Korean War vets honored at outposts battle ceremony
YANGJU, South Korea -- Korean War veterans attended a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nevada Outposts Battle, here, May 28.
U.S. and South Korean veterans participated in the ceremony at the Republic of Korea Army's 25th Infantry Division Headquarters.
Maj. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, the prospective Eighth Army commanding general, thanked the veterans for laying the foundation for South Korea's future success.
Named after the Nevada cities of Vegas, Reno, Carson and Elko, the United Nations Command outposts were located along the primary invasion route into Seoul. The outpost battles occurred during armistice negotiations when United Nations Command and Communist negotiators were attempting to establish a demilitarized zone two kilometers north and south of the current line of contact.
"The fighting focused on seizing and maintaining the string of outposts to ensure that friendly forces held key defensible terrain when the armistice came into effect," said Champoux.
The 5th Marines, the 25th Infantry Division, and Turkish forces from the United Nations Command were vastly outnumbered by Communist forces during the battle.
Communist Chinese forces attempted to use their overwhelming numeric advantage in human wave attacks to seize new terrain before the armistice was signed.
During the brutal battle on the unforgiving terrain with its unpredictable weather, the combatants rained artillery on each other. The United Nations ground forces fired more than 117,000 artillery rounds and called in air support 67 times. The Communist Chinese fired 67,000 rounds of artillery.
"As the men that are with us today know, they engaged in small scale, often company-sized battles that engulfed these outposts along the main line of resistance," said Champoux. "They were every bit as intense and demanding as any in the history of warfare."
American Soldiers and Marines and their Turkish allies held the outposts until given a withdrawal order from the United Nations Command. Today, the outposts are just north the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas.
One of the more storied participants in the outposts battle was a Mongolian mare purchased by a U.S. Marine lieutenant from a South Korean boy for $250 and used by 5th Marines during the battle. Named Reckless after the platoon's recoilless rifles, the little warhorse became a legend of the battle.
The little horse carried more than 9,000 pounds of ammunition over 35 miles of dangerous mountain terrain. Reckless also carried wounded Marines down the mountain and was wounded twice during the battle. According to U.S. Marines in the battle, the little mare provided a great boost of morale every time she made back up the mountain.
After retiring in 1960, Reckless spent her reminding days on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., where she is buried in a place of honor today.
Champoux thanked the Republic of Korea Army's 25th Infantry Division for hosting the inaugural ceremony on the 60th anniversary of the outposts battle. Champoux said he has a special connection to the outposts battle because he commanded the Schofield Barracks, Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division.
"I had the honor of commanding the U.S. 25th Infantry Division for over two years, one year as the last U.S. division in Iraq," said Champoux. "Although the two 25th Divisions are from two separate armies, they are forever connected by this alliance, forever connected by this land."
During the Korean War, Champoux's father served as a U.S. Army company commander in the 65th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, who fought outpost battles in a different sector.
Champoux called the Korean War veterans "noble, selfless and patriotic."
"We salute you and all our Korean War veterans," said Champoux. "Those of us who serve here today are honored to walk in your footsteps and to uphold your remarkable legacy of service.
"Korea is a free and prosperous nation today because of people like you who answered the call of duty," said Champoux.