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No Gun Ri

The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

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 side.

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 positions.

Anyone, civilian or otherwise, who intrudes into defensive positions that are expecting to be assaulted momentarily, does so at understandable peril.

Report of the No Gun Ri review


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 civilians.

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 forces.

(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 incident.

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 story.)

More Thorough Investigation Refutes Key Elements Of No Gun Ri Story

(One Rebuttal To The Following)

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
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 hands.

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 the time.

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 statement.

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 not.

"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 half-century.

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 said.

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 enemy."

Experts in the law of war told the AP that such orders, to shoot civilians, are plainly illegal.

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 threat.

"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 fire.

"Chandler said, 'The hell with all those people. Let's get rid of all of them,'" said Eugene Hesselman of Fort Mitchell, Ky.

"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 coal."

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 time.

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 shooting."

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 white.

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 report.)
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 1950.

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 slaughter.

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 Associated Press.

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 1948-1950.

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 alleged "massacre."

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 a trace.

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 their location?

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 sergeant."

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 claims.

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 compelling tale.

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 level scam.)

Help set the record straight.

History does matter.

If you want to read the full story you can get the book at :

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