If men make war in slavish observance of rules, they will fail.... War is progressive, because all the instruments and elements of war are progressive.


The situation on Eighth Army's southern front was chaotic by midday of 1 September. The North Koreans at one place had crossed at the Kihang ferry, captured Agok, engaged Kouma's tanks, and scattered A Company, 9th Infantry of the 2d Division, at its positions from Agok northward. (See Map VI.) Lieutenant Rodriguez succeeded in withdrawing most of A Company to its old positions on the ridge line back of the river. From there at daylight the men could see enemy soldiers on many of the ridges surrounding them, most of them moving east. After several hours, Lieutenant Fern, 2d Platoon leader, sent a patrol down the hill to Agok to obtain supplies abandoned there during the night. The patrol encountered a small enemy group in the village, killed three men and sustained two casualties, but returned with much needed water, rations, and ammunition.

Later in the morning enemy barges crossed the Naktong below A Company but they were out of range. Rodriguez sent a squad with a light machine gun to the southern tip of the ridge overlooking Agok to take these enemy troops under fire. About halfway down, the squad came upon a critically wounded Negro soldier. Around him lay ten dead North Koreans. The wounded man was evacuated to the company command post but died that afternoon. When the squad reached the tip of the ridge they saw that an enemy force occupied houses at its base. They reported this to Lieutenant Fern, who called for artillery fire through the forward observer. This artillery fire was delivered within a few minutes and was on target. The North Koreans broke from the houses, running for the river. At this the light machine gun at the tip of the ridge took them under fire, as did another across the Naktong to the south in the 25th Division sector. Proximity fuze artillery fire decimated this group. Combined fire from all weapons inflicted an estimated 300 casualties.

In the afternoon, light aircraft dropped food and ammunition to the company; only part of it was recovered.


The 1st Battalion ordered Rodriguez to withdraw the company that night.

Lieutenant Fern's 2d Platoon led the A Company withdrawal immediately after dark, moving eastward along the ridge crest. At the eastern tip the platoon started down. Near the bottom the leading men saw a column of about 400 North Koreans marching on the road some 200 yards below them with a number of machine guns mounted on wheels. Rodriguez ordered the company to circle back up the ridge and away from the road. Fern was to bring up the rear and carry with him the wounded, two of whom were litter cases. Transporting the wounded over the rough terrain in the darkness was a slow and difficult task and gradually Fern's platoon fell behind the others. By the time he reached the base of the ridge he had lost contact with the rest of the company.

At this juncture a furious fire fight erupted ahead of Fern. Enemy machine gun fire from this fight struck among the 2d Platoon and pinned it down. For their safety, Fern decided to send the wounded back into the ravine they had just descended, and put them in charge of Platoon Sgt. Herbert H. Freeman and ten men. Several stragglers from the advanced elements of the company joined Fern and reported that Rodriguez and the rest of the company had run into a sizable enemy force and had scattered in the ensuing fight. Lieutenant Rodriguez and most of the company were killed at close range. In this desperate action, Pfc. Luther H. Story, a weapons squad leader, so distinguished himself by a series of brave deeds that he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Badly wounded, Story refused to be a burden to those who might escape, and when last seen was still engaging enemy at close range. Of those with Rodriguez, approximately ten men escaped to friendly lines.

Fern decided shortly before dawn that he must try to escape before daylight. He sent word by a runner back to Freeman, who should have been about 500 yards in the rear, to rejoin the platoon. The runner returned and said he could not find Freeman. There had been no firing to the rear, so Fern knew that Freeman had not encountered enemy troops. Two men searched a second time for Freeman without success. Fern then decided that he would have to try to lead those with him to safety.

A heavy ground fog, so thick that one could hardly see twenty-five yards, developed in the early morning of 2 September and this held until midmorning. Under this cloak of concealment Fern's group made its way by compass toward Yongsan. From a hill at noon, after the fog had lifted, the men looked down on the battle of Yongsan which was then in progress. That afternoon Fern brought the nineteen men with him into the lines of the 72d Tank Battalion near Yongsan.

Upon reporting to Lt. Col. John E. Londahl, Fern asked for permission to lead a patrol in search of Sergeant Freeman's group. Londahl denied this request because every available man was needed in the defense of Yongsan. As it turned out, Freeman brought his men to safety. Upon moving back from Fern's platoon during the night battle, he had taken his group all the way back up to the top of the ridge. They had stayed there in seclusion all day, watching many enemy groups moving about in all directions below them. Freeman assumed that


most of A Company had been killed or captured. For five days and nights he maintained his squad and the four wounded behind enemy lines, finally guiding them all safely to friendly lines. [1]

The End of Task Force Manchu

It will be recalled that the North Koreans who crossed near the middle of the Naktong Bulge in front of B Company, 9th Infantry, surprised the advanced support elements of Task Force Manchu at the base of Hill 209 where the Yongsan road came down to the Naktong. Some elements of the two Heavy Weapons Companies, D and H, had already started to climb the hill to emplace their weapons there when the North Korean surprise river crossing caught most of the support elements and the Heavy Mortar Company at the base of the hill. This crossing was about five miles north of the enemy crossing that had all but destroyed A Company near the division's southern boundary.

The perimeter position taken by the men of D and H Companies, 9th Infantry, who had started up the hill before the North Koreans struck, was on a southern knob (about 150 meters high) of Hill 209, half a mile south across a saddle from B Company's higher position. As the night wore on, a few more men reached the perimeter. In addition to the D and H Company men, there were a few from the Heavy Mortar Platoon and one or two from B Company. Altogether, there were approximately 60 to 70 men, including 5 officers, in the group-an actual count was never made. An inventory of the weapons and equipment disclosed that the group had 1 SCR-300 radio; 1 heavy machine guns, 1 operable; 2 light machine guns; 1 BAR; about 20 M1 rifles; and about 40 carbines or pistols. Lieutenant Schmitt assumed command of the group. [2]

During the night Lieutenant Schmitt established radio communication with the 1st Battalion, 9th infantry, and received promises of help on the morrow. When daylight came Schmitt and his group saw that they were surrounded by enemy. One force occupied the higher knob half a mile above them, formerly held by B Company. Below them, North Koreans continued crossing the river and moving supplies forward to their combat units, some of them already several miles eastward.

Enemy troops were not long in discovering the Task Force Manchu group. They first attacked it at 1400 that afternoon, and were repulsed. That night an estimated company attacked three times, pressing the fight to close quarters, but failed each time to penetrate the tight perimeter. Daylight of the second day disclosed many enemy dead on the steep slopes outside the perimeter.

By that morning (2 September) the

[1] Ltr, Fern to author, 1 Apr 56; Ltr, Cody to author, 18 Nov 55. 
Department of the Army General Order 70. 2 August 1951, awarded the 
Medal of Honor to Private Story. General Order 187, 5 December 1950, 
awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Freeman. EUSAK. 

[2] Ltr, Caldwell to author, 29 May 53: Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 
53; Hill, MS review comments, 2 Jan 58; 9th Inf WD, Sep 50, Incl B, Col 
Charles C. Sloane, Jr., Hill 209 (1138-1386), with sketch map; Ibid., 
app., 1st Lt Raymond J. McDoniel, Notes (this document misspells 
"McDoniel" as "McDaniel,"); Sheen, From Encirclement to Safety. The 
officers on the hill were Lt Schmitt, CO H Co; Lt McDoniel, Plat Ldr D 
Co; Lt Paul E. Kremser. Plat Ldr H Co; Lt Caldwell. Plat Ldr D Co; and 
Lt Edmund J. Lilly III, Plat Ldr B Co. 


need for hand grenades was desperate. About 0900 MSgt. Travis E. Watkins of H Company shot and killed two enemy soldiers 50 yards outside the northeast edge of the perimeter. He jumped from his hole to get the weapons and grenades of the dead men; 20 yards from them three hidden enemy soldiers jumped to their feet and opened fire on him. Watkins killed them and gathered weapons, ammunition, and insignia from all five before returning to the perimeter. An hour later a group of six enemy soldiers gained a protected spot 25 yards from a machine gun position of the perimeter and began throwing hand grenades into it. Although already wounded in the head, Watkins rose from his hole to engage them with rifle fire. An enemy machine gun immediately took him under fire and hit him in the left side, breaking his back. Watkins in some manner managed to kill all six of the nearby enemy soldiers before he sank into his hole paralyzed from the waist down. Even in this condition, Watkins never lost his nerve, but shouted encouragement to his companions. He refused any of the scarce rations, saying that he did not deserve them because he could no longer fight. [3]

In the afternoon of 2 September Schmitt succeeded in radioing a request to the 1st Battalion for an airdrop of supplies. A division liaison plane attempted the drop, but the perimeter was so small and the slopes so steep that virtually all the supplies went into enemy hands. The men in the perimeter did, however, recover from a drop made later at 1900 a case of carbine ammunition, 2 boxes of machine gun ammunition, 11 hand grenades, 2 1/2 cases of rations, part of a package of medical supplies, and 21 cans of beer. Pfc. Joseph R. Ouellette, H Company, left the perimeter to retrieve an airdrop of water cans but found on reaching them that they were broken and empty. Like Watkins, he distinguished himself by leaving the perimeter to gather weapons, ammunition, and grenades from the enemy dead. On one such occasion an enemy soldier suddenly attacked Ouellette, who killed the North Korean in hand-to-hand combat. [4]

In helping to recover the airdropped supplies on the evening of 2 September, Lieutenant Schmitt was wounded but continued to exercise his command, encouraging the diminishing group by his example. That same afternoon, the North Koreans sent an American prisoner up the hill to Schmitt with the message, "You have one hour to surrender or be blown to pieces." Failing in frontal infantry attack to reduce the little defending force, the enemy now obviously meant to take it under observed and registered mortar fire. [5]

Forty-five minutes later enemy antitank fire came in on the knob and two machine guns from positions northward and higher on the slope of Hill 209 swept the perimeter. Soon, enemy mor-

[3] Sworn affidavit, SSgt Grover L. Bozarth and Sgt Ralph G. Lillard, H 
Co, 9th Inf, 13 Sep 50, Yongsan, recommending Watkins for Medal of Honor 
DA AG files. 

[4] McDoniel, Notes cited n. 2, Sep 50; Ltr, Caldwell to author, 29 May 
53. Department of the Army General Order 25, 25 April 1951, awarded the 
Medal of Honor posthumously to Private Ouellette. 

[5] EUSAK WD, 9 Sep 50, an. 1 to PIR 59; 9th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50, account 
of Lt McDoniel; Sloane, Hill 209, Sep 50. General Order 54, 6 February 
1951, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to Lieutenant 
Schmitt. EUSAK.


tars emplaced on a neighboring high finger ridge eastward registered on Schmitt's perimeter and continued firing until dark. The machine gun fire forced every man to stay in his hole. The lifting of the mortar fire after dark was the signal for renewed enemy infantry attacks, all of which were repulsed. But the number of killed and wounded within the perimeter was growing, and food, water, and ammunition were needed. There were no medical supplies except those carried by one aid man.

The third day, Sunday, 3 September, was the worst of all. The weather was terrifically hot. There was no water, and only one can of C rations per man. Ammunition was almost gone. Since the previous afternoon, enemy mortar barrages had alternated with infantry assaults against the perimeter. Survivors later estimated there were about twenty separate infantry attacks-all repulsed. Two enemy machine guns still swept the perimeter whenever anyone showed himself. Dead and dying were in almost every foxhole or lay just outside. Mortar fragments destroyed the radio and this ended all communication with friendly units. Artillery fire and air strikes requested by Schmitt never came. Some enemy soldiers worked their way close to the perimeter and threw grenades into it. Six times Ouellette leaped from his foxhole to escape grenades thrown into it. Each time the enemy fired on him from close range. In this close action Ouellette was killed. Most of the foxholes of the perimeter received one or more direct mortar hits in the course of the continuing mortar fire. One of these killed Lieutenant Schmitt on 3 September. He had given his men heroic leadership and had inspired them by his example throughout three days and nights of the ordeal. The command passed now to 1st Lt. Raymond J. McDoniel of D Company, senior surviving officer. [6]

In the evening, relief came in the form of rain. McDoniel spread out two blankets recovered with airdropped supplies the day before, and wrung from them enough water to fill a 5-gallon can. The men removed their clothing and wrung water from them to fill their canteens.

The fourth night passed. At daylight on the morning of 4 September only two officers, McDoniel and Caldwell, and approximately half the men who had assembled on the hill, were alive. Some men had broken under the strain and in a state of shock had run from their holes and were killed. As the day passed, with ammunition down to about one clip per man and only a few grenades left and no help in sight, McDoniel decided to abandon the position that night. He told Caldwell that when it got dark the survivors would split into small groups and try to get back to friendly lines. That evening after dark the North Koreans tried to get their men to assault the perimeter again, but, despite shouted orders of "Manzai!" only a few grenades fell inside the perimeter-apparently the enemy soldiers had had enough and refused to charge forward.

At 2200, McDoniel and Caldwell and twenty-seven enlisted men slipped off the hill in groups of four. One poignant scene etched itself on the minds of Sergeant Watkins' comrades. Watkins, still alive in his paralyzed condition, refused efforts of evacuation, saying that he did

[6] Ltr, Caldwell to author, 29 May 53; McDoniel, Notes, Sep 50. 


not want to be a burden to those who had a chance to get away. He asked only that his carbine be loaded and placed on his chest with the muzzle under his chin. He smiled a last farewell to his buddies and wished them well when they started off the hill. [7]

McDoniel and Caldwell started off the hill together, their plan being to make their way to the river and follow it downstream. At the road they encountered so much enemy activity that they had to wait about an hour for the supply-carrying parties, tanks, and artillery to clear so that they could cross. Once across the road the two men found themselves in the middle of a North Korean artillery battery. They escaped unobserved and hid in a field near the river at daybreak. That night the two men became separated when they ran into an enemy outpost. The next morning two enemy soldiers captured Caldwell, removed his boots and identification, smashed him on the head with a rock, and threw him over a cliff into the Naktong River. Caldwell, not critically injured, feigned death and escaped that night. Four days later, on 10 September, he entered the lines of the 72d Tank Battalion.

Of the twenty-nine men who came off the hill the night of 4 September, twenty-two escaped to friendly lines-many of them following the Naktong downstream, hiding by day and traveling by night, until they reached the lines of the 25th Division. [8]

Members of Task Force Manchu who escaped from Hill 209 brought back considerable intelligence information of enemy activity in the vicinity of the Paekchin ferry crossing site. At the ferry site the enemy had put in an underwater ford. A short distance downstream, each night half an hour after dark they placed a metal floating bridge across the river and took it up before dawn the next morning. Carrying parties of 50 civilians guarded by four soldiers crossed the river continuously at night at, a dogtrot, an estimated total of 800-1,000 carriers being used at this crossing site..

The Battle of Yongsan

On the morning of 1 September the 1st and 2d Regiments of the N.K. 9th Division (the 3d Regiment had been left at Inch'on), in their first offensive of the war, stood only a few miles short of Yongsan after a successful river crossing and penetration of the American line. At that point the chances of the division accomplishing its assigned mission must have looked favorable to its commanding general, Pak Kyo Sam.

As the N.K. 9th Division approached Yongsan, its 1st Regiment was on the

[7] Ltr, Caldwell to author, 29 May 53: McDoniel, Notes, Sep 50; Bozarth 
and Lillard Affidavit; Ltr, MSgt Robert S. Hall (1st Bn, 9th Inf, Aug-
Sep 50-Hall maintained morning rpts) to author, 1 Jun 54. Department of 
the Army General Order 9, 16 February 1951, awarded the Medal of Honor 
to Sergeant Watkins posthumously. 

[8] McDoniel, Notes, Sep 50; New York Times September 9, 1950. Three 
weeks later, when the N.K. 9th Division had been driven back across the 
Naktong, a party of 9th Infantry men climbed to the tragic perimeter on 
Hill 209g. They found most of the dead had been blown to pieces in the 
foxholes, and it was often difficult to tell whether two or three men 
had occupied a particular hole. There were approximately thirty American 
dead at the site, fifteen of whom could be identified. Sloane, Hill 209, 
Sep 50.
[9] EUSAK WD, PIR 59, an. 1, 9 Sep 50.


north and its 2d Regiment on the south. The division's attached support, consisting of one 76-mm. artillery battalion from the I Corps, an antiaircraft battalion of artillery, two tank battalions of the 16th Armored Brigade, and a battalion of artillery from the 4th Division, gave it unusual weapon support. Crossing the river behind it came the 4th Division, a greatly weakened organization, far understrength, short of weapons, and made up mostly of untrained replacements. A captured enemy document referred to this grouping of units that attacked from the Sinban-ni area into the Naktong Bulge as "the main force" of I Corps. Elements of the 9th Division reached the hills just west of Yongsan during the afternoon of 1 September. [10]

On the morning of 1 September, with only the shattered remnants of E Company at hand, the 9th Infantry had virtually no troops to defend Yongsan. General Keiser in this emergency attached the 2d Engineer Combat Battalion to the regiment. The 72d Tank Battalion and the 2d Division Reconnaissance Company also were assigned positions close to Yongsan. Colonel Hill planned to place the engineers on the chain of low hills that arched around Yongsan on the northwest.

Capt. Frank M. Reed, commanding officer of A Company, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, led his company westward on the south side of the Yongsan-Naktong River road; Lt. Lee E. Beahler with D Company of the 2d Engineer Battalion was on the north side of the road. Approximately two miles west of Yongsan an estimated 300 enemy troops engaged A Company in a fire fight. Two quad-50's and one twin-40 gun carrier of the 82d AAA Battalion supported Reed's men in this action, which lasted several hours. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Beahler protested his position because of its long frontage and exposed flanks. With the approval of General Bradley, he moved his Engineer company to the hill immediately south of and overlooking Yongsan. A platoon of infantry went into position behind him. Captain Reed was now ordered to fall back with his company to the southeast edge of Yongsan on the left flank of Beahler's company. There, A Company went into position along the road; on its left was C Company of the Engineer battalion, and beyond C Company was the 2d Division Reconnaissance Company. The hill occupied by Beahler's D Company was in reality the western tip of a large mountain mass that lay southeast of the town. The road to Miryang came south out of Yongsan, bent around the western tip of this mountain, and then ran eastward along its southern base. In its position, D Company not only commanded the town but also its exit, the road to Miryang. [11]

North Koreans had also approached Yongsan from the south. The 2d Division Reconnaissance Company and tanks of the 72d Tank Battalion opposed them in a sharp fight. In this action, SFC

[10] GHQ FEC, History of the North Korean Army, p. 68; ATIS Res Supp 
Interrog Rpts, Issue 100 (N.K. 9th Div), p. 49, and Issue 94 (N.K. 4th 
Div), pp. 49-50; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 4, p. 118, Rpt 949, 1st Lt So 
Chung Kun (captured 3 Sep 50, Yongsan); EUSAK WD, 14 Sep 50, an. to PIR 
64, and 9 Sep 50, POW Interrog Rpt of 1st Lt So Chung Kun, 9th Div, and 
Interrog Rpt of Cha Sook Wha, interpreter, 16th Regt, 4th Div. 

[11] Ltrs, Capt Lee E. Beahler to author, 10 Jun and 1 Jul 53 (sketch 
map of D Co positions with ltr of 1 Jul); Ltr, Reed to author, 20 Jul 
53; Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53.


Charles W. Turner of the Reconnaissance Company particularly distinguished himself. He mounted a tank, operated its exposed turret machine gun, and directed tank fire which reportedly destroyed seven enemy machine guns. Turner and this tank were the objects of very heavy enemy fire which shot away the tank's periscope and antennae and scored more than fifty hits on it. Turner, although wounded, remained on the tank until he was killed. That night North Korean soldiers crossed the low ground around Yongsan and entered the town from the south. [12]

About 0300, 2 September, D Company of the 2d Engineer Battalion alerted A Company that a long line of white-garbed figures was moving through Yongsan toward its roadblock. Challenged when they approached, the white figures opened fire-they were enemy troops. Four enemy tanks and an estimated battalion of North Koreans were in Yongsan.

The North Koreans now attempted a breakthrough of the Engineer position. After daylight, they were unable to get reinforcements into the fight since D Company commanded the town and its approaches. In this fight, which raged until 1100, the engineers had neither artillery nor mortar support. D Company remedied this by using its 9 new 3.5-inch and 9 old 2.36-inch rocket launchers against the enemy infantry. The fire of the 18 bazookas plus that from 4 heavy and 4 light machine guns and the rifles, carbines, and grenades of the company inflicted very heavy casualties on the North Koreans, who desperately tried to clear the way for a push eastward to Miryang. Tanks of A and B Companies, 72d Tank Battalion, at the southern and eastern edge of Yongsan shared equally with the engineers in the honors of this battle. Lieutenant Beahler was the only officer of D Company not killed or wounded in this melee, which cost the company twelve men killed and eighteen wounded. The edge of Yongsan and the slopes of the hill south of the town became a shambles of enemy dead and destroyed equipment. [13]

While this battle raged during the morning at Yongsan, Colonel Hill reorganized about 800 men of the 9th Infantry who had arrived in that vicinity from the overrun river line positions. Among them were F and G Companies, which were not in the path of major enemy crossings and had succeeded in withdrawing eastward. They had no crew-served weapons or heavy equipment. In midafternoon (2 September) tanks and the reorganized 2d Battalion, 9th Infantry, attacked through A Company, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, into Yongsan, and regained possession of the town at 1500. Later, two bazooka teams from A Company, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, knocked out three T34 tanks just west of Yongsan. American ground and air action destroyed other enemy tanks during the day southwest of the town. By evening the North Koreans had been driven into the hills

[12] Department of the Army General Order 10, 16 February 1951, awarded 
the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Turner posthumously. 

[13] Ltrs, Beahler to author, 10 Jun and 1 Jul 53; Ltr, Reed to author, 
20 Jul 53; Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, Msg 
1525, 2 Sep 50; Ibid., PIR 52, 2 Sep 50. General Order 59, 8 February 
1951, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Lieutenant Beahler for 
heroic leadership in this action. EUSAK. 


westward. In the evening, the 2d Battalion and A Company, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, occupied the first chain of low hills half a mile beyond Yongsan, the engineers west and the 2d Battalion northwest of the town. For the time being at least, the North Korean drive toward Miryang had been halted. [14]

At 0935 that morning (2 September), while the North Koreans were attempting to destroy the Engineer troops at the southern edge of Yongsan and clear the road to Miryang, General Walker talked by telephone with Maj. Gen. Doyle O. Hickey, Deputy Chief of Staff, Far East Command, in Tokyo. He described the situation around the Perimeter and said the most serious threat was along the boundary between the U.S. 2d and 25th Divisions. He described the location of his reserve forces and his plans for using them. He said he had started the marines toward Yongsan but had not yet released them for commitment there and he wanted to be sure that General MacArthur approved his use of them, since he knew that this would interfere with other plans of the Far East Command. Walker said he did not think he could restore the 2d Division lines without using them. General Hickey replied that General MacArthur had the day before approved the use of the marines if and when Walker considered it necessary. A few hours after this conversation General Walker, at 1315, attached the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade to the 2d Division and ordered a co-ordinated attack by all available elements of the division and the marines, with the mission of destroying the enemy east of the Naktong River in the 2d Division sector and of restoring the river line. The marines were to be released from 2d Division control just as soon as this mission was accomplished. [15]

A conference was held that afternoon at the 2d Division command post attended by Colonel Collier, Deputy Chief of Staff, Eighth Army, General Craig and Maj. Frank R. Stewart, Jr., of the Marine Corps, and General Keiser and 2d Division staff officers. A decision was reached that the marines would attack west the next morning at 0800 (3 September) astride the Yongsan-Naktong River road; the 9th Infantry, B Company of the 72d Tank Battalion, and D Battery of the 82d AAA Battalion would attack northwest above the marines and attempt to re-establish contact with the 23d Infantry; the 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, remnants of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, and elements of the 72d Tank Battalion would attack on the left flank, or south, of the marines to reestablish contact with the 25th Division. Eighth Army now ordered the 24th Division headquarters and the 19th Infantry to move to the Susan-ni area, eight air miles south of Miryang and fifteen miles east of the confluence of the Nam and the Naktong Rivers. There it was to prepare to enter the battle in either the 2d or 25th Division zone. Colonel Fisher, commanding officer of the 35th Infantry, 25th Division, each morning flew along the Naktong River east of the

[14] Ltrs, Beahler to author. 10 Jun and 1 Jul 53; Ltr, Reed to author, 
20 Jul 53; Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53; Cody, Operation Manchu; 
EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 2 Sep 50; Ibid., Br for CG, 2 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 
2 Sep 50. 

[15] Transcription and summ of fonecon, Walker with Hickey, 0935 2 Sep 
50, CofS files, FEC; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Opn Ord 021315 Sep 50. 


[Caption] U.N. TROOPS CROSS RICE PADDIES to attack west of Yongsan.

Namji-ri bridge to see if North Koreans had crossed from the 2d Division zone. [16]

At 1900 the evening of 2 September, Colonel Hill returned to his command post east of Yongsan where he conferred with Colonel Murray, commanding the 5th Marines, and told him that his line of departure for the attack the next morning was secure. The troops holding this line on the first hills west of Yongsan were: G Company, 9th Infantry, north of the road running west through Kogan-ni to the Naktong; A Company, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, southward across the road; and, below the engineers, F Company, 9th Infantry. Between 0300 and 0430, 3 September, the 5th Marines moved to forward assembly areas-the 2d Battalion north of Yongsan, the 1st Battalion south of it. The 3d Battalion established security positions southwest of Yongsan along the approaches into the regimental sector from that direction. [17]

During the night, A Company of the engineers had considerable fighting with North Koreans and never reached its objective. At dawn 3 September, Reed led A Company in an attack to gain the high ground which was part of the designated Marine line of departure. The company fought its way up the slope to within 100 yards of the top, which was held by the firmly entrenched enemy. At this

[16] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, and Br for CG, 2 Sep 50; 9th Inf WD, 3 Sep 50, 
Opn Ord 11 and accompanying overlay, 030300 Sep 50; 1st Prov Mar Brig 
SAR, 1 Aug-6 Sep 50, p. 15; 2d Div Arty WD, entry 12, 2335 2 Sep 50; 
Fisher, MS review comments, 7 Nov 57. 

[17] Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53; Ltr, Beahler to author, 10 Jun 
53; 1st Prov Mar Brig SAR, 2 Aug-6 Sep 50, entry for 3 Sep, p. 15; 5th 
Mar SAR, 3 Sep 50; 2d Bn, 5th Mar, SAR, addendum 1, 3 Sep 50; Montross 
and Canzona, The Pusan Perimeter, pp. 217-20.


point Captain Reed caught an enemy-thrown grenade and was wounded by its fragments as he tried to throw it away from his men. The company with help from Marine tank fire eventually gained its objective, but this early morning battle for the line of departure delayed the planned attack. [18]

The Marine attack started at 0855 across the rice paddy land toward enemy-held high ground half a mile westward. The 1st Battalion, south of the east-west road, gained its objective when enemy soldiers broke under air attack and ran down the northern slope and crossed the road to Hill 116 in the 2d Battalion zone. Air strikes, artillery concentrations, and machine gun and rifle fire of the 1st Battalion now caught enemy reinforcements in open rice paddies moving up from the second ridge and killed most of them. In the afternoon, the 1st Battalion advanced to Hill 91.

North of the road the 2d Battalion had a harder time, encountering heavy enemy fire when it reached the northern tip of Hill 116, two miles west of Yongsan. The North Koreans held the hill during the day, and at night D Company of the 5th Marines was isolated there. In the fighting west of Yongsan Marine armor knocked out four T34 tanks, and North Korean crew members abandoned a fifth. That night the marines dug in on a line generally two miles west of Yongsan. The 2d Battalion had lost 18 killed and 77 wounded during the day, most of them in D Company. Total Marine casualties for 3 September were 34 killed and 157 wounded. Co-ordinating its attack with that of the marines, the 9th Infantry advanced abreast of them on the north. [19]

Just before midnight, the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, received orders to pass through the 2d Battalion and continue the attack in the morning. That night torrential rains made the troops miserable. The enemy was strangely quiet. September 4 dawned clear.

The counterattack continued at 0800, 4 September, at first against little opposition. North of the road the 2d Battalion quickly completed occupation of Hill 116, from which the North Koreans had withdrawn during the night. South of the road the 1st Battalion occupied what appeared to be a command post of the N.K. 9th Division. Tents were still up and equipment lay scattered about. Two abandoned T34 tanks in excellent condition stood there. Tanks and ground troops advancing along the road found it littered with enemy dead and destroyed and abandoned equipment. By nightfall the counterattack had gained another three miles. [20]

That night was quiet until just before dawn. The North Koreans then launched an attack against the 9th Infantry on the right of the marines, the heaviest blow striking G Company. It had begun to rain again and the attack came in the midst of a downpour. In bringing his platoon from an outpost position to the relief of the company, SFC Loren R. Kaufman encountered an encircling en-

[18] Ltr, Reed to author, 20 Jul 53; Ltr, Beahler to author, 10 Jun 53 
5th Mar SAR, 3 Sep 50. 

[19] Entries for 3 Sep, Marine sources cited n. 20; 1st Bn, 5th Mar, 
SAR, 3 Sep 50; Montross and Canzona, The Pusan Perimeter, pp. 220-22; 
Geer, The New Breed, p. 94.

[2o] 1st Prov Mar Brig SAR, 2 Aug-6 Sep 50, pp. 15-16; 1st Bn, 5th Mar 
SAR, 4 Sep 50; Geer, The New Breed, p. 96; Montross and Canzona, The 
Pusan Perimeter, pp. 227-29. 


emy force on the ridge line. He bayoneted the lead enemy scout and engaged those following with grenades and rifle fire. His sudden attack confused and dispersed this group. Kaufman led his platoon on and succeeded in joining hard-pressed G Company. In the ensuing action Kaufman led assaults against close-up enemy positions and, in hand-to-hand fighting, he bayoneted four more enemy soldiers, destroyed a machine gun position, and killed the crew members of an enemy mortar. American artillery fire concentrated in front of the 9th Infantry helped greatly in repelling the North Koreans in this night and day battle. [21]

That morning (5 September), after a 10-minute artillery preparation, the American troops moved out in their third day of counterattack. It was a day of rain. As the attack progressed, the marines approached Obong-ni Ridge and the 9th Infantry neared Cloverleaf Hill-their old battleground of August. There, at midmorning, on the high ground ahead, they could see enemy troops digging in. The marines approached the pass between the two hills and took positions in front of the enemy-held high ground.

At 1430 approximately 300 enemy infantry came from the village of Tugok and concealed positions, striking B Company on Hill 125 just north of the road and east of Tugok. Two enemy T34 tanks surprised and knocked out the two leading Marine Pershing M26 tanks. Since the destroyed Pershing tanks blocked fields of fire, four others withdrew to better positions. Assault teams of B Company and the 1st Battalion with 3.5-inch rocket launchers rushed into action, took the tanks under fire, and destroyed both of them, as well as an armored personnel carrier following behind. The enemy infantry attack was quite savage and inflicted twenty-five casualties on B Company before reinforcements from A Company and supporting Army artillery and the Marine 81-mm. mortars helped repel it. [22]

September 5 was a day of heavy casualties everywhere on the Pusan Perimeter. Army units had 102 killed, 430 wounded, and 587 missing in action for a total of 1,119 casualties. Marine units had 35 killed, 91 wounded, and none missing in action, for a total of 126 battle casualties. Total American battle casualties for the day were 1,245 men. Col. Charles C. Sloane, Jr., who had commanded part of Task Force Bradley, resumed command of the 9th Infantry, relieving Colonel Hill. [23]

During the previous night, at 2000, 4 September, General Walker had ordered the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade released from operational control of the 2d Division effective at midnight, 5 September. He had vainly protested against releasing the brigade, believing he needed it and all the troops then in Korea if he were to stop the North Korean offensive against the Pusan Perimeter. At 0015, 6 September, the marines

[21] Department of the Army General Order 61, 2 August 1951, awarded the 
Medal of Honor to Sergeant Kaufman. 

[22] 9th Inf WD, 5 Sep 50; 1st Prov Mar Brig SAR, 5 Sep 50; 1st Bn, 5th 
Mar SAR, 5 Sep 50; Geer, The New Breed, pp. 97-98; Montross and Canzona, 
The Pusan Perimeter, pp. 234-37. 

[23] GHQ FEC Sitrep, 5 Sep 50; 9th Inf WD, 5 Sep 50, GO 11.


began leaving their lines at Obong-ni Ridge and headed for Pusan. [24]

The American counteroffensive of 3-5 September west of Yongsan, according to prisoner statements, resulted in one of the bloodiest and most terrifying debacles of the war for a North Korean division. Even though remnants of the division, supported by the low strength 4th Division, still held Obong-ni Ridge, Cloverleaf Hill, and the intervening ground back to the Naktong on 6 September, the division's offensive strength had been spent at the end of the American counterattack. The 9th and 4th enemy divisions were not able to resume the offensive. [25]

Once again the fatal weakness of the North Korean Army had cost it victory after an impressive initial success-its communications and supply were not capable of exploiting a breakthrough and of supporting a continuing attack in the face of massive air, armor, and artillery fire that could be concentrated against its troops at critical points.

The 23d Infantry in Front of Changnyong

North of the 9th Infantry and the battles that ebbed and flowed in the big bulge of the Naktong and around Yongsan, the 23d Infantry Regiment after daylight of 1 September found itself in a very precarious position. Its 1st Battalion had been driven from the river positions and isolated three miles westward. Approximately 400 North Koreans now overran the regimental command post, compelling Colonel Freeman to withdraw it about 600 yards. There, approximately five miles northwest of Changnyong, the 23d Infantry Headquarters and Headquarters Company, miscellaneous regimental units, and regimental staff officers checked the enemy in a 3-hour fight. Capt. Niles J. McIntyre of the Headquarters Company played a leading role. [26]

The infallible sign of approaching enemy troops could be seen in Changnyong itself during the afternoon of 2 September-at 1300 the native population began leaving the town. A little later a security force of 300 local police under the command of Maj. Jack T. Young and Capt. Harry H. White withdrew into the hills eastward when two groups of enemy soldiers approached from the northwest and southwest. North Koreans were in Changnyong that evening. [27]

With his communications broken southward to the 2d Division headquarters and the 9th Infantry, General Haynes during the day decided to send a tank patrol down the Yongsan road in an effort to re-establish communication. Capt. Manes R. Dew, commanding officer of C Company, 72d Tank Battalion, led the tanks southward. They had to fight their way down the road through enemy roadblocks. Of the three tanks that started, only Dew's tank got through to Yongsan. There, Captain Dew

[24] 2d Div Narr Summ, 1 Sep-31 Oct 50, p. 14; EUSAK WD, 4 Sep 50, Opn 
Ord at 042000. The removal of the Marine brigade from the Naktong front 
will be discussed further in the next chapter. 

[25] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 100 (N.K. 9th Div), p. 52. 

[26] Freeman, MS review comments, 30 Oct 57; Highlights of the Combat 
Activities of the 23d Infantry Regiment from 5 August to 30 September 
1950, MS, prepared in the regiment, copy in OCMH. 

[27] 2d Div Arty WD, 2 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 7 Sep 50, an. to PIR 57. 


delivered an overlay of Task Force Haynes' positions to General Bradley. [28]

Still farther northward in the zone of the 38th Infantry the North Koreans were far from idle. After the enemy breakthrough during the night of 31 August, General Keiser on 1 September had ordered the 2d Battalion, 38th Infantry, to move south and help the 23d Regiment establish a defensive position west of Changnyong. In attempting to do this, the battalion found enemy troops already on the ridges along the road. They had in fact penetrated to Hill 284 overlooking the 38th Infantry command post. This hill and Hill 209 dominated the rear areas of the regiment. At 0600, 3 September, an estimated 300 North Koreans launched an attack from Hill 284 against Colonel Peploe's 38th Regiment command post. Colonel Peploe organized all officers and enlisted men present, including members of the mortar and tank companies and attached antiaircraft artillery units, to fight in the perimeter defense. Peploe requested a bombing strike which was denied him because the enemy target and his defense perimeter were too close to each other. But the Air Force did deliver rocket and strafing strikes.

This fight continued until 5 September. On that day Capt. Ernest J. Schauer captured Hill 284 with two platoons of F Company after four efforts. He found approximately 150 enemy dead on the hill. From the crest he and his men watched as many more North Koreans ran into a village below them. Directed artillery fire destroyed the village. Among the abandoned enemy materiel on the hill, Schauer's men found twenty-five American BAR's and submachine guns, a large American radio, thirty boxes of unopened American fragmentation and concussion grenades, and some American rations. [29]

Meanwhile, during these actions in its rear, the 1st Battalion, 23d Infantry, was cut off three miles westward from the nearest friendly units. On 1 September Colonel Hutchin had received instructions from the regiment to withdraw to the Changnyong area. At 1400 he sent a tank-infantry patrol to see if his withdrawal road was open. It reported that an estimated enemy battalion held the mountain pass just eastward of the battalion's defense perimeter. Upon receiving this report Colonel Hutchin requested permission by radio to remain in his present position and from there try to obstruct the movement of North Korean reinforcements and supplies. That evening Colonel Freeman approved this request, and thus began the 1st Battalion's 3-day stand as an island in a sea of enemy. During this time C-47 planes supplied the battalion by airdrops. [30]

The 2d Division, however, did not leave Colonel Hutchin to his own devices in his isolated perimeter position. Instead, on the morning of 1 September, it started the 3d Battalion, 38th Infantry, in an attack westward from the 23d Regiment command post near Mosan-ni to open the enemy-held road to the 1st Battalion. On the second day of the fighting at the enemy-held pass, the relief force, under Maj. Everett S. Stewart, the

[28] 2d Div Arty WD, 2 Sep 50; Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53.
[29] 38th Inf Comd Rpt, Narr Summ, Sep-Oct 50; EUSAK PIR 58, 8 Sep 50; 
2d Div PIR 14, 7 Sep 50.

[30] 23d Inf WD, Narr Summ, Sep 50.


battalion executive officer and temporarily acting battalion commander, broke through the enemy roadblock with the help of air strikes and artillery and tank fire. The advanced elements of the battalion joined Hutchin's battalion at 1700, 2 September. That evening, North Koreans strongly attacked the 3d Battalion, 38th Infantry, on Hill 209 north of the road and opposite Hutchin's battalion, driving one company from its position. [31]

On 4 September, General Haynes changed the boundary between the 38th and 23d Infantry Regiments, giving the northern part of the 23d's sector to the 38th Infantry, thus releasing Colonel Hutchin's 1st Battalion for movement southward to help the 2d Battalion defend the southern approach to Changnyong. The 1st Battalion, 23d Infantry, about 1,100 men strong when the enemy attack began, was now down to a strength of approximately 600 men.

The 23d Infantry now made plans to concentrate all its troops on the position held by its 2d Battalion on the Pugong-ni-Changnyong road. Colonel Hutchin succeeded in moving the 1st Battalion there and took a place on the left flank of the 2d Battalion. At the same time the regimental command post moved to the rear of this position. In this regimental perimeter, the 23d Infantry fought a series of hard battles. Simultaneously it had to send combat patrols to its rear to clear infiltrating enemy from Changnyong and from its supply road.

The N.K. 2d Division made a desperate effort against the 23d Infantry's perimeter in the predawn hours of 8 September, in an attempt to break through eastward. This attack, launched at 0230 and heavily supported with artillery, penetrated F Company. It was apparent that unless F Company's position could be restored the entire regimental front would collapse. When all its officers became casualties, 1st Lt. Ralph R. Robinson, adjutant of the 2d Battalion, assumed command of the company. With North Koreans rapidly infiltrating his company's position and gaining its rear, Robinson in the darkness made his way through them 500 yards to A Company's position. There he obtained that company's reserve platoon and brought it back to F Company. He accomplished the dangerous and difficult task of maneuvering it into the gap in F Company's lines in darkness and heavy rain. [32]

The enemy attack tapered off with the coming of daylight, but that night it resumed. The North Koreans struck repeatedly at the defense line. This time they continued the fighting into the daylight hours of 9 September. The Air Force then concentrated strong air support over the regimental perimeter and gave invaluable aid to the ground troops. Casualties came to the aid stations from the rifle companies in an almost steady stream during the morning. All available men from Headquarters Company and special units were formed into squads and put into the fight at the most critical points. At one time, the regimental reserve was down to six men. When the enemy attack finally ceased

[31] Interv, author with Lt Col Everett S. Stewart, 19 May 53; 23d Inf 
WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 131, 1715 1 Sep 50. General Order 196, 14 December 
1950, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel Hutchin. 2d 

[32] 2d Div Arty WD, 2 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 7 Sep 50, an. to PIR 57.


shortly after noon the 23d Regiment had an estimated combat efficiency of only 38 percent. [33]

This furious night and day battle cost the enemy division most of its remaining offensive strength. The medical officer of the 17th Regiment, 2d Division, captured a few days later, said that the division evacuated about 300 men nightly to a hospital in Pugong-ni, and that in the first two weeks of September the 2d Division lost 1,300 killed and 2,500 wounded in the fighting west of Changnyong. [34]

Even though its offensive strength was largely spent by 9 September, the enemy division continued to harass rear areas around Changnyong with infiltrating groups as large as companies. Patrols daily had to open the main supply road and clear the town.

A North Korean Puzzle

While the N.K. 2d Division was making its great effort near the middle of the U.S. 2d Division line, a sister organization, the N.K. 10th Division, on its left to the north failed to give the assistance that was expected of it in the co-ordinated corps attack. And therein lies one of the greatest North Korean failures of the war to exploit an opportunity. The singular behavior of this enemy force puzzled American commanders at the time, although they were thankful that it took the pattern it did. The N.K. 10th Division was the northernmost major organization of the N.K. I Corps. A large part of it occupied Hill 409 in a deep fold of the Naktong River just west of Hyongp'ung. Elements of this division streamed off Hill 409 the night of 31 August-1 September and struck the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry, which formed the extreme right flank of the U.S. 2d Division. Holding the town of Hyongp'ung was C Company, which withdrew from it under enemy attack during the night of 2-3 September. Beginning with 3 September, Hyongp'ung for two weeks was either in enemy hands or a no man's land. [35]

North and east of the Hill 409 and Hyongp'ung area lay a virtually roadless, high mountain area having no fixed U.N. defensive positions. This, too, was a no man's land in early September. Four miles north of Hyongp'ung was the Yongp'o bridge across the Naktong and the 1st Cavalry Division boundary. The Yongp'o bridge site was defended by the 3d Battalion, 23d Infantry, attached to the 1st Cavalry Division for that purpose, until 0410, 5 September, when the British 27th Infantry Brigade relieved it and went into the line there. This, as previously noted, was the British brigade's first commitment in the Korean War. [36]

During the first two weeks of September large numbers of the enemy 10th

[33] 23d Inf WD, Narr Summ, Sep 50; Interv, author with Meszar, 15 May 
53; Highlights of Combat Activities of 23d Inf. 

[34] EUSAK WD, 21 Sep 50, ADVATIS Interrog Rpts, Sr Lt Lee Kwan Hyon, 
Med Off, N.K. 17th Regt, 2d Div; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 6, p. 81, Kim 
Il Chin and Issue 7, p. 3, Yu Tong Gi; 23d Inf Comd Rpt, Sep 50, Narr 
Summ, p. 10. 

[35] 38 Inf Comd Rpt, Sep-Oct 50, Narr Summ; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 4-5 Sep 
50. Records of the 38th Infantry for September 1950 were lost in the 
withdrawal from Kunu-ri, 30 November, and the command report compiled 
later from recollections of regimental personnel lacks precise 
information on time, place, and overlay data for this period. 

[36] GHQ FEC Sitrep, 5 Sep 50; Ibid., G-3 Opn Rpt 70, 2 Sep 50.


Division came off Hill 409 and roamed the mountain mass northeast of Hyongp'ung in the gap between the U.S. 2d Division and the British 27th Brigade. This caused Eighth Army concern for the safety of Taegu. Gradually, ROK police and British combat patrols forced the North Koreans back to Hill 409. On 6 September, the day after they went into the line, the British had a taste of what the Korean War was like. A combat patrol of the Argylls under Capt. Neil A. Buchanan encountered an enemy unit and had to make its escape, leaving behind, on his own orders, Captain Buchanan badly wounded and, at his side, his wounded batman. Neither was seen again. The British company nearest Hill 409 was so isolated that airdrops of ice to it replaced carrying water cans up the hill. [37]

Had the enemy 10th Division thrown its full weight into a drive eastward, south of Taegu, it might well have precipitated a major crisis for Eighth Army. It could have moved either northeast toward Taegu or southeast to help the 2d Division, next in line below it, but it did neither. Its relative inactivity in the vicinity of Hill 409 when its companion divisions were engaged m desperate combat above and below it is something of a mystery. Captured enemy material and statements of prisoners indicate that its mission may have been to stay on Hill 409 until the N.K. II Corps had captured Taegu, but they indicated, also, that the division command was inept. The 10th Division caused General Walker much concern at this time. He and his staff found it puzzling to reconcile the division's favorable position with its inactivity. General Walker charged Colonel Landrum, now Deputy Chief of Staff, Eighth Army, to watch the situation closely and inform him daily on it. At least twice daily Landrum insisted on a summary from the Army G-3 of activities in front of the N.K. 10th Division. [38]

The 35th Infantry-The Rock of the Nam

On the 25th Division's right flank and north of the Haman breakthrough, the 35th Infantry Regiment at daylight, 1 September, still held all its positions except the low ground between Komam-ni and the Nam River, which the two companies of ROK police had abandoned at midnight. (See Map V.) In a counterattack after daylight, K Company and tanks had partially regained control of this area, but not completely. Large numbers of North Koreans, by this time, however, were behind the battle positions of the 35th Infantry as far as the Chirwon-ni and Chung-ni areas, six miles east of Komam-ni and the front positions. The North Koreans continued to cross the Nam River after daylight on 1 September in the general area of the gap between the 1st and 2d Battalions. Aerial observers saw an estimated four companies crossing there and directed proximity (VT) fuze fire of the 64th Field

[37] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1330, 10 Sep 50: GHQ FEC Sitrep, 13 Sep 50; Lt 
Col C. I. Malcolm of Poltallock (London: Thomas Nelson Se Sons, Ltd., 
1952), The Argylls in Korea, pp. 11-12; Coad, The Land Campaign in 

[38] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 104 (N.K. 10th Div), p. 49; 
Interv, author with Stephens, 8 Oct 51; Interv, author with Brig Gen 
George B. Peploe, 12 Aug 51; Ltr and notes, Landrum to author, recd 28 
Jun 54.


[Caption] BATTLE TROPHY. Men of the 35th Infantry display a North Korean flag captured in the Sibidang-san area on 5 September.

Artillery Battalion on the crossing force, which destroyed an estimated three-fourths of it. Fighter planes then strafed the survivors. Aerial observers saw another large group in the open at the river later in the day and directed artillery proximity fuze fire on it with an estimated 200 enemy casualties. [39]

The enemy I Corps plan of attack below the Nam River, as indicated by the North Korean action, seemed to be for its 6th Division to push east along the main Chinju-Komam-ni-Masan highway through the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, and at the same time for major elements of its 7th Division to swing southeast behind the 2d Battalion, 35th Infantry, and cut the Chirwon road. This road crossed the Naktong River over the cantilever steel bridge at Namji-ri from the 2d Division zone and ran south through Chirwon to join the main Masan highway eight miles east of Komam-ni near the village of Chung-ni, four miles northwest of Masan. These two

[39] 25th Div WD, 1 Sep 50; 64th FA Bn WD, 1 Sep 50.


avenues of approach-the Komam-ni-Masan highway and the Chirwon road converging at Chung-ni-formed the axes of the enemy attack plan.

Engineer troops counterattacking up the secondary road toward Chirwon during 1 September made slow progress, and enemy troops stopped them altogether in the early afternoon. The 35th Infantry was now surrounded by enemy forces of the N.K. 6th and 7th Divisions, with an estimated three battalions of them behind its lines. Speaking later of the situation, Colonel Fisher, the regimental commander-a professional soldier, trained at West Point, and a regimental commander in World War II-said, "I never intended to withdraw. There was no place to go. I planned to go into a regimental perimeter and hold." [40] His regiment demonstrated its competency to do this in the September battle along the Nam, winning a Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance there.

On that first day of the enemy thrust, a critical situation existed in the 25th Division sector. Because of it, General Walker flew to General Kean's command post at Masan. In the ensuing discussion there, Kean asked Walker for authority to commit the remainder of the 27th Infantry Regiment (Walker had already released one battalion to Kean's control for use in the 24th Infantry sector) against the large enemy groups behind the 35th Infantry. Walker refused. By midafternoon, however, Kean felt that the situation was so critical that he ordered the 2d Battalion, commanded by Colonel Murch, to attack behind the 35th Infantry. A large part of the division artillery was under direct infantry attack and he felt it mandatory upon himself to commit the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry. He gave this order on his own authority as the responsible commander on the ground, notwithstanding General Walker's earlier refusal. At a later date when General Walker knew all the facts, he approved General Kean's action. [41]

During the predawn hours of 1 September, when the N.K. 7th Division troops had swung left after crossing the Nam River to roll up that flank, widen the gap, drive the American troops from their hill positions overlooking the Nam River, and secure a broad bridgehead for the division, the first American unit they encountered was G Company, 35th Infantry, at the north shoulder of the gap. While some enemy units peeled off to attack G Company, others continued on and engaged E Company, two miles downstream from it, and still others attacked scattered units of F Company all the way to its 1st Platoon, which guarded the Namji-ri bridge. There, at the extreme right flank of the 25th Division, this platoon drove off an enemy force after a sharp fight. By 2 September, E Company in a heavy battle had destroyed most of an enemy battalion.

Of all the 2d Battalion units, G Company received the hardest blows. Before dawn of 1 September enemy troops had G Company platoons on separate hills under heavy assault. Shortly after 0300 they overran the 3d Platoon, Heavy Mortar Company, and drove it from its position. These mortarmen climbed Hill

[40] Interv, author with Fisher, 5 Jan 52; 35th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50. 

[41] Ltr, Kean to author, 22 Apr 53; Barth MS, p. 27.


179 and on its crest joined the 2d Platoon of G Company.

Meanwhile, the 3d Platoon of G Company, on a low hill along the Nam four miles from its juncture with the Naktong, was also under close-in attack. After daylight, Capt. LeRoy E. Majeske, G Company commanding officer, requested artillery concentrations and air strikes, but the latter were slow in coming. At 1145, the enemy had almost reached the crest of the hill, and only the narrow space covered by the air identification panel separated the two forces. A few minutes later Majeske was killed, and 2d Lt. George Roach, commanding the 3d Platoon, again reported the desperate situation and asked for an air strike. The Air Force delivered the strike on the enemy-held side of the hill, and this checked the assaults. But by this time many enemy troops had captured and occupied foxholes in the platoon position and from them they threw grenades into other parts of the position. One of the grenades killed Lieutenant Roach early in the afternoon. SFC Junius Poovey, a squad leader, now assumed command. In this close fight, one of the heroes was Cpl. Hideo Hashimoto, a Japanese-American, who edged himself forward and threw grenades into the enemy holes, some of them only ten to fifteen feet away. By 1800, Sergeant Poovey had only 12 effectives left in the platoon; 17 of the 29 men still living were wounded. With ammunition almost gone, Poovey requested and received authority to withdraw into the main G Company position. After dark, the 29 men, 3 of them carried on stretchers, escaped by timing their departure from the hill with the arrival of friendly tanks which engaged the enemy and diverted attention from the beleaguered men on top. The group reached the G Company position on Hill 179 half an hour before midnight. [42]

While G Company held its positions on Hill 179 on 2 September against enemy attack, Colonel Murch's 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, started an attack northwest toward it at 1700 from the Chung-ni area. The battalion made slow progress against formidable enemy forces. The night was extremely dark and the terrain along the Kuhe-ri ferry road was mountainous. After fighting all that night the battalion, the next day at 1500, reached a position 1,000 yards south of the original defensive positions of G Company, 35th Infantry. A co-ordinated attack by armor, artillery, air, and infantry got under way and by 1800 the battalion had re-established the battle line. In this attack the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, killed 275 enemy and recovered a large part of the equipment G Company had lost earlier.

Colonel Murch's battalion remained on the regained positions during the night of the 3d. The next morning Murch received orders to attack to the rear and clear the alternate route on the western edge of the battalion zone. At 0800 G Company, 35th Infantry, relieved Murch on the regained positions

[42] 35th Inf WD, 1-2 Sep 50; 2d Bn 35th Inf WD, 1 Sep, and Narr story 
of action Sep 50; 25th Div WD, 1-2 Sep 50; New York Herald Tribune, 
September 3, 1950, Homer Bigart dispatch; New York Times, September 4, 
1950, W. H. Lawrence dispatch. 

In grenade fighting on slopes the practice of "cooking the grenade" 
developed. In order to avoid allowing enemy troops time to pick up and 
throw a grenade back, soldiers pulled the pin, released he handle in the 
grip for a brief period, and then threw the grenade. 


[Caption] 2D BATTALION, 27TH INFANTRY, on the recaptured supply road.

and the latter started his attack back up the supply road. While this was in progress, word came that North Koreans had again driven G Company from its newly re-established position. Murch turned around, attacked, and once more restored the G Company positions. By noon of 4 September, Murch again turned over these positions to G Company and resumed his attack to the rear along the road in the gap between the 1st and 2d Battalions, 35th Infantry. Almost immediately he was in contact with enemy forces. Soon North Korean machine guns were firing on Murch's men from three directions. Torrential rains fell and observation became poor. By this time, Murch's battalion was running short of ammunition. Murch ordered the battalion to withdraw about 500 yards to favorable terrain so that he could try to effect a resupply.

But this was not easy to do. He had cleared the supply route two days previously in his attack to the G Company position but now it was closed again. With several thousand North Korean soldiers behind the 35th Infantry front, it was like pulling one's thumb from a pail of water-the space filled again immediately. Murch requested air supply and the next morning, 5 September, eight transport planes accomplished the resupply and the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, was ready to resume its attack to the rear. By evening that day it had cleared the supply road and adjacent terrain of enemy soldiers for a distance of 8,000 yards to the rear of G Company's front-line positions. There Murch re-


ceived orders to halt and prepare to attack northeast to link up with Colonel Check's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry. [43]

After Murch had left the Chung-ni area on 2 September in his attack toward G Company, enemy infiltrators attacked the 24th Infantry command post and several artillery positions. To meet this new situation, General Kean, again acting on his own authority as the responsible commander on the ground, ordered the remaining battalion of the 27th Infantry (technically still the 3d Battalion, 28th Infantry), commanded by Lt. Col. George H. DeChow, to attack and destroy the enemy operating there. General Kean notified Eighth Army of his action at 1250, 2 September. [44]

After an early morning struggle on 3 September against several hundred North Koreans in the vicinity of the artillery positions, DeChow's battalion launched its attack at 1500 over the high, rugged terrain west of the "Horseshoe," as the deep curve in the Masan road was called, four miles east of Komam-ni. Its mission was to seize and secure the high ground dominating the Horseshoe, and then relieve the pressure on the 24th Infantry rear. Initially only one artillery piece was in position to support the attack. After the battalion advanced some distance, an enemy force, estimated at the time to number more than 1,000 men, counterattacked it and inflicted heavy casualties, which included thirteen officers. The K Company commander, 1st Lt. Elwood F. James, was killed while leading an assault. Additional tanks moved up to help secure the exposed right flank and rear, and air strikes helped to contain the enemy force. The battalion finally succeeded in taking the high ground. [45]

The next morning, 4 September, instead of continuing the attack toward the 24th Infantry command post, DeChow, on changed orders, attacked straight ahead into the Komam-ni area where enemy troops were fighting in the artillery positions. This attack got under way at 0900 in the face of severe enemy small arms fire. In the afternoon, heavy rains slowed the attack, but after an all-day battle, I and K Companies, with the help of numerous air strikes, captured the high ground dominating the Komam-ni crossroads. Numerous casualties in the battalion had led General Kean to attach C Company, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, to it. The next day, 5 September, the 3d Battalion turned its attack across rugged terrain toward Haman and drove through to the vicinity of the 24th Infantry command post. In its attack, the 3d Battalion counted more than 300 enemy dead in the area it traversed. [46]

The series of events that caused General Kean to change the direction of DeChow's attack toward Komam-ni began at 0100, 3 September. The 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, protruded farther westward at this time than any other

[43] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1125 and 1410, 3 Sep 50: 2d Bn, 27th Inf, WD, 
Unit Rpt, Sep 50; 27th Inf WD, Unit Rpt, Sep 50; Murch, MS review 
comments, 2 Jan 58. 

[44] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1250 2 Sep 50; 25th Div WD, 2 Sep 50; Ltr, Kean 
to author, 22 Apr 53. The 3d Bn, 29th Inf, became operational as the 3d
Bn, 27th Inf, by 25th Div GO 134, 10 Sep 50. The 1st Bn, 19th Inf became 
operational as the 3d Bn, 35th Inf, the same date. EUSAK GO 49, 2 Sep 
50, authorized the transfer. 

[45] DeChow, MS review comments, Jul 53; Interv, author with Flynn (3d 
Bn, 27th Inf, Sep 50), 5 Nov 53; Barth MS, pp. 28-29. 

[46] DeChow, MS review comments, Jul 53; Barth MS, pp. 28-29.


unit of the U.N. forces in Korea. Back of its positions on Sibidang-san the main supply route and rear areas were in enemy hands, and only in daylight and under escort could vehicles travel the road. On Sibidang-san the battalion had held its original positions after the heavy fighting of pre-dawn 1 September, completely surrounded by barbed wire, booby traps, and flares, with all supporting weapons inside its tight perimeters. The battalion had the advantage of calling by number for previously zeroed and numbered protective fires covering all approaches, which were quickly delivered. An hour after midnight an unusually heavy enemy assault struck the battalion. The fight there continued until dawn 3 September, when the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, counted 143 enemy dead in front of its positions, and on that basis estimated that the total enemy casualties must have been about 500 men. [47]

In this night battle the 64th Field Artillery Battalion gave invaluable support to the 1st Battalion and became directly involved itself in the fighting. About fifty North Koreans infiltrated before dawn to A Battery's position and delivered a banzai-type assault. Enemy soldiers employing submachine guns overran two artillery-machine gun perimeter positions, penetrating to the artillery pieces at 0300. There, Capt. Andrew C. Anderson and his men fought hand-to-hand with the North Koreans. Some of the guns fell temporarily into enemy hands and one North Korean scrawled on a howitzer tube, "Hurrah for our Company!" But the artillerymen threw the North Koreans out, aided greatly by the concentrations of fire from C Battery, 90th Field Artillery Battalion, which were placed within fifty yards of the battery and sealed off enemy reinforcements. In defending its guns in this night battle, A Battery lost seven men killed and twelve wounded-about 25 percent of its strength. [48]

The day before, the 159th Field Artillery Battalion also had distinguished itself in defending its guns in close fighting.

Fighting in support of the Nam River front in the northern part of the 25th Division sector were five batteries of the 159th and 64th Field Artillery Battalions (105-mm. howitzers) and one battery of the 90th Field Artillery Battalion (155-mm. howitzers), for a total of thirty-six guns. One 155-mm. howitzer, called by Colonel Fisher "The Little Professor," fired from Komam-ni on the Notch back of Chungam-ni, through which funneled much of the N.K. 6th Division's supplies. Another forward artillery piece kept the Iryong-ni bridge over the Nam under fire. The 25th Division artillery estimated it killed approximately 1,825 North Korean soldiers during the first three days of September. [49]

In this critical time, the Fifth Air Force added its tremendous fire power to that of the division artillery in support of the ground force. On 3 September, General Kean, speaking of the action during the past two days, said, "The close air support rendered by Fifth Air Force again saved this division as they

[47] 35th Inf WD, 3 Sep 50; 1st Bn, 35th Inf, Unit Rpt, Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 
G-3 Jnl, 0445, 3 Sep 50. 

[48] 64th FA Bn WD, 3 Sep 50: Barth MS, p. 29; 159th FA Bn WD, Sep 50; 
EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 0445 3 Sep 50; File supporting DUC, 35th Inf Regt, 
DA, AG files. 

[49] 25th Div WD, 4 Sep 50; Barth MS, pp. 22, 31.


have many times before." [50] This view was supported by General Walker in an interview in November. Speaking then to a U.S. Air Force Evaluation Group, General Walker said, "I will gladly lay my cards right on the table and state that if it had not been for the air support that we received from the Fifth Air Force we would not have been able to stay in Korea." [51]

It is not possible here to follow in detail the confused ebb and flow of battle behind the 35th Infantry. Battalions, companies, and platoons, cut off and isolated, fought independently of higher control and help except for airdrops which supplied many of them. Airdrops also supplied relief forces trying to reach the front-line units. Tanks and armored cars ran the gantlet to the isolated units with supplies of food and ammunition and carried back critically wounded on the return trips.

In general, the 35th Infantry fought in its original battle line positions, while at first one battalion, and later two battalions, of the 27th Infantry fought toward it through the estimated 3,000 North Koreans operating in its rear areas.

In the confused fighting in the rear areas there were several cases of North Korean atrocities. One of the worst occurred when a group of company mess parties in jeeps pulling trailers with hot breakfast were following tanks toward the front lines. About a mile and a half from G Company, 35th Infantry, the column came under enemy fire in a defile. The tanks went on through, but most of the other vehicles under Capt. Robert E. Hammerquist, 2d Battalion S-3, turned back. At least one of the mess parties, however, pressed on after the tanks. Some of this group were captured. One of its members hid in a haystack and later escaped. He told of hearing the torture and murder of one man. He heard agonized screams, recognized the man's voice, and could hear him saying between sobs, "You might as well kill me now." Later when the area was cleared of enemy this man's body was found castrated and the fingers cut off. [52] Many soldiers of the 25th Division later saw the bodies of Americans lying in a ditch in the 35th Infantry area, their hands tied and their feet cut off. Still others saw dead Americans with their tongues cut out. Members of the N.K. 7th Division apparently perpetrated these atrocities. [53]

During the September offensive enemy action in rear areas of the 25th Division carried right to Masan. Guerrilla activity increased, with the most tragic single incident taking place during the night of 3-4 September. That night about fifteen guerrillas, including one woman, attacked a radio relay station near Changwon, only four miles from Masan. They surprised a group of seven Americans and two South Koreans inside a tent on a hilltop. The guerrillas

[50] "Air War in Korea," Air University Quarterly Review, vol. IV, No. 3 
(Spring, 1951), 61. 

[51] Interv, USAF Evaluation Board with Lt Gen Walton Walker, 25 Nov 50. 
See also New York Times, September 3, 1950, for General Collins' 
statement quoting Walker. 

[52] Interv, author with Maj Joe B. Lamb, CO 2d Bn, 35th Inf, 4 Sep 51 
Intervs, author with 2d Lt Dillon Snell and 1st Lt Charles J. Hoyt, 2d 
Bn, 35th Inf, 4 Sep 51; Ltr, Hammerquist to author, 17 Apr 53; 35th Inf 
Unit Hist, 3 Sep 50. 

[53] Interv, author with Lamb, 4 Sep 51; Interv, author with Sawyer 
(Recon Co, 25th Div, Sep 50), 27 Jun 51.


tied up the Americans, took documents from files, gathered up all weapons, and then the woman shot every one of the prisoners with a tommy gun. Two wounded Americans lived to tell the story. [54]

Even in Masan, General Kean faced a dangerous situation. The town was a nest of Communist sympathizers and agents. At the peak of the enemy offensive, Han Gum Jo, manager of the Masan branch of the Korean Press Association, confessed that he was chief of the South Korean Labor Party in Masan and that he funneled information to the enemy through a Pusan headquarters. The chief of guards of the Masan prison was the head of a Communist cell and seven of his guards were members. This and other counterintelligence information came to light at a time when desperate fighting was in progress only a few miles away. General Kean considered the situation so menacing that he ordered Masan evacuated of all people except the police, public officials, railroad and utility workers, and necessary laborers and their families. Evacuation was to be completed in five days. On 10 and 11 September alone the 25th Division evacuated more than 12,000 people by LST from Masan. [55]

Although the 25th Division generally was under much less enemy pressure after 5 September, there were still severe local attacks. On 6 September Colonel Check's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, moved north from the Haman area to join Murch's 2d Battalion in the clean-up of enemy troops back of the 35th Infantry and below the Nam River. Caught between the 35th Infantry on its hill positions along the river and the attacking 27th Infantry units, large numbers of North Koreans were killed. Sixteen different groups reportedly were dispersed with heavy casualties during the day. By morning of 7 September there was clear evidence that survivors of the N.K. 7th Division were trying to escape across the Nam River. The 25th Division buried more than 2,000 North Korean dead, killed between 1 and 7 September behind its lines. This number did not include those killed in front of its positions. About 9 September Colonel Fisher traveled over these rear areas where fighting had been intense. He was astonished at the number of North Korean dead that littered the fields. Speaking of that occasion he has said, "The area of Trun in the Falaise Gap in Europe couldn't match it. Flies were so thick in some areas it limited vision." [56]

Heavy rains caused the Nam and Naktong Rivers to rise more than two feet on 8 and 9 September, thereby reducing the danger of new enemy crossings. At this juncture one of the ironies of the Korean War occurred. On the 8th, American jet planes (F-82's) mistakenly bombed the Namji-ri bridge over the Naktong and with one 500-pound bomb destroyed the 80-foot center span. Only the bridges north of the juncture of the Nam with the Naktong were supposed to be subject to aerial attack at this time. Lieutenant Vickery's 1st Platoon of F

[54] EUSAK WD, G-3, Coordinating Protection Lines of Communications Rear 
Areas, 4 Sep 50 New York Herald Tribune, September 4, 1950; 25th Div WD, 
4 Sep 50.

[55] 25th Div WD, 3, 7, 11 and 15 Sep 50. 

[56] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl 0720, 5 Sep 50; 27th Inf WD, 5 Sep 50; 2d Bn, 
27th Inf, Unit Rpt, Sep 50; 25th Div WD, 6 Sep 50; Barth MS, p. 28; 
Fisher, MS review comments, Jan 58.


Company, 35th Infantry, had effectively defended the bridge-the link between the U.S. 2d and 25th Divisions-throughout the enemy offensive. The platoon had become so closely identified with this bridge that in the 25th Division it was called "Vickery's Bridge." Vickery had placed one squad on the north side of the bridge. From the south side it was supported by the rest of the platoon, a tank, and one 105-mm. howitzer, fondly called "Peg O' My Heart."

Some of the local commanders thought that had the North Koreans bypassed this bridge and crossed the Naktong farther east there would have been nothing between them and Pusan. However, North Korean attacks against Vickery's men were a nightly occurrence. The approaches to the bridge on the north side were mined. At one time there were about 100 North Korean dead lying in that area. One morning a pack of dogs were tearing the bodies when one of the animals set off a mine. That scattered the pack and the dogs in their wild flight set off more mines. Pieces of dog went flying through the air like rocks. [57]

Counterattack at Haman

In the middle of the 25th Division line, south of the 35th Infantry, the enemy breakthrough at Haman became a terrifying fact to the division headquarters after daylight, 1 September. General Kean, commanding the division, telephoned Eighth Army headquarters and requested permission to commit, at once, the entire 27th Infantry Regiment, just arrived at Masan the previous evening and still held in Eighth Army reserve. General Walker denied this request, but did release one battalion of the regiment to General Kean's control. [58]

General Kean immediately dispatched Colonel Check's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry-which had been alerted as early as 0200-from its assembly area near Masan toward Haman, to be attached to the 24th Infantry upon arrival at Colonel Champney's command post. The 1st Platoon of the 27th Regiment's Heavy Mortar Company; a platoon of B Company, 89th Tank Battalion; and A Battery, 8th Field Artillery Battalion, reinforced Check's battalion. Check with his battalion arrived at Champney's 24th Infantry command post two miles east of Haman at 1000. [59]

The scene there was chaotic. Vehicles of all descriptions, loaded with soldiers, were moving down the road to the rear. Many soldiers on foot were on the road. Colonel Champney tried repeatedly but in vain to get these men to halt. The few enemy mortar shells falling occasionally in the vicinity did no damage except to cause the troops of the 24th Infantry and intermingled South Koreans to scatter and increase their speed to the rear. The road was so clogged with this frightened, demoralized human traffic that Colonel Check had to delay his counterattack. In the six hours he waited at this point, Check observed that none of the retreating troops of the 1st and 2d Battalions, 24th Infantry, could be assem-

[57] 35th Inf WD, S-2 and S-3 Jnls, item 15, 9 Sep 50; 35th Inf Unit 
Hist, Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1015, 10 Sep 50; Fisher, MS review 
comments, 7 Nov 57, and Jan 58. 

[58] Ltr, Kean to author, 2 Apr 53; Barth MS, p. 27. 

[59] 27th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; Interv, author with Check 6 Feb 53.


bled as units. Sgt. Jack W. Riley of the 25th Military Police Company tried to help clear the road. Men ran off the mountain past him, some with shoes off, half of them without weapons, and only a few wearing helmets. He shouted for all officers and noncommissioned officers to stop. None stopped. One man who appeared to have some rank told him, "Get out of the way." Riley pulled back the bolt of his carbine and stopped the man at gun point, and then discovered that he was a first sergeant. Asked why they would not stay in and fight; several in the group that Riley succeeded in halting simply laughed at him and answered, "We didn't see any MP's on the hill." At 1600, the 2d Battalion, 24th Infantry, assembling in the rear of the 27th Infantry, could muster only 150 to 200 men. [60]

At 1445, General Kean's orders for an immediate counterattack to restore the 24th Infantry positions arrived at Champney's command post. Check quickly completed his attack plan. For half an hour the Air Force bombed, napalmed, rocketed, and strafed Haman and adjacent enemy-held ridges. Fifteen minutes of concentrated artillery barrages followed. Haman was a sea of flames. Check's infantry moved out in attack westward at 1630, now further reinforced by a platoon of tanks from A Company, 79th Tank Battalion. Eight tanks, mounting infantry, spearheaded the attack into Haman. North Koreans in force held the ridge on the west side of the town, and their machine gun fire swept every approach-their "green tracers seemed as thick as the rice in the paddies." Enemy fire destroyed one tank and the attacking infantry suffered heavy casualties. But Check's battalion pressed the attack and by 1825 had seized the first long ridge 500 yards west of Haman; by 2000 it had secured half of the old battle position on the higher ridge beyond, its objective, one mile west of Haman. Two hundred yards short of the crest on the remainder of the ridge, the infantry dug in for the night. [61]

All day air strikes had harassed the enemy and prevented him from consolidating his gains and reorganizing for further co-ordinated attack. Some of the planes came from the carriers Valley Forge and Philippine Sea, 200 miles away and steaming toward the battlefield at twenty-seven knots. The crisis for the 25th Division was not lessened by Eighth Army's telephone message at 1045 that the 27th Infantry was to be alerted for a possible move north into the 2d Division sector.

West of Haman the North Koreans and Check's men faced each other during the night without further battle, but the North Koreans, strangely for them, kept flares over their position. In the rear areas, enemy mortar fire on the 24th Regiment command post caused Colonel Champney to move it still farther to the rear.

In the morning, under cover of a heavy ground fog, the North Koreans struck Check's battalion in a counterattack. This action began a hard fight which lasted all morning. Air strikes using na-

[60] 2d Bn, 24th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; EUSAK IG Rpt, 24th Inf, Sep 50, 
testimony of Check, Riley, and Roberts. 

[61] 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; A Co, 78th Hv Tk Bn WD, Sep 50; 24th 
Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; 25th Div WD, 1 Sep 50; EUSAK IG Rpt, Check testimony; 
Newsweek, September 11, 1950, pp. 18-20.


[Caption] COMMAND POST of the 27th Infantry under a bridge east of Haman.

palm burned to death many North Koreans and helped the infantry in gaining the ridge. At noon, the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, at last secured the former positions of the 2d Battalion, 24th Infantry, and took over the same foxholes that unit had abandoned two nights before. Its crew-served weapons were still in place. During 2 September, the Air Force flew 135 sorties in the 25th Division sector, reportedly destroying many enemy soldiers, several tanks and artillery pieces, and three villages containing ammunition dumps. [62]

Early the next morning, 3 September, the North Koreans heavily attacked Check's men in an effort to regain the ridge. Artillery, mortar, and tank fire barrages, and a perfectly timed air strike directed from the battalion command post, met this attack. Part of the battalion had to face about and fight toward its rear. After the attack had been repulsed hundreds of enemy dead lay about the battalion position. A prisoner estimated that during 2-3 September the four North Korean battalions fighting Check's battalion had lost 1,000 men. [63]

Colonel Check's battalion held the ridge until dark on 4 September, then

[62] 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 2 Sep 50; 24th Inf WD, 2 Sep 50; 25th Div WD, 
2 Sep 50; EUSAK IG Rpt, testimony of Check and Capt Don K. Hickman, Ex 
Off, 1st Bn, 27th Inf; New York Herald Tribune, September 2, 1950, 
Bigart dispatch. 

[63] 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, Sep 50 Opn Rpt, 3 Sep 50; 27th Inf WD, 3 Sep 
50, and Rpt of captured documents; Barth MS, p. 27.


the 1st Battalion and F Company of the 2d Battalion, 24th Infantry, which had reorganized in the rear, relieved it. The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, thereupon moved back into a secondary defensive position a mile and a half east of Haman. Colonel Champney moved his command post back into Haman, placing it at the base of a hill 300 yards west of the center of the town. [64]

That night there was a repetition of the earlier disgraceful episode. Before dawn, 5 September, an enemy force of two companies, only half-armed, moved against Haman. A part of this force approached the hill at the western edge of Haman where H Company was posted as security for the 24th Regimental command post situated at its base. The H Company men left their post without firing a shot, abandoning two new machine guns. Men in the regimental command post had their first intimation that enemy troops were in the vicinity when the North Koreans opened fire on them with the captured machine guns. A small group of North Koreans infiltrated into Haman within 100 yards of the command post, where members of the I&R Platoon drove them off in a grenade battle. In the course of this action, an enemy grenade blew up an ammunition truck. The exploding shells and resulting fires gave the impression from a distance that a heavy fight was in progress.

About twenty enemy soldiers approached, undiscovered, close enough to the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, command post west of Haman to throw grenades and fire burp guns into it. Perhaps 45 soldiers of the battalion command group and 20 South Korean recruits were in position there at the time. The enemy was driven off at dawn, but Maj. Eugene J. Carson, battalion executive officer, then discovered that he had on position with him only 30 men, 7 of them wounded. Looking back down the hill, Carson saw approximately 40 men get up out of the rice paddies and go over to a tank at a roadblock position. These men reported to the regiment that they had been driven off the hill. Three tanks near the command post helped clear the town of North Koreans. [65]

At the time of this enemy infiltration, a white officer and from 35 to 40 Negro soldiers left their position south of Haman at a roadblock and fled to the rear until they reached Colonel Check's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, command post a mile and a half away. There, at 0500 this officer said 2,000 North Koreans had overrun his position and others near Haman, including the 24th Regiment command post. Check reported this story to General Kean, and then sent a platoon of tanks with a platoon of infantry toward Haman to find out what had happened. Some of his officers, meanwhile, had stopped about 220 soldiers streaming to the rear. Colonel Check ordered these men to follow his tank and infantry patrol back into Haman. Some of them did so only when threatened with a gun. The tank-led column entered Ham in unopposed, where they found

[64] 27th Inf WD, 4 Sep 50; 24th Inf WD, 4 Sep 50; Interv, author with 
Champney, 22 Jul 51; Corley, MS review comments for author, 22 Jul 53. 

[65] Interv, author with Champney, 22 Jul 51; EUSAK WD, 14 Sep 50, 
Interrog Rpt, Yun Che Gun; 24th Inf WD, 4-5 Sep 50; EUSAK IG Rpt, 
testimony of Champney, Roberts, and Carson.


the 24th Regiment command post intact and everything quiet. [66]

The next day, 6 September; a sniper severely wounded Colonel Champney while the latter was inspecting his front-line positions west of Haman. Champney was evacuated at once. Colonel Corley, commanding officer of the 3d Battalion, succeeded to the command of the regiment. [67] Corley, known as "Cash Pays the Rent" because that was a favorite saying of his, became a highly regarded commander of the "Deuce-Four" Regiment. He was destined to fight in four campaigns of the Korean War, winning a Distinguished Service Cross, three Silver Stars, and the Legion of Merit to add to the decorations he had already won as a much-decorated battalion commander of World War II. This 36-year-old energetic West Point combat leader was soon well-known throughout the regiment.

Battle Mountain and Sobuk-san

Although the enemy 6th and 7th Divisions had massed their troops for the attempted breakthrough of the U.S. 25th Division positions along the Nam and Naktong Rivers as already related, the 6th Division did not altogether ignore the mountain backbone stretching southward toward the coast. Enemy artillery and mortar fire fell on Battle Mountain P'il-bong, and Sobuk-san during the period of the enemy offensive and there were strong local attacks and patrol actions. The 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry, never succeeded in gaining possession of the highest peak of Sobuk-san, which would have given observation into the valley below and into the enemy's rear areas. The instability of the 24th Infantry at this time made it necessary for General Kean to order Colonel Throckmorton to send his only regimental reserve, E Company, north into the 24th Infantry sector along the Haman road to protect the right flank of the 5th Regimental Combat Team. In this position, Capt. William Conger, E Company commander, collected stragglers from the 24th Infantry every night and the next morning sent them back to their units. Even the Navy entered the battle in this part of the line, for its destroyers standing off the south coast gave illumination at night by directing their searchlights against low-hanging clouds on Sobuk-san. One destroyer was on station almost continuously, supporting the ground action with the fire of six 5-inch guns. An artillery aerial observer directed this naval gunfire through the fire direction center. [68]

On 7 September, a North Korean attack succeeded once again in driving ROK and American troops from Battle Mountain. The 25th Division ordered Colonel DeChow to retake the peak. DeChow, who had just counterattacked through the rear areas of the 24th Infantry to the vicinity of Haman, prepared his 3d Battalion, 27th Infantry, for the attempt. Companies K and B of the 24th Infantry were to follow him and secure the crest if he regained it. For three days,

[66] EUSAK IG Rpt, testimony of Check, Hickman, and Capt James D. 
Hunsaker, S-3, 1st Bn, 27th Inf. 

[67] 24th Inf WD, 6 Sep 50; 25th Inf WD, 6 Sep 50; Interv, author with 
Champney, 22 Jul 51. 

[68] 25th Div WD, 9 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 5 Oct 50, Arty Sec, Arty Info Bul 
8, 3 Oct 50; Throckmorton, Notes for author, 17 Apr 53.


7, 8, and 9 September, the 3d Battalion counterattacked up Battle Mountain. On the 9th, Capt. William Mitchell led his I Company to the top and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the North Koreans. L Company followed to the crest but the dug-in enemy drove both companies off and back down the slope. An estimated two companies of enemy troops held the crest of Battle Mountain and two more companies protected their flanks. DeChow's 3d Battalion suffered heavy casualties in these three days of fighting. On the afternoon of the 9th the American counterattack force dropped back to the high ground which it had recaptured on the 7th, 1,000 yards east of Battle Mountain. Artillery, mortars, and air strikes pounded the enemy position on Battle Mountain. During this impasse, word came from the 25th Division for the battalion to move to the vicinity of Masan. [69]

With the failure of the 3d Battalion, 27th Infantry, to hold the high knob on Battle Mountain after its attacks on 8-9 September, Colonel Corley, the 24th Infantry commander, on the evening of the 9th decided to give up the attempt. He had K Company, 24th Infantry, and C Company, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion, dig in on the hill east of and lower than Battle Mountain, surrounded them with barbed wire and mine fields, and placed registered artillery and mortar fires on all enemy approaches to the position. He planned to contain the enemy on Battle Mountain by artillery and mortar fire. The North Koreans on Battle Mountain attacked the lower American defensive position many times on subsequent nights, but all their attacks were driven off. Thus, finally, after a month of almost constant battle the North Koreans gained and held possession of the crest of Battle Mountain. The defensive fires of the 24th Regiment and attached artillery, however, contained them there and they were unable to exploit the possession of this battle-torn peak. [70]

With Battle Mountain in their possession, the North Koreans set out to gain control of P'il-bong, a towering peak 250 feet higher than Battle Mountain and an air mile to the southeast. In the predawn hours of 14 September an enemy force of 400-500 men attacked I and L Companies, 24th Infantry, on P'ilbong. Several attacks were repulsed, but because of men leaving their positions L Company's strength dwindled from 100 to 40 men. Only the determined leadership of Maj. Melvin R. Blair, a replacement officer who had just assumed command of the battalion, held these men in the fight. With the remnant of L Company, Blair withdrew toward I Company's position on the crest of P'ilbong, only to find that this company under a relatively minor attack had, unknown to him, left the hill. A wounded North Korean sniper, hidden along the trail, shot Blair in the leg. Blair refused to be evacuated, but he could not hold P'il-bong with the handful of men remaining with him and it was lost. [71]

Just as soon as the crisis passed for the 25th Division, General Walker

[69] 25th Div WD, 8-9 Sep 50; 24th Inf WD, 9 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 
1245, 9 Sep 50; DeChow, MS review comments, Jul 53. 

[70] Interv, author with Corley, 6 Nov 51; 24th Inf WD, 9 Sep 50. 

[71] Interv, author with Corley, 6 Nov 51; 3d Bn, 24th Inf WD, 14 Sep 
50; EUSAK IG Rpt, testimony of Corley.


ordered it on 7 September to release the 5th Regimental Combat Team within twenty-four hours. The continuing crisis north of Taegu made it mandatory for Walker to build up his reserve there. That evening the 1st and 2d Battalions, 27th Infantry, moved from the Nam River battlefield to relieve the 5th Regimental Combat Team on the Masan front. Colonel Michaelis assumed command of the regimental zone at 1500, 9 September. The 3d Battalion, 27th Infantry, broke off its counterattacks on Battle Mountain that day, rejoined the regiment, and took its place in the southern end of the line on 11 September. Meanwhile, the 5th Regimental Combat Team began moving to Samnangjin on the 10th, the last train with its units clearing Masan at 1600 the next day. Upon arrival at Samnangjin, it passed to Eighth Army reserve. [72]

About the time the all-out North Korean assault on the Pusan Perimeter had been turned back and the 27th Infantry was relieving the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the line west of Masan, the "beer issue" came to a head and evoked strong reactions from the men who were fighting the Korean battles. Free beer had been provided U.S. soldiers on much the same basis as candy bars and cigarettes. It had been purchased with appropriated money and issued at intervals as supplementary to the food ration. Various temperance, church, and social groups, and some individuals in the United States protested the issue of beer to the soldiers. The controversy even reached the floor of Congress, with one Congressman who favored the free beer ration saying, "Water in Korea is deadlier than bullets." The pressure was sufficient to cause the Army through the Far East Command to order that 12 September would be the last day free beer could be issued to the troops. A typical infantryman's comment was, "Those organizations or whatever they are have nothing to do with us. We are doing the fighting over here and it gets pretty bad. One can of beer never hurt nobody." But henceforth, Eighth Army troops could obtain beer purchased only with non-appropriated funds and issued through the post exchanges. [73]

The defensive battles on the Masan front during August and early September brought to a head a problem that had bothered General Kean ever since the 25th Division entered the Korean War; in a larger sense, it was a problem that had concerned Eighth Army as well. Two of the division's regiments, the 27th and the 35th, had performed well in Korea. Not so the 24th Infantry, the division's third regiment. Ever since its entrance into combat in the Sangju area in July the Negro regiment had given a poor performance, although there were some exceptions and many individual acts of heroism and capable performance of duty. The unstable nature of the regiment was demonstrated in the fighting on Battle Mountain during August. Then, on the night of 31 August-1 September two battalions evaporated in the face of the enemy, and a large part of them repeated this performance four nights later. General Kean placed his

[72] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 8-9 Sep 50; 27th Inf WD, 7-9 Sep 50; Ibid., Unit 
Rpt, Sep 50. 

[73] See 25th Div WD, 11 Sep 50; New York Times, September 14, and 
October 16, 1950; New York Herald Tribune, September 13, 1950.


[Caption] VETERAN OF THE 5TH REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM after forty-three days on the front line.

two stronger regiments usually in the more critical terrain of the division front, but, nevertheless, the 24th Regiment constituted a weak link in the division line that might break at any time and bring disaster to the division and possibly to the army. Eighth Army and the 25th Division assigned officers of an unusually high caliber to the 24th Infantry to give it strong leadership, but this did not solve the problem.

After the enemy breakthrough in the 24th Infantry sector on 1-5 September, General Kean decided he had to seek a solution. On 9 September he recommended to General Walker the immediate removal of the 24th Infantry Regiment from combat, and that the troops of the regiment be transferred as replacements on a percentage basis to other U.S. Army units in Korea. In making these recommendations General Kean said in part, "It is my considered opinion that the 24th Infantry has demonstrated in combat that it is untrustworthy and incapable of carrying out missions expected of an infantry regiment." Nearly all officers serving in the regiment agreed with General Kean, and so did many of the Negro noncommissioned officers and enlisted men themselves. General Walker did not act on General Kean's recommendation since many considerations seemed to make such action impossible at the time. [74]

Coinciding with this heavy fighting at the Pusan Perimeter in the south a new and disturbing element appeared far to the north. In Tokyo and Washington, American military leaders studied reports they received indicating that Chinese Communist troops were moving north through China and concentrating along the Yalu River opposite Korea. An incident at this time added to the build-up of threatening storm clouds to the north. On 4 September, a twin-engine bomber wearing a red star passed over a screening ship of a U.N. naval task force operating in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea, approximately at the 38th Parallel. The bomber continued on toward the center of the naval formation and opened fire on a U.N. fighter plane patrol which re-

[74] Ltr, Kean to CG, Eighth Army, 9 Sep 50, in EUSAK IG Rpt. The 24th 
Regiment continued to serve in Eighth Army as an all-Negro unit for 
another year. Its troops were then transferred as replacements to other 
infantry units of the army, integrated usually in a proportion of about 
12 percent.


turned its fire and shot it down. A destroyer of the task force recovered the body of one of the bomber crew members-he was an officer of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union. [75]

At mid-September the Eighth Army and the ROK Army were still engaged with North Korean forces at nearly all points of the Pusan Perimeter. After two weeks of the heaviest fighting of the war they had just barely turned back the great North Korean offensive on the main axes of the attack: in the east around P'ohang-dong and the Kyongju corridor, in the center at the approaches to Taegu, and in the south around Yongsan and the approaches to Masan. The battles of the Perimeter would go on, that was certain, for the issue there had not been concluded.

But overriding all other factors, favorable and unfavorable, comforting or disquieting, bearing on the Korean War at mid-September was the knowledge-now become widespread among U.N. forces in Korea-that an amphibious landing behind the enemy's lines was imminent. The date set for it was 15 September.

[75] New York Times, September 5, 1950, gives the State Department note 
announcing this incident. The Times of 7 September gives a summary of 
the Russian version, and the claim for damages for the bomber and three 
Russian crewman, which U.S. Ambassador Alan G. Kirk refused to accept. 

On 31 August, Ambassador Warren Austin told the U.N. Security Council 
that a U.S. F-51 fighter plane on 27 August may have strafed the An-tung 
Airfield in Manchuria, five miles from the Korean border, and thereby 
have unintentionally violated the territory of Communist China.