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  The Battle of Sukchon  
 
  Courtesy of "The Lt. Vincent J. McDonald Chapter" a quarterly published Newsletter.  
     
 
  During July 1950, members of the 11th Airborne Division stationed at Camp Campbell, KY began preparing for the call to jump into Korea and repel the North Korean Peopleís Army. There was a lot of speculation until World War II Brigadier General and now Colonel Frank Bowen assumed command of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment on June 21, 1950, only sixteen days after Colonel Arthur H. Wilson had assumed Command. All members away from Camp Campbell on training, recruiting, demonstration or other missions were ordered to return and by July 31 everyone was present for duty.  
     
  The next day Col Bowen had the Regiment assemble at Theater Number Three where he announced that the 187th was now designated as the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team and alerted for overseas movement.  
     
  On August 27th formal activation ceremonies were held. Immediately intensive tactical training began and on the 31st the Rakkasans began clearing Campbell for the Far East. On September 20th the first troops of the 187th set foot on Japanese soil at Moji Port and by 1400 hours on the 24th the 3rd Battalion and Support Company were in action against the North Koreans at Kimpo Airfield in South Korea where the U.S. Marines were to have cleared the airstrip. It took the Rakkasans and U.S. Marines six days to clear the Kimpo Peninsula of an organized force of over three thousand North Korean combatants.  
     
  On September 16th General MacArthur had launched the Inchon Invasion and shortly afterward troops of the Eight Army began moving northward toward North Korea. It had been reported that an undetermined number of U.S. prisoners of war, had been evacuated from Pyongyang, ahead of the advancing U.N. Forces. On Oct. 18, 1950 General Bowen received orders for a parachute drop at Sukchon-Sanchon to seal off the North Korean escape route. D-Day was set for October 20th and at 0400 hours, the troopers of the 187th ARCT begin drawing and fitting of parachutes.  
     
  A typical C-119 troop carrier aircraft carried two sticks of 23 men each, fifteen monorail bundles and four door bundles. The planes were so crowded that the troopers had to find space on the floor to sit. Besides the main and reserve parachutes, backpack, water, ammunition, rations, pistol, and a rifle or carbine, some troopers had an extra Griswald container full of light mortar or small arms ammo. Because of all the weight, the troopers had to help one another up, when the "Stand up" command was given. They found it a relief when the green light came on and they went out the plane door.  
     
  The armada consisted of 73 C-119ís from the 314th Troop Carrier Squadron and 40 C-47ís from the 21st Carrier Squadron. They carried 1,479 troopers and about 74 tons of equipment, in the first two serials to jump on DZ William, south of Sukchon.  
     
  The 3rd Battalion troopers made the first combat jump on North Korea from the new C119 "flying boxcars." It was the first successful "heavy drop" of 105 mm howitzers, 90 mm towed anti-tank guns, trucks, trailers and jeeps in a combat jump.  
     
  After landing, the L-187th troopers made it to their assembly points and moved to establish defensive positions with I-187th who was covering the railroad track south of Sukchon. K-187th then set up a roadblock on the Sukchon-Pyongyang Road while L Company moved into reserve with 3rd Bn. Headquarters. By 1700 hours all objectives were secured and they moved south to link up with the northbound 27th British Commonwealth Brigade.  
     
  When I-187th reached the village of Opari, they met an NKPA battalion reinforced with 120 mm mortars and 40 mm guns and fought for over two hours before moving into a defensive position north of Opari on hill 287. In the mean time, K-187th moved toward the village of Yongyu and ran into two NKPA battalions, thus pinning the entire 239th NKPA Regiment along a 3 mile line of hills between Opari and Yongyu.  
     
  At the end of the first day of combat, the 3rd Bn. Had secured the dominating terrain eight miles south of Sukchon, destroyed large amounts of enemy arms and equipment and captured about 300 prisoners. During the night NKPA infiltrated through the wooded hills and orchards and then a battle was raged with grenades, bayonet and hand-to-hand.  
     
  In the early morning hours, about 500 enemy soldiers engaged the 3rd Bn. while about 300 attacked L-187th in reserve. The Battalion fought off every enemy attempt to break through, for almost five hours until the 27th Commonwealth Brigade arrived and entered the battle. The 3rd Bn. provided the "anvil" to the 27th Brigadeís "hammer" and completely shattered the 239th NKPA Regiment. Lt Col Munson was severely wounded and at times the situation was chaotic, but the paratroopers never give an inch while killing over 800 and capturing almost 700 enemy soldiers. By noon the battle at Yongyu was over and the 239th NKPA Regiment no longer existed as a unit.  
     
  In spite of the heavy fighting, the early evacuation of the 187th and 27th C.B. wounded, greatly reduced the mortality rate. The total casualties for the 187th were 48 KIA and 80 WIA. In the jump, one soldier was KIA and 56 injured. The jump at Sukchon and victory at Yongyu were a tactical success and the 3rd Bn. of the 187th ARCT was presented the Presidential Unit Citation for their gallant stand and heroism.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
     
        
 
                               
 
         
       
     
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Editing provided by Leo KocherC-187th ARCT