Humphreys commander, soldiers honor those who fought and fell during the Battle of Cheonan
CAMP HUMPHREYS, Korea -- U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys commander Col. Joseph C. Holland and 40 Camp Humphreys Soldiers honored the American and South Korean Soldiers who fought in the Battle of Cheonan during a poignant ceremony at Martin Park in Cheonan on July 8.
The ceremony marked the 65th anniversary of the battle, fought by American Soldiers of the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division and South Korean Army Soldiers.
Holland, one of the featured speakers, said the battle was a holding action designed to slow the invading North Korean Army until other American units could set up defensive positions south of the city.
"Having established a defensive perimeter north of the city, the men of the 34th were out-gunned, out- numbered and unable to hold against overwhelming enemy armor. Our Soldiers fought side-by-side with their South Korean allies in bitter house-to-house fighting which resulted in the 3rd Battalion's near destruction," Holland said.
The battle claimed the life of 34th Regiment commander Col. Robert R. Martin, for whom the park is named, and more than 100 other American Soldiers. A North Korean T-34 tank cut Martin down as he attempted to fire a rocket at it. He had been in command for less than a day when he died.
"Each year we gather to remember and honor the soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry and their South Korean counterparts for the bravery during this hard-fought battle and to show our sincere appreciation for the sacrifices they made…we can never repay the debt we owe them, the best we can do is honor their memories and never forget what they did for the cause of freedom," Holland said.
Following the remarks, Ji Woo Lee, a fifth-grade student from Cheonan Samgeori Primary School, next to Martin Park, read a letter of thanks on behalf of her school and its 800 students.
"I really appreciate Col. Martin and the other U.S. Soldiers for sacrificing your lives to keep the freedom and peace of this country," Lee said. "We believe it is your sacrifice to help us have this peaceful school life. We will remember your courage and sacrifice forever.
"I will study hard and grow healthy to contribute to the global peace and development so that your sacrifice is relevant. Honorable Col. Martin and U.S. fallen heroes, thank you and we love you."
Following the remarks, Holland, the Humphreys Soldiers and others in attendance laid white carnations at the foot of the Martin memorial and paused for a moment of reflection.
Later in the day the Humphreys Soldiers visited Korean Independence Hall, a sprawling museum complex in the hills near Cheonan, to learn of Korea's history before the Korean War.