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Battle of Boomerang

June 14-15, 1953

With Wartime, Post-War, and Modern Photos,

Maps, and Command Reports

The Battle in Perspective

     The UN-occupied hillmass known as Boomerang faced Chinese held hills just several hundred yards away at the southwestern foot of Hill 1062, better known as Papasan.   The hills of Boomerang protected the open Kumhwa Valley in its rear and bridged the valley between the famous Triangle Hill-mass to the east and a large hillmass to the west which extended to Chorwon.  It included Hills 717 and 682 further west and in enemy territory and further still Outpost Harry, the subject of an intense Chinese attack on June 10th and 11th, 1953 just several days before the attack on Boomerang.  In all likelihood these attacks were intended to divert American attention from Chinese attacks on the South Korean army.

     The Boomerang area was the site of frequent combat.  The 25th Division captured the town of Kumhwa in June 1951, and the UN line stabilized along a rail line in the valley north of town.  After being briefly relieved by the 3rd Division, the 25th returned in July 1951.  During this time, Boomerang was captured.  Raids were frequent then and included a November 4, 1951 strike on Hills 400 (or 399) and 419 by David Hackworth and the Wolfhound Raiders.  In November or December of 1951, the 25th Division was replaced by the 2nd Division.  By the spring of 1953, UN lines had advanced from the railroad in the Kumhwa Valley to Boomerang itself.  In April 1953, the Belgian Battalion repulsed Chinese attacks on Boomerang (Chat-kol) until they were replaced by the 7th Regiment of the 3rd Division.  By this time of the war, peace talks in Panmunjom had been underway for some time.  Peace appeared near, but South Korean President Syngman Rhee wanted to continue the war until the North was completely liberated.  In fact, his uncompromising position created such a problem, the US considered having him assassinated.  The Chinese took a different approach - a massive offensive against the South Korean army.

     These Chinese attacks involved human wave attacks preceded by never before seen concentrations of artillery.  The attacks gained at most three kilometers and took place mostly to the east of American positions on Boomerang - on Triangle Hill, Sniper's Ridge and beyond, but they included the ROK 9th Division on the eastern end of Boomerang.  Later, they included the far right of the 3rd Division - Company F of the 7th Regiment.  This was the intense June 14-15 battle which is the subject of this webpage.  In the Second Platoon alone, 42 of its 56 men became casualties.   Due to the heavy losses Company F was withdrawn from the line.

     Units of the 7th Regiment which replaced them endured another attack on June 23rd and 24th.   The 3rd Division was then replaced on the line by the 2nd Division, which arrived on July 14th.  The 3rd Battalion of the 9th Regiment repulsed further Chinese attacks between July 16th and 18th, and the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.  Although now part of the so-called demilitarized zone, the action has not stopped.  South Korean troops near Boomerang have had several firefights with North Korean infiltrators.    




7th Regiment June 1953 Command Report

This regimental report covers the battle of June 14-15, the focus of this section of the webpage, and helps put the fight into the perspective of the regiment's mission and experiences during the month.

The regiment suffered 306 casualties during the month, 205 of which are accountable to the three major actions listed.  Eight of these occurred during the tank raid of June 13th, one hundred five during the June 14-15 battle, and 92 during the June 23-24 battle.  The report says the enemy lost 70 men in the tank raid, 2,123 in the June 14-15 attack, at least 218 in the June 23-24 attack, and 124 to tank direct fire through the month for an estimated total of at least 2,535.

The enemy fired a total of 45,431 artillery rounds at the regiment during the month, around 17,000 of which were on June 14-15.  In typical understatement, the report says, "The attack was preceded by an intense artillery and mortar preparation and supported with armor."  After the battle, efforts were made to preserve the wire network during future bombardments.  Interestingly, somewhat contradictory statements are made concerning the June 23-24 attack.  On page 5 it states, "Enemy artillery and mortar fire was extremely heavy prior to the attack and knocked out most of the wire communications."  In the Commander's Recommendations on page 8 it states, "Only three lines were out and these were in the immediate CP area of the battalions and Heavy Mortar Company."  Regardless, it is an interesting and useful report.



Battalion Level

Maj. Roger Whiting's Citation for 3rd Oakleaf Cluster to the Silver Star  Details some of the actions of the battalion commander during the battle.   



After Action Report

Sgt. Medina's After Action Report  Unfortunately, this is the only after action report I have.




Links - Sgt. Bob Barfield's Recommendation for the Medal of Honor

http://www.robertbarfield.com/   NEW

Defense Link Article about Bob Barfield



Remembrances

Willard Hamill  submitted to Watch on the Rhine

Ernie Clifford  from Watch on the Rhine, see page 19 

Budd Sarisohn   from Watch on the Rhine, see page18

see also December 1998 issue of Watch on the Rhine page 14

Ricardo (Rick) Cardenas  Biography of the company commander, a veteran of three wars who passed away in 2004.



Maps

Boomerang - Wartime 1:50,000.  These wartime maps are not as accurate as modern maps, especially with elevation numbers, but are still very useful.  Ignoring the top border, the horizontal lines are numbered 43, 42, and 41.  The right of F Company and therefore the 3rd Division was along horizontal line 43 eight tenths of the way from vertical lines 60 to 61.  This is expressed as CT608430.

Boomerang and Triangle Hill Area - Post-war color map showing the whole area, including the enemy position opposite Boomerang as well as Hill 1062, or Papasan.  OP Crush Communism, where the modern photos were taken, was the position of the 7th Regiment's left flank.  The attack on Boomerang was part of a massive Chinese offensive over the course of June and July 1953, mostly against the South Korean army to the east of Boomerang.  South Korean positions to the east of Boomerang were attacked, and the Triangle Hill complex was largely captured.  In the course of their offensives, the Chinese advanced at most three kilometers or 1.8 miles against the ROK Army.

Belgian Map  The Belgian Bn. fought on Boomerang in March and April 1953.  This Belgian veterans' website has a map and a few photos of the area.

Chat-Kol Battles of the Belgian Bn.  Provides a map and more detail of the Belgians at Boomerang. 

 



Boomerang Related Photos and News Articles  Includes before and after the battle, the rear areas, news articles, modern photos of veterans and links modern pictures.



Boomerang Veterans Please Contact Us!  We would be happy to put your photos, remembrances, or important documents on this webpage, or just talk.  I am forming a basic understanding of this battle, but there is still much I don't know.  The battles at Boomerang should not be forgotten but will be unless your memories are recorded.  A retired journalist, Alan Eysen, is writing a book which will include accounts of the events of June 14-15.  He is interviewing veterans but has only found a small number so far.  Both he and I would be happy to hear from you.




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