Korea - 50 years ago this week, May 29-June 4, 1953
Chinese capture outposts, Rhee concedes on peace plan
by Jim Caldwell
May 27, 2003 - Wave after human wave of Chinese soldiers
lost their lives attacking outposts in the Nevada complex
50 years ago this week in Korea, but the bloody assaults
eventually convinced I Corps to fall back to its main line
May 29, 1953 -- The Associated Press reports that the
total casualties in the war for both sides now stand at
more than 2.3 million. China has suffered more than one
million of those casualties, while 802,000 North Koreans
have been wounded and killed. There are almost 257,000 ROK
The report uses the Pentagon figures for American casualties
as of May 22. They are135,221, with 24,119 dead. Great Britain
is next with 3,763 casualties, followed by Turkey with 2,700
The Pentagon update on American casualties was not announced
for the week.
May 29-June 4 -- The battle for the 25th Infantry Division's
Nevada complex of outposts in I Corps continues to rage.
Turkish soldiers attached to the division defend the outposts.
On Carson they are in serious trouble. A few manage to slip
away to join their countrymen still holding Outpost Elko,
but most of them die at their positions or in the trenches
on Carson. As dawn breaks on May 29, the Chinese own Carson.
Enemy soldiers also take control of the northwest part
of Outpost Vegas.
Maj. Gen. Samuel T. Williams, 25th Infantry Division commander,
places the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment under the
control of the Turk commander, Brig. Gen. Sirri Acar.
Before the GIs can be deployed, the Turks attack straight
into the enemy. Using knives, hands and small weapons, the
Turks push the Chinese off of Vegas.
The enemy strikes back quickly. Mindless of the bloodbath,
Chinese commanders send wave after wave against the Turks,
but still the Turks hold on to Vegas.
The situation is grim on Outpost Elko. Only a few Turks
are able to fight. In early morning on May 29, Gen. Acar
orders the 1st Battalion to send a platoon to reinforce
Elko, and then to retake Carson. On the way to Elko, B Company
runs into Chinese holding positions around the outpost.
After a 25-minute fight, the company secures Elko.
B Company then leads another company against Carson. Halfway
there the Americans begin taking heavy small arms and automatic
weapons fire, along with artillery and mortars. The companies
have to pull back to Elko.
Two more attempts are made against Carson, but the rain
of metal against them is too much each time.
After the last attempt, the Chinese on Carson attack Elko.
They repeatedly come through supporting artillery, tank
guns and mortars. Twice they get close enough to throw grenades
at the Americans. After that, the assault ceases momentarily.
That afternoon Williams and Lt. Gen. Bruce C. Clarke, I
Corps commander, conclude that the Chinese will continue
the attacks until they control the entire Nevada complex.
More than 150 Turks and Americans have been killed. Little
more than 40 men, many of them wounded, hold Vegas. On Elko
there are a little more than 20 and many of them are also
The Chinese have suffered an estimated 3,000 casualties,
but their commanders have shown they were willing to take
those losses. Clarke decides the outposts aren't important
enough to justify more American and Turkish lives. That
evening the troops withdraw to the main line of resistance.
Fighting shifts east to X Corps where the North Koreans
capture Hill 812, four miles northeast of the Punchbowl,
from the ROK 12th Infantry Division on June 1.
On June 2 Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Eighth Army commander, tells
Gen. Mark Clark, U.N. Supreme Commander, of his concerns
about two line positions in the I Corps and IX Corps.
Positions north of the Imjin and Hantan Rivers are on easily
defended territory, but the lines are thin. If the communists
hit those positions using the same human wave assaults as
in the most recent battles, they could break through. Once
U.N. troops pull back across the rivers, it will result
in heavy losses to contain the breakthrough.
Taylor has already taken the only actions he can to try
to avoid this situation. He has put his reserves on alert,
increased ammunition stocks and has Fifth Air Force flying
reconnaissance missions in those areas to track possible
On June 4 North Koreans capture Anchor Hill in the ROK
I Corps. Repeated counterattacks by the South Koreans to
retake Anchor Hill results in heavy casualties among the
communists, but they are losing men, too.
The counterattacks are stopped to keep from incurring more
losses. ROK forces are redeployed to positions to keep the
North Korean contained on the hills.
May 29-June 2 -- Dealing with the communists at the truce
table is not the only problem the United States must face
to obtain peace in Korea. South Korean government leaders
are vehemently opposed to a settlement that leaves a divided
Korea. They also don't like some of the proposals in the
U.S. truce plan, and their actions could wreck the U.S.
On May 29 acting ROK Premier Pyun Yun Tae says the South
Korean Army may be pulled from the front lines to fight
elsewhere. One of its missions would be to prevent the landing
of "any foreign troops of the five custodial nations."
President Syngman Rhee declares May 30 that his soldiers
are "men of steel" and would fight alone to unite
Korea. "Peace here is up to ourselves," he said.
Rhee has demanded that after a truce is signed that Chinese
troops must leave Korea.
The South Koreans are opposed to India being in charge
of overseeing the prisoners during the explaining period
and the political conference after that. They feel that
India will side with the two communist countries on the
prisoner commission. They say India has a track record of
voting with the Soviet Union in the U.N. General Assembly.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower meets with his political,
diplomatic and military staff May 29-30 to find a way to
convince Rhee to accept a peace settlement with a divided
On June 2 Rhee says he has will concede to American pressure
after receiving a message from Eisenhower, "Out of
gratitude to the U.S." because "common sense and
wisdom require that we cooperate with the U.S. at any cost.
We must accept anything the U.S. president wants, but to
allow Chinese soldiers to stay in our country is similar
to a death sentence."
Reporters in Seoul suspect that Rhee changed his mind because
Eisenhower guaranteed South Korea security and agreed to
provide various loans to the South Korean government for
reconstruction after the war.
June 4 -- The truce delegations meet on June 4 because on
June 1 the communists request two more days to consider
the U.N. proposal. Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison, chief U.N.
delegate, has misgivings with only how the Reds have rewritten
the proposal on what is to be done with the POWs who still
refuse repatriation if their fate has not been decided at
the end of 120 days. His superiors in the United States
tell him not to make an issue of it at this time.
Chinese radio has been complaining about the clause that
says if the issue isn't settled, the U.N. General Assembly
will decide what to do with the POWs. Their sticking point
is that the General Assembly, their opposition in the war,
will make decisions abput Chinese and North Korean prisoners.