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[KOREAN-WAR-L:11405] Re: Books
My objections have not been to physical evidence, it has been to inferences
and conclusions drawn from that evidence.
Lots of civilians died as a result of gunfire and strafing - yes.
Gunfire and strafing was not militarily justified - no.
Troops were scared and inexperienced - yes.
Troops panicked - no.
Troops who died were bad soldiers - no.
Troops who survived were the good soldiers - not necessarily.
Leadership was not what it should have been - yes.
Soldiering was not as good as it should have been - yes.
Infiltrators were not in the refugee columns - unprovable.
Infiltrators had previously been in refugee columns - yes.
To attribute base motivation or cowardice to soldiers who were trying both
to stay alive and to repel a force that demonstrates, right up to today, its
inherent evil does not help , since they call down cynicism on all endeavors
of resistance to tyranny. Pardon me if I refuse to have my buddies libeled
with cheap shots and revisionist "history". I have to speak for buddies not
here to defend theirselves. For whom do you speak?
Walter E. Wallis
----- Original Message -----
To: "KorWar-L" <KOREAN-WAR-L@listproc.cc.ku.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 4:56 AM
Subject: [KOREAN-WAR-L:11399] Books
> As a ``Bridge at No Gun Ri'' co-author, let me quickly answer the
questions in Ed's and Mr. Wallis's latest postings:
> The story of the disposition of bodies is explained in ``The Bridge at No
Gun Ri,'' pp. 189-193 and p. 244.
> To summarize: Many families (from the nearby villages of Chu Gok Ri and Im
Ke Ri) retrieved bodies in the days immediately after the killings and
buried them on the hillsides of the villages. (We've visited such graves
with survivors.) Meantime, evacuated villagers of No Gun Ri, who were not
affected by the killings, returned home, found human remains under the
bridge and on their road and pathways. Several elderly women told us their
men hastily stacked all bodies under the bridge, against a wall, and tossed
dirt on them. Later (some remember it being fairly soon, at least one said
after the spring thaw), the same villagers (drinking rice wine to fortify
themselves, the women recall) buried the bodies in two general locations, up
the nearest hillside and in the flat near the bridge. Park Chung-hee's
reforestation later dispersed the hillside bones; a farmer later bought the
flat acreage and plowed it up. One villager recalled he sold the bones, a
folk remedy for leprosy.
> More generally, I caution against seizing on some single seeming
``discrepancy'' -- where's the mass grave; there MUST have been a mass
grave -- in a complex, half-century-old event that is naturally difficult to
reconstuct, and using that discrepancy to convince oneself that the event
itself did not occur, despite the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence that
> Even the Army, after the inspector general's 14-month investigation,
finally and reluctantly had to conclude it did occur. It said an ``unknown''
number were killed (by artillery and small arms fire, and aerial strafing,
it specifically notes). We, too, do not know what that precise number was.
Nobody does. But there's powerful evidence that it was in the hundreds,
credible testimony from dozens of survivors, from ex-GIs, from uninvolved No
Gun Ri villagers who saw and dealt with the bodies, from a North Korean
reporter who reported within days an estimated 400 dead, from internal North
Korean military documents captured by the U.S. Army. In addition, every July
26 for a half-century there have been scores of ``ancestor days,'' memorial
days for the dead, in individual households in Chu Gok Ri and Im Ke Ri.
> (By the way, Maj. Bateman's ignorance and dismissal of the Korean part of
the story, the bulk of the story, his refusal in working on his book to
speak to the Koreans, and his dismissal of them as probable liars and
cheats, is absolutely shameful, to use just one adjective.)
> We have recently spoken with a retired command sergeant major who went on
patrol through one of the bridge underpasses. He said there were 200 to 300
people in there, stacked up, most of them probably dead. He testified in the
Pentagon investigation. We have other new witnesses (since publishing our
book, which was based on interviews with over 60 witnesses) who say it was a
large number, including a Korean working for the Army CIC at the time who
interviewed villagers some weeks after the event.
> Regarding Mr. Wallis's points:
> --``Others have said they were there and they were not...''
> Only ONE who said he was there was not. That was Mr. Daily. He's been
irrelevant for three years, ever since we dug up the documents that got him
to acknowledge he mustn't have been there. As an aside: We more recently
collated documents showing that the unit Daily DID belong to, an ordnance
maintenance company, had a detachment within a mile of No Gun Ri at the
time. Something to think about.
> --``What do you suppose would have happened if, compassionately, you
had opened a gap in the line and allowed the civilian refugees to pass
through without vetting by the ROK security forces?''
> There's much, much to be said on this point. But just briefly: Some
400,000 refugees did pass through American lines during this period. Despite
the heavy rumors at the time, the documented incidence of NKPA infiltrators
in two division areas was extremely low -- at most two incidents, and one
did not involve an armed man, but a woman with a radio.
> Besides, the villagers killed at No Gun Ri had been rousted and escorted
by U.S. troops from their villages. For a period of a few hours, they were
without escort, but the NKPA lines were several miles behind them, and as
they approached No Gun Ri, 7th Cavalry soldiers were sent out to check them
over. Those soldiers dispersed, leaving the refugees waiting on the railroad
tracks, and soon after they were attacked from the air, and the bloodshed
began. (The 5th Air Force had a standing policy of attacking refugee columns
approaching U.S. lines. See our document collection at
http://www.henryholt.com/nogunri/documents.htm ). Obviously, the 5th Air
Force didn't strafe 400,000 refugees. Some used their heads and hearts, just
as not every ground unit opened fire on crowds of women, children and old
men, as the 7th Cav did. (And not every man at No Gun Ri fired.)
> You've raised good questions that get to the heart of things. Any others,
please ask. There's so much misinformation -- and disinformation -- out
> Hope I've helped. Thanks.
> Charlie Hanley