Battle of Cheonan Ceremony/Visit to Independence Hall Museum – Cheonan, South Korea – 6 July 2012
U.S. Army photos by Steven Hoover
Humphreys Soldiers attend Battle of Cheonan commemoration
By Steven Hoover
USAG Humphreys Public Affairs Office
CHEONAN, Republic of Korea – A contingent of Soldiers from Camp Humphreys joined city officials for a ceremony commemorating the 62nd Anniversary of the Battle of Cheonan, here, July 6.
The annual event, which is hosted by the Cheonan Chapter of the Korea Freedom Federation, honors the Korean and American Soldiers who fought and died during the July 8, 1950, battle. Soldiers assigned to 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 4-58th Airfield Operations Battalion, 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion and the 568th Medical Company, attended and participated in the ceremony.
The Battle of Cheonan was the third engagement between United States and North Korean forces during the Korean War. The fight, a holding action designed to buy time and slow the North Korean movement towards Pusan, was fought largely by Soldiers of the 34th Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, led by Col. Robert R. Martin.
The unit was assigned to delay elements of the North Korean People’s Army’s 4th Infantry Division as it advanced south following victories at Osan and Pyeongtaek the days before. The regiment was emplaced north and south of Cheonan, attempting to delay the North Koreans in an area where the terrain formed a bottleneck between the mountains and the Yellow Sea.
Of the approximately 500 Soldiers assigned, only about 175 survived. Martin, for whom the memorial park is named, also died during the battle. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions at Cheonan, the first such decoration awarded during the Korean War.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert P. Huber, the 4-58th AOB commander, spoke at the event on behalf of the garrison.
“Each year, we gather to remember and honor these warriors in this incredible unit who stood fast against overwhelming enemy forces,” he said. “We reflect on the collective commitment and sacrifice of these determined defenders and we honor such men as Col. Martin and Pvt. Leotis Heater, who used hand grenades to stop a Soviet-built T-34 tank of the north communists.”
He added, “As free people who wish to remain free, we must always remember (that) ‘Freedom is not free.’”
After the morning addresses, audience members paid tribute to the casualties by placing flowers and saluting to the Cheonan memorial site. Also participating in the ceremony were children from the local Samgeori Elementary School, who provided a box of letters, written in English, thanking American Soldiers for “giving (them) a chance to live happily, peacefully, comfortably and safely.”
The event was followed by lunch at a local restaurant and then a visit to Independence Hall, a museum of Korean history that feature seven different exhibition halls. For more information about this museum, located just 30 minutes south of Pyeongtaek, visit english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=268181 Admission is free.