battles took place in drenching typhoon rains. Low-hanging clouds allowed very little air support. The rains finally ceased on 10 September. [20]

In this second week of September elements of the N.K. 5th Division had spread out over the hills west, southwest, and south of P'ohang-dong. One North Korean force, estimated to number 1,600 men, reached Hills 482 and 510, four to five miles southwest of Yonil Airfield. Facing this enemy force were two regiments of the ROK 3d Division, which held a defensive position on the hills bordering the west side of the valley south of the airfield. Enemy pressure threatened to penetrate between the two ROK regiments.

On the evening of 9 September, General Church formed Task Force Davidson to eliminate this threat to Yonil. The airfield itself had not been used since the middle of August except for emergency landing and refueling of planes, but evacuation of Air Force equipment, bombs, and petroleum products was still in progress. General Davidson commanded the task force, which was composed of the 19th Infantry, less the 3d Battalion; the 3d Battalion, 9th Infantry; the 13th Field Artillery Battalion; C Battery, 15th Field Artillery Battalion; A Company, 3d Engineer Combat Battalion; the 9th Infantry Regimental Tank Company; two batteries of antiaircraft automatic weapons; and other miscellaneous units. [21]

The enemy having cut off all other approaches from the Kyongju area, the task force spent all of 10 September making a circuitous southern approach to its objective. It arrived in its assembly area at Yongdok-tong, one mile south of Yonil Airfield, at 1900 that evening. General Davidson early that morning had flown on ahead from Kyongju to Yongdok-tong. Colonel Emmerich was there to meet him when his light plane landed on the road. On the flight over, Davidson looked for but did not see any

[19] Ltrs, Church to author, 3 May and 26 Jul 53; Ltr, Davidson to 
author, 18 Feb 54 24th Div WD, 7-8 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 7 Sep 50; 
Ibid., POR 171, 7 Sep 50. 

[20] 24th Div WD, 9 Sep 50; 3d Engr C Bn WD, Sep 50, Summ. 

[21] Interv, author with Davidson, 28 Jan 54; Ltr, Davidson to author, 
18 Feb 54; 19th Inf WD, 10 Sep 50; 24th Div WD, 9 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 
Sec, 10 Sep 50; 3d Engr C Bn Unit Hist, 6 Aug-28 Sep 50.


enemy soldiers. Emmerich told Davidson the North Koreans had driven the ROK's from Hill 131. This hill was on the southern side of the boundary between the two ROK regiments holding the Yonil defensive position. Davidson and Emmerich agreed that the ROK's would have to recapture Hill 131 during the night and that then the task force would attack through the ROK 3d Division to capture the main enemy positions on Hill 482. They thought that if the task force could establish the ROK's on Hill 482 the latter should be able to hold it and control the situation themselves thereafter. Emmerich took Davidson to meet the ROK 3d Division commander. Davidson told him that he was in command in that area and informed him of his plan for the attack. That night the ROK's did succeed in recapturing Hill 131 and restoring their lines there. In this attack the ROK 3d Engineer Battalion fought as infantry, and under the leadership and guidance of Capt. Walter J. Hutchins, the KMAG adviser to the battalion, contributed heavily to the success. [22]

The next morning, 11 September, the 19th Infantry passed through the left-hand ROK regiment just south of Hill 131 and, with the 1st Battalion leading, attacked west. At 0930 it captured without opposition the first hill mass two miles west of the line of departure. The 2d Battalion then passed through the 1st Battalion and continued the attack toward Hill 482 (Unje-san), a mile westward across a steep-sided gorge. There, North Koreans held entrenched positions, and their machine gun fire checked the 2d Battalion for the rest of the day. The morning of 12 September four Australian pilots struck the enemy positions with napalm, and an artillery preparation followed the strike. The 2d Battalion then launched its attack and secured the rough and towering Hill 482 about noon. In midafternoon, ROK forces relieved Task Force Davidson on the hill mass, and the latter descended to the valley southwest of Yongdok-tong for the night. During the day, General Walker had visited the task force's command post two or three times. On 13 September, Task Force Davidson returned to Kyongju. [23]

While this action was in progress near Yonil Airfield, the week-long battle for Hill 300 north of Kyongju came to an end. A regiment of the ROK 3d Division captured the hill on 11 September. In midafternoon the 3d Battalion, 18th Infantry, relieved the ROK's there. Scattered over Hill 300 lay 257 counted enemy dead and great quantities of abandoned equipment and weapons, some of it American. In this fighting for Hill 300, the U.S. 3d Battalion, 18th Infantry, lost eight lieutenants and twenty-nine enlisted men killed. [24]

Tuesday, 12 September, may be considered as the day when the North Korean offensive in the east ended. By that date, the N.K. 12th Division had been virtually destroyed and the 5th Division was trying to consolidate its

[22] Ltr, Davidson to author, 18 Feb 54; 24th Div WD, 10 Sep 50; EUSAK 
WD, G-3 Sec, 10 Sep 50; Emmerich, MS review comments, 30 Nov 57. 

[23] Ltr, Davidson to author, 18 Feb 54; 24th Div WD, 11-12 Sep 50; 
Ibid., Opn Summ, 26 Aug-28 Sept 50; EUSAK POR 186, 12 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 
G-3 Jnl, 1046 12 Sep 50. 

[24] 21st Inf WD, 11 Sep 50; 24th Div WD, 26 Aug-28 Sep 50, p. 40; 24th 
Div Arty WD. 12 Sep 50; Ltr, Stephens to author, 14 May 53. The 3d 
Battalion, 19th Infantry, was attached to the 21st Infantry during this 


survivors near P'ohang-dong. Aerial observers reported sighting many enemy groups moving north and east. [25]

The ROK 3d Division followed the withdrawing 5th Division, and the Capital Division advanced against the retreating survivors of the enemy 12th Division. On 15 September some elements of the Capital Division reached the southern edge of An'gang-ni. Reports indicated that enemy troops were retreating toward Kigye. With the enemy threat in the east subsiding, Eighth Army dissolved Task Force Church, effective at noon 15 September, and the ROK Army resumed control of the ROK I Corps. Eighth Army also ordered the 24th Division to move to Kyongsan, southeast of Taegu, in a regrouping of forces. The 21st Infantry Regiment had already moved there on the 14th. The 9th Infantry was to remain temporarily at Kyongju in Eighth Army reserve. [26]

In the eastern battles during the first two weeks of September, the ROK troops, demoralized though they were, did most of the ground fighting. American tanks, artillery, and ground units supported them. Uncontested aerial supremacy and naval gunfire from offshore also supported the ROK's, and probably were the factors that tipped the scales in their favor. After the initial phase of their September offensive, the North Koreans labored under what proved to be insurmountable difficulties in supplying their forward units. The North Korean system of supply could not resolve the problems of logistics and communication necessary to support and exploit an offensive operation in this sector of the front.

Enemy Breakthrough at Yongch'on

In the high mountains between the Taegu sector on the west and the Kyongju-east coast sector, two North Korean divisions, the 8th and 15th, stood ready on 1 September to attack south and sever the Taegu-P'ohang-dong corridor road in the vicinity of Hayang and Yongch'on, in co-ordination with the North Korean offensive in the Kigye-P'ohang area. Hayang is 12, and Yongch'on 20, air miles east of Taegu. The N.K. 8th Division was astride the main Andong-Sinnyong-Yongch'on road 20 air miles northwest of Yongch'on; the 15th was eastward in the mountains just below Andong, 35 air miles north of Yongch'on on a poor and mountainous secondary road. The objective of the 8th Division was Hayang; that of the 15th was Yongch'on, which the enemy division commander had orders to take at all costs. Opposing the N.K. 8th Division was the ROK 6th Division; in front of the N.K. 15th Division stood the ROK 8th Division. [27]

In ten days of fighting the N.K. 8th Division gained only a few miles, and not until 12 September did it have possession of Hwajong-dong, 14 air miles northwest of Yongch'on. In this time it

[25] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 106 (N.K. 12th Div), p. 70; 
Ibid., Issue 96 (N.K. 5th Div), p. 43. There are many individual enemy 
interrogation reports in ATIS Interrogation Reports, Issues 6 and 7 
(N.K. Forces), describing the condition of these two divisions at this 

[26] 21st Inf WD, Summ, Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1125 14 Sep 50; 
Ibid., Br for CG, 14 Sep 50; EUSAK PIR 64 and 65, 14-15 Sep 50; Ibid., 
POR 192 and 195, 14-15 Sep 50; GHQ FEC G-3 Opn Rpt 83, 15 Sep 50. 

[27] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 4 (N.K. 8th Div), p. 25; Ibid., 
Issue 3 (N. K. 15th Div), p. 44. 


lost nearly all the twenty-one new tanks of the 17th Armored Brigade that were supporting it. Just below Hwajong-dong, towering mountains close in on the road, with 3,000-foot-high Hill 928 (Hwa-san) on the east and lesser peaks 2,000 feet high on the west. At this passage of the mountains into the Taegu corridor, the ROK 6th Division decisively defeated the enemy 8th Division and, in effect, practically destroyed it. Of these battles around Hwajong-dong an enemy diarist wrote on 2 September, "Today we opened a general attack"; after 6 September, "We underwent extremely desperate battles. With no place to hide or escape from the fierce enemy artillery bombardment our main force was wiped out." On 8 September he wrote, "We suffered miserably heavy casualties from fierce enemy air, artillery, and heavy machine gun attacks. Only 20 remain alive out of our entire battalion." [28]

On the next road eastward above Yongch'on, the N.K. 15th Division launched its attack against the ROK 8th Division on 2 September. Although far understrength, with its three regiments reportedly having a total of only 3,600 men, it penetrated in four days to the lateral corridor at Yongch'on. North of the town one regiment of the ROK 8th Division panicked when an enemy tank got behind its lines. Elements of the enemy division were in and south of Yongch'on by midafternoon 6 September. The North Koreans did not remain in the town, but moved to the hills south and southeast of it overlooking the Taegu-Kyongju-Pusan road. On 7 September some of them established a roadblock three and a half miles southeast of Yongch'on, and other elements attacked a ROK regiment a mile south of the town. During the day, however, the ROK 5th Regiment of the newly activated 7th Division, attacking from the east along the lateral corridor, cleared Yongch'on itself of enemy and then went into a defensive position north of the town. But the next day, 8 September, additional elements of the 15th Division arrived before Yongch'on and recaptured it. That afternoon the 11th Regiment of the ROK 1st Division arrived from the Taegu front and counterattacked the enemy in and near the town. This action succeeded in clearing the enemy from most of Yongch'on, but some North Koreans still held the railroad station southeast of it. Still others were an unknown distance southeast on the road toward Kyongju. [29]

There, in the hills southeast and east of Yongch'on, the enemy 15th Division came to grief. Its artillery regiment foolishly advanced ahead of the infantry, expended its ammunition, and, without support, was then largely destroyed by ROK counterbattery fire. The artillery commander lost his life in the action. After the ROK 5th and 11th Regiments arrived in the vicinity of Yongch'on to

[28] Ibid., Issue 4 (N.K. 8th Div). p. 25; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 4, 
Rpts 922 and 923, pp. 47 and 51; ATIS Enemy Documents, Nr 28, p. 7, 
diary of Pak Han Pin, 83d Regt, 8th Div; EUSAK WD, 9 Sep 50, PW Interrog 
Rpt, 2d Lt Wong Hong Ki; Ibid., PIR 53, 3 Sep 50; New York Herald 
Tribune, September 7, 1950. 

[29] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1230 3 Sep 50, and an. to PIR 53, 3 Sep 50, and 
PIR 56, 6 Sep 50; Ibid., Br for CG, 7 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 8-9 Sep 
50; Time Magazine, September 18, 1950, J. Bell article; New York Herald 
Tribune, September 7, 1950, Bigart dispatch. 


reinforce the demoralized 8th Division, ROK battle action was so severe against the enemy units that they had no chance to regroup for co-ordinating action. On 9 and 10 September ROK units surrounded and virtually destroyed the N.K. 15th Division southeast of Yongch'on on the hills bordering the Kyongju road. The North Korean division chief of staff, Col. Kim Yon, was killed there together with many other high-ranking officers. The part played by KMAG officers in rounding up stragglers of the ROK 8th Division and in reorganizing its units was an important factor in the successful outcome of these battles. On 10 September, the ROK 8th Division cleared the Yongch'on-Kyongju road of the enemy, capturing 2 tanks, 6 howitzers, 1 76-mm. self-propelled gun, several antitank guns, and many small arms. The capture of the self-propelled gun is a revealing story in itself. The driver drove the gun, followed by a truckload of enemy infantry, from the southeast through the ROK lines to Yongch'on, where he stopped and was quietly eating dinner with ROK troops when he came under suspicion and had to make a dash for it, hotly pursued by groups of ROK's. He surrendered four miles northward to a lone ROK soldier with the explanation that he could not drive the vehicle and shoot at the same time. [30]

Advancing north of Yongch'on after the retreating survivors of the N.K. 15th Division, the ROK 8th Division and the 5th Regiment of the ROK 7th Division encountered almost no resistance. On 12 September, elements of the two ROK organizations were eight miles north of the town. On that day they captured 4 120-mm. mortars, 4 antitank guns, 4 artillery pieces, 9 trucks, 2 machine guns, and numerous small arms. ROK forces now also advanced east from Yongch'on and north from Kyongju to close the big breach in their lines. [31]

Perhaps the most critical period of the fighting in the east occurred when the N.K. 15th Division broke through the ROK 8th Division to Yongch'on. The enemy division at that point was in a position to turn west toward Taegu and take Eighth Army and the 1st Cavalry Division there in the rear, or to turn east and southeast and take Task Force Jackson in the rear or on its left flank. It tried to do the latter. But General Walker's quick dispatch of the ROK 5th and 11th Regiments from two widely separated sectors of the front to the area of penetration resulted in destroying the enemy force before it could exploit its breakthrough. General Walker's prompt judgment of the reinforcements needed to stem the North Korean attacks in the Kyongju-P'ohang and the Yongch'on areas, and his rapid shifting of these reinforcements to the threatened sectors from other fronts, constitute a notable command achievement in the battles of the Pusan Perimeter. [32]

[30] EUSAK WD, POR 180, 10 Sep 50; Ibid., 14 Sep 50, interrog of Lee 
Yong Sil; Ibid., 9, 11, 12 Sep 50, interrogs of 1st Lt Kim Yong Chul, 
Cpl So Yong Sik, Capt Pak Chang Yong; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 
106 (N.K. Arty), p. 62; Ibid., Issue 3 (N.K. 15th Div), p. 44; GHQ FEC 
Sitrep, 11 Sep 50; New York Times, September 11 and 13, 1950. There are 
scores of interrogations of prisoners from the N.K. 15th Division in 
ATIS Interrogation Reports, Issues 4, 5, and 9. 

[31] EUSAK WD, 14 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 13 Sep 50; New York Times, 
September 13, 1950.

[32] Ltr, Stephens to author, 14 May 53; Interv, author with Maj Gen 
Edwin K. Wright (FEC G-3 at the time), 7 Jan 54; Ltr, Landrum to author, 
recd 28 Jun 54; Interv, author with Stebbins, 4 Dec 53. 


Back on Taegu

While four divisions of the N.K. II Corps attacked south in the P'ohang-dong, Kyongju, and Yongch'on sectors, the remaining three divisions of the corps-the 3d, 13th, and 1st, in that order from west to east-were to execute their converging attack on Taegu from the north and northwest. The 3d Division was to attack in the Waegwan area northwest of Taegu, the 13th Division down the mountain ridges north of Taegu along and west of the Sangju-Taegu road, and the 1st Division along the high mountain ridges just east of the road. (Map 15)

Defending Taegu, the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division had a front of about thirty-five miles. General Gay outposted the main avenues of entry into his zone and kept his three regiments concentrated behind the outposts. At the southwestern end of his line General Gay initially controlled the 3d Battalion, 23d Infantry, 2d Division, which had been attached to the 1st Cavalry Division. On 5 September the British 27th Brigade, in its first commitment in the Korean War, replaced that battalion. Next in line northward, the 5th Cavalry Regiment defended the sector along the Naktong around Waegwan and the main Seoul highway southeast from there to Taegu. Eastward, the 7th Cavalry Regiment was responsible for the mountainous area between that highway and the hills bordering the Sangju road. The 8th Cavalry Regiment, responsible for the latter road, was astride it and on the bordering hills. [33]

Greatly concerned at the beginning of September over the North Korean attack and penetration of the southern sector of the Pusan Perimeter in the 2d and 25th Divisions' zone, General Walker on 1 September ordered the 1st Cavalry Division to attack north or northwest in an effort to divert to that quarter some of the enemy strength in the south. General Gay's initial decision upon receipt of this order was to attack north up the Sangju road, but his staff and regimental commanders all joined in urging that the attack instead be against Hill 518 in the 7th Cavalry zone, and they talked him out of his original intent. Only two days before, Hill 518 had been in the ROK 1st Division zone and had been considered an enemy assembly point. The 1st Cavalry Division, accordingly, prepared for an attack in the 7th Cavalry sector and for diversionary attacks by two companies of the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, on the 7th Cavalry's right flank. This left the 8th Cavalry only one rifle company in reserve. The regiment's 1st Battalion was on the hill mass to the west of the Bowling Alley and north of Tabu-dong; its 2d Battalion was astride the road.

This planned attack against Hill 518 chanced to coincide with the defection and surrender on 2 September of Maj. Kim Song Jun, the S-3 of the N.K. 19th Regiment, 13th Division. He reported that a full-scale North Korean attack was to begin at dusk that day. The N.K. 13th Division, he said, had just taken in 4,000 replacements, 2,000 of them without weapons, and was now back to a strength of approximately 9,000 men. Upon receiving this intelligence, General Gay alerted all front-line units to

[33] 1st Cav Div WD, 1 Sep 50; Ibid., G-3 Jnl, 2 Sep 50.


(MAP 15: THE N.K. ATTACKS ON TAEGU, 2-15 September 1950)

be prepared for the enemy attack. [34]

Complying with Eighth Army's order for what was in effect a spoiling attack against the North Koreans northwest of Taegu, General Gay on 1 September ordered the 7th Cavalry to attack the next day and seize enemy-held Hill 518. Hill 518 (Suam-san) is a large mountain mass five miles northeast of Waegwan and two miles east of the Naktong River. It curves westward from its peak to its westernmost height, Hill 346, from which the ground drops abruptly to the Naktong River. Situated north of the lateral Waegwan-Tabu-dong road, and

[34] 1st Cav Div WD, 1-2 Sep 50; GHQ FEC, History of the N.K. Army, p. 
73; EUSAK WD, 5 Sep 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 895, Maj Kim Song Jun; ATIS 
Interrog Rpts, Issue 3, pp. 214ff.: ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 
104 (N.K. 13th Div), p. 67; Ltr and attached notes, Gay to author, 17 
Jul 53; Ltr, Col Harold K. Johnson to author, n.d., but recd in Aug 54.


[Caption] 1ST CAVALRY OBSERVATION POST overlooking the enemy-held Hill 518 complex northeast of Waegwan, 1 September.

about midway between the two towns, it was a critical terrain feature dominating the road between the two places. After securing Hill 518, the 7th Cavalry attack was to continue on to Hill 314. Air strikes and artillery preparations were to precede the infantry attack on 2 September. Forty pieces of artillery, four-fifths of that available to the 1st Cavalry Division, were to support the attack. [35]

On the morning of 2 September the Air Force delivered a 37-minute strike against Hills 518 and 346. The artillery then laid down its concentrations on the hills, and after that the planes came over again napalming and leaving the heights ablaze. Just after 1000, and immediately after the final napalm strike, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, attacked up Hill 518.

The plan of regimental attack unfortunately brought a minimum of force against the objective. While the 1st Battalion made the attack, the 2d Battalion was in a blocking position on its left (west) and the newly arrived 3d Battalion, in its first Korean operation, was

[35] Ltr, Gay to author, 17 Jul 53: 77th FA Bn Hist, Sep 50; 7th Cav WD, 
1-2 Sep 50. The 77th FA Bn was in direct support of 7th Cav. To assist 
in firing support for the regiment were A Btry, 61st FA Bn (105-mm.); B 
and C Btrys, 9th FA Bn (155 mm.); and one plat, B Btry, 82d FA Bn (155-


to be behind the 2d Battalion and in an open gap between that battalion and Hill 518. The 1st Battalion moved up through ROK forces and, from high ground, was committed along a narrow ridge line, attacking from the southeast in a column of companies. This in turn resolved itself in a column of platoons, and finally in a column of squads. The final effect, therefore, was that of a regimental attack amounting to a one-squad attack against a strongly held position.

The attack was doomed to failure from the start. The heavy air strikes and the artillery preparations had failed to dislodge the North Koreans. From their positions they delivered mortar and machine gun fire on the climbing infantry, stopping the weak, advanced force short of the crest. In the afternoon the battalion withdrew from Hill 518 and attacked northeast against Hill 490, from which other enemy troops had fired in support of the North Koreans on Hill 518.

The next day at noon, the newly arrived 3d Battalion resumed the attack against Hill 518 from the south, over unreconnoitered ground, and, as did the 1st Battalion the day before, in a column of companies that resolved itself in the end into a column of squads. Again the attack failed. Other attacks failed on 4 September. An enemy forward observer captured on Hill 518 said that 1,200 North Koreans were dug in on the hill and that they had 120-mm. and 82-mm. mortars with ammunition. [36]

While these actions were in progress on its right, the 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, on 4 September attacked and captured Hill 303. The next day it had the utmost difficulty in holding the hill against enemy counterattacks. By 4 September it had become quite clear that the N.K. 3d Division in front of the 5th and 7th Cavalry Regiments was itself attacking, and that, despite continued air strikes, artillery preparations, and infantry efforts on Hill 518, it was infiltrating large numbers of its troops to the rear of the attacking United States forces. That day the I&R Platoon reported that enemy soldiers held Hill 464, a high hill mass opposite Hill 518 on the south side of the Waegwan-Tabu-dong road, and that it had to destroy its radio and machine gun to keep them from falling into enemy hands. That night large enemy forces came through the gap between the 3d Battalion on the southern slope of Hill 518 and the 2d Battalion westward. For a time those in the 3d Battalion command post thought the attack was going to turn east and overrun them but, instead, the North Koreans turned west and occupied Hill 464 in force. By 5 September, although it was not yet known by the 7th Cavalry, Hill 464 to its rear probably had more North Koreans on it than Hill 518 to its front. North Koreans cut the Waegwan-Tabu-dong road east of the regiment so that its communications with friendly units now were only to the west. During the day the 7th Cavalry made a limited withdrawal on Hill 518. Any hope that the regiment could capture the hill vanished. One American officer described the situation north of Taegu at this time with the comment, "I'll be damned

[36] 7th Cav Regt WD, 4 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 5 Sep 50; 77th FA Bn 
Hist, 5 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 0400 5 Sep 50; Lt Col James B. Webel 
(Capt and S-3, 7th Cav, Sep 50), MS review comments, 15 Nov 57. 


if I know who's got who surrounded." [37] On the division right, Tabu-dong was in enemy hands, on the left Waegwan was a no-man's land, and in the center strong enemy forces were infiltrating southward from Hill 518. The 7th Cavalry Regiment in the center could no longer use the Waegwan-Tabu-dong lateral supply road behind it, and was in danger of being surrounded. After discussing a withdrawal plan with General Walker and Colonel Collier, General Gay on 5 September issued an order for a general withdrawal of the 1st Cavalry Division during the night to shorten the lines and to occupy a better defensive position. The movement was to progress from right to left beginning with the 8th Cavalry Regiment, then the 7th Cavalry in the Hill 518 area, and finally the 5th Cavalry in the Waegwan area. This withdrawal caused the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, to give up a hill it had just attacked and captured near the Tabu-dong road on the approaches of the Walled City of Ka-san. In the 7th Cavalry sector the 1st, 3d, and 2d Battalions were to withdraw in that order, after the withdrawal of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, on their right. The 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, on Hill 303 north of Waegwan was to cover the withdrawal of the 7th Cavalry and hold open the escape road. [38]

Crisis in Eighth Army Command

At this time, about 5 September, as the 7th Cavalry Regiment was forced into a withdrawal, and enemy penetrations in the south had opened the way to Pusan, a crisis developed in appraisals and decisions called for in the Eighth Army command. Everywhere around the Perimeter the North Koreans were penetrating the defense positions and in some places making spectacular gains. It was a question whether the Eighth Army and the ROK's could hold anything like the Pusan Perimeter based on the line of the Naktong. The ROK Army and most of the American divisions appeared to be near the breaking point. Should the United Nations line be withdrawn to the Davidson Line? That question was under debate in Eighth Army headquarters. The decision to withdraw to that line seemed near as the North Koreans captured P'ohang-dong and drove to the edge of Kyongju in the east, reached Yongch'on in the Taegu lateral corridor, captured Waegwan, Tabu-dong, and Ka-san north of Taegu, drove through the old Naktong Bulge area to Yongsan, and in the south split the U.S. 25th Division and poured into its rear areas almost to the edge of Masan. (The Naktong Bulge and Masan penetrations have not yet been described, but they had already taken place as part of the North Korean co-ordinated attack.)

General Walker discussed the issue of withdrawing to the Davidson Line one night with his principal staff officers, most of the division commanders, and General Coulter, his deputy commander in the east. Colonel Dabney, Eighth Army G-3, told General Walker that

[37] 5th Cav Regt WD, 4 Sep 50; 7th Cav Regt WD, 4-5 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div 
WD, 4-5 Sep 50; 77th FA Bn Hist, 5-6 Sep 50; Webel, MS review comments, 
Nov 57; New York Times, September 5, 1950. 

[38] 1st Cav Div WD, 5 Sep 50; 7th Cav Regt Opn Ord 14, 051840 Sep 50; 
Ltr, Gay to author, 17 Jul 53; Brig Gen Marcel G. Crombez, Notes for 
author, 28 Jun 55.


for once he did not know what to recommend, that the decision was a hard one to make, but that he hoped the Army could stay. He pointed out that North Korean penetrations in the past had waned after a few days and that they might do so again. Upon orders from Colonel Landrum, Dabney started the G-3 Section that evening working on preparing withdrawal orders for Eighth Army. The staff section worked all night long on them. They were published and ready for issuing at 0500 in the morning, but they were held in the G-3 Section pending General Walker's personal order to put them into effect. The order was not given. At some time during the night Walker reached the decision that Eighth Army would not withdraw. [39]

But at this time Eighth Army headquarters did leave Taegu. The tactical situation had deteriorated so much on the afternoon of 4 September that the 1st Cavalry Division ammunition supply point in Taegu loaded nearly all its ammunition on rail cars on Eighth Army' orders and prepared for a hasty evacuation southward. The Army transportation officer placed an embargo on all rail shipments north of Samnangjin on the main line, and north and east of Kyongju on the east line. The next morning, 5 September, General Walker reached the decision to move the main army headquarters back to the old Fisheries College between Pusan and Tongnae, north of Pusan, and it made the move during the day. The ROK Army headquarters moved to Pusan. The ROK Army headquarters opened at Pusan at 0800 and Eighth Army headquarters at 1600, 6 September. Walker himself and a few staff officers remained in Taegu as an advanced echelon of the army command post, constituting a tactical headquarters. The principal reason General Walker moved Eighth Army headquarters to Pusan was for the greater protection of the army signal communication equipment. Had the Eighth Army teletype equipment been destroyed or captured by the enemy there was no other similar heavy equipment in the Far East to replace it. The Army's operations would have been seriously handicapped had this signal equipment been lost or damaged. [40]

At this time, General Garvin issued verbal orders to service troops in the 2d Logistical Command at Pusan to take

[39] Ltr, Dabney to author, 19 Jan 54: Notes, Landrum to author, recd 28 
Jun 54; Interv, author with Wright, 7 Jan 54; Interv, author with 
Stebbins, 4 Dec 53; Interv, author with Tarkenton, 3 Oct 52; Interv, 
author with Col Robert G. Fergusson, 2 Oct 52; Interv, author with 
Bullock, 28 Jan 54; Collier, MS review comments, 10 Mar 58. 

[40] Notes, Landrum to author, recd 28 Jun 54; Interv, author with 
Allen, 15 Dec 53; Collier, MS review comments, 10 Mar 58; FEC CofS 
files, Summ of conversation, Hickey with Landrum, 060900 Sep 50; GHQ FEC 
Sitrep, 7 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 2030 6 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div, 
Ordnance Act Rpt, Sep 50. 

Communication between Eighth Army and the Far East Command would have 
suffered most if this equipment had been lost or damaged, not the 
tactical control of units in Korea under Eighth Army. The Marc 2, 4-van 
unit for teletype, and a 1,200-line switchboard could not have been 
replaced-there was only one each in Korea and Japan. The big teletype 
unit with 180 lines to Pusan and the trunk cables constituted the 
critical items in U.N. signal communication at this time. Interv, author 
with Col William M. Thama (Deputy Sig Off, FEC, 1950), 17 Dec 53; 
Interv, author with Col Thomas A. Pitcher (Acting EUSAK Sig Off, Sep 
50), 16 Dec 53; Interv, author with Lt Col William E. Kaley, 16 Dec 50. 


defensive positions on the hills bordering the port city and within the city itself if and when the tactical situation required it. [41]

What the South Korean civilian estimate of the situation was at this time can be surmised from the fact that about 5 September prominent Koreans started to leave Pusan for the island of Tsushima, midway in the Korean Strait between Korea and Japan. Operators of small 10- to 20-ton vessels smuggled them across to the island. Wealthy and influential Chinese residing in the Pusan area were planning to leave for Formosa, the first group expecting to depart about 8 September. They, too, were to be smuggled away in small vessels. [42]

This period in early September 1950 tested General Walker as perhaps no other did. Walker was generally an undemonstrative man in public, he was not popular with the press, and he was not always popular with his troops. He could be hard and demanding. He was so at this time. When many of his commanders were losing confidence in the ability of Eighth Army to stop the North Koreans he remained determined that it would. On one occasion in early September he told one of his division commanders in effect, "If the enemy gets into Taegu you will find me resisting him in the streets and I'll have some of my trusted people with me and you had better be prepared to do the same. Now get back to your division and fight it." He told one general he did not want to see him back from the front again unless it was in a coffin. [43]

By day, General Walker moved around the Perimeter defense positions either by liaison plane or in his armored jeep. The jeep was equipped with a special iron handrail permitting him to stand up so that he could observe better while the vehicle was in motion, and generally it was in rapid motion. In addition to his .45 automatic pistol, he customarily carried a repeating shotgun with him, because, as he told a fellow officer, "I don't mind being shot at, but ---- these are not going to ambush me." [44] Walker was at his best in Korea in the Pusan Perimeter battles. Famous previously as being an exponent of armored offensive warfare, he demonstrated in August and September 1950 that he was also skilled in defensive warfare. His pugnacious temperament fitted him for directing the fighting of a bitter holding action. He was a stout-hearted soldier.

The 7th Cavalry's Withdrawal Battle

It was in this crisis that the 7th Cavalry began its withdrawal northwest of Taegu. In his withdrawal instructions for the 7th Cavalry, Col. Cecil Nist, the regimental commander, ordered, "The 2d Battalion must clear Hill 464 of enemy tonight." This meant that the 2d Battalion must disengage from the enemy to its front and attack to its rear

[41] 2d Logistical Comd Activities Rpt, Sep 50, G-3 and Trans Secs.
 Operation Plan 4, dated 10 September, confirmed these orders. 

[42] EUSAK WD, PIR 57, an. 2, 441st Counter Intelligence Corps Agent 
Rpt, 7 Sep 50. 

[43] Notes, Landrum to author, recd 28 Jun 54; Interv, author with Maj 
Gen Leven C. Allen, 15 Dec 53; Interv, author with Bullock, 28 Jan 54; 
Interv, author with Lt Col Paul F. Smith, 1 Oct 52; Collier, MS review 
comments, Mar 58. 

[44] Ltr, Wright to author, 12 Feb 54. 


[Caption] GENERAL WALKER CROSSING THE NAKTONG in his armored jeep with handrail.

to gain possession of Hills 464 and 380 on the new main line of resistance to be occupied by the regiment. Since efforts to gain possession of Hill 464 by other elements had failed in the past two or three days this did not promise to be an easy mission.

Heavy rains fell during the night of 5-6 September and mud slowed all wheeled and tracked vehicles in the withdrawal. The 1st Battalion completed its withdrawal without opposition. During its night march west, the 3d Battalion column was joined several times by groups of North Korean soldiers who apparently thought it was one of their own columns moving south. They were made prisoners and taken along in the withdrawal. Nearing Waegwan at dawn, the battalion column was taken under enemy tank and mortar fire after daybreak and sustained about eighteen casualties.

The 2d Battalion disengaged from the enemy and began its withdrawal at 0300, 6 September. The battalion abandoned two tanks, one because of mechanical failure and the other because it was stuck in the mud. The battalion moved to the rear in two main groups: G Company to attack Hill 464 and the rest of the battalion to seize Hill 380, half a mile farther south. The North Koreans quickly discovered that the 2d Battalion


was withdrawing and attacked it. The battalion commander, Maj. Omar T. Hitchner, and his S-3, Capt. James T. Milam, were killed. In the vicinity of Hills 464 and 380 the battalion discovered at daybreak that it was virtually surrounded by enemy soldiers. Colonel Nist thought that the entire battalion was lost. [45]

Moving by itself and completely cut off from all other units, G Company, numbering only about eighty men, was hardest hit. At 0800, nearing the top of Hill 464, it surprised and killed three enemy soldiers. Suddenly, enemy automatic weapons and small arms fire struck the company. All day G Company maneuvered around the hill but never gained its crest. At midafternoon it received radio orders to withdraw that night. The company left six dead on the hill and, carrying its wounded on improvised litters of ponchos and tree branches, it started down the shale slopes of the mountain in rain and darkness. Halfway down, a friendly artillery barrage killed one of the noncommissioned officers, and a rock thrown by one of the exploding shells hit Capt. Herman L. West, G Company commander, inflicting a painful back injury. The company scattered but Captain West reassembled it. Cautioning his men to move quietly and not to fire in any circumstances, so that surrounding enemy troops might think them one of their own columns, West led his men to the eastern base of Hill 464 where he went into a defensive position for the rest of the night. [46]

On the division left, meanwhile, the 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, on Hill 303 came under heavy attack and the battalion commander wanted to withdraw. Colonel Crombez, the regimental commander, told him he could not do so until the 7th Cavalry had cleared on its withdrawal road. This battalion suffered heavy casualties before it abandoned Hill 303 on the 6th to the enemy. [47]

While G Company was trying to escape from Hill 464, the rest of the 2d Battalion was cut off at the eastern base of Hill 380, half a mile southward. Colonel Nist organized all the South Korean carriers he could find before dark and loaded them with water, food, and ammunition for the 2d Battalion, but the carrier party was unable to find the battalion. At dawn on 7 September the men in G Company's perimeter at the eastern base of Hill 464 saw in the dim light four figures coming down a trail toward them. Soon recognizing them as North Koreans, the men killed them. This rifle fire brought answering fire from enemy troops in nearby positions. At this time, Captain West heard what he recognized as fire from American weapons on a knob to his west. Thinking that it might be from the Weapons Platoon which had become separated from him during the night, he led his company in that direction. He was right; soon the company was reunited.

[45] 7th Cav Regt WD, 6-7 Sep 50; Capt Robert M. Ballard, Action of C 
Company on Hill 464, an. to 7th Cav Regt WD, 6 Sep 50; Webel, MS review 
comments, 15 Nov 57; New York Herald Tribune, September 8, 1950, Bigart 

[46] Ballard, Action of G Company on Hill 464 Capt. Russell A. Gugeler, 
Combat Actions in Korea, ch. 4, "Attack to the Rear," pp. 41-42. 

[47] 5th Cav Regt WD, 5-6 Sep 50; Notes, Crombez for author, 28 Jul 55.


The Weapons Platoon, led by Lt. Harold R. Anderegg, had undergone a strange experience. After becoming separated from the rest of the company, three times during the night it encountered North Koreans on the trail it was following but in each instance neither side fired, each going on its way. At dawn, the platoon came upon a group of foxholes on a knoll. Enemy soldiers were occupying some of them. In a swift action which apparently surprised and paralyzed the North Koreans, the platoon killed approximately thirteen and captured three enemy soldiers. From the body of an officer the men took a brief case containing important documents and maps. These showed that Hill 464 was an assembly point for part of the N.K. 3d Division in its advance from Hill 518 toward Taegu. [48]

Later in the day (7 September), Capt. Melbourne C. Chandler, acting commander of the 2d Battalion, received word of G Company's location on Hill 464 from an aerial observer and sent a patrol which guided the company safely to the battalion at the eastern base of Hill 380. The battalion, meanwhile, had received radio orders to withdraw by any route as soon as possible. It moved southwest into the 5th Cavalry sector. At one point it escaped ambush by turning aside when North Koreans dressed in American uniforms waved helmets and shouted, "Hey, this way, G.I.!" [49]

East of the td Battalion, the enemy attacked the 1st Battalion in its new position on 7 September and overran the battalion aid station, killing four and wounding seven men. That night the 1st Battalion on division order was attached to the 5th Cavalry Regiment. The rest of the 7th Cavalry Regiment moved to a point near Taegu in division reserve. During the night of 7-8 September the 5th Cavalry Regiment on division orders withdrew still farther below Waegwan to new defensive positions astride the main Seoul-Taegu highway. The enemy 3d Division was still moving reinforcements across the Naktong. Observers sighted fifteen barges loaded with troops and artillery pieces crossing the river two miles north of Waegwan on the evening of the 7th. On the 8th the North Korean communiqué claimed the capture of Waegwan. [50]

The next day the situation grew worse for the 1st Cavalry Division. On its left flank, the N.K. 3d Division forced the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, to withdraw from Hill 345, three miles east of Waegwan. The enemy pressed forward and the 5th Cavalry was immediately locked in hard, seesaw fighting on Hills 203 and 174. The 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, before it left that sector to rejoin its regiment, finally captured the latter hill after four attacks.

Only with the greatest difficulty did the 5th Cavalry Regiment hold Hill 203 on 12 September. Between midnight and 0400, 13 September, the North Koreans attacked again and took Hill 203 from E Company, Hill 174 from L Company, and Hill 188 from B and F Companies. In an afternoon counterattack

[48] Ballard, Action of G Company on Hill 464; 7th Cav Regt WD, 7 Sep 
50; Gugeler, Combat Actions in Korea, pp. 39-45. 

[49] Ballard, Action of G Company on Hill 464; 7th Cav Regt WD, 6-7 Sep 

[50] 1st Bn, 7th Cav WD, 7 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 7 Sep 50; 7th Cav 
Regt WD, 7th Sep 50, Opn Ord 15: GHQ FEC Sitrep, 8 Sep 50. 


the regiment regained Hill 188 on the south side of the highway, but failed against Hills 203 and 174 on the north side. On the 14th, I Company again attacked Hill 174, which had by now changed hands seven times. In this action the company suffered 82 casualties. Its 2d Platoon with 27 Americans and 15 ROK's at the start had only 11 Americans and 5 ROK's when it reached its objective. Even so, the company held only one side of the hill, the enemy held the other, and grenade battles between the two continued for another week. The battalions of the 5th Cavalry Regiment were so low in strength at this time as to be scarcely combat effective. This seesaw battle continued in full swing only eight air miles northwest of Taegu. [51]

Troopers in the Mountains-Walled Ka-san

Hard on the heels of Major Kim's warning that the North Korean attack would strike the night of 2 September, the blow hit with full force in the Bowling Alley area north of Taegu. It caught the 8th Cavalry Regiment defending the Sangju road badly deployed in that it lacked an adequate reserve. The North Koreans struck the 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, the night of 2-3 September on Hill 448 west of the Bowling Alley and two miles north of Tabu-dong, and overran it. On the right, E Company, although not under attack, was cut off and had to withdraw by a roundabout way. Lt. Col. Harold K. Johnson, commanding officer of the 3d Battalion, placed I Company in a blocking position just north of Tabu-dong astride the road. There, two enemy tanks and some enemy infantry struck it at 0200 in the morning of 3 September. In this action, I Company suffered many casualties but repelled the enemy attack. The overrun 2d Battalion withdrew through the 3d Battalion which had assembled hastily in a defensive position south of Tabu-dong. During the day, elements of the N.K. 1st Division forced the 8th Cavalry I&R Platoon and a detachment of South Korean police from the Walled City of Ka-san on the crest of Hill 902, four miles east of Tabu-dong. On 3 September, therefore, Eighth Army lost to the enemy both Tabu-dong and Hill 902, locally called Ka-san, the dominant mountain-top ten miles north of Taegu. [52]

The North Koreans now concentrated artillery north of Hill 902 and, although its fire was light and sporadic, it did cause minor damage in the 99th Field Artillery positions. This sudden surge of the enemy southward toward Taegu caused concern in Eighth Army headquarters. The Army ordered a ROK battalion from the Taegu Replacement Training Center to a position in the rear of the 8th Cavalry, and the 1st Cavalry Division organized Task Force Allen, to be commanded by Assistant Division Commander Brig. Gen. Frank

[51] EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 130800 Sep 50; Ibid., G-3 Sec, 15 Sep 50; 1st 
Cav Div WD, 9-10, 13-15 Sep 50; 5th Cav Regt WD, 13-15 Sep 50; 7th Cav 
Regt WD, 10 Sep 50; New York Times, September 9, 1950 (London 
rebroadcast of Moscow broadcast); I Corps WD, 15 Sep 50, Hist Narr, p. 
5; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 6 (N.K. Forces), Rpt 1157, Che Nak Hwan, p. 
127 Allen, Korean Army Troops, USA, pp. 6-7. 

[52] 8th Cav Regt WD, 3 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 3 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 
Sec, 3 Sep 50; Ibid., PIR 53, 3 Sep 50; Ltr, Johnson to author, recd Aug 


[Caption] RUINS OF ANCIENT FORTRESS and stone wall on the crest of Ka-san (Hill 902).

A. Allen, Jr. This task force comprised two provisional battalions formed of division headquarters and technical service troops, the division band, the replacement company, and other miscellaneous troops. It was to be used in combat should the North Koreans break through to the edge of the city. [53]

Eighth Army countered the North Korean advance down the Tabu-dong road by ordering the 1st Cavalry Division to recapture and defend Hill 902. This hill, ten miles north of Taegu, gave observation all the way south through Eighth Army positions into the city, and, in enemy hands, could be used for general intelligence purposes and to direct artillery and mortar fire. Hill 902 was too far distant from the Tabu-dong road to dominate it; otherwise it would have controlled this main communication route. The shortage of North Korean artillery and mortar ammunition nullified in large part the advantages the peak held as an observation point.

Actually, there was no walled city on the crest of Ka-san. Ka-san, or Hill 902, the 3,000-foot-high mountain which differs from most high peaks in this part of Korea in having an oval-shaped semi-level area on its summit. This oval is a part of a mile-long ridge-like crest, varying from 200 to 800 yards in width, which slopes down from the peak at 902

[53] 1st Cav Div WD, 3 Sep 50, Ordnance Stf Sec; Ltr, Gay to author, 17 
Jul 53.


[Caption] D COMPANY, 8TH ENGINEER COMBAT BATTALION, position on the summit of Hill 755.

meters to approximately 755 meters at its southeastern end. On all sides of this ridge crest the mountain slopes drop precipitously. In bygone ages Koreans had built a thirty-foot-high stone wall around the crest and had converted the summit into a fortress. One man who fought in the shadow of the wall commented later, "It looked to me like they built that wall just to keep the land from sliding down." Most of the summit in 1950 was covered with a dense growth of scrub brush and small pine trees. There were a few small terraced fields. Koreans knew Ka-san as the Sacred Mountain. Near the northern end of the crest still stood the Buddhist Poguk Temple.

When the 1st Cavalry Division on 29 August assumed responsibility for the old ROK 1st Division sector north of Taegu it sent a patrol from the I&R Platoon to the top of Ka-san. There the patrol found 156 South Korean police. There was some discussion between General Gay and Eighth Army about whether the 1st Cavalry Division or the ROK 1st Division should have the responsibility for the mountain. General Gay maintained that his understrength division with a 35-mile front was already overextended and could not extend eastward beyond the hills immediately adjacent to the Tabu-dong road. Uncertainty as to final responsibility for Ka-san ended on the afternoon of 3 September after North Koreans had seized the mountain. The Eighth Army G-3 Sec-


tion telephoned Col. Ernest V. Holmes, Chief of Staff, 1st Cavalry Division, and told him that the 1st Cavalry Division had responsibility for the Walled City. Holmes replied he believed that General Gay, who was then absent from the headquarters, would not like the decision, but that pending his return he would send a company of engineers to Ka-san. When General Gay returned to his command post he said that if the army had ordered the responsibility it had to be complied with, and he approved Holmes' decision to send a company to the mountain. [54]

After his telephone conversation with Eighth Army, Colonel Holmes ordered Lt. Col. William C. Holley, commanding officer of the 8th Engineer Combat Battalion, to report to Col. Raymond D. Palmer, commanding the 8th Cavalry Regiment. That afternoon Colonel Palmer in his command post on the Tabu-dong road outlined to Holley and the commanding officers of D Company, 8th Engineer Combat Battalion, and E Company, 8th Cavalry, his attack plan to regain control of Ka-san. The Engineer company, commanded by 1st Lt. John T. Kennedy, was to lead the attack, E Company following. Once the force had gained the crest and E Company had established itself in defensive positions, the Engineer company was to come off the mountain. Luckily, many of the men in D Company had been infantrymen in World War II. [55]

That evening, D Company loaded into trucks and in a driving rain traveled north, eventually turning off the main road to the designated assembly area. On the way they met two truckloads of South Korean police going south, some of them wounded. These were the police who, together with the detachment of the I&R Platoon, had been driven off Ka-san that afternoon. After waiting in the rain awhile for orders, the Engineer company turned around and went back to camp.

The next morning (4 September) at breakfast, D Company received orders to move immediately as infantry to Ka-san. One platoon had to forego its breakfast. The company carried no rations since E Company, 8th Cavalry, was to bring food and water later. The Engineer troops arrived at their assembly area near the village of Kisong-dong two miles east of the Tabu-dong road, where Colonel Holley set up a communications command post. Sniper fire came in on the men as they moved up the trail half a mile to the base of Ka-san's steep slope. Word was given to the company that there were about seventy-five disorganized enemy troops on Ka-san. But actually, during the afternoon and evening of 3 September, the N.K. 2d Battalion, 2d Regiment, 1st Division, had occupied the summit of Ka-san. [56]

The Engineer company started its attack up the mountain about noon, 4

[54] Ltr and notes, Gay to author, 17 Jul 53; Interv, author with 
Holmes, 27 Oct 53; 1st Cav Div WD, 29 Aug 50. 

[55] Ltr, Capt John T. Kennedy to author, 2 Apr 52; Interv, author with 
Holley, 20 Feb 52: Interv, author with 1st Sgt Cornelius C. Kopper (D 
Co, 8th Engr C Bn, in 1950), 20 Feb 52. 

[56] Ltr, MSgt James N. Vandygriff to author, 19 May 53 (Vandygriff was 
Plat Sgt, 2d Plat, D Co, 8th Engr C Bn, Sep 50); Ltr, Capt Thomas T. 
Jones to author, 21 Jun 53 (Plat Ldr, 3d Plat, D Co, 8th Engr C Bn, Sep 
50); EUSAK WD, 11 Sep 50, interrog of Kim Choe Ski; Ibid., G-3 Jnl, 0620 
4 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 4 Sep 50.


September, following a trail up a southern spur. The 1st Platoon was in the lead, single file, followed by the 2d and 3d Platoons. Colonel Palmer considered the mission so important that he and his G-2, Capt. Rene J. Guiraud, accompanied the engineers. Platoon Sgt. James N. Vandygriff, 2d Platoon, D Company, in a brief conversation with Colonel Holley as he went ahead of the latter on his way up the trail, said he thought it was a suicide mission.

Less than a mile up the trail, D Company came under machine gun fire from its right front, which inflicted several casualties. Lieutenant Kennedy rejected Vandygriff's request to take a squad and knock out the gun, so the file got past the line of fire as best it could until BAR fire from the 3d Platoon silenced the weapon. Farther up the trail another enemy machine gun fired from the right along the trail and held up the advance until radio-adjusted artillery fire silenced it.

The file of men, with Lt. Robert Peterson of the I&R Platoon as guide, left the trail-like road, which dead-ended, dropped over into a ravine on the left, and continued the climb. Enemy mortar fire killed two men and wounded eight or ten others in this phase of the ascent. At this time the 2d Platoon leader collapsed from a kidney ailment and command passed to Sergeant Vandygriff. Vandygriff led his platoon, now at the head of the company, on up the gully and finally, about 1700, came through a tunnel under a small ridge and the stone wall into the bowl-shaped summit of Hill 755, the southern arm of the Hill 902 crest. The 2d and 3d Platoons soon arrived, in that order. When he was within fifty feet of the top, Colonel Palmer received radio orders from General Gay to come off the mountain; Gay had not known that Palmer had accompanied the attack until he telephoned Holley trying to locate him. [57]

Lieutenant Kennedy quickly placed the approximately ninety men of his company in position facing in an arc from west to northeast; the 2d Platoon took the left flank near the stone wall, the 1st Platoon took the center position on a wooded knoll, and the 3d Platoon the right flank at the edge of a woods. Just as he reached the top, 2d Lt. Thomas T. Jones, commanding the 3d Platoon, saw and heard three North Korean mortars fire, approximately 1,000 yards away on a grassy ridge to the right (east). He suggested to Lieutenant Kennedy several times that he request artillery fire on these mortars, but Kennedy did not act on the suggestion. Kennedy established his command post inside the tunnel behind the 2d Platoon position. The D Company position was entirely within the area enclosed by the stone wall, which was nearly intact except on the northeast near the 3d Platoon position where it had crumbled and was covered with brush and trees. Lieutenant Jones pointed out to his platoon sergeant and squad leaders where he wanted them to take position at the edge of the woods facing the enemy mortars he had seen on the grassy ridge beyond. He then remained a few minutes

[57] Ltr, Jones to author, 21 Jun 53; Ltr, Vandygriff to author, 19 May 
53; Ltr and notes, Gay to author, 17 Jul 53: Interv, author with Holley, 
20 Feb 52; Ltr, Kennedy to author, 2 Apr 52; Interv, author with 
Guiraud, 21 Apr 54.


in conversation with Lieutenant Kennedy. [58]

A few minutes later Jones joined his 3d Squad men at the edge of the woods. They told him that the platoon sergeant and the rest had continued on toward the narrow grassy ridge. Just then one of the squad called Jones to the edge of the woods and pointed out ten or twelve well-camouflaged North Korean soldiers, one of them carrying a machine gun, coming down the narrow ridge toward them from the mortar position. Apparently this group was a security force for the mortars because they dropped to the ground about one-third of the way down the ridge.

Jones decided he had better bring back his other two squads to form a solid line and, expecting to be gone only a few minutes, he left his SCR-300 radio behind. That, as he said later, was his big mistake. Jones found one squad but the other had gone on farther and was not visible. While he studied the terrain and waited for a messenger he had sent to bring back that last squad, North Koreans attacked the main company position behind him. Judging by the firing and yelling, Jones thought North Koreans were all over the wooded bowl between him and the rest of the company. When the firing ended, all he could hear was North Korean voices. Jones never got back to his 3d Squad. He and the rest of the platoon dropped down off the ridge into a gully on the left, the two squads separated but for a time within sight of each other.

That night Jones and the eight men with him stayed in the ravine just under the crest. Without his radio he could not communicate with the rest of the company which he thought had been destroyed or driven off the hill. The next day when American fighter planes strafed the hilltop it confirmed his belief that no D Company men were there. Some of the men in the advanced squad made their way to safety, but North Koreans captured Jones and the eight men with him near the bottom of Ka-san on 10 September as they were trying to make their way through the enemy lines. This account of the 3d Platoon explains why-except for the 3d Squad which rejoined D Company that evening-it was out of the action and off the crest almost as soon as it arrived on top, all unknown to Lieutenant Kennedy and the rest of the company at the time. [59]

Half an hour after D Company had reached Hill 755, an estimated enemy battalion launched an attack down the slope running south to Hill 755 from the crest of Hill 902. The main attack hit Vandygriff's 2d Platoon just after Vandygriff had set up and loaded his two machine guns. These machine guns and the protection of the 15-foot wall on its left enabled D Company to turn back this attack, which left one dead and three wounded in the 2d Platoon. That night, enemy mortar and small arms fire harassed the company and there were several small probing attacks. Having

[56] Ltr, Jones to author, 21 Jun 53: Ltr, Kennedy 10 author, 2 Apr 52; 
Ltr, Vandygriff to author, 19 May 53 

[57] Ltrs, Jones to author, 26 May, 21 and 30 Jun 53; 1st Lt Thomas T. 
Jones, "Two Hundred Miles to Freedom," The Military Engineer (September-
October 1951), pp. 351-54. The North Koreans, strangely enough, released 
Jones and three other soldiers later near Ch'unch'on in central Korea, 
where they entered the lines of the ROK 6th Division.


no communication with the 3d Platoon, Kennedy sent a patrol to its supposed position. The patrol reported back that it could find no one there but had found the rocket launchers and two light machine guns. [60]

It rained most of the night, and 5 September dawned wet and foggy on top of Hill 755. Just after daylight in a cold drizzle the North Koreans attacked. The engineers repulsed this attack but suffered some casualties. Enemy fire destroyed Vandygriff's radio, forcing him to use runners to communicate with Kennedy's command post. Ammunition was running low and three C-47 planes came over to make an airdrop. Kennedy put out orange identification panels, then watched the enemy put out similarly colored one. The planes circled, and finally dropped their bundles of ammunition and food-to the enemy. Immediately after the airdrops, two F-51 fighter planes came over and attacked D Company. It was obvious that the enemy panels had misled both the cargo and fighter planes. The fighters dropped two napalm tanks within D Company's perimeter, one of which fortunately failed to ignite; the other injured no one. The planes then strafed right through the 2d Platoon position, but miraculously caused no casualties. Soon after this aerial attack, enemy burp gun fire wounded Kennedy in the leg and ankle. [61]

Sometime between 1000 and 1100 the advanced platoon of E Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, arrived on top of Hill 755 and came into D Company's perimeter. Some of the engineers fired on the E Company men before the latter identified themselves. The E Company platoon went into position on the right of Vandygriff, and Kennedy turned over command of the combined force to the E Company commander. Kennedy then assembled twelve wounded men and started down the mountain with them. The party was under small arms fire most of the way. A carrying party of Korean A-frame porters led by an American officer had started up the mountain during the morning with supplies. Enemy fire, killing several of the porters, turned it back. [62]

The day before, E Company had been delayed in following D Company to Hill 755. Soon after the Engineer company had started up the trail on the 4th, E Company arrived at Colonel Holley's command post at the base of the mountain. Enemy mortar fire was falling on the trail at the time and the company commander said he could not advance because of it. Holley radioed this information to Colonel Palmer who designated another company commander and said, "Tell him to come on through." This second officer broke his glasses on a rock and informed Holley that he could not go on. Holley put him on the radio to Palmer who ordered him to continue up the hill. Soon thereafter this officer was wounded in the leg. Holley then designated a third officer, who started up the mountain with E Company that evening about 2000. Enemy fire stopped the company 500 yards

[60] Ltr, Vandygriff to author, 19 May 53; Ltrs, Kennedy to author, 2 
Apr 52 and 4 Jun 52. 

[61] Ltrs, Kennedy to author, 2 Apr and 4 Jun 52; Ltr, Vandygriff to 
author, 19 May 53; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 5 Sep 50. 

[62] Ltr, Vandygriff to author, 19 May 53; Ltrs, Kennedy to author, 2 
Apr and 4 Jun 52.


short of the crest before dawn. It was this same company that the N.K. 13th Division had cut off when it launched its attack the evening of 2 September and overran the 2d Battalion north of Tabu-dong. Tired and dispirited from this experience and their roundabout journey to rejoin the regiment, E Company men were not enjoying the best of morale. [63]

Shortly after the E Company platoon joined Vandygriff, the North Koreans attacked again. The E Company infantrymen had brought no mortars with them-only small arms. In this situation, Vandygriff took a 3.5-inch rocket launcher and fired into the North Koreans. They must have thought that it was mortar or 75-mm. recoilless rifle fire for they broke off the attack. Vandygriff checked his platoon and found it was nearly out of ammunition. He then instructed his men to gather up all the weapons and ammunition from enemy dead they could reach, and in this manner they obtained for emergency use about 30 to 40 rifles, 5 burp guns, and some hand grenades.

In the course of gathering up these enemy weapons, Vandygriff passed the dug-in position of Pfc. Melvin L. Brown, a BAR man in the 3d Squad. Brown was next to the wall on the extreme left of the platoon position at a point where the wall was only about six or seven feet high. At the bottom of the wall around Brown's position lay about fifteen or twenty enemy dead. Vandygriff asked Brown what had happened. The latter replied, "Every time they came up I knocked them off the wall." Earlier in the day, about 0800, Kennedy had visited Brown and had seen five enemy dead that Brown had killed with BAR fire. Subsequently Brown exhausted his automatic rifle ammunition, then his few grenades, and finally he used his entrenching tool to knock the North Koreans in the head when they tried to climb over the wall. Brown had received a flesh wound in the shoulder early in the morning, but had bandaged it himself and refused to leave his position. [64]

At 1330 General Gay ordered the 8th Cavalry Regiment to withdraw its men off Ka-san. Gay decided to give up the mountain because he believed he had insufficient forces to secure and hold it and that the enemy had insufficient ammunition to exploit its possession as an observation point for directing artillery and mortar fire. It is not certain that this order actually reached anyone on the hill. Colonel Holley could not reach anyone in D Company, 8th Engineer Combat Battalion. [65]

Rain started falling again and heavy fog closed in on the mountain top so that it was impossible to see more than a few yards. Again the enemy attacked the 2d Platoon and the adjacent E Company infantrymen. One of the engineers was shot through the neck and Vandygriff sent him to the company command post. In about thirty minutes he returned. "What's wrong?" asked Vandygriff. Barely able to talk from his wound

[63] Interv, author with Holley, 20 Feb 52; Ltrs, Kennedy to author, 2
Apr and 4 Jun 52; Ltr, Vandygriff to author, 19 May 53; Ltr, Jones to 
author, 21 Jun 53. 

[64] Ltr, Vandygriff to author, 19 May 53; Ltrs, Kennedy to author, 1 
Apr and 4 Jun 52. 

[65] Interv, author with Holley, 20 Feb 52; Ltr, Gay to author, 17 Jul 


and shock, the man replied that there was no longer a command post, that he could not find anyone and had seen only enemy dead. Vandygriff now went to the infantry sergeant who was in command of the E Company platoon and asked him what he intended to do. The latter replied, in effect, that he was going to take his platoon and go over the wall.

Vandygriff went back to his own platoon, got his squad leaders together and told them the platoon was going out the way it came in and that he would give the wounded a 30-minute start. Enemy fire was falling in the platoon area now from nearly all directions and the situation looked hopeless. Sgt. John J. Philip, leader of the 3d Squad, started to break up the weapons that the platoon could not take out with them. Vandygriff, noticing that Brown was not among the assembled men, asked Philip where he was. The latter replied that he didn't know but that he would try to find out. Philip returned to the squad's position and came back fifteen minutes later, reporting to Vandygriff that Brown was dead. Asked by Philip if he should take the identification tags off the dead, Vandygriff said, "No," that he should leave them on because they would be the only means of identification later. Vandygriff put his platoon in a V formation and led them off the hill the same way they had come up, picking up four wounded men on the way down. [66]

At the base of the mountain, Colonel Holley and others in the afternoon saw E Company men come down from the top and, later, men from the engineer company. Each group thought it was the last of the survivors and told confused, conflicting stories. When all remaining members of D Company had been assembled, Colonel Holley found that the company had suffered 50 percent casualties; eighteen men were wounded and thirty were missing in action. [67]

Among the wounded carried off the mountain was an officer of D Company, 8th Engineer Combat Battalion. Enemy machine gun fire struck him in the leg just before he jumped off a high ledge. Two men carried him to the bottom and at his request left him in a Korean house, expecting to come back in a jeep for him. A little later, other members escaping off the mountain heard his screams. Two weeks passed before the 1st Cavalry Division recaptured the area. They found the officer's body in the house. The hands and feet were tied, the eyes gouged, a thumb pulled off, and the body had been partly burned. Apparently he had been tied, tortured, and a fire built under him.

Soldiers of the ROK 1st Division captured a North Korean near Ka-san on 4 September who said that about 800 of his fellow soldiers were in the Walled City area with three more battalions following them from the north. The Engineer company had succeeded only in establishing a perimeter briefly within the enemy-held area. By evening of 5

[66] Ltr, Vandygriff to author, 19 May 53. Department of the Army 
General Order 11, 16 February 1951, awarded the Medal of Honor 
posthumously to Pfc. Melvin L. Brown. 

[67] Ltr, Jones to author, 21 Jun 53; Intervs, author with Holley and 
Kopper, 20 Feb 52 Maj Hal D. Steward, "Engineers Fight as Infantry," Ad 
Cosantoir (August, 1951), pp. 366-67.


September, Ka-san was securely in enemy hands with an estimated five battalions, totaling about 1,500 enemy soldiers, on the mountain and its forward slope. A North Korean oxtrain carrying 82-mm. mortar shells and rice reportedly reached the top of Ka-san during the day. The ROK 1st Division captured this oxtrain a few days later south of Ka-san. [68]

When Lieutenant Jones went back up the mountain as a prisoner on 10 September he saw at least 400-500 enemy soldiers on the ridge. A Mosquito spotter plane flew over and he felt sure it would sight the large number of enemy troops and call in fighter planes for strafing attacks. But, he said, "The pilot of the plane took one look and went away which amazed me, except that the minute they heard the plane the North Koreans all either hit the ground or squatted and ducked their heads, which attested to the effectiveness of the leaves, branches, etc., that almost every man had stuck in the string netting on the back of his shirt and the top of his cloth hat." [69]

Now, with Ka-san firmly in their possession, the N.K. 13th and 1st Divisions made ready to press on downhill into Taegu.

On the 6th, the day after the American troops were driven off Ka-san, an enemy force established a roadblock three miles below Tabu-dong and other units occupied Hill 570, two miles southwest of the Walled City and overlooking the Taegu road from the east side. The next morning five tanks of the 16th Reconnaissance Company prepared to lead an attack against the roadblock. The enemy troops were in a rice field west and on the hills east of the road. General Gay was at the scene to watch the action. He ordered the reconnaissance company commander to launch the attack into the rice fields at maximum speed, saying, "I don't want a damn tank moving under 25 miles per hour until you are on top of those men." [70] The tank attack speedily disposed of the enemy in the rice field, but the infantry spent several hours clearing the hills on the east side of the road.

Enemy artillery during 7 September shelled batteries of the 9th and 99th Field Artillery Battalions, forcing displacement of two batteries during the day. U.S. air strikes and artillery kept both Hills 902 and 570 under heavy attack. Even though the 1st Cavalry Division fell back nearly everywhere that day, General Walker ordered it and the ROK II Corps to attack and seize Hill 902 and the Walled City, the time of the attack to be agreed upon by the commanders concerned. He directed the ROK 1st Division and the 1st Cavalry Division to select a boundary between them and to maintain physical contact during the attack. [71]

On the morning of the 8th, Lt. Col. Harold K. Johnson's 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, after executing a withdrawal during the night from its former position, tried to drive the enemy from Hill 570. The three peaks of this mountain

[68] EUSAK WD, PIR 55, 5 Sep 50; Ibid., G-3 Jnl, 0750 and 1900 5 Sep 50 
Ibid., interrogation of Kim Choe Ski, 11 Sep 50. 

[69] Ltr, Jones to author, 30 Jun 53. 

[70] Ltr, Gay to author, 17 Jul 53; 1st Cav Div WD, 7 Sep 50.

[71] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec and G-3 Jnl, 1330 7 Sep 50; Ibid., Br for CG, 7 
Sep 50.


mass were under clouds, making it impossible to support the infantry attack with air strikes or artillery and mortar fire. Johnson placed all three of his rifle companies in the assault against the three peaks; two of them reached their objectives, one with little opposition, the other catching enemy soldiers asleep on the ground. But enemy counterattacks regained this second peak. The main enemy force on Hill 570 was on the third and highest of the three peaks and held it firmly against the L Company attack. The I Company commander and the L Company executive officer were killed, as were several noncommissioned officers. The Eighth Army Intelligence Section estimated that 1,000 enemy soldiers were on Hill 570, only eight air miles north of Taegu, and on 8 September it stated that the continued pressure against the eastern flank of the 1st Cavalry Division sector "represents what is probably the most immediate threat to the U.N. Forces." [72]

That same day, 8 September, the 1st Cavalry Division canceled a planned continuation of the attack against Hill 570 by the 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, when enemy forces threatened Hills 314 and 660, south and east of 570.

In the midst of this enemy drive on Taegu, an ammunition shortage became critical for the U.N. forces. The situation was such that General MacArthur on 9 September sent messages urging that two ammunition ships then en route to Yokohama and Pusan carrying 172,790 rounds of 105-mm. shells, with estimated arrival time 11 September, proceed at maximum speed consistent with the safety of the vessels. Eighth Army on 10 September reduced the ration of 105-mm. howitzer ammunition from fifty to twenty-five rounds per howitzer per day, except in cases of emergency. Carbine ammunition was also in critical short supply. The 17th Field Artillery Battalion, with the first 8-inch howitzers to arrive in Korea, could not engage in the battle for lack of ammunition. [73]

The N.K. 1st Division now began moving in the zone of the ROK 1st Division around the right flank of the 1st Cavalry Division. Its 2d Regiment, about 1,200 strong, advanced six air miles eastward from the vicinity of the Walled City on Hill 902 to the towering 4,000-foot-high mountain of P'algong-san. It reached the top of P'algong-san about daylight on 10 September, and a little later new replacements, prodded by burp guns from behind, made a wild charge toward the ROK positions. The ROK's turned back the charge, killing or wounding about two-thirds of the attacking force. [74]

The 1st Cavalry Division now had most of its combat units concentrated on its right flank north of Taegu. The 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, attached to the 8th Cavalry Regiment, was behind that regiment on Hills 181 and 182

[72] Johnson, Review notes for author on draft chapter, Aug 54: 8th Cav 
Regt WD, 8 Sep 50; EUSAK PIR 58, 8 Sep 50; 7th Cav Opn Ord 16 and WD 
overlay, 8 Sep 50. 

[73] Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in the Korean War, ch. 
4, pp. 22-23; 24th Div WD, G-4 Summ, 25-26 Aug and 10-11 Sep 50; 159th 
FA Bn Unit Rpt, 1-30 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 9 Sep 50. 

[74] EUSAK WD, 14 Sep 50, interrog rpt of Kim Yong Gi; ATIS Interrog 
Rpts, Issue 6, Rpt 1103, p. 8; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 
(N.K. 1st Div), p. 36.


astride the Tabu-dong road only 6 air miles north of Taegu. The rest of the 7th Cavalry Regiment (the 1st Battalion rejoined the regiment during the day) was in the valley of the Kumho River to the right rear between the enemy and the Taegu Airfield, which was situated 3 miles northeast of the city. The 5th Cavalry was disposed on the hills astride the Waegwan road 8 air miles northwest of Taegu. On its left the entire 8th Engineer Combat Battalion was in line as infantry, with the mission of holding a bridge across the Kumho River near its juncture with the Naktong east of Taegu. [75]

The fighting north of Taegu on 11 September in the vicinity of Hills 660 and 314 was heavy and confused. For a time, the 1st Cavalry Division feared a breakthrough to the blocking position of the 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry. The rifle companies of the division were now very low in strength. On 11 September, for instance, E Company, 5th Cavalry, in attacking Hill 203 on the division left toward Waegwan had only 3 officers and 63 men. The day before, C Company, 7th Cavalry, had only 50 men. Colonel Johnson stated later that any company of the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, that had 100 men during this period was his assault company for the day. [76]

Hill 314

While the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, again vainly attacked Hill 570 on 11 September, enemy soldiers seized the crest of Hill 314 two miles southeast of it and that much closer to Taegu. Actually, the two hill masses are adjacent and their lower slopes within small arms range of each other. The North Koreans drove the 16th Reconnaissance Company from the hill and only the ROK 5th Training Battalion, previously hurried into the line from Taegu in a supporting position, prevented the enemy from gaining complete control of this terrain feature. This ROK battalion still held part of the reverse slope of Hill 314 when the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, hurried to the scene from its fruitless attacks on Hill 570 and tried to retake the position. The ROK battalion twice had attacked and reached the crest but could not hold it, and had dug in on the lower southern slopes. The 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, command post had to fight off infiltrating enemy on 12 September as it issued its attack order and prepared to attack through the 8th Cavalry lines against Hill 314.

This attack on the 12th was to be part of a larger American and ROK counterattack against the N.K. 13th and 1st Divisions in an effort to halt them north of Taegu. The 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, relieved the ROK units on Hill 660, east of Hill 314, and had the mission of securing that hill. Farther east the ROK 1st Division had the mission of attacking from P'algong-san toward the Walled City on Hill 902. The point nearest Taegu occupied by enemy forces at this time was Hill 314. Some called it the "key to Taegu." Although this may be an exaggeration, since other hills, like links in a chain, were possibly equally important, the enemy 13th Division valued its possession and had concentrated about 700 soldiers on it. The

[75] Ltr, Gay to author, 17 Jul 53; 1st Cav Div WD, Sep 50. 

[76] 1st Cav Div WD, 11 Sep 50; 1st Bn, 7th Cav Regt WD, 10 Sep 50; 5th 
Cav Regt WD, Sep 50 Narr; Review notes, Johnson to author, Aug 54. 


North Koreans meant to use it, no doubt, in making the next advance on Taegu. From it, observation reached to Taegu and it commanded the lesser hills southward rimming the Taegu bowl.

Hill 314 is actually the southern knob of a 500-meter hill mass which lies close to the east side of Hill 570 and is separated from that hill mass only by a deep gulch. The hill mass is shaped like an elongated teardrop, its broad end at the north. The southern point rises to 314 meters and the ridge line climbs northward from it in a series of knobs to 380 and, finally, to 500 meters. The ridge line from the 314-meter to the 500-meter point is a mile in length. All sides of the hill mass are very steep. [77]

Lt. Col. James H. Lynch's 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, on the eve of its attack against Hill 314 numbered 535 men, less its rear echelons. The battalion, which had been organized at Fort Benning, Ga., from the 30th Infantry Regiment of the 3d Division, had arrived in Korea at the end of August. The ill-fated action of the 7th Cavalry at Hill 518, begun nine days earlier, had been its first action. This was to be its second. The battalion attack plan this time differed radically from that employed against Hill 518 and was a direct development of that failure. The key aspect of the Hill 314 attack plan was to mass as many riflemen as possible on top of the narrow ridge line, by attacking with two companies abreast along the ridge, and not to repeat the mistakes of Hill 518 where the fire power of only a platoon, and at times of only a squad, could be brought to bear against the enemy. Because of the ammunition shortage there was no artillery preparation on Hill 314, but there was an air strike before Colonel Lynch's battalion, with L Company on the left and I Company on the right, at 1100, 12 September, started its attack. The point of departure was the front lines of the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, on the lower slope of the hill. [78]

Enemy 120-mm. mortar fire was falling on and behind the line of departure as the battalion moved out. For 500 yards it encountered only sporadic small arms and machine gun fire; then enemy rifle fire became intense and preregistered mortar fire came down on the troops, pinning them to the ground. On the left, men in L Company could see approximately 400 North Koreans preparing to counterattack. They radioed for an air strike but the planes were on the ground refueling. Fortunately, they were able to repulse the counterattack with combined artillery, mortar, and small arms fire. The air strike came in at 1400, blanketing the top and the north slope of the ridge.

By this time enemy mortar fire had caused many casualties, and elements of L and I Companies became intermingled. But, in contrast to the action on Hill 518, the men continued the attack largely of their own volition after many of the officers had become casualties. The example of certain officers,

[77] Ltr, Johnson to author, recd Aug 54; 1st Cav Div WD, 12 Sep 50; 7th 
Cav Regt WD, 12 Sep 50: Attack Ord, 3d Bn, 7th Cav Regt, attached to 1st 
Lt Morris M. Teague, Jr.'s, Narrative and Supporting Documents 
Concerning Hill 314, in the 7th Cav Regt WD. 

[78] Teague, Hill 314 Narr; Ltr, Gay to author, 17 Jul 53; Webel, MS 
review comments, 15 Nov 57; 7th Cav Regt WD, 12 Sep 50.


however, pointed the way. The commanding officer of I Company, 1st Lt. Joseph A. Fields, reorganized his company under mortar fire without regard to his own safety after the company had suffered 25 percent casualties; 1st Lt. Marvin H. Haynes led a small group which killed or drove off enemy troops that had overrun part of L Company; and Capt. Robert W. Walker, commanding officer of L Company, continued his superb personal leadership. Fields was wounded, Haynes killed. MSgt. Roy E. McCullom, the weapons platoon leader of I Company, organized his men as riflemen, and though wounded three times, in shoulders and right arm, he led them on until he received a fourth wound in the head. Wounded by mortar fragments, 2d Lt. Marshall G. Engle, I Company, refused evacuation twice, telling litter teams to go farther forward and get the more critically injured. Engle lay on the hill for twelve hours, far into the night, receiving another mortar wound during that time before a litter team finally evacuated him. [79]

Fifteen minutes after the air strike, the 3d Battalion resumed its attack toward the crest. As it neared it the North Koreans came out of their positions in a violent counterattack and engaged at close quarters. Some men gained the crest but enemy mortar and machine gun fire drove them off. They reached it a second time but could not hold it. Another air strike hit the enemy. Then, a third time, Captain Walker led a group of men of L and I Companies to the top. When Walker reached the crest he shouted back, "Come on up here where you can see them! There are lots of them and you can kill them." The men scrambled up a 60-degree slope for the last 150 yards to the top, where they closed with the North Koreans and overran their positions. Walker and the remaining men of the two companies secured the hill at 1r30 and then Walker reorganized the two companies jointly under his command. There were fewer than forty effectives left in L Company and about forty in I Company; the latter had lost all its officers. [80]

General Gay caused a special study to be made of this action, so outstanding did he consider it to be. He found that the 3d Battalion suffered 229 battle casualties in the first two hours, most of them incurred during the second hour of the attack. Of these, 38 Americans were killed and 167 wounded, the remainder were attached South Koreans. The battalion aid station reported treating 130 casualties. Other wounded were treated at the 8th Cavalry aid station. Many men with minor wounds did not ask for medical attention until the battle had ended, and there were only five cases of combat shock in contrast to the eighteen on Hill 518. Enemy mortar fire caused 80 percent of the casualties. [81]

Colonel Lynch's battalion held Hill

[79] 1st Cav Div WD, 12 Sep 50; 7th Cav Regt WD, 12 Sep 50; Medical Log, 
Hill 314, attached to 3d Bn, 7th Cav Unit Rpt, 12 Sep 50; Teague, Hill 
314 Narr. 

[80] Medical Log with 3d Bn, 7th Cav, Unit Rpt; Teague, Hill 314 Narr. 

[81] Medical Log with 3d Bn, 7th Cav, Unit Rpt; Ltr, Gay to author, 17 
Jul 53; Webel, MS review comments, 15 Nov 57; Interv, author with Robert 
Best, ORO analyst, 3 Apr 53. Best made a study of the Hill 314 action 
and stated that the 3d Battalion casualties were 30 Americans killed, 
119 wounded, and 10 ROK's killed or wounded. General Gay and Colonel 
Webel say these figures are inaccurate.


314 for the next six days and gathered up a large amount of enemy equipment and ammunition. The enemy soldiers on Hill 314 wore American uniforms, helmets, and combat boots. Many of them had M1 rifles and carbines. Two hundred of their number lay dead on the hill. Of the other 500 estimated to have been there, prisoners said most of them had been wounded or were missing.

Several atrocity cases came to light during the action on Hill 314. Capt. James B. Webel found the first one on the afternoon of the 12th while the final action on the hill was taking place. He came upon an American officer who had been bound hand and foot, gasoline poured over him, and burned. A 5-gallon can lay close to the body. Two days later members of the battalion found on the hill the bodies of four other American soldiers with their hands tied. The bodies bore evidence that the men had been bayoneted and shot while bound. [82]

After the capture of Hill 314 on 12 September, the situation north of Taegu improved. On 14 September the 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, attacked and, supported by fire from Hill 314, gained part of Hill 570 from the N.K. 19th Regiment, 13th Division.

Across the army boundary on the right, the ROK 1st Division continued its attack northwest and advanced to the edge of the Walled City. The ROK 11th Regiment seized Hill 755 about dark on 14 September, and small elements of the ROK 15th Regiment reached the stone ramparts of the Walled City area at the same time. The ROK's and North Koreans fought during the night and on into the 15th at many points along the high mountain backbone that extends southeast from the Walled City to Hills 755 and 783 and on to P'algong-san. Prisoners taken by the ROK's estimated that there were about 800 North Koreans on this high ridge. The ROK 1st Division later estimated that approximately 3,000 enemy were inside the Walled City perimeter and about 1,500 or 2,000 outside it near the crest. It appears that at this time the bulk of the N.K. 1st Division was gradually withdrawing into the Walled City and its vicinity. Indications were that the N.K. 13th Division also was withdrawing northward. Aerial observers on the afternoon of 14 September reported that an estimated 500 enemy troops were moving north from Tabu-dong. But, while these signs were hopeful, General Walker continued to make every possible preparation for a final close-in defense of Taegu. As part of this, fourteen battalions of South Korean police dug in around the city. [83]

The fighting continued unabated north of Taegu on the 15th. The 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, still fought to gain control of Hill 570 on the east side of the Tabu-dong highway. On the other side, the 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, attacked Hill 401 where an enemy force had penetrated in a gap between the 8th and 5th Cavalry Regiments. The fighting on Hill 401 was particularly severe. Both sides had troops on the

[82] 7th Cav Regt WD, 12 and 15 Sep 50: Teague, Hill 314 Narr; Webel, MS 
review comments, 15 Nov 57; 1st Cav Div WD, 14 Sep 50. 

[83] I Corps WD, Sep 50, Hist Narr, pp. 5-6; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 14 Sep 
50 GHQ FEC G-3 Opn Rpts 82 and 83, 14-15 Sep 50: Ibid., Sitrep, 15 Sep 
50; EUSAK WD, an. to PIR 64, 14 Sep 50.


mountain when night fell. In this action, SFC Earl R. Baxter, at the sacrifice of his life, covered the forced withdrawal of his platoon (2d Platoon, L Company), killing at least ten enemy soldiers in close combat before he himself was killed by an enemy grenade. [84]

While the N.K. II Corps was striving to capture Taegu and penetrate behind Eighth Army toward Pusan by way of the P'ohang-Kyongju corridor, the N.K. I Corps along the lower Naktong and in the south had unleashed simultaneously a violent offensive to bring the entire Pusan Perimeter under assault. Of the entire Perimeter, the parts tactically most vulnerable to enemy action lay along the lower Naktong, and accordingly they promised the greatest dividends strategically to successful North Korean attack. There the battle in early September rose to great intensity and for a period the outcome hung in the balance.

[84] Ltr, Johnson to author, recd Aug 54; 1st Cav Div WD, 15 Sep 50. 
General Order 328, to May 1951, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross 
posthumously to Sergeant Baxter. EUSAK WD.