The Battle of Unsan
By Senior Airman Nick Przybyciel, 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 24, 2005
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Pinned down by a barrage of rocket fire and running out of supplies, American Soldiers staged one of the most valiant stands of the Korean War in the Battle of Unsan. Sheer determination and a strong will to survive were about all the members of the U.S. Army's 8th Cavalry Regiment had to get them through a fight marked with impossible odds.
The Battle of Unsan, which was one of the most devastating U.S. loses of the Korean War, broke out on the morning of Nov. 1, 1950. Deployed within 50 miles of the Chinese border, the 8th Cavalry Regiment found itself surrounded on all sides by Red Chinese Communist Forces. To further complicate matters, it became nearly impossible for U.S. field commanders to track the enemy. Chinese soldiers lit numerous forest fires, and the dense smoke masked their movements.
U.S. commanders issued an order to withdraw, but all routes were cut off. By the next morning, the regiment's 1st Battalion was drained of ammunition and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Meanwhile, the 3rd Battalion was completely isolated by enemy forces.
The men desperately fought off a swarming enemy. Rations were scarce and only provided to the wounded. Ammo was at critical levels -- so low that troops were forced to forage for weapons among the enemy dead.
By the third day of fighting, it became obvious that resistance was futile. Orders to retreat were issued again, and it was decided the able-bodied would attempt a withdrawal. As organized resistance ceased on Nov. 6, the battalion surgeon surrendered the wounded to the Chinese.
It is believed the 8th Cavalry lost more than 600 soldiers during the Battle of Unsan. Of these was Maj. Robert Ormond, 3rd Battalion commander. Major Ormond was gravely wounded and reportedly died shortly after being taken prisoner. His body is just one of the many that remain somewhere in the Unsan countryside.