Killing of enemy who were wounded and
helpless was done by all sides in the Korean War, and in
all wars. In the desperation of combat, particularly when
there is no provision for caring for wounded and no
troops to spare to guard them, this sometimes is a
practical necessity, however horrible the idea.
To most soldiers, the difference between
killing during combat and killing at any other time is
murder. This is most
particularly true of the killing of civilians, of either
But, as any veteran knows, the definition
of "Combat" can be subjective, and vary widely
depending on experience under fire. There is also the
need to maintain control over approaches to key military
Anyone, civilian or otherwise, who
intrudes into defensive positions that are expecting to
be assaulted momentarily, does so at understandable
Report of the No Gun Ri
During late July 1950, Korean civilians
were caught between withdrawing U.S. forces and attacking
enemy forces. As a result of U.S. actions during the
Korean War in the last week of July 1950, Korean
civilians were killed and injured in the vicinity of No
Gun Ri. The U.S. Review Team did not find that the Korean
deaths and injuries occurred exactly as described in the
Korean account. To appraise these events, it is necessary
to recall the circumstances of the period. U.S. forces on
occupation duty in Japan, mostly without training for, or
experience in, combat were suddenly ordered to join ROK
forces in defending against a determined assault by
well-armed and well-trained NKPA forces employing both
conventional and guerilla warfare tactics. The U.S.
troops had to give up position after position. In the
week beginning July 25, 1950, the First Cavalry Division,
withdrawing from Yongdong toward the Naktong river,
passed through the vicinity of No Gun Ri. Earlier, roads
and trails in South Korea had been choked with civilians
fleeing south. Disguised NKPA soldiers had mingled with
these refugees. U.S. and ROK commanders had published a
policy designed to limit the threat from NKPA
infiltrators, to protect U.S. forces from attacks from
the rear, and to prevent civilians from interfering with
the flow of supplies and troops. The ROK National Police
were supposed to control and strictly limit the movements
of innocent refugees.
In these circumstances, especially given
the fact that many of the U.S. soldiers lacked
combat-experienced officers and Non-commissioned
officers, some soldiers may have fired out of fear in
response to a perceived enemy threat without considering
the possibility that they may be firing on Korean
Neither the documentary evidence nor the
U.S. veterans' statements reviewed by the Review Team
support a hypothesis of deliberate killing of Korean
civilians. What befell civilians in the vicinity of No
Gun Ri in late July 1950 was a tragic and deeply
regrettable accompaniment to a war forced upon unprepared
U.S. and ROK forces."
Although my ship was at Pusan early September, embarking
the 5th Marines for the Inchon invasion, I
never heard the slightest rumor of the incidents
related, and history has shown that the US media is not always honorable or
objective in their treatment of our fighting
(Edward L. Daily of Clarksville,
Tenn., among the dozen ex-GIs cited by AP as supporting
their charges, was convicted of Felony Fraud in 2002 for
receiving over $400,000 in Post Traumatic Stress
Disability payments from the Veterans Administration for
the stress he "Suffered" by being
"Ordered" to fire a machine gun on Korean
Civilians at NO GUN RI in 1951. War records prove he
could not have been where he claimed he had witnessed the
killings, a fact to which Daily confessed.
Daily, although a 7th Cavalry veteran,
had not been what he claimed -- he had not been an
officer, he had not been captured by the enemy, he had
not received the nation's second-highest decoration
for valor and, most importantly, he had not been at No
Gun Ri July 26-29, 1950, the time frame of the
In spite of compelling evidence of flawed
documentation, neither the Associated Press nor the three
writers who won the Pulitzer Prize for
"investigative reporting" have repudiated their
Investigation Refutes Key Elements Of No Gun Ri
(One Rebuttal To The
The following derives from charges
that have, at least in part, been disproven.
Ex-GIs Tell AP of Korea Killings
Associated Press Writers
By Sang-Hun Choe
CHARLES J. HANLEY
Thursday, Sept. 30, 1999; 5:31 a.m. EDT
From freshly dug foxholes, the GIs looked
out over their gunsights. Hundreds of civilians, many of
them women and children, were moving toward their lines,
trying to cross to safety.
The young American soldiers, new at the
warfront, were wary. Orders had come down: No one crosses
the line. "It was assumed there were enemy in these
people," veteran Herman Patterson remembers.
A terrible episode was about to unfold in
a "forgotten war," a chapter of the 1950-53
Korean conflict that would remain unwritten until a dozen
ex-soldiers, in interviews with The Associated Press,
corroborated the allegations of South Koreans who say
they survived a mass killing at the U.S. Army's
In late July 1950, the American veterans
said, their Army battalion killed a large number of South
Korean refugees beneath a railroad bridge at a place
called No Gun Ri.
Ex-GIs speak of 100, 200 or simply
hundreds dead. The Koreans, whose claim for compensation
was rejected last year, say 300 were shot to death at the
bridge and 100 died in a preceding U.S. air attack.
The veterans described other refugee
killings as well in the war's first weeks, when U.S.
commanders ordered their troops to shoot civilians,
citizens of an allied nation, as a defense against
disguised enemy soldiers, according to once-classified
documents found by the AP in U.S. military archives.
Six veterans of the 1st Cavalry Division
said they fired on the civilians at No Gun Ri, and six
others said they witnessed the mass killing.
"We just annihilated them,"
said ex-machine gunner Norman Tinkler of Glasco, Kan.
After five decades, none gave a complete,
detailed account. But the ex-GIs agreed on such elements
as time and place, and on the preponderance of women,
children and old men among the victims.
Some said they were fired on from among
the refugees beneath the bridge. But others said they
don't remember hostile fire. One said they later
found a few disguised North Korean soldiers among the
dead. But others disputed this.
Some soldiers refused to shoot what one
described as "civilians just trying to hide."
The 30 Korean claimants, survivors and victims'
relatives, said what happened July 26-29, 1950, was an
unprovoked, three-day carnage. "The American
soldiers played with our lives like boys playing with
flies," said Chun Choon-ja, a 12-year-old girl at
Armed with new evidence that U.S. GIs had
confirmed much of their account, the Korean claimants
called for a U.S. investigation into the killings.
"We hope the U.S. government will
meet our demands and console the wandering souls of those
who died an unfair death," the claimants said in a
The U.S. military has said repeatedly it
found no basis for the allegations. On Wednesday, after
the AP report was released, Pentagon spokesman P.J.
Crowley said, "We just have no information in
historical files to lend any clarity to what might have
happened in July 1950."
The AP's research also found no
official Army account of the events.
The South Korean government said it will
investigate whether the survivors' claims are true or
"With keen attention, we'll try
to verify the truth of all related things concerning the
case," Foreign Ministry spokesman Chang Chul-kyun
said. "Any further action will be decided after
those efforts are finished."
The reported death toll would make No Gun
Ri one of only two known cases of large-scale killings of
noncombatants by U.S. ground troops in this century's
major wars, military law experts note. The other was
Vietnam's My Lai massacre, in 1968, in which more
than 500 Vietnamese may have died.
From the start of the 1950-53 conflict,
North Korean atrocities were widely reported, their
killing of civilians and summary executions of prisoners.
But the story of No Gun Ri has remained undisclosed for a
Some elements of the No Gun Ri episode
are unclear: What chain of officers gave open-fire
orders? Did GIs see gunfire from the refugees or their
own ricochets? How many soldiers refused to fire? How
high in the ranks did knowledge of the events extend?
The troops dug in at No Gun Ri, 100 miles
southeast of Seoul, South Korea's capital, were
members of the 7th Cavalry, a regiment of the 1st Cavalry
Division. The refugees who encountered them had been
rousted by U.S. soldiers from nearby villages as the
invading army of communist North Korea approached, the
Korean claimants said.
It was the fifth week of the Korean War.
Word was circulating among U.S. troops that northern
soldiers disguised in white peasant garb might try to
penetrate American lines via refugee groups.
"It was assumed there were enemy in
these people," ex-rifleman Herman W. Patterson of
Greer, S.C., said of the civilian throng.
As they neared No Gun Ri, leading ox
carts, with children on their backs, the hundreds of
refugees were ordered off the dirt road by American
soldiers and onto parallel railroad tracks, the Koreans
What then happened under the concrete
bridge cannot be reconstructed in full detail. Although
some ex-GIs poured out chilling memories, others offered
only fragments, or abruptly ended their interviews. Over
the three days, soldiers were dug in over hundreds of
yards of hilly terrain, and no one, Korean or American,
saw everything. But the veterans corroborated the core of
the Koreans' account: that American troops kept the
large group of refugees pinned under the No Gun Ri
railroad bridge and killed almost all of them.
"It was just wholesale
slaughter," said Patterson.
Both the Koreans and several ex-GIs said
the killing began when American planes suddenly swooped
in and strafed an area where the white-clad refugees were
resting. Bodies fell everywhere, and terrified parents
dragged their children into a narrow culvert beneath the
tracks, the Koreans said.
Some ex-GIs believe the strafing was a
mistake, that the pilots were supposed to strike enemy
artillery miles up the road. But declassified U.S. Air
Force reports from mid-1950, found by the AP, show that
pilots also sometimes deliberately attacked "people
in white," apparently suspecting disguised North
Korean soldiers were among them.
Ex-GI Delos Flint said he and other
soldiers were caught in the U.S. air attack and piled
into the culvert with the refugees. Then "somebody,
maybe our guys, was shooting in at us," he recalled.
The soldiers managed to slip out.
Retired Col. Robert M. Carroll, then a
first lieutenant, remembers 7th Cavalry riflemen opening
fire on the refugees from nearby positions.
"This is right after we get orders
that nobody comes through, civilian, military,
nobody," said Carroll, of Lansdowne, Va.
Two days earlier, 1st Cavalry Division
headquarters had issued an order: "No refugees to
cross the front line. Fire everyone trying to cross
lines. Use discretion in case of women and
children." A neighboring U.S. Army division, in its
order, said civilians "are to be considered
Experts in the law of war told the AP
that such orders, to shoot civilians, are plainly
Carroll said he got the rifle companies
to cease fire. "I wasn't convinced this was
enemy," he said.
He then shepherded a boy to safety under
a double-arched concrete railroad bridge nearby, where
shaken and wounded Koreans were gathering. He saw no
"There weren't any North Koreans
in there the first day. ... It was mainly women and kids
and old men," recalled Carroll, who said he then
left the area and knows nothing about what followed.
The Americans directed the refugees into
the 80-foot-long bridge underpasses and after dark opened
fire on them from nearby machine-gun positions, the
Koreans said. Veterans said the heavy-weapons company
commander, Capt. Melbourne C. Chandler, after speaking
with superior officers by radio, had ordered
machine-gunners to set up near the tunnel mouths and open
"Chandler said, 'The hell with
all those people. Let's get rid of all of
them,'" said Eugene Hesselman of Fort Mitchell,
"We didn't know if they were
North or South Koreans. ... We were there only a couple
of days and we didn't know them from a load of
Chandler and other key officers are dead.
The colonel who commanded the battalion, Herbert B.
Heyer, 88, of Sandy Springs, Ga., told the AP he knew
nothing about the shootings and "I know I didn't
give such an order." Veterans said the colonel
apparently was leaving operations to subordinates at the
The Korean claimants said those near the
tunnel entrances died first.
"People pulled dead bodies around
them for protection," said survivor Chung Koo-ho,
61. "Mothers wrapped their children with blankets
and hugged them with their backs toward the entrances.
... My mother died on the second day of
Some ex-soldiers said gunfire was coming
out of the underpasses, but others don't remember
any. None of the ex-GIs interviewed supported one
veteran's statement that he and others afterward
discovered "at least seven" dead North Korean
soldiers in the underpasses, in uniform under peasant
Some GIs didn't fire, veterans said.
"It was civilians just trying to hide," said
Flint, of Clio, Mich.
All 24 South Korean survivors interviewed
individually by the AP said they remembered no North
Koreans or gunfire directed at the Americans. One
suggested the Americans were seeing their own
comrades' gunfire ricocheting through from the
tunnels' opposite ends.
Relevant U.S. Army documents say nothing
about North Korean soldiers killed under a bridge or
anything else about No Gun Ri.
The precise death toll will never be
known. The survivors believe 300 were killed at the
bridge and 100 in the air attack. Ex-GIs close to the
bridge generally put the dead there at about 200. "A
lot" also were killed in the strafing, they say.
One battalion lieutenant located by the
AP said he was in the area but knew nothing about the
killing of civilians. "I have honestly never, ever
heard of this from either my soldiers or superiors or my
friends," said John C. Lippincott of Stone Mountain,
Ga. He said he could have missed it because "we were
extremely spread out."
In authoritarian, U.S.-allied South
Korea, the survivors were long discouraged from speaking
out. In 1997, in a liberalized political atmosphere, they
filed a claim with South Korea's Government
Compensation Committee. But the committee rejected it in
April 1998, saying a five-year statute of limitations had
expired long ago.
The AP reconstructed U.S. troop movements
from map coordinates in declassified U.S. war records,
narrowed the possibilities among Army units, then spent
months tracing veterans, some 130 interviews by telephone
and in person, to pinpoint the companies involved.
The U.S. government's civil liability
may be limited. It is largely protected by U.S. law
against foreign lawsuits related to "combatant
activities," although the claimants say the killings
were not directly combat-related.
War crimes prosecution appears even less
likely. The U.S. military code condemns indiscriminate
killing of civilians, even if a few enemy soldiers are
among a large number of noncombatants killed, legal
experts note. But prosecution so many years later is a
practical impossibility, they say.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: AP Investigative
Researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press
More Thorough Investigation Refutes Key Elements Of No
Gun Ri Story
Friends: Here's a release on Maj. Bob
Bateman's newly released book on No Gun Ri.
He takes the AP and their Pulitzer Prize
winning expose apart, line by line.
In the Fall of 1999 the world was shocked
when the Associated Press revealed what appeared to be an
account of a mass killing of defenseless civilians over a
three-day period in the opening days of the Korean War at
a place called No Gun Ri, Korea.
According to the sources in the AP story,
as many as 400 innocent civilians were wantonly gunned
down for no reason by American soldiers who "played
with our lives like little boys playing with
flies,"(as one of the Korean claimants put it)
during a three day slaughter lasting from 26- 29 July
The unit accused of this crime was the
7th Cavalry regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division. In the
AP version of this story the American soldiers were
witnesses and participants, and at least three of these
American witnesses say they took part in or witnesses to
what could only be called a case of mass murder.
Six months later the AP team won the
Pulitzer Prize for their reporting of this
"massacre." But immediately after that the
problems with their "investigative" reporting
began to bubble to the surface.
What made the story especially compelling
was the AP's assertions that no story like this had
ever been reported before, that historians were unaware
of events like those they portrayed took place, and that
they had "dozens" of American witnesses to the
Unfortunately, for the reputation of the
Associated Press and the Pulitzer Prize, none of these
statements upon which the 2000 award of the Pulitzer was
founded were quite as they were projected by the
Now a military historian has gone into
the archives, examined the records which the Associated
Press claimed to have examined so thoroughly, and
conducted in-depth oral history interviews with surviving
veterans of the regiment, many of them the very same men
cited by the AP, but also many never quoted in the
AP's Pulitzer Prize winning story.
His conclusions, about the events that
took place at No Gun Ri, Korea, in late July 1950, differ
markedly from those of the AP, and call into question the
integrity of all of American Journalism, so long as the
Pulitzer remains with the AP for their story.
After all, journalism is supposed to be
about facts. Read the history to discover what really
happened at No Gun Ri, as well as the "Story of the
Story" in the new book from Stackpole Books, No Gun
Ri: A Military History of the Korean War Incident by
military historian Robert Bateman. (The forward to this
book was written by the Honorary Colonel of the 7th
Cavalry Regiment, LTG (Ret) Harold G. Moore.)
In their sensationalist 1999 reporting on
the events at No Gun Ri, the Associated Press reporters
conveniently failed to mention the following facts: There
was a South Korean on South Korean civil war in the two
years leading up to the beginning of the "Korean
War", this war pitted South Korean communist
guerillas against the government of South Korea from
And what was the epicenter for the
guerilla fighting in the South Central mountains of
Korea? The area around No Gun Ri. Russian and Japanese
weapons, the types used by South Korean communist
guerillas in the area around No Gun Ri were turned-in by
members of the unit accused of slaughtering innocent
civilians, through supply channels at the time of the
These were the very weapons that
eyewitnesses among the soldiers said they had seen at the
time (soldiers who also said there had been firing from
among the Korean refugees) but whose accounts were
denigrated by the AP in their story, as being
"unsupported" by documents. (Did the AP
deliberately conceal the fact that these records existed,
or were they just so ignorant of military records that
they did not know that captured enemy equipment gets
turned in through the S4 channels?)
There are no bodies. This is sort of a
show-stopper, dontcha think? After all, it is exceedingly
difficult for 400 bodies to "disappear" without
Yet that is apparently what happened.
Only a handful, less than a dozen, graves of people that
probably died at No Gun Ri exist. (Air reconnaissance
photos of the site, taken just days after the alleged
massacre of 400 people at No Gun Ri show no mass graves,
no bodies, and no large group of individual graves.)
The South Korean "witnesses"
and "survivors" of this massacre each stood to
become multi-millionaires if their version of events was
accepted at face value, since their initial claim was for
$170 MILLION dollars. (A claim that rocketed up to $400
Million in the wake of the publicity given their accounts
by the AP.)
At the very instant that the 1999 AP
account said a massacre was taking place (26-29
July,1950) no less than SEVEN reporters from the
international press were present at NO GUN RI, yet not a
one of them said a word.
These reporters represented not only such
prestigious papers as the Times of London, but there was
also a reporter from the AP there at No Gun Ri. Are we to
believe that the AP was part of the original "cover
up" of a massacre at No Gun Ri?
Should we believe that somehow, despite
the fact that there was no censorship of the press at
this point in the war, somehow reporters from the
international press and the AP itself took it upon
themselves to hush up this story? Or should we believe
that seven veteran journalists with more than 100 years
of experience between them, somehow missed a massacre of
400 people that was taking place less then 500 yards from
This was a mighty big fact for the AP to
skip, dontcha think? ? Of their witnesses, among the
Americans, the AP variously referred to their first
witness (who they found after some 36 interviews), as
either "a former machinegunner," or "a
former officer" or "a former
The only man that described himself as a
former machinegunner, who had gone on to become a
sergeant, and then won a battlefield commission, was a
man named Edward Daily. Mr. Daily recently plead guilty
to Federal Charges stemming from his fraudulent
You see, Mr. Daily had collected nearly
$400,000 from the VA over the years in benefits for Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder. His uncovering was something
even an amateur historian could uncover with ease, and so
it should be expected that the AP would have found out
about him as well.
How? Why simply by reading the archival
sources they made so much hay about in their original
story. In those records Daily should have appeared no
less than 16 times in 12 different types of records...if
he actually was who he had claimed to be.
Why didn't the AP believe the
evidence before their eyes in the documents? After the AP
published their story, their Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) request for the records of Ed Daily finally came
in. That was on 7 December 1999. Yet the AP never told
anyone of this fact.
Instead, they let NBC air an episode of
Dateline in which NBC had flown Daily to Korea for a
tearful "reunion" with the South Korean
claimants. After that show aired at the end of December
1999 they went ahead with the filing of their original
story for the Pulitzer Prize.
They did this despite the fact that they
now had in their possession no fewer than 18 different
documents that demonstrated through omission or
commission that Daily was not who he said he was, and
that all his testimony was therefore suspect, as was the
testimony of those that Daily had influenced. It's a
No Gun Ri: A Military History of the
Korean War Incident is both a history and a story. By
combining the scholarly rigor of academic history with
the compelling nature of a detective story, author Robert
Bateman makes sense of the facts.
At the same time he demonstrates that
while there may be a "bias" in American
journalism, that has nothing at all to do with this
story. In this case it was simply a situation of a lack
of knowledge and rigor on the part of the reporters who
allowed themselves to be taken in by various stories and
at least one total fraud in their pursuit of what they
were convinced was the story of a lifetime.
They wanted a story to be true, and so
apparently ignored or discarded all the mounds of
evidence that pointed in the other direction.
Historian Bateman makes this clear, and
at the same time lays out a pretty good case about why
journalists should stick to writing the "first draft
of history" and leave actual history to qualified
historians. Don't let the AP get away with foisting
their version of history off on the world.
Forward this e-mail to other veterans, or
servicemen, or friends of history.
Recently we have seen examples of what
happens when self-serving or religious or racially
motivated slanted accounts become what passes for
"history." Don't let that situation persist
with the story of No Gun Ri. Doing so would be akin to
denying the facts of the Holocaust.
(Another situation where race and history
and cultural biases have combined to create an ugly
"alternate history" among an ill- informed
minority that denies the fact that there was a holocaust
and there is material evidence and millions of witnesses
to the fact.)
Right now most Americans think that No
Gun Ri happened the way Edward Daily told the AP it
happened. Call your local Newspaper. Ask THEM if they
know about the AP's omissions.
Call your local NBC affiliated TV
station, ask them if they know that Tom Brokaw put a
fraud on TV when he took Daily to Korea and portrayed No
Gun Ri as a fact in Dec 1999 on the NBC show Dateline.
(Brokaw has never retracted his story, or acknowledged
that Daily was a fraud and that he, Brokaw, unwittingly
through journalistic negligence assisted in a national
Help set the record straight.
History does matter.
If you want to read the full story you
can get the book at :