Osan community commemorates Battle of Bayonet Hill
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Sixty-two years ago, with the help of their American and other United Nations allies, South Korea was able to sustain and escape the threat of the communist regime. Today, throughout the small country of the Republic of Korea, memorials sprinkle the land to commemorate the bravery of those defending freedom.
Osan itself houses historical grounds from the memorial Battle of the Bayonet Hill in which claimed the land for the air base the next year.
More than a hundred Soldiers and Airmen from the United States and Republic of Korea Forces, and families from the Osan community came together to recognize the Battle of Bayonet Hill, known as the Battle of Hill 180, for its 62nd anniversary in a ceremony Feb. 7 at the historical site on base.
The famous battle began Feb. 5, 1951 with Easy Company, led by Capt. Lewis Millett, moving through the frozen grounds near what is now Osan Air Base. Being vastly outnumbered by Chinese forces and being low on ammunition, the conquering of the hill was remembered for the Soldiers courage and improvision. The battle also marked the last time bayonets were used in combat.
"After the battle, 47 enemy dead were counted on the forward slope of the hill--30 had died as a result of bayonet wounds, while on the reverse slope lay another fifty enemy, dead of either bayonet or gunshot wounds," said Lt. Col. Jason Kristolaitis, 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment-Korea, in an account of the battle at the ceremony. "The following year, in the summer of 1952, Osan Air Base was constructed."
The commemorative event, hosted by the 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment-Korea, featured the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade firing squad who gave a 21-gun salute to those fallen, a joint formation including Osan Junior ROTC cadets, and U.S. and ROK Air Force and Army active duty members, as well as an F-16 fly-over.
Maj. Gen. Chun, In-Bum, ROK/United States Combined Forces Command and deputy chief of staff of the Operation of Ground Component Command, was the guest speaker for the event.
In relation to Millett, he said, "I wish I could say he was a guy just like one of us, but apparently he wasn't. Not many people can conduct a charge with a bayonet against machine guns.
I think for all of us, [the ceremony] is a reminder of what we're here for," he continued. "What our job is. Every day we are challenged and often we ask ourselves, why am I doing this? Well I think the answer lies right here. Be it in a battlefield or everyday life ... if we have the spirit of Millett, we will turn out OK."
The undaunted spirit of Capt. Millet allowed him to lead his soldiers against terrible odds to victory over the communist forces. A victory who's lasting effects are still felt by the Korean people today.
"To all the Americans who are present here today, do not forget, as I sincerely state, that all the smiles you see in this country today are because of the Americans and other U.N. forces that fought and died for this country," Chun said. "And that is why we are here in this cold to remember that day 62 years ago. So I pay tribute to Col. Millett and the nine men who passed away that day and to the many others who fought for our freedom and fight today like us."