JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington — Fifty-three years ago, in the winter of 1951, China entered the Korean War in support of the Communist North. The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army proved nearly unstoppable until members of the US Army’s 23rd “Tomahawks” Infantry Regiment drove them back in a decisive battle that took place from 13 to February 15 in the city of Chipyong-ni, South Korea.
Sixty-three years later, Tomahawks young and old gathered at the regimental memorial stone next to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Feb. 2, 2019. 27 to commemorate victory and honor fallen comrades.
The Battle of Chipyong-ni is a decisive battle between the American forces and their allies, who were there to defend the South Korean people from hostilities in the north, against the Chinese forces of Mao Zedong and his northern allies.
The war was not going well for the Allied forces at this time, as the Chinese continued to send wave after wave of fighters against them. The situation had deteriorated so much that plans had even been drawn up for a complete withdrawal from the peninsula.
However, Colonel Paul Freeman, commander of the 23rd “Tomahawks” Infantry Regiment, had his soldiers dig in at the crossroads of Chipyong-ni town in an attempt to turn back the tide of Communist forces advancing on the town.
Even though the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army sent the entirety of three divisions to surround and destroy Chipyong-ni, after three days of fighting the Tomahawks managed to drive the Chinese back. Victory came at a high price. American forces suffered 52 killed, 310 wounded and 42 missing while an estimated 2,000 Chinese were killed and another 3,000 wounded.
“Standing before you is a modern representation of … the thousands of soldiers who fought at Chipyong-ni,” said Capt. Benjamin Dalton, of Highland Falls, NY, human resources officer with 1-23 Inf. “Their legacy, written over half a century ago in a snowy valley halfway around the world, still resonates strongly all these years later. Their sacrifice and determination in the face of overwhelming odds set a precedent who continues to motivate and inspire us today.
The memorial ceremony, an annual event for the Tomahawks, is a significant moment for the 23rd Infantry Regiment. Chuck Main, the regiment’s honorary command sergeant major, of Lacey, Wash., who was there for the ceremony, agreed.
“[The ceremony] was really awesome,” Main said. “I’m overwhelmed with the kind of honors the younger generation are giving us, even though that’s what we need. We need the younger generation to understand what we did, why we did it and how we did it. They must understand their own generation, but not forget ours.”
Main was one of three former soldiers present at the ceremony who fought in the Battle of Chipyong-ni. The other two included Jim Steinthal, the honorary sergeant major of the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, and Raymond James, of Milton, Wash., who served as a medical staff sergeant with 1-23 Inf. during the Battle of Chipyong-ni.
Main and James met for the first time at this year’s ceremony. The two were involved in the battle but had not met until now. However, that didn’t stop them from bonding almost straight away.
“I can talk to him because he knows what I’ve been through and I know what he’s been through,” Main said.
James, who had never attended the annual ceremony before, said it felt good to be with so many fellow Tomahawks again.
“If you ever serve in a unit like the 23rd Infantry, your friends and buddies become your family,” James said. “And no matter where you serve after that, you will always remember this unit, especially if you go to war with them.”
|Date posted:||03.03.2014 16:06|
|Location:||JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WA, USA|
|Hometown:||HIGHLAND FALLS, NY, USA|
|Hometown:||LACEY, WA, United States|
|Hometown:||MILTON, WA, United States|
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