Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea -- U.S. and the Republic of Korea military officials honored and paid tribute to the Soldiers of the Easy Company, 27th Infantry Regiment, who gallantly fought and died during the Battle of Hill 180, also known as the Battle of Bayonet Hill, during the 66th anniversary ceremony of Hill 180 at Osan Air Base, South Korea, Feb. 3.
A very descriptive narrative of the battle was read during the ceremony, which was hosted by the 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment.
"Let's go! Use grenades and cold steel! Kill 'em with the bayonet!" these are words of inspiration that have echoed throughout time in remembrance of Capt. Lewis Millett and his men of Easy Company during his famed charge at the Battle of Hill 180.
On Feb. 7, 1951, Millett led his Soldiers in a courageous charge up the hill, dodging grenades and heavy machine gun fire. They maneuvered their way using bayonets to neutralize the enemy threat, and throwing grenades into bunkers and foxholes until they completely eliminated the enemy from the hill.
"I think that [Millett] was an amazing leader and in that moment the folks that were following him relied life or death on his leadership," said Cynthia E. Schmitz, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars for Post 10216. "He was not going to back down, he was a warrior and he was going to handle business in that moment, and take care of his men and fight the enemy."
When it was all over, Millett stopped atop the saw-toothed ridge and pumped his bloody rifle up and down, signaling to those below he had conquered Bayonet Hill.
After the battle, 47 enemy dead were counted on the forward slope of the hill; 30 had died as a result of bayonet wounds. On the reverse slope lay another 50 enemy, dead of either bayonet or gunshot wounds.
Command Sgt. Maj. Richard E. Merritt, Eighth Army command sergeant major, was the guest speaker during this event. He spoke about the significance of the battle.
"The battle that happened right here on Hill 180, represents more than a fight over a 600-foot stretch of land in the midst of the Korean countryside," he said. "It represents more than a company commander risking the lives of two platoons to save a third. This battle and the bravery of the men of Easy Company, as they fixed bayonets for a brutal attack, represent the fight for the freedom that this nation enjoys today."
Merritt said, throughout his military career he had seen men and women who stood ready to defend that freedom again if called upon. He told those present in the ceremony, to look to their left, look to their right, and to look in the mirror.
"I know what freedom looks like because I see it every day," said Merritt. "They fill our formations across the peninsula. I can attest to you that the ROK-US Alliance is prepared to build on the legacy of honor and courage that brings us to these ceremonies on Bayonet Hill each February."
A ceremonial laying of the wreath was performed by the official party, followed by a rifle salute and playing of "Taps" to show respect to Easy Company.
"I am honored to be a part of this ceremony," said Schmitz. "It symbolizes to me a fierce fight, it symbolizes to me honor and it symbolizes to me dedication and unity. We have not forgotten and we will not forget the sacrifices made by Millett and his men. Their legacy will continue to live on."