Humphreys soldiers attend Battle of Cheonan ceremony
CAMP HUMPHREYS -- A contingent of Soldiers from here joined Cheonan city officials for a ceremony commemorating the 64th Anniversary of the Battle of Cheonan, July 6.
Cheonan is a city located about 30 minutes south of here.
The annual event, hosted by the Cheonan Chapter of the Korea Freedom Federation, honors the Korean and American Soldiers who fought and died during the July 7-8, 1950, battle. Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys and 4-58th Airfield Operations Battalion attended and participated in the ceremony.
The Battle of Cheonan was the third engagement between U.S. and North Korean forces during the Korean War. The fight, a holding action designed to buy time and slow the North Korean movement towards Pusan, was fought largely by Soldiers of the 34th Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, led by Col. Robert R. Martin.
The unit was assigned to delay elements of the North Korean People's Army's 4th Infantry Division as it advanced south following victories at Osan and Pyeongtaek the days before. The regiment was emplaced north and south of Cheonan, attempting to delay the North Koreans in an area where the terrain formed a bottleneck between the mountains and the Yellow Sea.
Martin, for whom the memorial park is named, and 108 Soldiers died during the battle. For his actions, Martin was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross at Cheonan, the first such decoration awarded during the Korean War.
"Their sacrifices made the current freedom, peace and prosperity the Republic of Korea (currently) enjoys, possible," said Jang Kyu-yong, president of the Korea Freedom Federation Cheonan Chapter. "And, we are here to honor and remember their sacrifices forever."
Humphreys Garrison Commander Col. Darin S. Conkright spoke at the event on behalf of the garrison.
"Each year, we gather to remember and honor the Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry and their South Korean counterparts, for their bravery during this hard fought battle and to show our sincere appreciation for the sacrifices they made -- standing fast against an overwhelming enemy -- in the defense of liberty," Conkright said.
He added that their sacrifice was not in vain, "as it bought precious time, allowing the 21st Infantry Regiment to set up the next delaying action and continue the fight to liberate the Republic of Korea."
After the morning addresses, audience members paid tribute to those who died by placing flowers at and saluting the Cheonan memorial site.
Also participating in the ceremony were children from the local Samgeori Elementary School, who provided a box of letters, written in English, thanking American Soldiers for "giving (them) a chance to live happily, peacefully, comfortably and safely."
The event was followed by lunch at a local restaurant and then a visit to Independence Hall, a museum of Korean history.