On 18 July, the 1st Cavalry Division was ordered to Korea. Initially scheduled to make an amphibious landing at Inchon, it was redirected to the southeastern coast of Korea at Pohang-dong a port 80 miles north of Pusan. The North Koreans were 25 miles away when elements of the 1st Cavalry Division swept ashore to successfully carry out the first amphibious landing of the Korean War. The 5th Cavalry Regiment Combat Team marched quickly toward Taejon. By 22 July, all regiments were deployed in battle positions; in itself a remarkable logistical achievement in the face of Typhoon Helene that pounded the Korean coastline.
The baptism of fire came on 23 July. The 8th Cavalry was hit by a heavy artillery and mortar barrage and North Koreans swarmed toward their positions. As the space between the battalions became increasingly threatened, the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry moved into the gap to absorb some of the pressure. Elements were also sent to help the 8th Cavalry. The next day, the troopers suffered their first severe combat losses. Company "F", 5th Cavalry moved to assist the 1st Battalion of the 5th on its right flank. Company "F", and Company "B", 5th Cavalry were hit by overwhelming numbers of North Korean Infantry. Only 26 men from the relief units managed to escape and return to friendly territory.
During the next few days a defensive line was formed at Hwanggan with the 7th Cavalry moving east and the 5th Cavalry replacing the 25th Infantry Regiment. On 01 August, the First Team was ordered to set up a defensive position near Kumchon on the rail route from Taegu to Pusan. For more than 50 days between late July and mid September, First Team Troopers and UN Soldiers performed the bloody task of holding on the vital Pusan Perimeter.
On 09 August, the enemy hurled five full divisions and parts of a sixth at the Naktong defenders near Taegu. The 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry bore the brunt of this attack. The North Koreans gained some high ground - but not for long. the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry moved against them, hitting their flanks with coordinated artillery and air strikes. In seizing hill 268, known as "Triangulation Hill", the troopers accounted for 400 enemy dead. The First Team pulled back from some of its positions and tightened its defenses. The 5th Cavalry withstood two more punishing attacks. The North Korean drive ground to a halt on 08 September, seven miles short of Taegu. The momentum began to turn.
With added reinforcements, Pusan became a staging ground and depot for United
Nations supplies and soldiers from all around the world. Solders of the United
Nations forces became First Team troopers, the gallant Greek Battalion (GEF)
was attached to the 7th Cavalry Regiment and fought along side of them. The
defenders now outnumbered the attackers and they had the equipment and
firepower to go on the offensive.
On 26 September, the 5th Cavalry crossed the Naktong, advancing to Sanju and north to Hamchung and south to Osan-dong. Then the 5th had to seize Chongo. Chochiwon and Chouni astride the main highway were the next objectives. On 02 October, the 5th Cavalry were ordered to push north and establish a bridgehead across the Imjin River. The 5th Cavalry probed ahead crossing the 38th parallel on 09 October 1950. During the night of 11 October, Lt. Samual S. Coursen of "C" Company, 5th Cavalry lead his men into enemy territory to reduce a roadblock that was holding up the advance. Lead by the 5th Regiment, the 1st Cavalry Division entered Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea on 19 October. This event marked the third "First" for the Division;
"First in Pyongyang".
On 25 October 1950, the Korean War took a grim new turn. The sudden intervention of Communist Chinese forces dashed hopes of a quick end to the war. The Chinese were attacking in force. They had tanks; waves of soldiers and fearsome weapons of the Soviet's; rockets. On 24 November, General MacArthur launched a counteroffensive of 100,000 UN troops. The 1st Cavalry and the ROK 6th Divisions moved up from their reserve positions and slammed into the attack. The Chinese penetrated the front companies of 1st and 2nd Battalions, 7th Cavalry and tried to exploit the gap. At 2:00 they were hit by elements of the 3rd Battalion reinforced by tanks. Red troops were stopped and retreated back into an area previously registered for artillery fire. Enemy losses were high and the shoulder was held.
The new year began unexpectedly quiet. The First Team defenders readied their
weapons, shored up their defenses and waited in the bitter cold. This time
there was no surprise when the Chinese artillery began pounding the UN lines
in the first few minutes of 1951. The units forward of the 38th Parallel were
hit by the Chinese crossing the frozen Imjin River. Ignoring heavy losses, the
Chinese crawled through mine fields and barbed wire. The United Nations Forces
abandoned Seoul and fell back to the Han River. The Chinese drive lost its
momentum when it crossed the Han and a lull fell over the front.
During this bitter fighting, another First Trooper made the highest sacrifice and won the Medal of Honor. On 29 - 30 January, the 5th Cavalry had a hard fight on its hands on Hill 312. On 30 January, 1st Lt. Robert M. McGovern led "A" Company up the reverse slope and got near the enemy on the crest before he was wounded. Realizing that his men were in danger, Lt. McGovern threw back several enemy grenades and charged a machine gun that was raking his platoon. Although wounded Lt. McGovern killed seven solders before he was fatally wounded.
On 14 February, heavy fighting erupted around an objective known as Hill 578, which was finally was taken by the 7th Cavalry after overcoming stiff Chinese resistance. During this action General MacArthur paid a welcome visit to the 1st Team. Not far away, at a town Chipyong-ni, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team and a French Army Battalion were surrounded by five Chinese divisions. In desperate fighting, the two units killed thousands of Chinese but were unable to break out.
The 5th Cavalry Regiment formed a rescue force, called Task Force Crombez, to counterattack along a road running from Yoju to Chipyong-ni via Koksu-ri, a distance of 15 miles. The troopers had painted tiger stripes on their armored tanks to give them a psychological advantage. The sight of the tiger-stripped M4A3 and M46 tanks sent many of the Chinese running from their entrenched positions. As the fleeing Chinese raced through open ground, they were cut down by heavy fire from the tanks and escorting troopers of Company "L", who had taken heavy casualties in their mission of tank protection enroute to Chipyong-ni. On 15 February, Task Force Crombez broke through the perimeter of Chipyong-ni ending the standoff. The victory at Chipyong-ni marked the first time in the Korean War that the Red Chinese had been dealt a major defeat.
The First Cavalry slowly advanced though snow and later, when it became warm, through torrential rains. The Red Army was slowly; but firmly, being pushed back. On 14 March, the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry had crossed the Hangchon River and on the 15th, Seoul was recaptured by elements of the 8th Army. New objectives were established to keep the Chinese from rebuilding and resupplying their forces and to advance to the "Kansas Line", which roughly followed the 38th Parallel and the winding Imjin River.
On 22 April, 21 Chinese and 9 North Korean divisions slammed into Line Kansas. Their main objective was to recapture Seoul. The First Cavalry joined in the defense line and the bitter battle to keep the Reds out of the South Korean Capital. Stopped at Seoul, on 15 May, the Chinese attempted a go around maneuver in the dark. The 8th Army pushed them back to the Kansas Line and later the First Team moved deeper into North Korea, reaching the base of the "Iron Triangle", an enemy supply area encompassing three small towns.From 09 June to 27 November, the 1st Cavalry took on various rolls in the summer-fall campaign of the United Nations. On 18 July, a year after it had entered the war, the 1st Cavalry Division was assigned to a reserve status. This type of duty did not last for long. On the nights of 21 and 23 September, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 7th Cavalry repulsed waves of Red Chinese with hand to hand fighting. But harder work followed when Operation "Commando", a mission to push the Chinese out of their winter defense positions south of the Yokkok River, was launched.
On 27 November, the advance party from the division, left Korea. On 07 December 1951, the 5th Cavalry sailed for Hokkaido, Japan to become part of the US XVI Corps. By late January 1952, all units had arrived on Hokkaido, under the command of Major General Thomas L. Harrold. The First Team had performed tough duties with honor, pride and valor with distinction.
Arriving in the port of Muroran, each unit was loaded on trains and moved to the new garrison areas. Three camps were established outside Sappro, the Islands capital city. Division Headquarters and the 7th Cavalry Regiment were stationed at Camp Crawford. The 5th Cavalry was stationed at Camp Chitose, Area I. The 8th Cavalry, the last unit to leave Korea, was stationed at Camp Chitose, Area II. The division controlled a huge training area of 155,000 acres. The mission of the division was to defend the Island of Hokkaido and to maintain maximum combat readiness.
On 10 February 1953, the 5th Cavalry Regiment, 61st Field Artillery Battalion
and Battery "A", 29th AAA AW Battalion, departed from Otaru, Japan for Pusan
and Koje-do, Korea to relieve the 7th Cavalry who had previously rotated back
to Korea. On 27 April, all elements of the 5th Cavalry, less the 3rd Battalion
and Heavy Mortar Company, returned to Hokkaidio. The units remaining in Korea
continued security missions under control of KCOMZ.
The Korean War wound down to a negotiated halt when the long awaited armistice was signed at 10:00 on 27 July 1953. A DeMilitarized Zone (DMZ), a corridor - 4 kilometers wide and 249 kilometers long, was established dividing North and South Korea. The nominal line of the buffer zone is along the 38th parallel; however, the final negotiations of the adjacent geographical areas, gave the North Korean Government some 850 square miles south of the 38th parallel and the South Korean Government some 2,350 square miles north of it.
On 09 September, the 3rd Battalion and Heavy Mortar Company of the 5th Cavalry returned to Hokkaido after seven months of duty in Korea.
In September 1954, the Japanese assumed responsibility for defending Hokkaido and the First Team returned to the main Island of Honshu. 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters and the 5th Cavalry Regiment were located at Camp Schimmelpfennig. The 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 29th AAA AW Battalion occupied Camp Haugen, near Hachinohe. The 8th Cavalry Regiment was stationed at Camp Hachinohe. For the next three years the division guarded the northern sections of Honshu until a treaty was signed by the governments of Japan and the United States in 1957. This accord signaled the removal of all US ground forces from Japan's main islands.
On 20 August 1957, the First Cavalry Division, guarding the northern sections
of Honshu, Japan was reduced to zero strength and transferred to Korea (minus
equipment). On 23 September 1957, General Order 89 announced the redesignation
of the 24th Infantry Division as the 1st Cavalry Division and ordered a
reorganization of the Division under the "pentomic" concept. As part of the
"pentomic" reorganization, the 1st Battle Group, 5th Cavalry was activated,
organized and assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. In ceremonies held on 15
October, the colors of the 24th Division were retired and the colors of the
1st Cavalry Division were passed to the Commanding General of the old 24th
Division, Major General Ralph W. Zwicker. "The First Team" had returned to
Korea, standing ready to defend the country against Communist aggression.
NOTE - Although fighting was stopped, in July 1953, by the armed truce, North and South Korea have remained officially in a state of war for forty-five years, signified by the fact that over 1,000 UN personnel have been killed in duty at the DMZ. As of today, because of communist obstructionist tactics, years have gone by and no peace treaty has ever been agreed to and signed. An ever present "alert" status is in effect, as evidenced by the presence of a North Korean military force of 1.1 million troops stationed within miles of the Demilitarized Zone facing the South Korean force of 660,000 troops supported by 37,000 American soldiers stationed in the area.
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