Soldiers reenact Battle for Nakdong honoring 66th anniversary of Korean War
WAEGWAN, South Korea - "Either protect the Nakdong line or die trying..." were the words made famous by Gen. Walton Walker, the first commanding general of the U.S. Eighth Army, during the Nakdong River Battle.
U.S. Soldiers from the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and Republic of Korea Soldiers from the 2nd Operational Command commemorated one of the fiercest battles of the Korean War with the reenactment of the Battle of Nakdong River and ceremonies honoring the soldiers who gave their lives there Sept. 22-23.
The reenactment showed the stand of the combined forces supporting the South as they opposed 14 Divisions of North Korean forces during their advance South in the fall of 1950. The South Korean and United Nations forces were pushed to a small southeastern area on the tip of the Korean Peninsula, an area known as Pusan Perimeter, where South Korean and United Nations forces, with the aid of civilians and student militias, would stand to defend the Nakdong River.
Before an audience of more than 1,500 Korean War veterans, and nearly 20,000 service members from both U.S and ROKA, government officials, civilians, families and students the field was scattered with fighting positions, self propelled artillery, tanks, howitzers, and other tactical vehicles.
"Not many students know of what exactly happened during Battle of Nakdong River," said Jung, Ji-Young, an English teacher at Posan Middle School. "Through appreciating the reenactment, students of our school were not only able to understand the history itself but also valuable lessons of patriotism"
Also the honored guest of this year's Nakdong River Battle reenactment, on behalf of UN veterans, was Korean War veteran Mr. Herbert K. Kobayashi, who courageously defended the Pusan Perimeter during the Korean War.
"We were tasked with defending the area between Masan and Nakdong River during the Korean War and we held it until the Incheon Landin, after then we advanced all the way to the Yalu River until retreating when the Chinese came in," said Kobayashi. "So, I really had a special experience from seeing Pusan to Sinuiju and Yalu River. What an experience for a teenage soldier like me."
The re-enactment portrayed the intentional demolition of a large model of the Waegwan Railway Bridge in an effort to prevent the North Korean forces from advancing on Daegu. It also showcased re-enactments of ground battles between North Korean forces against ROK, UN and U.S. forces, gun battles, hand-to-hand combat, air strikes, field artillery fire and the victory for the Nakdong River.
"Digging up trenches and foxholes to set up the battlefield and coordinating with other warriors I worked with for this particular event was an experience worth remembering," said Staff Sgt. Park, Joon-Soo, 4th Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Special Assault Commando, 2nd Operational Command. "And to pay respect for the sacrifices our brothers made 66 year ago, I was determined to show how much work and dedication we have put in for the reenactment."
On Aug. 17, 1950 at Hill 303, a hill above Waegwan 41, U.S. Army prisoners of war assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, were executed by North Korean troops during a retreat.
Service members honored those fallen Soldiers by paying their respects during the anniversary of the Nakdong River Battle at the memorials built on Hill 303 by troops of Camp Carroll.
In conjunction with the reenactment, 2OC and other major subordinate commands from U.S Army marked the beginning of the event by holding a parade through Waegwan, gathering attention from residents of the county.
Also static displays of military transportation and various weapons from U.S. Army and ROKA, which included armored vehicles, tactical vehicles and self-propelled artillery with demonstrations from trained professional Soldiers was popular among spectators.
The Korean War began with the invasion from North Korean forces at dawn on June 25, 1950. An armistice was later signed on July 27, 1953, leaving more than 550,000 casualties from United Nations Combined Forces during the three-year span. This year marks the 66th anniversary of the war.