Battle of Hill Eerie

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Battle of Hill Eerie
Part of the Korean War
Date March 21 to July 18, 1952
Location Hill Eerie (near Chorwon, South Korea)
Result United Nations victory
Belligerents
 United Nations
 China
Commanders and leaders
United States Max Clark
United States Omer Manley
United States Frederick A. Daugherty
Philippines Fidel V. Ramos
Philippines Felizardo Tanabe
Philippines Salvador Abcede
Philippines Ramon Z. Aquirre
Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Hill Eerie refers to several Korean War engagements between the United Nations forces and the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) in 1952 at Hill Eerie, a military outpost at 38°15′12″N 127°3′8″E / 38.25333°N 127.05222°E / 38.25333; 127.05222, about ten miles west of the rubble piles of Ch'orwon. It was taken several times by both sides; each sabotaging the others' position.

March 1952[edit]

In March 1952, Hill Eerie was the responsibility of the United States Army's 45th Infantry Division - Company K, 179th Infantry, commanded by Captain Max Clark.

On March 21, 1952, the twenty-six personnel of the third platoon, under the command of Lieutenant Omer Manley, set out to take over the outpost. Manley's men made up two rifle squads, a light-machine-gun squad and a 60-mm mortar squad.

Manley sent out two patrols to establish an ambush site around the hill. That night, both patrol squads sighted enemy activity. At 23:30, the Chinese attacked and a machine gun duel between the two sides ended after Captain Clark's troops on Hill 418 supported his men in the Eerie outpost with supporting machine-gun and mortar fire.

The battle continued on the morning of March 22 with the Chinese forces penetrating the outpost's perimeter and eventually overran Manley's men. Clark was then ordered to concentrate his artillery fire on Outpost Eerie after losing communications. At 01:30, Regimental Commander, Colonel Frederick A. Daugherty, ordered Clark to advance toward the hill and retake the hill.

Clark's men searched the area and found out that, of the 26 men who had defended the outpost, 8 were dead, 4 wounded, and 2 were missing (Lieutenant Manley and Corporal Joel Ybarra). They also recovered 31 enemy dead from around the hill and captured a wounded Chinese soldier. Later, Clark withdrew his troops to the main line of resistance.

May 1952[1][edit]

Former Philippine President (then Lieutenant) Fidel Ramos was the platoon commander of the team that captured Hill Eerie

In May 1952, the 20th Philippine Battalion Combat Team, under the command of Colonel Querobin, engaged the Chinese forces at the town of Karhwagol, west of Chorwon; they were also involved in other major battles and assaults against the Chinese forces.

There were numerous closely fought battles on Hill Eerie, as well as on Hills 18, 200, and 19, ('Yoke', 'Uncle' and 'Old Baldy'), all in the T-Bone Hill area, but later the 20th were committed to the Beef Steak Hill area and in Alligator Sky.

Hill Eerie was a military outpost that changed hands many times and was a heavily fortified position with a commanding view of the plains below.

A series of raids were launched by the Filipinos, from May 18, led by Lieutenant Rodolfo Maestro, killing 28 CCF and a further 23 the next day, before disengaging with the enemy while tanks and artillery continued to bombard the outpost.

On May 21, 1952, Colonel Abcede ordered Major Felizardo Tanabe, the battalion's operations officer, to prepare the final assault on the Chinese position after several attempts to capture the outpost. Tanabe sent the 44-man 2nd reconnaissance platoon to sabotage the position.

The platoon was led by a young Filipino officer, a 1950 graduate of West Point's United States Military Academy, 2nd Lieutenant Fidel V. Ramos (future President of the Philippines).

Ramos divided the assault team into four groups of snipers, riflemen, scouts and forward observers, each with a radio operator, a messenger and a medic. The platoon was reinforced by some engineer demolition specialists and an artillery observer team. They left at 04:07.

The Filipino platoon crawled through rice paddies and scattered trees for two hours before it reach an irrigation ditch, about 400 meters from the top of the hill. Intelligence estimated the enemy strength to be one reinforced platoon of the Chinese Red Army.

The United States Air Force sent seven F-86 Sabre jet fighters to pound the enemy positions with napalm. There was also artillery support. After the bombardment, Ramos' men seized the front part of the trench network after discovering a hole in the blasted stack of barbed wire.

Close-quarter fighting raged as the retreating enemy fought back but the advancing Filipinos were gaining the upper hand. The scout team, led by Corporal Jose Palis, went into action on the right of the hill and was later joined by Lieutenant Ramos. Meanwhile, the rifle team, led by Sergeant Cipriano Drapeza, worked its way round to the left side of the hill while the sniper team, led by Second Lieutenant Yel Claveria, held the enemy's support from nearby Hill 191.

By 07:28, the Filipinos had demolished the Chinese bunkers and withdrawn from the top of the hill. Friendly tanks resumed their bombardment of Hill Eerie.

The assault lasted for two hours, Ramos' men suffered one injury while the Chinese had 1100 dead, 2540 wounded, whether from the supporting artillery, tanks and air strikes could not be determined. The battle was the final assault on Hill Eerie by the United Nations forces.

The Filipino battalion was replaced by the 2nd Battalion of the 179th United States Infantry.

June 1952[2][edit]

On June 16, 1952, the 19th Philippine Battalion Combat Team, under the command of Colonel Ramon Z. Aguirre, relieved the American battalion in the T-Bone ridge sector.

By June 18, the Chinese forces sought to recapture the area and launched an intense artillery and mortar barrage. The Filipinos held their ground and were able to repulse the Chinese attack.

On June 20, the Chinese forces launched another attack towards Hill Eerie and the rest of the T-Bone ridge area. At dawn, the Chinese had advanced sufficiently to engage in hand-to-hand fighting but the Filipino troops were able to hold the position.

By morning, the artillery battle continued but the allied forces successfully defended Hills Eerie and 191. As a result of the battle it was estimated that the CCF suffered 500 casualties while the Filipinos had 24.

The Filipino battalion was later relieved by the US 2nd Infantry Division on July 18, 1952.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, Chŏnsa (December 20, 1977). "The Philippine Force". In Yu Man Kap, Park Chan Sul, Kim Sam Sun. The History of the United Nations Forces in the Korean War VI. Seoul, Korea: Ministry of National Defense (Republic of Korea). pp. 319–320. 
  2. ^ Pʻyŏnchʻan Wiwŏnhoe, Chŏnsa (December 20, 1977). "The Philippine Force". In Yu Man Kap, Park Chan Sul, Kim Chong Ku. The History of the United Nations Forces in the Korean War VI. Seoul, Korea: Ministry of National Defense (Republic of Korea). pp. 320–322. 

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