The Colombian Army in Korea, 1950-1954.pdf

The Colombian Army in Korea, 1950-1954 Author(s): Bradley Lynn Coleman Source: The Journal of Military History, Vol. 69, No. 4 (Oct., 2005), pp. 1137-1177 Published by: Society for Military History Stable URL: . Accessed: 11/05/2013 16:35 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, resea
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  The Colombian Army in Korea, 1950-1954Author(s): Bradley Lynn ColemanSource: The Journal of Military History, Vol. 69, No. 4 (Oct., 2005), pp. 1137-1177Published by: Society for Military History Stable URL: . Accessed: 11/05/2013 16:35 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  .  . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  . Society for Military History  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Journalof Military History. This content downloaded from on Sat, 11 May 2013 16:35:04 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  The Colombian Army in Korea, 1950-1954 Bradley Lynn Coleman: Abstract A diverse multinational coalition fought to defend South Korea between 1950 and 1953. The United Nations (UN) army featured combat divisions from industrialized countries, but also included units from small UN member states such as Colombia. This article examines the multinational campaign in Korea through coverage of the Colombian Army experience. It finds that the successful inte- gration of the Colombia Battalion into the U.S.-led UN Command grew from the republic's larger relationship with the United States. APTAIN Luis M. Galindo led a company of Colombian infantrymen toward the Chinese position at 4:30 A.M. on 21 June 1952. From a forward observation post, Colonel Lloyd R. Moses, commander of the U.S. infantry regiment with which the Colombians fought, watched the South Americans advance undetected into the enemy trenches. Then, the predawn calm erupted in violence. Although taken by surprise, Chi- nese soldiers put up a stubborn resistance; a furious exchange of small * The author presented this paper at the August 2002 Conference of Army His- torians, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Washington, D.C. Keri-Lvn Coleman, Heather Harris, Lester Langley, Allan Millett, Mark Russell, William Stueck, Alvaro Valencia Tovar, Erin Mahan, and Juana Maria Rubio Fernandez provided generous assistance. The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not nec- essarily represent those of the Department of State. Bradley Lynn Coleman is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (1995) and Temple University (1997). He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia in May 2001, where he studied under the supervision of Dr. William Stueck. Between 2001 and 2003 he served as a U.S. Army Central Identification Labora- tory postdoctoral research fellow, investigating the history of graves registration and forensic anthropology. Dr. Coleman currently works at the Office of the His- torian, U.S. Department of State. The Journal of Military History 69 (January 20)5): 1137-78 © Society for Military listory * 1137 This content downloaded from on Sat, 11 May 2013 16:35:04 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  BRADLEY YNN COLEMAN arms fire gave way to intense hand-to-hand combat. When the Chinese rushed reinforcements to the fray, the Colombians made expert use of artillery and tank support to break the counterattack. On the verge of victory, the Colombian infantrymen tried to take communist prisoners, but the enemy refused to surrender and the action devolved into a slaughter. The pace of fire tapered off after sunrise, and the riflemen secured the hill. Two Colombian soldiers lay dead on the ground, and several others were wounded. To signal the company's success, Private Pedro Pira proudly unfurled the Colombian flag and waved it above his head. The soldier later boasted that he was a human flagpole. That night, Colonel Moses recorded in his combat journal that the Colombians [had] put up a splendid fight to a man. 1 By capturing Hill 400 the Colombians had added a new link to the outpost line of resistance, mak- ing more formidable the United Nations (UN) front.2 Colombian soldiers attacked the Chinese position as part of a larger UN effort to defend South Korea. Between 1950 and 1953 the U.S.-led international coalition featured combat divisions from industrialized countries, but also included forces from other UN member states. By fighting in Korea, small-country units like the Colombia Battalion trans- formed the UN campaign into something more than a simple test of American military prowess.3 The aggregate strength of small-nation forces in Korea, nearly fifteen thousand troops, bolstered the United Nations' political and military position on the peninsula. Moreover, as a UN operation that sought to enforce UN resolutions, the war's multina- tional character helped restrict fighting to Korea, making less likely the outbreak of a larger conflict. During the early 1950s countries like Colombia invested in the idea of collective security. The Korean cam- paign, in turn, became an important episode in the development of the republic's own military capabilities. This article examines small-nation contributions to the UN Command through coverage of the Colombian 1. Lloyd R. Moses, Personal Journal, 21 June 1952, Box Journal, Correspon- dence, Memorabilia, Lloyd R. Moses Papers, U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. (Hereafter referred to as USAMHI.) 2. El Tiempo, 28 June 1952; Alvaro Valencia Tovar, Colombia en la Guerra Corea, 197, in Alvaro Valencia Tovar, ed., Historia de las fuerzas militares de Colombia (Bogota, Colombia: Editorial Planeta Colombiana, 1993), 3:169-235. Operational Report, Colombia Battalion, 20-21 June 1952, Annex 7; and Com- mand Report, June 1952, 31st U.S. Infantrv Regiment, 7th U.S. Infantry Division, Box 3339, Record Group (RG) 407, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland. (Hereafter referred to as NARA.) 3. Belgium, Colombia, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, Greece, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey dispatched combat forces to fight alongside American, British Commonwealth, French, and South Korean units. Den- mark, India, Italy, Norway, and Sweden sent medical detachments to the western Pacific. THE JOURNAL OF 138 * This content downloaded from on Sat, 11 May 2013 16:35:04 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  Colombian Army in Korea, 1950-1954 experience. The study considers Colombian President Laureano G6mez's decision to send troops to Korea, and shows how the battalion prepared for combat. The narrative then follows the Colombian unit through the war, ending with the controversial fight atop Old Baldy in 1953. In doing so, this survey finds that the Colombia Battalion's suc- cessful integration into the U.S.-led UN Command grew from the repub- lic's larger affiliation with the United States. Scholars have paid little attention to small-nation contributions to the UN Command. While English-language historians have produced intelligent work on the Korean War's major participants, they largely ignore the contribution of the other UN member states. Indeed, the entire body of English-language literature on the Colombian military in Korea consists of only two published articles. Russell Ramsey relates Colombia's wartime activity to the country's larger commitment to col- lective security in his 1967 article, but offers students only six sentences on operational issues.4 More recently, Mark Danley has written about the Colombian Navy in the western Pacific.5 Beyond these essays, a handful of master's theses explore other aspects of Colombia's involvement in the Korean War.6 Yet even when combined with other sources, the unpub- lished manuscripts present an incomplete account of the Colombia Bat- talion's service with the United Nations. William Stueck's 1995 description of the multilateral venture highlights the need for additional work on countries like Colombia in order to understand the conflict's place in international history.7 In Colombia, talented academics have focused on economic and political questions to the detriment of military history. Historians of Colombia during the 1950s are scarce, largely because of the distasteful nature of domestic affairs during that period, the intense political, social, 4. Russell W. Ramsey, The Colombia Battalion in Korea and Suez, Journal of Inter-American Studies 9 (October 1967): 541-60. 5. Mark H. Danley, Colombian Navy in the Korean War, 1950-1953, American Neptune: A Quarterly Journal of Maritime History and Arts 58 (Spring 1998): 243-61. 6. Master's theses of interest are Charles Steel, Colombian Experiences in Korea and Perceived Impact on La Violencia, 1953-1965 (University of Florida, 1978); Daniel Davison, The Colombian Army in Korea: A Study of the Integration of the Colombia Battalion into the 31st United States Infantry Regiment Based on the Experiences of Major General Lloyd R. Moses (University of South Dakota, 1972); Christine Sutherland Galbraith, Colombian Participation in the Korean War (Uni- versity of Florida, 1973); and Douglas Alan Walthour, Laureano G6mez and Colom- bia in the Korean War: Internal and External Factors in Foreign Policy Decision-Making (University of Texas, 1990). 7. William Stueck, The Korean War: An International History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995). MILITARY HISTORY * 1139 This content downloaded from on Sat, 11 May 2013 16:35:04 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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