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The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

Combat Photos

(Back to Appleman: South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu)
For it is by being often carried to the well that the pitcher is finally broken.

Both North Korean divisions were now across the Kum River, both were ready to advance to the attack of Taejon itself. The 3d Division was closer to the city and approaching it from the northwest. The 4th Division, in the Kongju-Nonsan area, was northwest and west of the city and in a position to join with the 3d Division in a frontal attack or to move south and then east in a flanking movement that would bring it to the rear of Taejon. The road net from Kongju and Nonsan permitted both these possibilities, or a combination of them. After its successful crossing of the Kum on the 14th, the 4th Division apparently had been gathering its forces and waiting on the 3d to complete its crossing effort so that the two could then join in a co-ordinated attack.

In the North Korean plan, a third division, the 2d, was supposed to join the 4th and the 3d in the attack on Taejon. This division was advancing on the east of the other two and had been heavily engaged for some days with ROK troops in the Chinch'on-Ch'ongju area, where it suffered crippling casualties. As events turned out, this division did not arrive in time to join in the attack, nor did the other two need it.

Had it come up as planned it would have appeared on the east and southeast of Taejon, a thing that General Dean very much feared and which he had to take into account in his dispositions for the defense of the city.

If past practice signified anything for the future, the North Koreans would advance against Taejon frontally with a force strong enough to pin down the defenders and attack first with tanks in an effort to demoralize the defenders. Thus far, their tanks had led every advance and nothing had been able to stop them. While this frontal action developed, strong flanking forces would be moving to the rear to cut off the main escape routes. This North Korean maneuver had been standard in every major action. The N.K. 4th Division was in a favored position to execute just such a flanking maneuver against Taejon from the west and southwest. Had the 2d Division arrived on the scene as planned it would have been in a position to do the same thing from the east and southeast. The 3d Division was in position between these two divisions and undoubtedly was expected to exert the main frontal pressure in the forthcoming attack.

In any deployment of his forces against the North Koreans in front of Taejon, General Dean faced the fact that he had only remnants of three defeated regiments. Each of them could muster little more than a battalion of troops. Osan, Chonui, and Choch'iwon had reduced the 21st Infantry to that state; P'yongt'aek, Ch'onan, and the Kum River had left only a decimated 34th Infantry; and 16 July at the Kum River had sadly crippled the 19th Infantry. In addition to numerical weakness, all the troops were tired and their morale was not the best. General Dean braced himself for the job ahead. He himself was as worn as his troops; for the past two weeks he had faced daily crises and had pushed himself to the limit.

Dean's Plan at Taejon

After dark on 16 July, the 34th Infantry on orders from General Dean fell back approximately twenty miles from the vicinity of Nonsan to new defensive positions three miles west of Taejon. Col. Charles E. Beauchamp, who had flown to Korea from Japan to take command of the regiment, established his command post at the Taejon airstrip just to the northwest of the city. General Dean consolidated all remaining elements of the divisional artillery, except the 155-mm. howitzers of the 11th Field Artillery Battalion, into one composite battalion and emplaced it at the airstrip for the defense of the city. The airstrip itself closed to ordinary traffic. Early in the afternoon of the 17th the 34th Infantry took over the entire defensive line north and west of Taejon. Except for General Dean and three or four other officers, the 24th Division headquarters left for Yongdong, 28 miles southeast on the main highway and rail line. Remaining with Dean at Taejon were Lieutenant Clarke, an aide; Capt. Richard A. Rowlands, Assistant G-3; Capt. Raymond D. Hatfield, Transportation Officer and Assistant G-4; and two drivers. Dean instructed Maj. David A. Bissett to establish an office for him at the 21st Infantry command post at Okch'on so that he could from there more easily keep informed of affairs east of Taejon. Dean said that he would spend nights at Okch'on. "But," commented Bissett, "he never did, and indeed none of us there expected him to." [1]

Before the battle of the Kum, Dean had selected two regimental positions three miles west of Taejon for the close-in defense of the city. These positions were on a 500-foot high, 3-mile long ridge behind (east of) the Kap-ch'on River. Each extremity covered a bridge and a road immediately to its front. The position was a strong one and well suited to a two-regimental front. It was known as the Yusong position. A village of that name lay across the Kap-ch'on River about a mile from the northern end of the ridge. Dean's plan had been to place the 19th Infantry on the northern part of the line covering the main Seoul-Pusan highway where it curved around the northern end of the ridge and to place the 34th Infantry on the southern part to cover the Nonsan-Taejon road where it passed along a narrow strip of low ground at the southern end of the ridge. But with the 19th Infantry combat-ineffective after the ordeal of the 16th and at Yongdong for re-equipping, the defense of the entire line fell upon the 34th Infantry. [2]

Taejon Airfield

General Dean had no intention of fighting a last-ditch battle for Taejon. He looked upon it as another in the series of delaying actions to which the 24th Division had been committed by General MacArthur to slow the North Korean advance, pending the arrival of sufficient reinforcements to halt and then turn back the enemy. Expecting that the North Koreans would arrive before the city just as soon as they could get their tanks across the Kum River and carry out an envelopment with ground forces, General Dean on 18 July made plans to evacuate Taejon the next day. Anticipating an early withdrawal, engineer demolition teams with Colonel Stephens' 21st Infantry at the Okch'on position prepared the tunnels east of Taejon for destruction.

But Dean's plan was changed by the arrival of General Walker at the Taejon airstrip before noon of the 18th. After the North Korean crossing of the Kum River, General Walker had asked his Chief of Staff, Colonel Landrum, to assemble troop and logistical data bearing on Eighth Army's capability in the face of the growing crisis in Korea. At his office in Yokohama, Colonel Landrum and his staff spent a hectic day on the telephone gathering the information Walker wanted. Then Landrum called Walker at Taegu and relayed to him the status of all troops in Korea or en route there; an estimate of United States military build-up in Korea during the next ten days, with particular emphasis on the 1st Cavalry Division; the status of supplies and especially of ammunition; and a report on General Garvin's progress in organizing the supply base at Pusan.

Machine Gun Emplacement in the Yusong position overlooking the Kapchon River

Machine Gun Emplacement in the Yusong position overlooking the Kapchon River and the Main highway. View is southwest over the bridge.

During the conversation Walker had at hand a set of terrain maps and terrain estimates of the roads, railroads, and corridors running from north to south and from south to north and their relationship to enemy operations and Eighth Army's build-up in Korea. He repeatedly interjected the question, "When and where can I stop the enemy and attack him?" General Walker's final decision in this conference was that the 24th Division and the ROK Army should execute maximum delay on the North Koreans in order to assure stopping them west and north of the general line Naktong River to Yongdok on the east coast. He hoped to get the 1st Cavalry Division deployed in the Okch'on area and south of Taejon along the Kumsan road, thinking this might provide the opportunity to stop the enemy between Taejon and Taegu. Walker felt that if he was forced to fall back behind the Naktong River he could stand there until Eighth Army's troop and equipment build-up would permit him to take the offensive. Upon concluding this conference with Landrum, General Walker particularly instructed him to keep this estimate to himself, although authorizing him to consider it in reviewing staff plans. [3]

General Walker had this concept of future operations in Korea in his mind when he talked with General Dean at the 34th Infantry command post. He spoke of the 1st Cavalry Division landing which had started that morning at P'ohang-dong on the southeast coast. Walker said he would like to hold Taejon until the 1st Cavalry Division could move up to help in its defense or get into battle position alongside the 24th Division in the mountain passes southeast of Taejon. He said he needed two days' time to accomplish this. After his conference with Dean, Walker flew back to Taegu. He informed Colonel Landrum that he had told General Dean he needed two days' delay at Taejon to get the 1st Cavalry Division up and into position. Landrum asked Walker how much latitude he had given Dean. Walker replied, in substance, "Dean is a fighter; he won't give an inch if he can help it. I told him that I had every confidence in his judgment, and that if it became necessary for him to abandon Taejon earlier, to make his own decision and that I would sustain him." [4]

This conference changed Dean's plan to withdraw from Taejon the next day, 19 July. Shortly after noon Dean informed the headquarters of the 21st Infantry that the withdrawal from Taejon planned for the 19th would be delayed 24 hours. The regiment passed this information on to the engineer demolition teams standing by at the tunnels.

At this point it is desirable to take a closer look at the geography and communications which necessarily would affect military operations at Taejon.

In 1950 Taejon, with a population of about 130,000 was in size the sixth city of South Korea, a rapidly growing inland commercial center, 100o miles south of Seoul and 130 miles northwest of Pusan. [5] A long and narrow city, Taejon lay in the north-south valley of the Taejon River at the western base of the middle Sobaek range of mountains. Extensive rice paddy ground adjoined the city on the north and west. The railroad ran along its eastern side with the station and extensive yards in the city's northeast quarter. Two arms of the Taejon River, the main one flowing northwest through the center of the city and the other curving around its eastern side, joined at its northern edge. Two miles farther north the Yudung River emptied into it and the Taejon then flowed into the Kap-ch'on, a large tributary of the Kum. (Fall Of Taejon Map)

The highway net can be visualized readily if one imagines Taejon as being the center of a clock dial. Five main routes of approach came into the city. The main rail line and a secondary road ran almost due south from the Kum River to it. On this approach, 3 miles north of the city, a platoon of I Company, 34th Infantry, established a road and rail block. From the east at 4 o'clock the main Pusan highway entered the city, and astride it some 6 miles eastward the 21st Infantry held a defensive blocking position in front of Okch'on with the regimental command post in that town. There were two railroad and two highway tunnels between Taejon and Okch'on. One of each of them was between Taejon and the 21st Infantry position. From the south, the Kumsan road entered Taejon at 5 o'clock. General Dean had the Reconnaissance Company at Kumsan to protect and warn the division of any enemy movement from that direction in its rear. At 8 o'clock the Nonsan road from the southwest slanted into the Seoul-Pusan highway a mile west of the city. Astride this road 3 miles southwest of Taejon a platoon of L Company, 34th Infantry, held a roadblock at the bridge over the Kap-ch'on River at the southern end of the 34th Infantry defense position. The Seoul highway slanted toward the city from the northwest at 10 o'clock, and of all approaches it had to be considered the most important. At the western edge of Taejon (700 yards from the densely built-up section) where the Nonsan road joined it, the highway turned east to enter the city. The Taejon airstrip lay on a little plateau north of the road two miles from the city. A mile in front of the airstrip the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, was in battle position astride the highway at Hill 138 just east of the Kapch'on River. A mile farther west B Company occupied an advanced position.

Behind the 1st Battalion, a mile and a half away, the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, held a ridge east of the airfield and between it and the city. The composite battalion of artillery supporting the infantry was emplaced at the airfield where it could fire on the expected avenues of enemy approach. [6]

Aerial view of Taejon city

Taejon-The First Day

In the afternoon of 18 July General Dean went to the 24th Division command post at Yongdong and there in the evening he took steps to bolster the defense of Taejon for an extra day, as desired by General Walker. He ordered the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, to move back to Taejon from Yongdong and B Battery of the 13th Field Artillery Battalion to return to the Taejon airstrip from the vicinity of Okch'on. At the same time he ordered the Reconnaissance Company to be released from division control and attached to the 24th Infantry Regiment. Up to this time the Reconnaissance Company had been based at Kumsan. The division order to the Reconnaissance Company releasing it to regimental control moved it to Taejon the next day. As a result, the division became blind to what the enemy was doing on its southern flank. General Dean subsequently considered his releasing the Reconnaissance Company to the regiment as one of his most serious errors at Taejon. His purpose in releasing it to Colonel Beauchamp's command was to ensure the 34th Infantry getting direct and immediate information as to conditions on its southern flank; he had not anticipated that the division order would send it to Taejon. [7]

General Dean also discussed again with Colonel Stephens the role of the 21st Infantry in the next few days. It was to keep open the withdrawal road out of Taejon. Stephens pointed out that his troops were astride that road and on the hills between Taejon and Okch'on and asked if he should change their disposition. General Dean answered no, that he did not want that done, as he also feared an enemy penetration behind his Taejon position from the east through the ROK Army area there and he had to guard against it. Dean decided that the 21st Infantry should stay where it was but patrol the terrain north of the Taejon-Okch'on road and send patrols periodically up the road into Taejon. [8]

The North Korean attack against Taejon got under way the morning of 19 July. The first blow was an air strike against communication lines in the rear of the city. At 0720, six YAK's flew over the lines of the 21st Infantry and dropped four bombs on the railroad bridge two miles northwest of Okch'on. One bomb damaged the bridge, but by noon B Company of the 3d Engineer Combat Battalion had repaired it and restored rail traffic in both directions. The YAK's strafed near the regimental command post and dropped propaganda leaflets signed by three American officers and three noncommissioned officers captured at Osan two weeks earlier. Four planes then strafed the Taejon airstrip. Later in the day, the crews of A Battery, 26th Antiaircraft Battalion, supporting the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, shot down two YAK's near Yusong, just west of Taejon. [9]

The U.S. Air Force also went into action early on the 19th. It bombed and burned known and suspected points of enemy concentration west and southwest of Taejon. Aerial observers at noon reported that the enemy had partially repaired the bridge across the Kum River at Taep'yong-ni, ten miles north of Taejon, and that tanks and artillery were moving south of the river. The Air Force operated at considerable disadvantage at this time, however, for there were only two strips in Korea suitable for use by F-51 and C-47 types of aircraft-the K-2 dirt strip at Taegu and the similar K-3 strip at Yonil near P'ohang-dong. South of Chinju, the K-4 strip at Sach'on was available as an emergency field. Most of the tactical planes flew from Japan. [10]

After completing its crossing at Kongju, the N.K. 4th Division split its forces for a two-pronged attack on Taejon. The bulk of the division, comprising the 16th and 18th Infantry Regiments, the Artillery Regiment, and most of the tanks, went south to Nonsan and there turned east toward Taejon. Some of the infantry of these regiments may have moved south out of Nonsan in a wheeling movement through Kumsan to the rear of Taejon. Others apparently moved across back country trails to strike the Kumsan road south of and below Taejon. The 5th Infantry Regiment, supported by one tank company, left Kongju on the secondary road running southeast through a mountainous area to Yusong, and apparently was the first enemy unit to arrive at the outskirts of Taejon. [11]

At 1000, after the 24th Reconnaissance Company had arrived at Taejon, Colonel Beauchamp sent its 2d Platoon, consisting of thirty-nine men, southwest along the Nonsan road. Half an hour later, three miles west of the Kap-ch'on River, enemy fire struck the patrol from both sides of the road. It withdrew to the river and there joined the platoon of L Company on the east bank of the stream. The remainder of L Company arrived and deployed. [12]

General Dean had left Taejon that morning intending to go briefly to Yongdong. On the way he stopped at the 21st Infantry command post at Okch'on. There he said suddenly about 1000 that he was worried about the disposition of the 34th Infantry and was going back to Taejon. [13] When he arrived there, action already had started at the L Company roadblock on the Nonsan road. The battle of Taejon had begun. Dean stayed in Taejon.

The 2d Battalion, 18th Infantry, arrived at Taejon from Yongdong about this time, just after noon. By 1300, Colonel McGrail, the battalion commander, had the unit ready to move out at the railroad station. There he received an order saying the North Koreans were breaking through L Company's blocking position at the Kap-ch'on River and he was to attack there immediately and restore the position. When he arrived at the scene of fighting McGrail found General Dean there with two tanks, directing fire. [14]

McGrail's battalion attacked immediately with two companies abreast astride the Nonsan road, E on the left (south) and F on the right (north). On the right an enemy force was in the act of enveloping the north flank of L Company, 34th Infantry. F Company raced this enemy force for possession of critical high ground, taking and holding it in the ensuing fight. On the left, E Company moved up south of the road, and G Company occupied a hill position a mile behind it. Even with the newly arrived battalion now deployed covering the Nonsan road, there was still a mile-wide gap of high ground between it and the left of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, to the north. [15]

Co-ordinated with the North Korean advance along the Nonsan road was an enemy approach on the main Seoul highway. There in the Yusong area, B Company of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, came under heavy attack. Enemy flanking parties cut off two platoons half a mile north of Yusong. In the fighting there both platoon leaders were wounded and several men killed. Colonel Ayres from his observation post east of the Kapch'on River could see large groups of North Koreans assembling and artillery going into position in the little valley northwest of Yusong. He directed artillery fire and called in air strikes on these concentrations. In the afternoon he requested and received authority from Colonel Beauchamp to withdraw B Company from its exposed position at Yusong to the main battalion position back of the Kap-ch'on River. The company successfully withdrew in the evening. [16]

Meanwhile, just before noon, the North Koreans began shelling the Taejon airstrip with counterbattery fire. This fire, coming from the north and northwest, built up to great intensity during the afternoon. That evening, General Dean told Major Bissett that he had seen as much incoming artillery fire at the Taejon Airfield that day as he had ever seen in one day in Europe in World War II. Frequent artillery concentrations also pounded the main battle positions of the 34th Infantry. [17]

By early afternoon, Colonel Ayres was convinced that a major enemy attack was impending. At 1400 he recommended to Colonel Beauchamp that the regiment withdraw that night. Beauchamp rejected this, thinking they could hold the enemy out of Taejon another day, and he so told General Dean. After dark, however, Beauchamp moved his 34th Infantry command post from the airfield into Taejon. At the same time all the supporting artillery displaced from the airfield to positions on the south edge of the city. [18]

As darkness fell, Colonel Ayres ordered his motor officer to move the 1st Battalion vehicles into Taejon. He did not want to run the risk of losing them during a night attack. Only one jeep for each rifle company, two jeeps for the Heavy Weapons Company, the battalion command jeep, and the radio vehicle were left at the battle positions.

On the left of the defense position F Company of the 19th Infantry had been under attack all afternoon. After dark men there heard noises on their right flank, and it became apparent that enemy soldiers were moving into, and possibly through, the mile-wide gap between them and the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry. [19]

Taejon was ominously quiet during the evening. Occasional showers from the edge of a typhoon that had narrowly missed the area settled the stifling dust raised by the vehicular traffic in the city. As the night wore on the quiet gave way to ominous noises. At his command post Colonel Ayres about 2200 heard the rumble of tanks on his right. He sent a patrol out to investigate. It never reported back. Ayres telephoned Beauchamp and told him he thought enemy troops were moving around the city and again recommended withdrawal. [20]

Before midnight a report came in to the 34th Infantry command post that an enemy unit was six miles south of Taejon on the Kumsan road. With nine members of the 24th Reconnaissance Company 1st Lt. George W. Kristanoff started down the road on a jeep patrol to investigate. Six miles below Taejon an enemy roadblock stopped them. Kristanoff reported the beginning of the action by radio. At 0300, 20 July, a platoon of the Reconnaissance Company drove cautiously out of Taejon down the same road to check on security. Enemy fire stopped the platoon at the same roadblock. There platoon members saw the bodies of several men of the earlier patrol and their four destroyed jeeps. A little earlier, at 0300, word had come in to Taejon that a jeep had been ambushed on the Okch'on road. [21]

It would seem clear from these incidents that enemy units were moving around to the rear of Taejon during the night-in just what strength might only be guessed. But for reasons that cannot now be determined these events were not so evaluated at the time of their occurrence. General Dean has stated that he did not know of the enemy roadblock on the Kumsan road-apparently it was not reported to him. He did learn of the jeep incident on the Okch'on road but dismissed it as the work of a few infiltrators and of no special importance because the road subsequently seemed to be clear. [22]

Taejon-The Second Day

Shortly after 0300, 20 July, the S-2 of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, who since dark had remained in the battalion forward observation post, ran into Colonel Ayres' command post and said that the North Koreans had overrun the observation post and penetrated the battalion main line of resistance. Ayres has said that this was his first knowledge of the enemy's general attack. He could now hear small arms fire to the front and right and see flares bursting at many points over the battalion position. There seemed to be no action on the battalion left in C Company's position. [23]

The enemy attack, infantry and armor, came down both sides of the highway and rolled up the battalion right flank. Other enemy infantry attacked from the north against this flank. The North Koreans penetrated to the 81-mm. and 4.2-inch mortar positions behind the rifle companies and then struck Headquarters Company. About 0400 small arms fire hit the Korean house in which the 1st Battalion command post was located and riflemen from the overrun front line began coming into the Headquarters Company area. Ayres tried, and failed, to communicate with his front line companies. He sent a message to the regimental headquarters that tanks had penetrated his position and were headed toward the city. There is some evidence that the infantry bazooka teams abandoned their positions along the road when the attack began. And rifle companies certainly did not fight long in place. In the growing confusion that spread rapidly, Ayres decided to evacuate the command post. Maj. Leland R. Dunham, the battalion executive officer, led about 200 men from the Heavy Mortar Company, the Heavy Weapons Company, and the 1st Battalion Headquarters southward from the Yudung valley away from the sound of enemy fire. Colonel Ayres and his S-3 followed behind the others. Day was dawning. [24]

In Taejon, Colonel Beauchamp received Ayres' report that enemy tanks were in the 1st Battalion position. Later, telephone communication to the 1st Battalion ended and Beauchamp sent linemen out to check the wires. They came back and said they could not get through-that enemy infantry were on the road near the airfield. The regimental S-3 did not believe this report. Beauchamp went to his jeep and started down the road toward the 1st Battalion command post to find out for himself just what the situation was. At the road junction half a mile west of Taejon, where the main Seoul highway comes in from the northwest to join the Nonsan road, an enemy tank suddenly loomed up out of the darkness. The tank fired its machine gun just as Beauchamp jumped from his jeep; one bullet grazed him, others set the vehicle afire. Beauchamp crawled back some hundreds of yards until he found a 3.5-inch bazooka team. He guided it back to the road junction. This bazooka team from C Company, 3d Engineer Combat Battalion, set the enemy tank on fire with rockets and captured the crew members. It then took a position to guard the road intersection. Later in the morning this rocket launcher team and one from the 24th Reconnaissance Company destroyed two more T34 tanks approaching from the direction of the airfield. [25]

This action at the crossroads just west of Taejon in the pre-dawn of 20 July is the first verifiable use of the 3.5-inch rocket launcher against the T34 tanks. This rocket launcher had been under development since the end of World War II, but none had been issued to troops because of the difficulty in perfecting its ammunition. The ammunition had been standardized and in production only fifteen days when the Korean War started. General MacArthur on 3 July requested that the new rocket launcher be airlifted to Korea. The first of the launchers, together with an instruction team, left Travis Air Force Base in California on 8 July and arrived at Taejon on the 10th. The first delivery of the new weapon arrived at Taejon on 12 July. That same day selected members of the 24th Infantry Division began to receive instructions in its use. The 3.5-inch rocket launcher was made of aluminum and weighed about fifteen pounds. It looked like a 5-foot length of stovepipe. It was electrically operated and fired a 23-inch-long, eight-and-a-half-pound rocket from its smooth bore, open tube. The rocket's most destructive feature was the shaped charge designed to burn through the armor of any tank then known. [26]

When Beauchamp returned to his command post after his encounter with the enemy tanks he found that there was still no communication with the 1st Battalion. A little later, however, a regimental staff officer told him radio communication with the battalion had been re-established and that it reported its condition as good. It was learned afterward that the 1st Battalion had no communication with the regiment after Ayres reported the enemy penetration of his position. The only plausible explanation of this incident is that North Koreans used Colonel Ayres' captured radio jeep to send a false report to the regiment.

Disturbed by reports of enemy penetrations of the regimental defense position, Colonel Beauchamp after daylight ordered the 3d Battalion to attack into the gap between the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, and the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry. K Company with part of M Company started to execute this order but it never reached the designated area. On the road leading to the airfield it had a sharp encounter with an enemy force. Six T34 tanks and an estimated battalion of enemy infantry scattered part of the troops. In this action, SFC Robert E. Dare of K Company courageously covered and directed the withdrawal of the advanced platoon at the cost of his own life. The entire force withdrew to its former 3d Battalion position. [27]

In its defensive positions on the ridge east of the airfield, the 3d Battalion remained undisturbed by enemy action throughout the morning except for a small amount of mortar and artillery fire. A peculiar incident had occurred, however, which no one in the battalion could explain. The battalion commander, Major Lantron, disappeared. Lantron got into his jeep about 0930, drove off from his command post, and simply did not return. Colonel Wadlington learned of Lantron's disappearance about 1100 when he visited the 3d Battalion. In Lantron's absence, Wadlington ordered Capt. Jack E. Smith to assume command of the battalion. Some weeks later it was learned that Lantron was a prisoner in North Korea. [28]

The pre-dawn attack against the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, the first tank approaches to the edge of Taejon, and the subsequent North Korean repulse of the K and M Companies' attack force near the airfield apparently were carried out by the 5th Regiment, N.K. 4th Division, together with its attached armored support. This regiment claims to have captured the Taejon airfield by 0400, 20 July. [29] But after these spectacular successes which started the wholesale withdrawal of the 1st Battalion from its positions west of the city, the enemy force apparently halted and waited for certain developments elsewhere. This probably included completion of the enveloping maneuver to the rear of the city. Only tanks and small groups of infiltrators, most of the latter riding the tanks, entered Taejon during the morning. All these actions appeared to be related parts of the enemy plan.

Neither Colonel Beauchamp nor his executive officer at the time knew of the North Korean repulse of the K and M Company attack force that was supposed to close the gap between the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, and the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry. About the time this event was taking place near the airfield, Colonel Beauchamp told General Dean of his early morning experience with tanks at the edge of the city, and Dean also was informed erroneously that the 1st Battalion was holding in its original battle positions. From the vantage point of Taejon everything seemed all right. At this time, however, General Dean instructed Beauchamp to plan a withdrawal after dark on the Okch'on road. Dean then telephoned this information to the 24th Division command post at Yongdong. [30]

In the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, positions covering the Nonsan road there had been alarms during the night, and some false reports had reached Taejon that the enemy had overrun the battalion position. Actually, E Company held its position near the bridge, but north of the road F Company under enemy pressure withdrew approximately 200 yards about daylight. [31]

When Major Dunham led the 1st Battalion and the 34th Infantry Headquarters group south, followed at a short interval by Colonel Ayres and his small party, it was just after daylight. These men passed along a protected route behind the high ground held by F Company, 19th Infantry. They had expected to reach the Nonsan road about three miles away and there turn east on it to enter Taejon. As Ayres neared the road he could see F Company on the hill mass to his right (west) engaged in what he termed a "heavy fire fight." As he watched he saw the company begin to leave the hill. He continued on and saw ahead of him the main body of his headquarters group climbing the mountain on the other side of the Nonsan road.

Major Dunham, on reaching the road with this group, met and talked briefly there with Colonel McGrail who told him he had had reports that enemy tanks had cut that road into Taejon. Upon hearing this, Dunham led his party across the road into the mountains. When Ayres reached the road enemy machine gun fire was raking it and the bridge over the Yudung. Ayres led his party under the bridge, waded the shallow stream, and followed the main group into the mountains southward. These two parties of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, united on high ground south of Taejon about an hour before noon. Even earlier, the rifle companies of the battalion, for the most part, had scattered into these mountains. [32]

The rumor of enemy tanks on the Nonsan road that caused the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, group to go into the mountains instead of into Taejon had come to Colonel McGrail soon after daylight. A jeep raced up to his command post east of the Yudung bridge. The men in it said that three enemy tanks blocked the road junction just outside the city (they had seen the tanks from a distance, apparently, and had not known they had been knocked out) and that they had seen three more tanks approaching the junction from the airfield. Colonel McGrail could see smoke hanging over Taejon and hear explosions and gunfire. He turned to 2d Lt. Robert L. Herbert and ordered him to take his G Company's 2d Platoon and open the road into the city. On the way Herbert encountered a bazooka team which he persuaded to accompany him. He also passed a rifle company getting water in a streambed. This unit identified itself as Baker Company, 34th Infantry; it continued south toward the mountains. Upon arriving at the road junction, Herbert found two T34 tanks burning and a third one that had been destroyed earlier. Lieutenant Little and a reinforced squad armed with two bazookas held the road fork. The burning wreckage of the Heavy Mortar Company, 34th Infantry, littered the road back toward the airfield. A mile to the north three enemy tanks stood motionless. Some men of H Company, 19th Infantry, passed the road fork on their way into Taejon. Herbert's platoon joined Little's squad. [33]

After Herbert's platoon had departed on its mission, Colonel McGrail lost communication with Colonel Beauchamp's command post. He had now learned from Major Dunham that the enemy had overrun the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, on the Yusong road to the north of him. His own F Company had started to fall back. The general feeling of McGrail's 2d Battalion staff was that enemy troops had cut the road between the battalion and Taejon and were probably in the city itself. About 1100 Captain Montesclaros of the S-3 Section volunteered to try to get into Taejon and reach the regimental headquarters for instruction. Colonel McGrail gave him his jeep and driver for the trip. [34]

Montesclaros reached the road junction without incident, saw the burning enemy tanks, met Lieutenant Herbert's platoon at the roadblock, and, much to his surprise, found the road into the city entirely open. At the edge of the city, Montesclaros encountered General Dean. Montesclaros reported to him, gave the position of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, and asked for instructions. General Dean patted Montesclaros on the back and replied, "My boy, I am not running this show, Beauchamp is." Dean took Montesclaros to the 34th Infantry command post. Beauchamp was not present, but from a member of his staff Montesclaros obtained a written order. Before placing it in his shirt pocket, Montesclaros glanced at the order. It directed McGrail to bring his battalion back to the west edge of Taejon. [35]

Montesclaros drove back down the road to the 2d Battalion command post. He found it deserted. Not a living person was in sight; a dead Korean lay in the courtyard. Puzzled, Montesclaros turned back toward Taejon. After driving a short distance, he turned back to the command post to make sure no one was there; he found it the same as before. No one, neither friend nor foe, was in sight. A strange stillness hung over the spot. Again he turned back toward Taejon. He overtook E Company on the road and instructed it to go into position there. At the edge of Taejon, Montesclaros met 1st Lt. Tom Weigle, S-2 of the battalion, who told him that McGrail had established a new command post on a high hill south of the road, and pointed out the place. Montesclaros set out for it and after walking and climbing for forty-five minutes reached the place. Colonel McGrail and his command post were not there, but a few men were; they knew nothing of Colonel McGrail's location.

Montesclaros started down the mountain with the intention of returning to Taejon. On his way he met Lieutenant Lindsay and E Company climbing the slope. They said the enemy had overrun them on the road. Looking in that direction, Montesclaros saw an estimated battalion of North Korean soldiers marching toward the city in a column of platoons. A T34 tank was traveling west on the road out of Taejon. As it approached the enemy column, the soldiers scurried for the roadside and ducked under bushes, apparently uncertain whether it was one of their own. Montesclaros decided not to try to get into Taejon but to join E Company instead.

What had happened at the command post of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry? Simply this, believing that the enemy had cut him off from Taejon, Colonel McGrail decided to move his command post to high ground south of the Nonsan road. He instructed E Company to fall back, and then his radio failed. McGrail and his battalion staff thereupon abandoned the command post shortly before noon and climbed the mountain south of Taejon. [36] Already F Company had given way and was withdrawing into the hills.

Soon not a single unit of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, was in its battle position west of Taejon. Nearest to the city, G Company was the last to leave. its place. From his hill position, Captain Barszcz, the company commander, had seen enemy tanks two and a half miles away enter Taejon just after daylight and had reported this by radio to Colonel McGrail's headquarters. Later in the morning he lost radio communication with McGrail. Shortly after noon, Capt. Kenneth Y. Woods, S-3, 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, arrived at G Company's position and gave Captain Barszcz instructions to join the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, group that had passed him in the morning headed south, and to withdraw with it. The G Company 60-mm. mortars were firing at this time. About 1300 Barszcz issued his orders for the withdrawal. The 3d Platoon was to follow the Weapons Section and bring up the rear. In the withdrawal, however, unknown to Captain Barszcz, the Weapons Platoon leader asked the 3d Platoon leader to precede him, as he had some mortar ammunition he wanted to expend. The Weapons Section never got out-the entire section of one officer and eighteen enlisted men was lost to enemy action. [37]

Except for the small group at the road junction half a mile west of the city, all the infantry and supporting weapons units of the two battalions in the battle positions west of Taejon had been driven from or had left those positions by 1300. All of them could have come into Taejon on the Nonsan road. Instead, nearly all of them crossed this road approximately two miles west of the city and went south into the mountains.

Back at Taejon, the first North Korean tanks had reached the edge of the city before dawn. They came from the northwest along the Yusong road and from the airfield. There is no evidence that the 3.5-inch bazooka teams of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, posted along the Yusong road engaged these tanks.

Soon after daylight two enemy tanks entered the city from somewhere to the northwest. They were soon followed by a third. Enemy soldiers crowded their decks. These tanks drove to the center of Taejon and there unloaded soldiers who spread quickly into buildings and began the sniping that continued throughout the day. The two tanks then turned back past the large compound where the Service Company of the 34th Infantry had established the regimental kitchen and motor pool. The 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, also had its kitchen trucks in this compound. Approximately 150 men were there when the two enemy tanks opened fire on it with their tank cannon. This fire killed several men, destroyed vehicles, and set an ammunition truck on fire. After shooting up the compound, the tanks rumbled away and fired at various targets of opportunity. [38]

Not until after the tanks had left the compound area did any of the men there locate a 3.5-inch bazooka. Then, in trying to drive out snipers from nearby buildings, someone fired a 3.5-inch white phosphorus rocket into a building setting it afire. The fire spread rapidly to other wood and straw structures in the city until large parts of Taejon were burning, from this and other causes.

Bazooka teams from the 24th Reconnaissance Company set out after the two tanks. These tanks, meanwhile, encountered two jeep-loads of men at the Medical Company headquarters, killed all but two, and wounded them. One tank ran over one of the wounded as he lay helpless in the road. A bazooka man finally got in a shot against one of these tanks, hitting it in the side and bouncing it off the ground, but the tank kept on going. At the railroad station, this tank fired into supplies and equipment, starting large fires. There, with a track off, it came to the end of its journeys. Rifle fire killed the tank commander. A rocket hit the second tank and knocked a piece of armor three feet square from its front plate. A third tank for a period survived a rocket that penetrated the top turret. Pfc. Jack E. Lowe and Cpl. Robert B. Watkins of the 24th Reconnaissance Company were the bazooka men who scored the destructive hits on these tanks. [39]

General Dean and his aide, Lieutenant Clarke, had awakened about 0530 to the sound of small arms fire. As Clarke made the bed rolls he remarked to General Dean, "I don't think we'll sleep here again tonight." The general agreed. Sometime later an enemy tank passed close to the 34th Infantry command post headed west out of the city. General Dean immediately started in pursuit of this tank accompanied by two 2.36-inch rocket launcher teams. The tank went through Lieutenant Herbert's roadblock without being fired on. It was mistaken for a friendly tank until too late for action. When General Dean's party arrived at the road fork, Herbert explained what had happened. Subsequently this tank re-entered the city and was destroyed, apparently by a 155-mm. howitzer, at the southwest edge of Taejon. During the morning, Dean and his party lost an opportunity against 2 other tanks on the airfield road when the bazooka man with them missed with his only rocket. [40] By 0900, 4 of the 5 tanks known to have entered Taejon had been destroyed.

At noon another tank entered Taejon. A 3.5-inch bazooka team from the 3d Engineer Combat Battalion hunted it down and destroyed it. Soon afterward still another penetrated into the city and rumbled past the regimental command post. General Dean led a group, joined later by a 3.5-inch bazooka team from the 3d Engineer Combat Battalion, in pursuit of this tank. After an hour or more of climbing over walls and fences and dodging through houses stalking it, with enemy snipers firing at them frequently, General Dean and his party brought this tank to bay. About 1400 a group including General Dean, a corporal carrying the bazooka, an ammunition bearer, and two or three riflemen entered a 2-story business building through a back courtyard and climbed to the second story. Looking out from the edge of a window, they saw the tank immediately below them. General Dean has since written that the muzzle of the tank gun was no more than a dozen feet away and he could have spat down its tube. Under General Dean's directions the bazooka team fired into the tank. Captain Clarke has described what followed: "I remained by the corner of the building in front of the tank to use my Molotov cocktail on it if it began to move. The first round [3.5-inch rocket] hit the tank, and the occupants began to scream and moan. The second round quieted most of the screaming and the third made it all quiet. We all then withdrew to a better observation post and observed the tank burning." [41] This was the incident that led to the much-quoted remark attributed to General Dean that day, "I got me a tank."

General Dean's personal pursuit of enemy tanks in Taejon was calculated to inspire his men to become tank killers. He was trying to sell to his shaky troops the idea that "an unescorted tank in a city defended by infantry with 3.5-inch bazookas should be a dead duck." [42]

The number of enemy tanks that entered Taejon during the day cannot be fixed accurately. Most of them apparently entered Taejon singly or in small groups. It appears that American troops had destroyed 8 enemy tanks in Taejon or its immediate vicinity by 1100, 6 of them by 3.5-inch rockets and 2 by artillery fire. Engineer bazooka teams destroyed 2 more T34 tanks in the afternoon. If this is a correct count, United States soldiers destroyed 10 enemy tanks in Taejon on to July, 8 of them by the new 3.5-inch rocket launcher, first used in combat that day. [43]

Not every round from a 3.5-inch bazooka stopped a T34 tank in the Taejon street fighting as has been so often stated. Three bazooka teams of the 24th Reconnaissance Company, for instance, made seven hits at close range (30 to 70 yards) on 3 tanks and stopped only 1 of them.

Fifth Air Force planes also destroyed an undetermined number of enemy tanks at Taejon. In the morning, soon after the initial penetration of approximately 15 tanks along the Yusong road, the Air Force knocked out 5 before they reached the city. An enemy tank crew member captured during the day reported that planes destroyed others north of Taejon. It appears that the North Koreans lost at least 15 tanks at Taejon, and possibly more. [44]

The enemy tanks largely failed in their mission within Taejon itself; They did not cause panic in the city, nor did they cause any troops to leave it. They themselves lost heavily, mostly to the new 3.5-inch bazooka which they encountered for the first time. Taejon demonstrated that for the future there was at hand an infantry weapon that, if used expertly and courageously, could stop the dreaded T34.

Withdrawal From Taejon-Roadblock

The sequence of events and the time of their occurrence in Taejon on the afternoon of so July have been impossible to establish with certainty in all instances. Participants and survivors have different recollections of the same event and of the time it occurred. Some recall incidents that others do not remember at all. Battalion and regimental records were all lost during the day and night and, except for an occasional message entry in the 24th Division journals made at Yongdong many miles to the rear, there is no contemporary record extant to fix time. Yet despite these difficulties in reconstructing the story of that eerie and bizarre afternoon, it is believed the jigsaw puzzle has yielded to the long and laborious efforts to solve it.

When he returned to the ,4th Infantry command post after stalking and destroying the tank in the center of Taejon, General Dean joined Colonel Beauchamp for a lunch of cooked C ration. They discussed the situation, which did not seem particularly alarming to them at the time. It would be difficult to find a parallel to the bizarre situation-the two commanders quietly eating their late lunch in the belief that their combat forces were still in battle position a mile or two west of the city, while actually the two battalions were scattered in the hills, completely ineffective for any defense of Taejon. Except for a few scattered enemy infiltrator-snipers in Taejon, the city was quiet. During the conversation, Dean told Beauchamp that instead of waiting for dark as they had planned earlier, he wanted him to initiate a daylight withdrawal because the chances would be better of getting the transportation out safely. The time of this instruction was about 1400. [45]

Colonel Beauchamp immediately set about implementing the order. He instructed Maj. William T. McDaniel, the regimental operations officer, to send messages by radio or telephone to all units to prepare to withdraw. He then wrote out on paper duplicate orders and sent them by runners to the three infantry battalions. There was then no telephone or radio communication with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, or the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry. The runners, of course, never reached these two battalions. But it appears that neither Dean nor Beauchamp received any report on this. The 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, did receive the withdrawal order. It and the other miscellaneous units in and about the city received the withdrawal instructions about 1500. The planned march order for the movement out of Taejon gave the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, the lead, followed by the artillery; the Medical Company; the 34th regimental command group; 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry; and last, the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry. [46]

After watching Beauchamp get off the orders to his units to withdraw, General Dean stepped out of the command post. He could see and hear friendly fighter planes overhead. He walked down to the end of the schoolhouse command post building where Lieutenant Hillery had set up the tactical air control party's equipment. In conversation with Hillery, Dean found that the former was having difficulty in getting target assignments from the 34th Infantry even though the planes reported many below them. In the confusion of getting out the withdrawal orders and making ready for it themselves the command group apparently did not give much attention to the TACP reports. Then there was also a reluctance to give targets close to Taejon because of the many mistaken attacks in recent days and weeks on American and ROK troops. General Dean remained with the TACP for some time and called several strikes on North Korean artillery and tank concentrations reported by the planes.

About this time a young lieutenant of the 1st Cavalry Division Tank Company arrived in Taejon with P platoon of tanks. Dean expressed to him his surprise at seeing him there and asked what had brought him. He replied that he had come in response to a request received at Yongdong from the 34th Infantry for tank escort out of Taejon for administrative vehicles. The young officer in turn told what a start he had received on seeing the smoldering T34 tanks in the center of Taejon. Various units had begun to form in the streets around the command post for the withdrawal, and the tank officer started with the first of them for Yongdong. This was about 1530 or 1600. [47]

Several incidents took place shortly after noon that, properly interpreted, should have caused deep alarm in Taejon. There was the urgent telephone call from an artillery observer who insisted on talking to the senior commander present. Beauchamp took the call. The observer reported a large column of troops approaching Taejon from the east. He said he was positive they were enemy soldiers. The "road from the east" Beauchamp interpreted to be the Okch'on road. Beauchamp had misunderstood a conversation held with General Dean that morning to mean that Dean had ordered the 21st Infantry to leave its Okch'on position and come up to Taejon to cover the planned withdrawal. What Dean had meant was that he expected the 21st Infantry to cover the withdrawal from its Okch'on positions in such a way as to keep open the pass and the tunnels east of the city. (With respect to the pass and tunnels, Dean miscalculated.) Now, receiving the report of the artillery observer, Beauchamp, with the erroneous concept in mind, thought the column was the 21st Infantry approaching Taejon to protect the exit from the city. He told the observer the troops were friendly and not to direct fire on them. Events proved that this column of troops almost certainly was not on the Okch'on road but on the Kumsan road southeast of Taejon and was an enemy force. [48]

Later in the afternoon, just after the 1st Cavalry Division platoon of tanks led the first vehicles out toward Yongdong, General Dean received an aerial report through the TACP of a truck column of about twenty vehicles moving north toward Taejon on the Kumsan road. Dean inquired of the 34th Infantry operations officer if they could be friendly and received the reply that they were the 24th Reconnaissance Company and not to direct an air strike on them. Dean later became convinced that these were North Koreans who had come up from the rear through Kumsan. [49] But this is not certain because a Reconnaissance Company group did drive in to Taejon from its patrol post about this time.

The movements of large bodies of men on the Kumsan road toward Taejon in the early afternoon of 20 July actually were seen at close hand by Colonel Ayres, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, but he could not get the information to the men in the city. Just before noon, on the mountain southwest of Taejon, he had turned over command of the approximately 150 men of the battalion with him to the executive officer, Major Dunham, with instructions to take them down to the Kumsan road three miles south of Taejon and there establish a blocking position to protect the rear of Taejon. Then he set off with a small party including Maj. Curtis Cooper, his S-3; Capt. Malcolm C. Spaulding of the Heavy Weapons Company; a runner; his radio operator; an interpreter; and Wilson Fielder, Jr., a Time Magazine correspondent. About 400 yards short of the Kumsan road Ayres' party encountered North Korean soldiers on the hillside. In the scramble that followed, four men escaped-Ayres, Cooper, Spaulding, and the interpreter; the others were either killed or captured. Fielder's body was found some months later. Ayres and those with him who escaped hid in some bushes and during the afternoon watched North Koreans set up machine guns near them. They also saw an estimated battalion of enemy troops march north toward Taejon along the Kumsan road below them. That night the group escaped. [50]

Nor was this the only encounter with North Koreans close to the Kumsan road that afternoon. Major Dunham led his men down toward the Kumsan road, as directed by Ayres. On the way they had a fire fight with what they took to be a band of guerrillas. They disengaged and moved into the draw at Kuwan-ni about three miles south of Taejon. Enemy troops there fired on Dunham's party from nearby finger ridges. This fire hit Dunham in the neck, mortally wounding him, and there were other casualties. All in this party who could do so now fled west to the Yudung valley at Masu-ri. But none of these incidents were known to Dean, Beauchamp, and the men in Taejon. [51]

Although the purpose was not apparent to the men in Taejon, enemy troops to the west and northwest of the city shortly after noon began to close on the city and exert increased frontal pressure to coincide with the movement of the enemy forces that by now had had time to get to the rear of the city. In the early afternoon, Lieutenant Herbert's platoon sergeant called his attention to a large column of troops on high ground westward from their roadblock position just west of Taejon. Herbert watched them for a while and decided that they were enemy troops. He then moved his men to a knoll south of the road and into defensive positions already dug there. The enemy force, which Herbert estimated to be in battalion strength, stopped and in turn watched Herbert's force from a distance of about 600 yards. [52] This probably was the same column that Montesclaros had seen on the Nonsan road about noon.

Back of Herbert's knoll position at the southwestern edge of the city was a battery of 155-mm. howitzers. A runner from the battery arrived to ask Herbert about the situation, and Herbert went back with him to talk with the battery commander. At the artillery position he found howitzers pointing in three different directions but none toward the southwest, where the enemy force had just appeared. Herbert asked that the pieces be changed to fire on the enemy in front of him. The battery commander said he could not change the howitzers without authority from the battalion operations officer. Herbert talked to this officer on the field telephone but failed to secure his approval to change the howitzers.

By this time the North Koreans in front of Herbert's men had set up mortars and begun to shell his position and also the howitzers. This fire killed several artillerymen and caused casualties in the infantry group. Herbert sent a runner into Taejon to report and ask for instructions. At the 34th Infantry command post a group of fifty men was assembled from Headquarters Company and sent back under Lt. William Wygal, S-2 of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, with instructions to Herbert to hold where he was until the artillery could be evacuated. So Herbert's augmented force exchanged fire with the North Koreans and held them to their ridge position.

General Dean observed this fire fight from the command post and thought it was going well for the American troops. He mistakenly thought, however, that it was McGrail's 2d Battalion troops that were engaged. About this time, Dean walked back from the TACP to the 34th Infantry command post and asked for Colonel Beauchamp. It was about 1700. To his surprise he was told that no one had seen Beauchamp since about 1500. Like Major Lantron in the morning, he had just disappeared. Dean remembered that he had expressed a great deal of concern to Beauchamp about the loss of communications with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, and that he had directed someone to get through and find Ayres. When he learned that Beauchamp had left the command post shortly after 1500 he concluded that Beauchamp had personally gone forward to contact Ayres. It was not until some three years later after he was repatriated from North Korea that General Dean discovered that this was not the fact. [53]

What had happened to Beauchamp? About the time the first of the vehicles started to form into convoy at the command post and the tanks from Yongdong led the first of them out of Taejon, Colonel Beauchamp got into his jeep and drove to the southeast edge of the city along the withdrawal route. There he came upon four light tanks of the 24th Reconnaissance Company and ordered the tankers to defend the southeast side of the city and the Okch'on road exit. Starting back into Taejon, Beauchamp discovered on glancing back that the tanks were leaving their positions. He turned around and caught up with them on the Okch'on road. But in running after the tanks he came under enemy small arms fire. After stopping the tanks, Beauchamp decided to climb a nearby knoll and reconnoiter the situation. From this eminence he saw numerous groups of enemy troops moving across country south of Taejon toward the Okch'on road. Because he had been under fire on the road he knew that some of them had already arrived there. Knowing that the convoys for the withdrawal were forming and that the first vehicles already had gone through, Beauchamp decided to go on with the two tanks he had with him to the pass four miles east of the city and to organize there a defensive force to hold that critical point on the withdrawal road. At the pass, Beauchamp put the tanks in position and stopped some antiaircraft half-track vehicles mounting quad .50-caliber machine guns as they arrived in the early phase of the withdrawal. Some artillery passed through, and then a company of infantry. Beauchamp tried to flag down the infantry commander's vehicle, intending to stop the company and keep it at the pass. But the officer misunderstood his intent, waved back, and kept on going.

Enemy sniper fire built up sporadically on the road below the pass. From his vantage point Beauchamp saw a locomotive pulling a few cars halted by enemy small arms fire at the tunnel. This locomotive had departed Iwon-ni at 1620, so the time of this incident must have been approximately 1630. Still expecting the 1st Infantry to cover the withdrawal route, Beauchamp decided that the best thing he could do would be to hurry up its arrival. He drove eastward to the command post of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, and from there telephoned the 21st Infantry regimental command post in Okch'on. It chanced that General Menoher was there. He instructed Beauchamp to come on in to Okch'on and give a detailed report. [54] But again, none of these happenings were known in Taejon.

The locomotive had been sent to Taejon as the result of General Dean's telephone request to the 24th Division a little earlier. In midafternoon, Captain Hatfield tried to send a rolling supply point of ten boxcars of ammunition out of the Taejon railroad yard to Yongdong. Returning to the rail yard at the northeast side of Taejon, Hatfield discovered that the Korean crew had uncoupled the locomotive from the supply train and fled south in it. It was then that Dean had telephoned the division to dispatch a locomotive immediately to Taejon to pull out this train. The nearest rail yard was at Iwon-ni, fifteen miles southeast of Taejon. Only armed guards had kept the Korean train crews there on the job. Enemy fire on the locomotive from Iwon-ni punctured the water tender.

Though under sniper fire at the railroad yards, Hatfield awaited the arrival of the locomotive. When it pulled into the yards more enemy fire hit it. The engineer said the locomotive was so damaged that it could not pull the train out. To Hatfield's dismay, the Korean engineer threw the locomotive in reverse and backed speedily southward out of the yard. At the tunnel southeast of Taejon enemy fire again swept over the locomotive and grenades struck it, killing the engineer. The fireman, although wounded, took the train on into Okch'on. Some American soldiers rode the train out of Taejon. According to 24th Division records, the time was 1645. Informed of this untoward incident, Dean again telephoned the division, and at 1700 he received a telephone call that it was sending another locomotive, this time under guard. Dean informed Hatfield of this and the latter waited at the rail yard. Hatfield was killed by enemy soldiers there while waiting for the locomotive that never arrived. The next morning at 0830 a U.S. Air Force strike destroyed the train load of ammunition and supplies still standing in the Taejon rail yard. [55]

About 1700 in the afternoon when he discovered that Colonel Beauchamp was not at the command post and that no one there knew where he was, General Dean turned to Colonel Wadlington, the regimental executive officer, and told him to get the withdrawal under way in earnest. Wadlington called in the 3d Platoon of the 24th Reconnaissance Company which had held a position a few miles down the Kumsan road on the north side of the enemy roadblock that had been discovered during the night. For their own reasons the enemy forces in that vicinity had seen fit not to attack this platoon and thereby alert the 34th Infantry to the enemy strength in its rear. In coming in to Taejon to join the withdrawal convoy, the platoon drew machine gun fire near the rail station. Pvt. James H. Nelson engaged this enemy weapon with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a 2 1/2-ton truck and knocked it out. [56] In response to the earlier withdrawal order, Capt. Jack Smith had brought the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, in trucks to the designated initial point at the street corner in front of the regimental command post. When he arrived there, Major McDaniel told him that General Dean wanted a perimeter defense established to protect the initial point and to support an attempt to recover a battery of 155-mm. howitzers. Smith unloaded L Company for the perimeter defense and sent the rest of the battalion on to join the convoy that was forming.

Instead of withdrawing their howitzers while Herbert's force held off the enemy force at the west edge of Taejon, the artillerymen had shown no desire to limber up the pieces under fire. When Herbert left his position to fall back to join the withdrawal he noticed the howitzers. The North Koreans quickly moved up and occupied Herbert's old position when he withdrew from it, and some advanced to the battery position. From these places they began firing into the city. Learning of the impending loss of the 155-mm. howitzers, General Dean ordered Colonel Wadlington to organize a counterattack force from personnel at the command post to rescue the pieces. Major McDaniel, the regimental S-3, volunteered to organize and lead the counterattack. He drove the enemy soldiers from the battery position and kept down hostile fire until he could bring up tractor prime movers, hitch them to the howitzers, and pull out the pieces. Lack of tractor drivers prevented taking them all out; those left were rendered inoperative. [57]

By this time word came back to the command post that enemy small arms fire had knocked out and set afire two or three trucks at the tail end of the first group of vehicles to leave the city, and that they blocked the street at the southeast edge of Taejon. Flames could be seen in that corner of the city, and the sound of small arms fire came from there. Dean then rewrote a radio message to be sent to the 24th Division. It said in effect, "Send armor. Enemy roadblock eastern edge City of Taejon. Signed Dean." Dean directed that the message be sent in the clear.

The general then went over to the Capitol Building with his interpreter to see if he could find a northward route out of the city that would pass over the tableland east of the railroad station and swing around to hit the Okch'on road some miles from the city. The Koreans in the building were panic-stricken and he could get no information from them. Dean hastened back to the command post and, being informed that Beauchamp had still not returned, he directed Colonel Wadlington to close station and move out.

Enemy fire into and within the city had increased considerably. One result was that an enemy mortar shell scored a direct hit on the collecting station of the 24th Infantry, wounding ten men. Captain Smith from his perimeter defense post reported that he could see North Koreans advancing from the airfield. Wadlington told him to hold them off until the convoy could escape. Wadlington showed General Dean his place in the convoy. He told Dean that he was going to lead the convoy with two jeeps, each carrying five men, and that Major McDaniel was going to be at the tail of the column. With L Company already engaging approaching North Koreans, Captain Smith asked Dean how long he was to hold the company in position as a covering force.

Dean told him to give them forty-five minutes and then to withdraw. [55]

Dean looked at his watch as he drove out the gate of the command post. It was 1755. Outside in the street he talked briefly with Wadlington and the senior officers riding the lead vehicles. He told them that very likely they would get sniper fire in the city, but that once outside he thought they would be all right. He instructed that if sniper fire was encountered and the column stopped for any reason, everyone was to dismount and clean out the snipers. It was a few minutes after 1800 when the large, main convoy started to move. [59]

With Wadlington at its head the convoy rolled down the street. Some parts of the city were now blazing furnaces, and in places swirling smoke clouds obscured the streets. Soon the convoy stopped while those in the lead removed a burning ammunition trailer and telephone poles from the way. Then it continued on and swung into a broad boulevard. There the convoy encountered heavy enemy fire, both machine gun and small arms, sweeping up and down the avenue. Colonel Wadlington and the men in the two lead jeeps dismounted and opened fire. In about five minutes enemy fire slackened. Wadlington ordered the men in the second jeep to lead out, saying he would join them as soon as he saw that the convoy was moving. After the head of the convoy passed him, Wadlington and his men got into their jeep and started forward to overtake the head of the column. Not able to pass the trucks, however, they swung off at a corner to go around a block. This route led them to a series of misadventures-they found themselves in dead-end streets, cut off by enemy fire, and eventually in a dead-end schoolyard on the east side of the city. There Wadlington and his companions destroyed their vehicle and started up the nearby mountain.

Meanwhile, the convoy hurried through the city, drawing enemy sniper fire all the way. One 2 1/2-ton truck in the convoy smashed into a building at an intersection and almost blocked the street for the rest of the vehicles. Then the first part of the convoy took a wrong turn through an underpass of the railroad and wound up in the same dead-end schoolyard as had Colonel Wadlington. There were approximately fifty vehicles in this part of the convoy. These men abandoned their vehicles. Led by an artillery major and other officers the group of about 125 started into the hills, first going north away from the sound of firing and later turning south. During the night the group became separated into several parts. Some of the men reached friendly lines the next morning, others on 22 July; some just disappeared and were never heard of again. [60]

After the first part of the convoy took the wrong turn, the remainder kept on the street leading to the Okch'on road. A little farther on they drove through walls of fire as buildings burned fiercely on both sides. Just beyond this point, General Dean's vehicle and an escort jeep sped past an intersection. They were scarcely past it when Lieutenant Clarke said to Dean that they had missed the Okch'on turn. Enemy fire prevented them from stopping to turn around, so they kept on going south down the Kumsan road. [61]

Just outside the city on the Okch'on highway the convoy encountered enemy mortar fire. A shell hit the lead vehicle and it began to burn. A half-track pushed it out of the way. The convoy started again. Enemy fire now struck the half-track, killed the driver, and started the vehicle burning. Machine gun fire swept the road. Everyone left the vehicles and sought cover in the roadside ditches. Some in the convoy saw North Korean soldiers rise from rice paddies along the road and spray the column with burp gun fire.

When the enemy mortar fire stopped the column, SFC Joseph S. Szito of the Heavy Weapons Company, 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, set up a 60-mm. mortar in the roadside ditch and fired at a group of North Koreans on a hill just south of the road. A little later he set up an 81-mm. mortar and fired about thirty rounds of smoke shells in an effort to cloak a proposed attempt to push the destroyed half-track off the road so the undamaged vehicles could proceed. But enough men would not go out into the stream of enemy fire to clear the road. Enemy mortars soon hit and destroyed three more vehicles. The men then poured gasoline on most of their still undamaged vehicles, set them afire, and started for high ground to the north. [62]

Enemy mortars searched up and down the highway, making a shambles of everything on it. The latter part of the convoy now came up to the stalled and burning vehicles. These men scrambled out of their vehicles, sought cover in the ditches, and prayed for darkness. One survivor of this group estimates that there must have been 250 men bunched together in an area fifty yards square.

When darkness came, 2d Lt. Ralph C. Boyd, commanding a truck platoon of the 24th Quartermaster Company, with the help of some others, located six vehicles that appeared to be undamaged and still able to run. They were a fulltrack artillery prime mover, two half-track vehicles, two 2 1/2-ton trucks, and a jeep. Boyd had the driver of the prime mover push vehicles to the side of the road and clear a path while he and others loaded the seriously wounded onto the half-tracks.

When the prime mover had cleared a path, the other vehicles started forward with most of the men walking in the roadside ditches. Boyd told them to maintain silence and not to return any enemy fire. Boyd's group turned into a narrow dirt road running north from the main highway and traveled on it for some time without trouble. Then, suddenly, enemy machine gun fire ripped into the little group. It knocked Boyd off the prime mover. In falling, he struck a rock and lost consciousness. When he regained it sometime later everything was quiet and the vehicles were gone. Upon discovering that a bullet had only creased his knee, he got to his feet and ran two and a half miles into the lines of the 21st Infantry. [63]

Engineer troops of C Company, 3d Engineer Combat Battalion performed well in the withdrawal from the city, but they suffered heavy losses. Two examples of their heroism should be mentioned. Enemy mortar fire destroyed Pvt. Charles T. Zimmerman's jeep and wounded Zimmerman. Enemy soldiers then directed small arms fire at his group. Although wounded by a mortar fragment and eleven bullets, Zimmerman killed five enemy soldiers and destroyed two machine guns. [64]

Another member of the engineers, Sgt. George D. Libby, was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic behavior that evening. Enemy fire at the roadblock area disabled the truck in which he was riding and killed or wounded everyone in it except him. Libby got into the roadside ditch and engaged the enemy. Twice he crossed the road to give medical aid to the wounded. He stopped an M-5 artillery tractor going through the roadblock, put the wounded on it, and then placed himself on the enemy side of the driver. He wished to protect the driver as he realized that no one else present could drive the tractor out. In this position Libby "rode shotgun" for the tractor and its load of wounded, returning enemy fire. The tractor stopped several times so that he could help other wounded on to it. In passing through the main enemy roadblock, Libby received several wounds in the body and arms. Later, the tractor came to a second roadblock and there he received additional wounds in shielding the driver. Libby lost consciousness and subsequently died from loss of blood, but the tractor driver lived to take his load of wounded through to safety. [65]

Just after dark an effort was made to break the roadblock from the Okch'on side. When Colonel Beauchamp reached the 21st Infantry command post that afternoon he told General Menoher of the threatened roadblock. Menoher directed him to take the rifle company that had come through the pass and a platoon of light tanks at the 21st Infantry command post and go back and hold the pass open. Beauchamp took the five tanks and on the way picked up approximately sixty men of I Company, 34th Infantry. It was getting dark when the group passed through the lines of the 21st Infantry.

Short of the pass, one of the tanks hit an enemy mine. Then a hidden enemy soldier detonated electrically a string of mines. The riflemen moved cautiously forward. From a position near the pass they could see enemy mortars firing from both sides of the road, but mostly from the western side. Some of the riflemen worked their way as far forward as the highway tunnel, but they never got control of the pass or any part of the highway west of it. In about two hours the tankers and the men of I Company had expended their ammunition and withdrawn. [66]

While at the pass area, Beauchamp saw that most of the men in the engineer platoon he had left there in the afternoon had been killed defending the pass-their bodies day strewn about on the ground. Among them was the lieutenant he had instructed only a few hours before not to blow the tunnel but to hold it open for the Taejon troops. The two tanks and the antiaircraft vehicles had driven to the rear.

Although there were enemy troops scattered all along the escape route out of Taejon, their principal roadblock began about two miles east of the city on the Okch'on road near the little village of Chojon. The roadblock extended a mile from there to the first railroad and highway tunnels east of Taejon. In this stretch, the Seoul-Pusan highway and the double-track Mukden-Pusan railroad parallel each other along a little stream with high ground closing in from both sides. Most of the enemy fire came from the west side of the defile, but in the later stages of the roadblock action there were also enemy mortars, automatic weapons, and riflemen firing from the east side. [67]

All night long the several hundred men caught in the roadblock walked south and east through the mountains. During the night the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, aid station near Okch'on exhausted its medical supplies in treating wounded men arriving from the Taejon area. Many finally reached safety at the 24th Division lines twenty miles farther east near Yongdong on 22 and 23 July. They came through singly and in small groups, but, in one or two instances, in groups of approximately a hundred men. Colonel Wadlington was among those who reached friendly lines on the morning of 22 July near Yongdong. [68]

While this disaster was taking place during the evening and night of 20 July just east of Taejon, the 21st Infantry Regiment held its defense positions undisturbed only three or four miles away. Only when Beauchamp telephoned the regimental command post at Okch'on and talked with General Menoher there, and later, in person, reported in detail, did Colonel Stephens and his staff know of the serious trouble developing in Taejon and on the escape road eastward. [69] It would have taken several hours to get the 21st Infantry troops down from their hill positions for any effort to clear the Taejon exit road. And it was well after dark before it was known definitely at Okch'on that the enemy had in fact successfully established a roadblock and that the Taejon troops were being decimated. It was too late then for the 21st Infantry to act in relief of the situation. To have accomplished this the regiment would have needed an order during the morning to move up to the eastern exit of Taejon and secure it.

That night at the 21st Infantry command post in Okch'on, General Menoher and Colonel Stephens discussed the situation. Stephens said he thought the North Koreans would try to cut off his regiment the next day and that if the regiment was to survive he wanted authority to withdraw it in a delaying action rather than to "hold at all costs." Menoher agreed with Stephens and left it to his discretion when and how he would withdraw. General Menoher returned to Yongdong about midnight. [70]

At daybreak, 21 July, engineer troops set off demolition charges at the railroad and highway tunnels just north of Okch'on that only partially blocked them. When full light came, observers and patrols from the 21st Infantry reported enemy troops in estimated regimental strength moving south around their west flank at a distance of two miles. Before long, an automatic weapons and small arms fight was in progress on that flank. [71]

Colonel Stephens gave the order for the regiment to withdraw. The 21st Infantry and 52d Field Artillery Battalion began leaving their Okch'on positions shortly after 1100. Engineer troops destroyed the last bridge across the Kum River east of Okch'on to give some temporary security to ROK forces on the east side of the river. The regiment successfully withdrew twenty miles to prepared positions on the east side of the Kum River, about four miles northwest of Yongdong. There it also established a strong roadblock on the road running southwest from Yongdong to Kumsan. [72]

Not all the troops withdrawing from Taejon followed the main Okch'on highway, although they were supposed to. Many missed the tricky turn at the southeast edge of the city and found themselves on the Kumsan road. Once on this road and under fire they kept going. After holding off the enemy at the Taejon command post perimeter while the convoy got away, Captain Smith quickly loaded his L Company, 34th Infantry, into waiting trucks and started it on its way through the city. By this time enemy machine guns were firing across nearly every street intersection. Passing the Okch'on turn inadvertently, Smith kept on down the Kumsan road. Outside the city he found the road littered with trucks, jeeps, and various kinds of abandoned equipment. At an enemy roadblock he organized approximately 150 men, including about fifty wounded, and salvaged a prime mover, two 2 1/2-ton trucks, and four jeeps. The group fought its way south through several miles of small roadblocks, clearing the last one just before dark. In this group Smith had men from practically every unit that had been in Taejon. Some of them had been with General Dean earlier in the evening.

Smith led his group south through Kumsan, Anui, and on to Chinju near the southern tip of Korea. From there he telephoned Pusan and a hospital train was dispatched to him at Chinju. Smith left the wounded in Pusan, but continued on with the others to Taegu, where they joined other elements of the 3d Battalion that had escaped. At Taegu on 23 July Colonel Wadlington had assembled approximately 300 men who had escaped through the hills from Taejon. [73]

Of all the incidents in the withdrawal, none was more dramatic or attended by such gripping subsequent drama as the adventures of General Dean. They began on the Kumsan road. When he missed the Okch'on turn, it was probable that General Dean would not get far. There had been enemy roadblocks on the Kumsan road since the night before. A mile from the city Dean stopped his jeep where a wrecked truck lay on its side in the ditch with several wounded soldiers in it. He loaded these into his two jeeps and waved them on. He and two or three other soldiers soon clambered on to an artillery half-track that came south on the road. Riding in one of the jeeps ahead, Lieutenant Clarke was hit in the shoulder by enemy fire a mile farther down the road. Another mile ahead his group came to a knocked out truck blocking the road. There an enemy force had established a roadblock with machine gun and rifle fire. Clarke and the other men tumbled from the jeeps into the right-hand ditch. Dean and those on the half-track did the same when they arrived a few minutes later.

General Dean and the others crawled through bean patches and a garden to the bank of the Taejon River where they lay concealed until darkness came. It must have been at this time that Captain Smith and his L Company party fought their way through that roadblock. After dark Dean's party crossed to the west side of the river and started climbing a high mountain. This was just north of the little village of Nangwol. General Dean and others in the party took turns in helping a badly wounded man up the steep slope. Once, Clarke dissuaded Dean from going back down the mountain for water. A little after midnight, at a time when he was leading the group, Lieutenant Clarke suddenly discovered that no one was following him. He turned back and found several men asleep. He called for General Dean. Someone replied that General Dean had gone for water. Clarke estimated that an unencumbered man could go to the bottom and back up to where they were in an hour. He decided to wait two hours. Dean did not return. At 0315 Clarke awakened the sleeping men and the party climbed to the top of the mountain, arriving there just before dawn. There they waited all day, four or five miles south of Taejon, hoping to see General Dean. That night, Clarke led his party back down the mountain, re-crossed the Taejon River in a rainstorm near the village of Samhoe, climbed eastward into the mountains, and then turned south. He eventually led his party to safety through the lines of the 1st Cavalry Division at Yongdong on 23 July. [74]

It was some years before the mystery of what had happened to Dean that night after Taejon was finally cleared up. In going after water for the wounded men, General Dean fell down a steep slope and was knocked unconscious. When he regained consciousness he found he had a gashed head, a broken shoulder, and many bruises. For thirty-six days General Dean wandered in the mountains trying to reach safety, but this was the period when the North Koreans were advancing southward as rapidly as he was. On 25 August, two South Koreans who pretended to be guiding him toward safety led him into a prearranged ambush of North Korean soldiers, and they captured the emaciated, nearly starved, and injured general, who now weighed only 130 pounds instead of his normal 190. His capture took place near Chinan, thirty-five miles due south of Taejon and sixty-five air miles west of Taegu. Then began his more than three years of life as a prisoner of the North Koreans that finally ended on 4 September 1953 when he was repatriated to American officials at P'anmunjom. [75] General Dean's heroic and fascinating chronicle as told in his book, General Dean's Story, is one of the great documents to come out of the Korean War. That war was destined to add many illustrious names to the roll of honor in United States military annals. But posterity probably will accord to none as high a place as to General Dean in the example he set as a soldier and leader in great adversity and as an unbreakable American in Communist captivity.

A word needs to be said about the men of the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, and the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, who were driven from or left their positions west of Taejon during the morning of to July and climbed into the hills south of the Nonsan road. Most of them escaped. These men traveled all night. One large party of 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry, troops, which included Captain Barszcz' G Company, 19th Infantry, was led by Captain Marks. It passed through Kumsan, where a few small parties turned east toward Yongdong. But the main party continued south, believing the enemy might have cut the road eastward. On the 23d this group encountered some ROK trucks and shuttled south in them until they broke down. The next day the entire party loaded into a boxcar train it met and rode the last 50 miles into the south coast port of Yosu, 110 air miles south of Taejon and 80 air miles west of Pusan. From Yosu they traveled by boat the next day, 25 July, to Pusan. From there they returned north to rejoin their parent organizations. [76]

Most of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, reached Kumsan and there turned eastward to come through friendly lines at Yongdong. Included in these parties were Colonels McGrail and Ayres and Captains Montesclaros and Slack. They arrived at Yongdong on 21 and 22 July.

Taejon must be considered a major victory for the North Koreans, even though two divisions with T34 tanks were operating against only about 4,000 men of the U.S. 24th Division in and around the city. It appears that credit should go to the N.K. 4th Division for carrying out the envelopment of Taejon from the west and south by strong elements of its 16th and 18th Regiments and imposing the disastrous roadblock on the Okch'on highway east of Taejon. These elements had no tanks or artillery with them; theirs was a light infantry maneuver and tactic. Whether they came around by road through Kumsan from Nonsan or marched across country over the mountains south and southwest of Taejon from the Nonsan-Taejon road is not definitely known. There is some evidence that at least part of the enveloping force came through Kumsan.

The N.K. 3d Division joined the 5th Regiment of the N.K. 4th Division in maintaining frontal pressure against Taejon in the afternoon of the 20th and enveloped it on the north and northeast. The 3d infiltrated the city heavily in the latter part of the afternoon. The enemy tanks that penetrated Taejon in the morning apparently belonged to the 107th Tank Regiment of the 105th Armored Division, attached to the N.K. 4th Division ever since the crossing of the 38th Parallel. Some of the tanks that entered the city later in the day were probably from the 203d Tank Regiment attached to the N.K. 3d Division. [77]

The N.K. 2d Division, which was supposed to have joined the 3d and 4th in the attack on Taejon, failed to come up in time. This all but exhausted division did not leave Ch'ongju until on or about the 18th. It then moved through Pugang-ni southwest toward Taejon, apparently intending to cross the Kum River in the vicinity of the railroad bridge. It had yet to cross the Kum when it received word on 21 July that Taejon had fallen. The 2d Division thereupon altered its course and turned southeast through Poun, headed for Kumch'on. [78]

It is difficult to estimate enemy losses at Taejon. The North Korean infantry losses apparently were light. Their losses in armor and artillery were considerable. The N. K. 4th Division, according to prisoner reports later, lost 15 76-mm. guns and 6 122-mm. mortars, together with 200 artillerymen. The tank losses were relatively heavy; at least 15 of them were destroyed, and possibly the number may have been 20 or more.

Within five days the enemy, employing numerically superior forces, had executed two highly successful envelopments of American positions at the Kum River and at Taejon. In each case the North Koreans moved around the left flank to impose roadblocks covering the rear routes of escape. In each instance the result was catastrophic for the units cut off. These enemy operations must stand as excellent examples of this type of military tactic.

On the American side, the lack of information of the true state of affairs caused by the almost complete breakdown in all forms of communication was the major factor leading to the disaster. In battle, communication is all important.

The 24th Division After Taejon

When all the men who escaped from Taejon had rejoined their units, a count showed 1,150 casualties out of 3,933 of the U.S. 24th Division forces engaged there on 19-20 July-nearly 30 percent. Of these casualties, 48 were known dead, 228 wounded, and 874 missing in action. Most of the last were presumed killed and this was borne out by subsequent information. Among the rifle companies, L Company, 34th Infantry, the rear guard unit, lost the most with 107 casualties out of 153 men (70 percent). [79]

The equipment loss also was very great. Virtually all the organic equipment of the troops in Taejon was lost there. Only B Battery, 13th Field Artillery Battalion, B Battery, 63d Field Artillery Battalion, and I Company, 34th Infantry, brought out their equipment substantially intact. They escaped just before the enemy enforced the roadblock which caught everything behind them. Approximately only 35 regimental vehicles escaped from Taejon. The 24th Quartermaster Company lost 30 of 34 trucks; A Battery, 11th Field Artillery Battalion, lost all 5 of its 155-mm. howitzers.

At noon on 22 July the 24th Infantry Division turned over the front-line positions at Yongdong to the 1st Cavalry Division. The division's consolidated strength on that day was 8,660 men. Seventeen days had elapsed since division troops had first met North Koreans in combat at Osan on 5 July. In that time, two enemy divisions had driven it back 100 miles in a southeasterly direction. In these two and a half weeks, the division had suffered more than 30 percent casualties. More than 2,400 men were missing in action. It had lost enough materiel to equip a division. Losses in senior officers of field grade had been unusually severe. And then finally, at Taejon, the commanding general of the division was missing in action. Charged with carrying out a delaying action, the division had held the enemy on its front to an average gain of about six miles a day. On 22 July, with General Dean still missing in action, Eighth Army ordered Maj. Gen. John H. Church to assume command of the 24th Division. [80]

Soldiers of the 24th Division faced many handicaps in their early battles with the North Koreans. Often the unit commanders were new to the units and did not know their officers and men; there were few qualified officer replacements for those lost; communication was a most serious and continuing problem-there was a lack of telephone wire, and the batteries for radios were outdated and lasted only an hour or so in operation or they did not function at all; there was a shortage of ammunition, particularly for the 60-mm., 81-mm., and 4.2-inch mortars; dysentery at times affected a fourth of the men; and always there were the rumors, generally absurd and groundless, which kept the men agitated and uneasy. The maps, based on the Japanese survey of 1918-32, were often unreliable, resulting in inaccurate artillery fire unless directed and adjusted by an observer. Road and convoy discipline was poor. Driver maintenance was poor.

There were many heroic actions by American soldiers of the 24th Division in these first weeks in Korea. But there were also many uncomplimentary and unsoldierly ones. Leadership among the officers had to be exceptional to get the men to fight, and several gave their lives in this effort. Others failed to meet the standard expected of American officers. There is no reason to suppose that any of the other three occupation divisions in Japan would have done better in Korea than did the U.S. 24th Division in July 1950. When committed to action they showed the same weaknesses.

A basic fact is that the occupation divisions were not trained, equipped, or ready for battle. The great majority of the enlisted men were young and not really interested in being soldiers. The recruiting posters that had induced most of these men to enter the Army mentioned all conceivable advantages and promised many good things, but never suggested that the principal business of an army is to fight.

When the first American units climbed the hills in the Korean monsoon heat and humidity, either to fight or to escape encirclement by the enemy, they "dropped like flies," as more than one official report of the period states. Salt tablets became a supply item of highest priority and were even dropped to troops by plane.

One participant and competent observer of the war in those first days has expressed the conditions well. He said, "The men and officers had no interest in a fight which was not even dignified by being called a war. It was a bitter fight in which many lives were lost, and we could see no profit in it except our pride in our profession and our units as well as the comradeship which dictates that you do not let your fellow soldiers down." [81]

As part of the historical record, it may be worthwhile to record General Dean's own judgment after turning over in his mind for several years the events of Taejon, and after having read this chapter in manuscript. Many of the things related in this chapter he did not, of course, know at the time. Here are the words of this brave and honest soldier, written seven and a half years after the event.

Hostile and friendly dispositions, which are now quite clear, were much more obscure at the time. I stayed in Taejon for a number of reasons: (1) In an effort to stimulate the fighting spirit of the 34th Infantry and attached troops there in the city. The second reason was as an example to the ROK leaders and also to give confidence to the ROK forces. The third was to see at close hand just what kind of a fighter the North Korean was. It is now clear to me that I was too close to the trees to see the forest, and therefore was at the time blind to the envelopment that the North Koreans were engineering. Not until we turned off on the road to Kumsan and we ran into the North Korean detachment dug in at intervals along that highway did I realize what had happened. I was disturbed about the infiltrators into the City of Taejon itself, but I was not alarmed and I was sanguine of extricating the 34th Infantry until I had deft the city on the Kumsan road and realized that there had been an envelopment of major proportions. But even then, I did not realize the extent of the envelopment and my earnest prayer at the time was that the majority of the 34th Infantry would not take the Kumsan road but would leave by way of the Okch'on road. Subsequent events have proved that it would have been better if we had all headed down the Kumsan road because I am certain we could have cleared that and gotten a greater number through....

In retrospect, it would appear that the 21st Infantry Regiment should have been employed to secure the exit from Taejon. But I never issued such an order and my reason for not doing so was that I was convinced that the 21st Infantry Regiment should hold the commanding terrain just west of Okch'on to prevent an envelopment from the north, which would cut off both the 21st Infantry Regiment and the 34th Infantry Regiment and permit the enemy to drive through Yongdong and south through Yongdong to Kumch'on and hence south. My big two errors were: (1) Not withdrawing the 34th Infantry Regiment the night of the 19th of July, as originally planned; (2) releasing the 24th Reconnaissance Company to the 34th Infantry Regiment. [82]

After the fall of Taejon the war was to enter a new phase. Help in the form of the 1st Cavalry Division had arrived. No longer would the 24th Division and the ROK Army have to stand alone.


[1] Ltr, Bissett to author, 14 May 52; Ltr, Capt Arthur M. Clarke to author, 30 Jun 52; Interv, author with Col Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; ,4th Div WD, 16-17 Jul 50, and G-3 Jnl, entry 599, 161350 Jul 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Msg at 2245, 16 Jul 50.

[2] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Ltr, Stephens to author, 24 Mar 52.

[3] Ltr and Comments, Maj Gen Eugene M. Landrum to author, n.d., but received 23 Nov 53; Collier, MS review comments, 10 Mar 58.

[4] Ltr and Comments, Landrum to author, received 23 Nov 53; Comments, Landrum to author received 4 Jan 54; Interv, author with Beauchamp 1 Aug 52 (Beauchamp overheard part of the conversation on the 18th between Walker and Dean); Ltr, Clarke to author, 30 Jun 52; Ltr, Lt Col Layton C. Tyner (aide to Gen Walker) to author, 22 Aug 52; Interv, author with Lt Col Paul F. Smith (Comb Opn G-3, EUSAK, Jul 50), 1 Oct 52.

[5] National Intelligence Survey (NIS), Korea, 41, (1950) p. 4; JANIS 75 (1945) ch. VIII, pp. 23-24.

[6] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Overlay of 24th Inf positions 18 Jul 50, prepared by Beauchamp for author, Aug 52; Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52; Ltr, Maj Jack E. Smith (Actg CO 3d Bn, 34th Inf, 20 Jul 50) to author, 21 Jul 55.

[7] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58; 21st Inf WD, 18 Jul 50; 19th Inf WD, 18 Jul 50; Interv, author with Maj Leon B Cheek (Ex Off, 13th FA Bn, Jul 50), 7 Aug 51; 24th Recon Co WD, 18-20 Jul 50.

[8] Ltr, Stephens to author, 24 Mar 52; Gen Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58.

[9] 24th Div WD, 19 Jul 50, Narr Summ of Enemy Info; 21st Inf WD, 19 Jul 50, includes copies of this enemy leaflet; Btry A, 26th AAA (AW) Bn WD, 19 Jul 50; Antiaircraft Journal (January-February, 1951), article by Cpl John S. Aaron on 24th Div AAA claims three YAK's shot down; 3d Engr (C) Bn WD, 19 Jul 50, Narr Summ, Opn Highlights.

[10] 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 106, 190825 Jul 50; Ibid., G-2 Jnl, entry 1222, 191315 Jul 50; Hq X Corps, Staff Study, Development of Tactical Air Support in Korea, 25 Dec 50, p. 8; EUSAK WD, G-2 Daily Stf Rpt, 19 Jul 50, p. 2; FEAF Opn Hist, I, 25 Jun-1 Nov 50, 58-59.

[11] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), pp. 46-47.

[12] 24th Recon Co WD, 19 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, 19 Jul 50; Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Situation Overlay 34th Inf, 19 Jul 50, prepared by Beauchamp for author, Aug 52.

[13] Interv, author with Col Ned D. Moore, 20 Aug 52. (Moore was with Dean.)

[14] 19th Inf WD, 19 Jul 50; Interv, author with McGrail, 20 Aug 52; Interv, author with Montesclaros (S-3 Sec, 2d Bn, 19th Inf, Jul 50), 20 Aug 52.

[15] Intervs, author with McGrail and Montesclaros, [?] Aug 52; Situation Overlay, 1st Bn, 34th Inf, 19 Jul 50, prepared by Col Ayres for author.

[16] Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52; Interv, Mitchell with Bryant, 30 Jul 50.

[17] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52: Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52; Ltr, Bissett to author, 14 May 52. General Order 112, 30 August 1950, 24th Division, awarded the Bronze Star Medal to Cpl Robert D. Jones, Headquarters Battery, 63d Field Artillery Battalion.

[18] Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52: Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52: Comments, Beauchamp to author, 7 Jan 53.

[19] Intervs, author with McGrail and Montesclaros, 20 Aug 52.

[20] Ltrs, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52 and 20 Feb 53: Interv, author with Ayres, 13 Jul 54.

[21] 24th Recon Co WD, 19-20 July 50: 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1313, 201040 Jul 50; General Order 111, 30 August 1950, 24th Division, awarded the Silver Star to Lieutenant Kristanoff.

[22] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58.

[23] Ltrs, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52 and 20 Feb 52; Interv, author with Ayres, 13 Jul 54.

[24] Ibid.; Interv, Blumenson with 2d Lt George H. Wilcox (Plat Ldr, D Co, 34th Inf), 25 Aug 52; Gugeler, Combat Actions in Korea, "Withdrawal Action," pp. 16-17, recording interview with MSgt Zack C. Williams of A Co, 34th Inf.

[25] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; 3d Engr (C) Bn WD, 20 Jul 50; 24th Recon Co WD, 20 Jul 50.

[26] EUSAK WD, Prologue, G-4 Sec, 25 Jun-Jul 50, and WD, G-4 Sec, 17 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, Div Ordnance Off Stf Hist Rpt, 15 Jun-22 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-4 Daily Summ, Jnl entries 13-16 Jul 50; Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in Korean War, ch. 4, p. 15.

[27] Ltr, Maj Jack E. Smith to author, 18 Jun 55; Comments, Wadlington for author, 1 Apr 53; Ltr, Wadlington to author, 23 Jun 53; Comments, Beauchamp for author, 3 Jan 53. Department of the Army General Order 16, 20 March 1951, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to SFC Robert E. Dare, K Company, 34th Infantry, for heroism at Taejon, 20 July 1950.

[28] ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 12, Rpt 1708, p. 26, 1st Lt Bill M. McCarver, and Rpt 1775, p. 214, 1st Lt Henry J. McNichols, Jr.

[29] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), pp. 46-47.

[30] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58.

[31] Intervs, author with McGrail and Montesclaros, 20 Aug 52: Intervs, Blumenson with 2d Lt Joseph S. Szito (81-mm. Mortar Plat, H Co, 19th Inf, 25 Aug 51, and 2d Lt Robert L. Herbert (G Co, 19th Inf), 31 Jul 51.

[32] Ltrs, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52, and 20 Feb 53; Interv, author with Ayres, 13 Jul 54; Interv, author with McGrail, 20 Aug 52.

[33] Interv, Blumenson with Herbert, 25 Aug 51.

[34] Intervs, author with McGrail and Montesclaros, 20 Aug 52.

[35] Interv, author with Montesclaros, 20 Aug 52.

[36] Interv, author with McGrail, 20 Aug 52.

[37] Ltr, Capt. Michael Barszcz to author, 6 Sep 52.

[38] 3d Engr (C) Bn WD. 20 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1367, 19- 20 Jul 50 (I&R Plat Rpt with sketch map); Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Interv, Blumenson with 2d Lt Robert E. Nash (S-4, 2d Bn, 19th Inf, July 50), 22 Aug 51. Nash was in the compound at the time of the tank attack.

[39] 24th Recon Co WD, 20 Jul 50 and Summ, 25 Jun-22 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1304, 200850.

[40] Ltr, Capt Arthur M. Clarke to author, 31 May 52 (consists mostly of a copy of notes Clarke made shortly after he returned to friendly lines, on 23 July, while events were fresh in his mind); Field Artillery School, Fort Sill, Debriefing Rpt 42, Dept of Training Pubs and Aids, 11 Dec 51 (contains some of Clarke's recollections of Taejon); Dean and Worden, General Dean's Story, pp. 30-33; Interv, Blumenson with Herbert, 25 Aug 51; 24th Recon WD, 20 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entry 1304, 200850 Jul 50.

[41] 3d Engr (C) Bn WD, 20 Jul 50; Ltr, Clarke to author, 31 May 52; Dean and Worden, General Dean's Story, pp. 34.-35; New York Herald Tribune, July 24, 1950, Bigart interview with Clarke. The author saw three T34 tanks still standing in Taejon in July 1951, each bearing a bold inscription painted in white on its sides reading, "Knocked out 20 Jul 50 under the supervision of Maj Gen W. F. Dean." One tank was in the center of Taejon at a street corner; this apparently was the one destroyed under General Dean's direction. The other two were at the Yusong and Nonsan roads' juncture west of the city.

[42] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58.

[43] 34th Inf WD, 20 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, entries 1315, 201107, and 1367, 20225 Jul 50; 24th Div Ordnance Off Stf Hist Rpt, 20 Jul 50. A 24th Division report of 19 July erroneously states that by that date the 3.5-inch bazooka had destroyed several enemy tanks. 24th Div WD, G-4 Daily Summ, 18180-198000 Jul 50.

[44] 24th Div WD, 20 Jul 50; Ibid., G-2 PW Interrog File, interrog of Kim Chong Sun, 202300 Jul 50.

[45] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58; Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52.

[46] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Ltr, Smith to author, 18 Jun 55; 24th Div WD, 20 Jul 50; 34th Inf WD, 20 Jul 50.

[47] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58.

[48] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Interv. author with Ayres, 13 Jul 54; Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52; Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58. Ayres watched a large column march along the Kumsan road toward Taejon about this time.

[49] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58.

[50] Ltr, Ayres to author, 3 Oct 52; Interv, author with Ayres, 13 Jul 54.

[51] Ltr, Barszcz to author, 6 Sep 52 (he met the group in the Yudung valley); Interv, Blumenson with 2d Lt George W. Wilcox, Plat Ldr, 75 mm. Rec Rifle, D Co, 34th Inf, 25 Aug 51 (Wilcox was a member of Dunham's group).

[52] Interv, Blumenson with Herbert, 25 Aug 51.

[53] Dean, MS Review Comments, 20 Jan '58

[54] Interv, athor with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Beauchamp, Comments for author, 7 Jan 53; 24th Div WD, G-4 Daily Summ 20 Jul 50

[55] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58: 24th Div WD, G-4 Daily Summ, 20 Jul 50: Ibid., G-2 Jnl, entry 1372, 202140 (interv with personnel on locomotive): entry 1350, 201907: and entry 1401, 210950 Jul 50; Dean and Worden, General Dean's Story, p. 37.

[56] 24th Recon Co WD, 20 Jul 50.

[57] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58; Comments, Wadlington to author, 1 Apr 53; Ltr and Comments, Wadlington to author, 1 Jun 53; Interv, Blumenson with Herbert, 25 Aug 51; 24th Div Arty WD, 20 Jul 50; 3d Engr (C) Bn WD, 20 Jul 50. General Order 121, 5 September 1950, 24th Division, awarded the Silver Star to McDaniel.

[58] Ltr, Smith to author, 18 Jun 55; Ltr, Wadlington to author, 1 Apr 53.

[59] McDaniel was among those captured at Taejon. In prisoner of war camps McDaniel strove to protect the rights of American prisoners. According to accounts brought back by repatriated prisoners in 1953, the North Koreans, unable to break his will, finally took McDaniel away and he disappeared from view. Dean and Worden, General Dean's Story, pp. 36- 37; 32d Inf WD (7th Div), 26 Sep 50. McDaniel's name was on a roster of prisoners' names captured at Seoul, 26 September 1950.

[59] Dean, MS review comments, 20 Jan 58.

[60] Ltrs, Wadlington to author, 1 Apr, 1 Jun 53. General Order 116, 3 September 1950, 24th Division, awarded the Silver Star to Wadlington for action on 20 July 1950. Interv, Blumenson with Herbert, 25 Aug 51. Herbert was in the part of the convoy that took the wrong turn into the schoolyard.

[61] Ltr, Clarke to author, 11 Dec 52; Dean and Worden, General Dean's Story, p. 39.

[62] Interv, author with Maj Clarence H. Ellis, Jr. (S-3 Sec, 11th FA Bn Jul 50), 22 Jul 54; Interv, Blumenson with Szito, 31 Jul 51.

[63] General Order 126, 12 September 1950, 24th Division, awarded the Silver Star to Lieutenant Boyd. Interv, Capt John G. Westover with 1st Lt Ralph C. Boyd, 13 Mar 52, copy in OCMH. This interview was published in U.S. Army Combat Forces Journal (September, 1952), pp. 26-27.

[64] 3d Engr (C) Bn WD, 20 Jul 50.

[65] Department of the Army General Order 62, 2 August 1951, awarded the Medal of Honor to Libby.

[66] Interv, author with Beauchamp, 1 Aug 52; Ltr, Stephens to author, 24 Mar 52: 24th Div WD, G-3 Jnl, entry 196, 201930 Jul 50; 21st Inf WD, 20 Jul 50; New York Herald Tribune, July 21 and 23, 1950.

[67] Various interviews with survivors from the roadblock and the records of the 21st Infantry and the 24th Division place the eastern limit of the enemy roadblock at the first railroad tunnel southeast of Taejon.

[68] 21st Inf WD, 20 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, 20 and 23 Jul 50; Ibid., G-2 Jnl, entry 4, 230115 Jul 50; Ltr, Stephens to author, 24 Mar 52; Ltr, Lt Col Charles B. Smith to author, 6 Nov 51; 34th Inf WD, 25 Jul 50; Interv, Blumsenson with Szito, 31 Jul 51; Interv, author with Pfc Alvin Moore, 34th Inf, 23 Jul 51; Ltrs, Wadlington to author, 1 Apr and 1 Jun 53.

[69] Ltr, Stephens to author, 24 Mar 52; Ltr, Bissett to author, 14 May 52.

[70] Ltr, Bissett to author, 14 May 52.

[71] Ltr, Stephens to author, 24 Mar 52; Ltr, Lt Col Charles B. Smith to author, 10 May 52; 21st Inf WD, 21 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, 21 Jul 50.

[72] Ltr, Stephens to author, 24 Mar 52; Ltr, Smith to author, 10 May 52; 24th Div WD, 21 Jul 50.

[73] Ltrs, Smith to author, 18 Jun and 21 Jul 55. General Order 123, 9 September 195O, 24th Division, awarded the first Oak Leaf Cluster to the Silver Star to Capt. Jack E. Smith for gallantry and leadership on 20 July 1950.

[74] Interv, author with Capt Ben Tufts, 2 Aug 51; Ltrs, Clarke to author, 11 and 22 Dec 52, together with sketch map of escape route he followed; New York Herald Tribune, July 24, 1950, dispatch by Homer Bigart.

[75] The Department of the Army awarded General Dean the Medal of Honor for his courage and exploits at Taejon on 20 July. DA GO No. 7, 16 Feb 51. The first information that Dean might be alive as a prisoner of war came from a North Korean soldier, Lee Kyu Hyun, who escaped to American lines (his claim) or was captured near P'yongyang in North Korea in late October 1950. He had been assigned to live with General Dean and to serve as interpreter. Col. William A. Collier of the Eighth Army Staff who had established the Advanced Headquarters in P'yongyang was the first American officer to interview Lee. He was convinced that Lee had lived with Dean and made a detailed report to Maj. Gen. Leven C. Allen, then Chief of Staff, Eighth Army. Capt. Ben Tufts also interviewed Lee extensively, first at P'yongyang and subsequently early in 1951 at Pusan. In the summer of 1951 Tufts furnished the author with a copy of his interview notes with Lee. Lee's story proved to be substantially in agreement with the account given later by Dean himself. But in 1951 the author could find scarcely anyone in Eighth Army or in the Far East Command who believed that General Dean might still be alive.

[76] Ltr, Barszcz to author, 6 Sep 52; Interv, Blumenson with Wilcox, 25 Aug 51.

[77] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 106 (N.K. Arty), p. 66; Ibid., Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), pp. 46-47; Ibid., Issue 96 (N.K. 3d Div), pp. 31-32; ORO-R-1, FEC, Employment of Armor in Korea (8 Apr 51), vol. 1, p. 127, citing Sr Capt Kwon Jae Yon, and pp. 112-13, citing 2d Lt Kim Ji Soon.

[78] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 2d Div), p. 36.

[79] Casualties of some of the major units at Taejon were as follows:
Unit Casualties Percentage
Hq, 34th Inf 71 of 171 41.5
1st Bn, 34th Inf 203 of 712 28.5
3d Bn, 34th Inf 256 of 666 38.4
2d Bn, 19th Inf 211 of 713 29.5
C Co, 3d Engr (C) Bn 85 of 161 53.0
A Btry, 11th FA Bn 39 of 123 31.7
See 24th Div Arty WD, 20 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, 20 Jul 50 and G-3 Jnl, entry 198, 202000 Jul 50; A Btry, 26th AAA Bn WD, 21 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-1 Stf Hist Rpt, 22 Jul 50; 3d Engr (C) Bn WD, Narr Summ, Opnl Highlights, 20 Jul 50, and Unit Hist, 23 Jul-25 Aug 50; 34th Inf WD, 22 Jul-26 Aug, Logistical Rpt; The Rand Corp., Dr. J. O'Sullivan, 24th Division Casualties at Taejon.

[80] 24th Div WD, Summ, 23 Jul-25 Aug 50; Ltr, Smith to author, 6 Nov 52; 21st Inf WD, 25 Jun-22 Jul 50, Incl III, Act Rpt, 3d Bn, 24 Jul 50; 34th Inf WD, 22 Jul-26 Aug 50, Logistical Rpt; EUSAK WD, 13-31 Jul 50, Summ, Sec II, 22 Jul 50. Church was promoted from brigadier general to major general on 18 July 1950.

[81] Ltr, Stephens to author, 17 Sep 52. The author has heard essentially the same thing from many others who fought in Korea during the summer of 1950.

[82] Ltr and MS review comments, Dean to Maj Gen Richard W. Stephens, Chief of Military History, 20 Jan 58.

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