Thursday, February 7, 2019

Taejon Roadblock

U.S. Army photo
July 20, 1950. Taejon, Korea.  Elements of the U.S. Army 34th Infantry Regiment are seen hunkered down in the streets of Taejon.  Their convoy is made up of what would normally be considered "rear echelon" troops - medics, mechanics, clerics, cooks, and the like.  But as Korean War veteran Lacy Barnett said, "we were all front-line troops that day." 

When this photo was taken, Taejon had already been infiltrated by large numbers of North Koreans, many of whom were disguised as civilians.  The enemy set up a number of roadblocks through the city, exploiting the Americans' total dependence on mechanized transport.  The men seen here have encountered sniper fire, and most are taking cover accordingly.  Well over a hundred of vehicles queued up to escape Taejon, but not all of them made it out.  Chance played a large part in determining the fate of the U.S. troops attempting to slip past enemy fortifications. The Army would take 3,600 casualties on this day, counting killed, captured, wounded and missing in action.  The 34th Infantry Regiment would be shattered on this day, and never fully recovered before it was finally disbanded on September 1, 1950.  The photographer was very lucky that he and his camera survived the ordeal. 

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