Memorable Battles of the Korean War
HOLD AT ALL COSTS. Dan Braucher of Willowbrook, Illinois, a member of the Korean War Museum, reminded America not to forget the siege of Outpost Harry by writing an article about OP Harry in the September 1992 issue of The Graybeards. In Graybeards, Dan summed up the events of one of the worst battles in Korean War history. We ran across his article while browsing through old editions of the magazine not long ago, and found it to be a perfect complement to interviews which have been conducted by the staff of the Korean War and Douglas County Museums in Tuscola. Member Martin Markley, who was a company commander at OP Harry, told us a few other details about Harry for our article. We combined the Braucher/Markley information, excerpts from interviews, information from declassified documents, and data from government military records to bring our viewers this feature article about Outpost Harry. In addition, a limited pictorial history of Outpost Harry has been preserved in the form of photographs brought to the museum by Leonard Lassor of Dover, New Hampshire (taken by Jim Jarboe of Duarte, California); Gordon Lowery of Sandwich, IL; Wayne Carlson of Ottawa, IL; and Gene Grisomore of Mattoon, IL. (Picture of Lt. Reinkemeyer taken at right rear bunker on Harry was loaned by Jarboe/Lassor.)
Harry was an outpost east of the Chorwon Valley with sister outposts to the West called Tom and Dick. OP Dick was about 100 yards in front of the Main Line of Resistance, and Tom was about 250-300 yards in front and below the MLR. The later was the floor of the valley. Harry, which was over 400 yards from the MLR, was also higher than the MLR, making supply much more difficult. The route to the outpost was under constant enemy observation and fire, and its height made it harder to pack supplies up the hill. Unlike Tom and Dick, which could get supporting fire from the MLR, Harry got less close supporting fire from the MLR because company 60mm mortars and the heavy machine guns did not have enough range. Harry relied more on artillery and heavy mortars companies. For political leverage (and because Harry had a commanding view of all the division area which the Chinese Communist Forces wanted), the CCF were attempting to take Harry, and as many UN Outposts as possible before the soon-to-be cease fire (July 27, 1953). If the CCF took Harry, they would have controlled the entire area.
In a war zone, each unit is assigned an area of responsibility - sometimes yards, sometimes miles, depending on the size and number of units available in the area as well as the terrain. Outposts Tom, Dick and Harry were in the Third Infantry Division area of responsibility for weeks before the infamous June 1953 siege took place. The 15th Infantry Regiment was responsible for Harry and Tom at that time, and the Greeks who were attached to the 15th Infantry Regiment were responsible for OP Dick. The 65th Infantry Regiment went to reserve June 5, leaving the 3rd battalion of the 15th Infantry Regiment in charge of the immediate OP Harry sector, with King Company on the outpost. The companies behind Dick and Tom each had about 300-400 yards of the MLR. If outposts were lost to the CCF the MLR and the route to South Korea would be in grave jeopardy so orders came down from 8th Army through the 3rd Division to "hold it at all costs."
In the evening of June 10th, K Company, commanded by Capt. Martin A. Markley, was hit by a large number of CCF after a tremendous artillery and mortar barrage. Markley had been briefed earlier that day on what was about to happen on Harry, and he in turn briefed his men. Ammo and communications were checked, as were final protective fires. "Everyone prepared to fight," said Markley, "and some knew they would likely die." CCF regiment-sized forces (three infantry battalions, tanks, mortars -- at least three times larger than a battalion) hit and succeeded in overrunning the outpost for a time. When K company got under cover in bunkers, friendly Variable Time (VT) artillery was called in to stop the CCF attack. The artillery rounds exploded in the air rather than on impact, and this, plus hand-to-hand combat, finally drove the CCF off of Harry that night. K Company was so depleted that they were immediately reinforced by a reserve platoon and then replaced by another company of the 3rd Battalion.
The CCF continued their nightly attacks with forces up to 3600 and thousands of artillery and mortar rounds. All nine rifle companies of the 15th Infantry, as well as units of the Greek battalion and 5th RCT, took part in reinforcing and holding Harry against tremendous odds. Estimates are that 88,810 enemy rounds over 81mm size, as well as mortars, were fired on Harry during the course of the main attacks. Friendly mortar and artillery units in conjunction with friendly tank fired 368,185 rounds over 81mm size. The 39th and the 58th Field Artillery, as well as the 92nd Armored Field Artillery, were firing as fast as possible. The top of the outpost was so pulverized with artillery and mortar fire that bodies were later found eight feet below the existing surface. This photo of Harry, taken in March of 1953, shows a bleak and rocky incline.
The enemy forces employed against Outpost Harry during the period 10-18 June were tabulated by Intelligence Sections to be substantially as follows June 10-1l - a reinforced CCF regiment of approximately 3,600 CCF; June 11-12 - a CCF regiment of approximately 2,850; June 12-13 - a reinforced CCF regiment; June 13-14 - an estimated 100 CCF; June 14-15 - an estimated 120 CCF; June 15-17 - negative; June 17-18 - a CCF regiment.
Several UN companies involved took up to 80% casualties. Declassified information about Outpost Harry now shows that "hold at all costs" meant a high price in human lives. From June 10 to the 18th, the casualty figure was 15th Infantry Regiment - 68 KIA, 343 WIA, 35 MIA; KATUSA - 8 KIA, 51 WIA, 7 MIA; Greek Force - 15 KIA, 36 WIA, 1 MIA. Attached and supporting units 5th RCT - 13 KIA, 67 WIA, 1 MIA; 10th Engr. Bn. - 5 KIA, 23 WIA; 39th FA - 5 KIA, 13 WIA. Armored personnel carriers and tanks were used to evacuate the WIAs and the KIAs in the aftermath of each attack. Replacement companies and engineers also joined in carrying the dead and wounded down the hill so they could be transported on to an aid station. When fighting, Markley noted, medical attention often had to wait. Buddies helped each other, often giving first aid until the medics arrived. The 15th "Can Do" Infantry Regiment held Outpost Harry at a dear price against overwhelming odds. This action prevented a CCF breakthrough just before the truce. From June 10 to June 18, the entire 74th CCF Division was utilized against this position and at the end of the engagement was considered combat ineffective. Overall, the enemy casualties at Outpost Harry were KIA (counted) - 223; KIA (estimated) - 1450; WIA (estimated) - 3800.
More information about Outpost Harry and the effort to "hold at all costs" can be found in declassified information originally kept at 15th Infantry Regiment headquarters. The sequence of events was listed as follows for the night of 10-11 June 1850 - first CCF sightings reported. Each sighting engaged by mortar and artillery. 2130 - An ambush patrol west of Outpost Dick in the sector of the Greek Expeditionary Force Battalion reported Chinese numbering approximately 250 coming off Jackson Heights. Mortar and artillery began falling on the 15th Infantry MLR as well as Outposts Dick and Harry. After a short but intense fire fight in the vicinity of Outpost Dick, including 2,000 rounds of enemy artillery and mortar fire, the enemy withdrew. 2245 - While attention was still focused on Outpost Dick, word came that the CCF were in the trenches on Outpost Harry bitter hand to hand fighting followed and the Chinese were killed or driven from the trenches. The Chinese reinforced their attack four more times during the early morning hours and as late as 11 June 0430 were in the trench on the northern side of the outpost. In addition to a composite local reserve committed by the 3d Battalion commander, E and C Companies, 15th Infantry Regiment were committed to reinforce. One platoon of tanks from Heavy Tank company, 15th Infantry Regiment, and one platoon of infantry were committed to the valley east of Outpost Harry as a diversionary force. This tank infantry team proved of great value in channeling the enemy attack. 0530 - a daylight CCF attack in battalion strength was repulsed by elements on the outpost. 0630 - evacuation of wounded and dead began. This continued through the daylight hours. The Regimental Commander, 15th Infantry Regiment, reorganized, placing B company, 15th Infantry Regiment on the outpost. And so it went for days and days - continuation of the CCF attack, defensive fire, hand to hand combat, counter battery and counter mortar fire, evacuation of the wounded and dead.
Company P, Greek Expeditionary Forces Battalion, Companies B and K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, and Company A, 5th Infantry Regiment, 5th RCT and attached units (First Section, Machine Gun Platoon, 5th Infantry Regiment and Forward Observer Team, 555th Field Artillery Battalion) each received the Distinguished Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in the vicinity of Surang-ni and Songnae-Dong, Korea. Company B, 15th Infantry successfully repelled several determined attempts by the Chinese Communist Forces to overtake their position on the night of June 11. On two separate occasions the assaults by the hostile forces were beaten off by close-in fighting and aggressive counterattack, causing the enemy forces to turn back with heavy casualties. Using hand to hand combat, the men of Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment held their position from June 10 to 11 against a reinforced enemy regiment that was employing small arms fire, automatic weapons and grenades, and supported by 20,000 rounds of artillery and mortar fire. The 5th RCT and attached units withstood five separate attacks by overwhelming enemy forces on June 12.
Wayne Carlson of Ottawa, Illinois, Gordon Lowery of Sandwich, Illinois, and Dean Mulligan of Tuscola, Illinois can each testify to the intense fighting they saw on Outpost Harry. Wayne and Gordon were medics with the 15th Regiment at Outpost Harry, and Dean was a platoon sergeant for George Company, 2nd Battalion. The three men participated in a joint interview in the Douglas County Museum last year, each sharing memories of Outpost Harry. They recalled the barbed wire, booby traps, and napalm traps used to protect American and Greek troops from the enemy. Mulligan noted that the back side of Harry was a long, sloping hill. The other sides were steeper, and artillery from both sides was continually being fired onto them. The men of the 15th Infantry Regiment were very young, Mulligan, Carlson and Lowery recalled. They were only 17, 18, 19, and 20 year old men who were mostly regular army. The drafted ones, like the three doing the interview, were a little older. These young men held Outpost Harry with their very lives. On the first night of the siege, less than 20 men from Martin Markleys King Company of 130-140 men walked off of Harry. Markley himself was severely wounded and he credits Carlson, another wounded OP Harry survivor named Sam Buck, and other medics with saving his life.
The life of a 3rd Division combat medic was as difficult as that of the 3rd Division combat infantryman. Gene Grisomore of Mattoon, Illinois was interviewed in January by museum coordinator Tricia North. Grisomore saw more than his fair share of dead and wounded while on duty on Tom, Dick & Harry in 1953 with the 3rd Battalion, 15th Regiment, 3rd Division. Bullets flew around Grisomore while he worked on the wounded. "It was just a job I had to do," he said. The injured and the dying called out for his help, but when the wounds were too serious, there was little even a medic could do to relieve their suffering. As medics, Carlson and Lowery also had the unenviable job of tagging the bodies of Americans and Chinese who were victims of war. "A lot of guyswho had no business over there -- guys with a lot of education -- got killed," said Carlson. And much of the dying and suffering that took place on and after the battle of Outpost Harry, Carlson noted further, was unnecessary and very sad. He was referring to the fact that, as the cease fire date drew nearer, there were more intense artillery barrages because both sides wanted to use up all their excess ammunition so they didnt have to transport it back to the demilitarized area.
"We have men who still find it very difficult to discuss the events in Korea. Some of our OP Harry members will not come to our reunions because they dont want to re-live the experience," notes museum member Martin Markley, who was severely wounded on Outpost Harry. Carlson and Lowery waited 40 years before sharing their memories of Outpost Harry with the newspaper in Ottawa, and Dean Mulligan didnt even know there was an Outpost Harry Survivors Association until he and 3rd Division veteran Marcian Hausman of Tuscola attended a division reunion in Indianapolis. The 1999 Outpost Harry reunion will be held in Arlington, Virginia at the Washington National Airport Hilton Hotel. See our Reunion page for more details.
Regnard Addison (RAB) Burgess, Jr.
P. O. Box 292
Joyce, LA 71440
17 April, 1999
J joined Headquarters Battery, 39th Field Artillery Battalion around 13 May 1953 and was assigned to Liaison Section #224 (Greek Infantry Battalion) with the 15th U. S. Infantry Regiment. We were over on the eastern side of Chorwon Valley. I think this was the western end of the 15th Infantry and 3rd Infantry Division sector of responsibility.
Verlin E. Rogers and I came in the 39th FA Bn. and the Greek Infantry Bn. together. We went out with combat seasoned men for about two or three weeks. By then we had proved out enough to go out, just the two if us. Rogers has a more level head and I was the wild one. By the time we got to the Greek Inf. Bn. on Outpost Harry we were combat veterans. We were a good team.
Outpost Harry was different from anything else. The dead bodies, the smell the destruction. The Greek soldiers probably said it best. It was like being sent to hell. We repaired and ran new telephone lines across the flat behind the MLR and Outpost Harry. It seems like we were on O.P. Harry two or three times a day while the Greek Bn. was there even after the siege ended 18 June 1953. Peter (3rd) Company of the Greek Bn. was there the last night of the siege. 1st Lt. Peter B. Mavradies and Cpl. Shaw were the Recon. Team (F.O.) from the 39th FA Bn. The uniforms rotted off of our backs since we didnt have a bath or change of clothes for about six weeks. We had better food being with the Greek Bn and we slept 45 minutes to an hour and half a night.
The siege stopped. The rain stopped. Only a few incoming artillery, mortar rounds and small arms fire. It was almost pleasant. Then we went back to regroup, retrain, rearm, etc.. However we didnt get there. Instead we went to Kumsung Valley. I went with Lt. Bitsis Recon. Section (Forward Observer) with Nan (1st) Company of the Greek Inf. Bn. On the way to Nan Company I carried batteries to Peter Company of the Greek Bn. As I went to Nan Company it became very dark and I could hear the Chinese talking very close around. I pushed on and ran into a patrol of Greek soldiers from O (2nd) Company. After much talk they let me come in. My knowledge of the Greek language isnt that good, then or now. Peter Company had lost contact. Lt. Col. George Koumanakos, Greek Inf. Bn. commander and 1st Lt. Peter Mavraides, Liaison Officer of Section #244 were impressed and put me in for the Silver Star Medal. I received the medal about twenty years later, no orders with it. It just came through the mail. I spent the rest of the night with O Company of the Greek Bn. I found out I was reported missing in action. I called back and got the MIA report stopped before it was sent to my mother in Arkansas.
The next morning I had a pleasant stroll over to N Company, Greek Bn. Lt. Bistis and I went out the next day and called in some fire missions. He was then satisfied I could perform as a forward observer.
The 30th Capitol ROK had run and left Kumsung and Kumwha valleys open. After the CCF made a mass attack the 555th AFA n. of the 5th RCT lost 16 of their 18 self propelled guns to the CCF. The CCF fired on us with the 55th AFA guns (155mm) and ammo. The Third Infantry division had been sent in to plug the breakthrough. We held the ground until 27 July 1953 and cease-fire.
N: Company Greek Bn. was surrounded for six days in the Kumsung Valley. The Greek Captain exclaimed no surrender. Fight to the last man. On the last night the Air Force napalmed the CCF and we walked out. We ran out of food and water but had plenty of ammo. Sometimes every man in the company was firing and the Chinese were firing back/ CCF bodies were piled up all around the company. We settled in a new position and I think we stayed there until the cease fire. After the cease fire we went back to the Greek Bn. . We had no detail or guard, plenty of good food and drink. It was my best time in the Army.
The last night Col. Koumanakos called me off to one side and told me I would receive the Greek War Cross. In the fall of 1953 we were told that President Eisenhower wouldnt let us receive the Greek medals
We went back with HQ Btry 39th FA Bn. after the older (RA) Sgts rotated home. They took our hex tents and put us in squad tents. Rogers and I made Cpl in Oct 1953 and were laiaison Sgts and I was a forward observer from time to time. Our men pulled all the duty details and more than their share of guard duty. We went on field problems with the Greek Bn. and the rest of the 15th Inf. Regt.
During the winter of 1953-1954 I went on field problems almost all or maybe all companies of the 15th Inf. Regt. B company of the 15th Inf. Was one I remember well. It was a well run company. I also remember K Company of the 15th Inf. Ola Lee Mize was 1st Sgt.. We had to march an extra 20miles for having a late start. This was the only company that my Recon Section was dismissed and not asked if we needed transportation. I was told it was a first class company in earlier times. I was the only enlisted man in our Bn. to have to qualify on a firing range as a forward observer. The rest of the FOs were officers 1st&2nd Lts).
The Greeks were brought up to regimental strength that winter. I went with them on their first regimental field exercise as Liaison Sgt. They had two battalions. The 3rd Inf. Div. Or Corps or Army had a Bn. field exercise that winter. I went on this field problem with both Greek Bns and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Bns. Of the 15th Inf. Regt. The 2nd Bn 15th Inf. failed this problem and I went with them on the second try. The C.O. of the 39th FA Bn. promoted his jeep driver to Lno. Sgt. in my spot. In May 1954 made Sgt. (E-5).
In June 1954 I extended my Korean tour 30 days and made Lno. Sgt. Of Section #242, 2nd Bn 15th Inf. Regt. Assigned to Chorwan City. The most likely to be hit first if the war was restarted. We had run out of liaison people. I was offered 1st Lt. To extend for a year. I was also cleared for Top Secret. At this time the 2nd Bn. was very good and smooth running. I drew up the fire plans. They were approved and I set up the commo and had a good running section, I rotated (boarded a troop ship) in Pusan 27 July 1954.
My time with the four battalions of the 15th Inf. For the most part were very hard and very pleasant. In my study of history (Mt major) at this university I dont think anyone has put together a better body of men. The mood of our nation didnt support us as they should. The men werent elite, Draftees, Regulars, National Guard, Reserves, OCS, ROTC, and USMA, a splendid mix of Americans. All we did was hold our ground against an unbelievable mass of Chinese.
I have done many things since I left the Army. Some well, some poor. I am proud of being a charter member of the Outpost Harry Survivors Assn. The highest honor being elected president of this small elite order by the men I had been in combat with. In 1992 when we were organizing the OPHS Assn., I became a charter member of the 15th Inf. Regt. Assn. This was a proud time also. Both groups have increased in numbers and many good things and will do even bigger things.
Let us not forget the Society of the Third Infantry Division gave birth to both of these Orders. We could have done it anyway but this made it much easier.
Copyright © 1998 Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library
Of Interest to Korean War Veterans
Copyright © 1998 Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library