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 8th Cavalry Regiment, reinforced by division artillery and other units, moved by rail, truck and jeep to relieve the 21st Regiment, 24th Division near Yongdong. 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 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment was deployed north of Taegu, now the temporary capital of South Korea and astride the direct line of enemy advance. In the meantime the 2nd Battalion, 8th Regiment held positions on the road from Maju to the southwest. Their baptism of fire came on 23 July. The 8th Regiment was hit by heavy artillery fire and mortar barrage, and North Korean infantrymen swarmed toward their entrenched positions. The next day the troopers suffered their first severe combat losses. For more than 50 days between mid July and mid September, the First team troopers and the UN Forces performed the difficult, bloody task of holding on to the vital Pusan Perimeter.
On 01 August 1950, the 16th Reconnaissance Company (a unit eventually consolidated with the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry in 1957), and the lead reconnaissance unit of the 1st Cavalry Division, conducting a patrol toward and beyond Chirye was stopped by enemy fire. With their return route blocked by the North Koreans, the troopers moved ahead until their vehicles were knocked out, then moved on foot to friendly lines. Elements of the 16th Reconnaissance Company barely escaped destruction by these enemy tanks, and did suffer casualties. Out of the original roster of 57 men, 44 made it safely back by crossing 35 miles of difficult mountain terrain.
The turning point in this bloody battle came on 15 September 1950, when
MacArthur unleashed his plan to go around the advancing North Korean Army,
Chromite - an amphibious landing at Inchon, far behind the North
Korean lines. In spite of the many negative operational reasons given by
critics of the plan, the Inchon landing was an immediate success allowing the
1st Cavalry Division to break out of the perimeter and start fighting north.
The routes North was heavily mined. Rather than have the engineering battalion
methodically screen and dig up the mines, 17 tanks of "A" Company, 70th Tank
Battalion were sacrificed to rapidly clear the mines along the routes. It was
during this massive offensive that the 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment,
"C" Company and the "I" & "R" Platoon of the 70th Tank Battalion made the
historical mission of "Task Force Lynch", the Pusan Perimeter Breakout through
106.4 miles of enemy held territory to link up with the 7th Infantry Division
By 04 October, the division had re-instated the Northern offensive movements. On 05 October, the 1st Cavalry Division advanced north of Seoul for the purpose of securing the US I Corps assembly area near the 38th Parallel. Led by "I" Company, the 5th Cavalry Regiment crossed to the north side of the Imjin River at Munsan-ni. On 07 October, the 16th Reconnaissance Company, (the former 302nd Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop - redesignated on 25 March 1949), entered Kaesong, and that evening elements of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, arrived there. By evening of 08 October the 7th and 8th Cavalry Regiments had secured the I Corps assembly area in the vicinity of Kaesong. Some of the troops were within small arms range of the 38th Parallel. On 09 October, the 1st Cavalry Division crossed the 38th Parallel. On 19 October, troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division crashed into Pyongyang, capturing the capital city of North Korea. This event marked the third "First" for the Division:
"First in Pyongyang".
On 20 October 1950, in a related event that happened back in the states, the 9th Cavalry Regiment was converted, redesignated as the 509th Tank Battalion, relieved from assignment to the 2nd Cavalry Division and activated on 01 November 1950, in accordance with the provisions of General Order Number 7, issued by the Headquarters of Camp Polk, Louisiana. The cadre of twenty enlisted men arrived from Fort Hood, Texas and Fort Lewis, Washington. Lieutenant Colonel John T. Davis assumed command and basic training for Companies "A", "B" & "C" began on 20 November. On 11 December, the battalion was attached to the 15th Armored Cavalry Group.
At the beginning of the year 1951, the 509th Tank Battalion was engaged in basic training. During the month of March, the majority of the personnel completed their basic training and commenced on the Advanced Individual Training. Platoon training was begun in May. This effort was characterized by repeated running of platoon problem involving attacks, withdrawals and sustained defense. In mid May, range firing was begun using 76mm guns.
In May, Major Charles M. Truax, former Battalion Executive Officer, assumed temporary command of the battalion, replacing Lieutenant Colonel John. T. Davis. On 10 June, Lieutenant Colonel Ian F. Turner arrived to assume full command of the battalion. In support of the local training, a large number of the enlisted men were sent to Fort Knox to attend courses in motors or tank commanding. On 15 August, the battalion was ordered to add ten weeks of training to their schedule to build a stronger foundation in tactics and gunnery. On 22 October, all platoons had completed their tests with ratings of satisfactory. On 11 December 1951, the 509th Tank Battalion completed the field tests, including moving into an assembly area, perimeter defense, plans, movement into attack position, attack, defense and withdrawal.
The year 1953 began with the battalion remaining in a "caretaker" status with the mission of maintaining stored equipment and readying itself for tactical reconstitution. During the month of April, the battalion was integrated. As of 30 April, the personnel roster consisted of twenty percent African-American and eighty percent Caucasian
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, 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, standing ready to defend Korea against Communist aggression. The
redesignated and reorganized First Cavalry was assigned the mission of
patrolling the "Freedom's Frontier" (DMZ).
On 15 October 1957, as a part of the pentomic reorganization, Company "A",
509th Tank Battalion, 9th Cavalry, previously inactivated at Fort Knox,
Kentucky was redesignated Troop "A", 9th Cavalry. Subsequently, on 01 November
1957, Troop "A", 9th Cavalry was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters
Troop, 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry; consolidated with the 16th
Reconnaissance Company and assigned to 1st Cavalry Division and activated in
Korea. The squadron served as the "eyes and ears" of the 1st Cavalry Division.
An all-volunteer outfit, the company, composed of a headquarters platoon and three line platoons, performed its mission 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by manning observation posts and patrolling in and along the demilitarized zone. One platoon would cover the zone in the daytime and two were assigned to night operations. A patrol consisted of three men, carrying the equipment that they needed for their specific mission. They always reported in every thirty minutes. Diligent performance was achieved by screening applicants for ability, experience and intelligence. Duty was rugged, but high spirits were maintained by the keen sense of mission importance shared by members of the unit.
Unlike most of the other subordinate units of the Division, The DMZ Police Company had never been in combat nor did it have a long history. However, in its short life span, it constantly performed one of the most important and toughest duties of the Free World defense. On 01 April 1960. the DMZ Police Company was inactivated and its security mission, along with assigned personnel, was transferred to the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry.
On 01 September 1963 the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron was reorganized and
redesignated as the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry. The unit remained on duty at
the DMZ until 01 July 1965 when it were transferred (less personnel and
equipment) from Korea to Fort Benning, Georgia and reorganized.
On 15 June 2000 the first major breakthrough leading to more stable, peaceful
conditions in the Korean Peninsula came about by the signing of a landmark
agreement committing the Koreans to work toward reunification, to allow the
reunions of families separated during the Korean War, and to improve economic
cooperation between the two nations. While the joint communication was short
of specifics, it signaled that the leaders, South Korean President, Kim
Dae-jung and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il hoped to put relations on the
Korean Peninsula on an even footing and raised hopes for the eventual
reunification of the nations. Later, South Korean officials outlined plans for
implementing the historic agreement -- including the creation of a military
hotline and building a railway crossing at the nations' heavily patrolled
Riders have to pass through a military checkpoint to get onto the trail, but the CCL is a good five miles south of the actual DMZ and within the sight of the sometimes unpredictable soldiers of North Korea. The ride is filled with memorable sights. The rivers of the area are unmarred by boat or fisherman. The terrain is relatively flat, absent of any houses, and, in the distance in every direction, there are postcard-worthy views of the mountains. This truly would be a nature-lover's paradise, were it not for the armed soldiers, the guard towers and all the barbed wire.
Need a gift for an Alumni of the 1st Cavalry Division?
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