Open Thread Sat. Morning 07-21-2012 [OregonMuse] | Main | Open Thread
July 21, 2012

July 21, 1950 - The Fall of Taejon

In hard scrabble street fighting, the US Army's 24th Infantry Division fought in a retreat to hold off communist North Korean forces in the early weeks of the new war. Although they abandoned the city of Taejon, their delaying action was crucial and bought time to establish a hard perimeter around Pusan.

2007-709 Taejon (400x334).jpg

The 24th ID was badly understrength, thrown into the line to slow the North Korean advance. Throughout July, the undertrained soldiers of the 24th fought continuous delaying actions, without sleep or adequate provisions. So many officers were wounded that large numbers of NCOs rose up to take command of battered units.

They had no tanks, and minimal artillery support. They suffered 30% casualties, and yet managed to hold off the North Koreans long enough to secure the Pusan perimeter, which held until more American forces could be brought to the fight.

During the last moments of the fall of Taejon, the Division commander, Major General William F. Dean became separated from his command during the retreat, and was eventually captured by North Korean forces. He tried several times to get them to kill him, for fear of divulging information, but even after his rank was known, they were unable to get him to talk.

For their delaying actions around Taejon, the 24th Infantry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Major General Dean was awarded the Medal of Honor, as was Sgt. George D. Libby (posthumously) for his actions protecting and aiding wounded soldiers during the battle. His citation is below.


Sgt. Libby distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action. While breaking through an enemy encirclement, the vehicle in which he was riding approached an enemy roadblock and encountered devastating fire which disabled the truck, killing or wounding all the passengers except Sgt. Libby. Taking cover in a ditch Sgt. Libby engaged the enemy and despite the heavy fire crossed the road twice to administer aid to his wounded comrades. He then hailed a passing M-5 artillery tractor and helped the wounded aboard. The enemy directed intense small-arms fire at the driver, and Sgt. Libby, realizing that no one else could operate the vehicle, placed himself between the driver and the enemy thereby shielding him while he returned the fire. During this action he received several wounds in the arms and body. Continuing through the town the tractor made frequent stops and Sgt. Libby helped more wounded aboard. Refusing first aid, he continued to shield the driver and return the fire of the enemy when another roadblock was encountered. Sgt. Libby received additional wounds but held his position until he lost consciousness. Sgt. Libby's sustained, heroic actions enabled his comrades to reach friendly lines. His dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.

Sgt. George Libby, USArmy is interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Resting with heroes.

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posted by Dave In Texas at 02:38 PM

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