WAEGWAN, South Korea (Sept. 29, 2014) -- As North Korean forces advanced south in the fall of 1950, waging a vicious war, the nation of South Korea and United Nations forces were pushed to a small southeastern area on the tip of the Korean peninsula, known as the Pusan perimeter, where they would stand to defend the suddenly prominent Nakdong River, later to be known as the "pivot" of the Korean War.
"Either protect the Nakdong line or die trying..." were the words made famous by Gen. Walton Walker, first commanding general of the U.S. Eighth Army, during the Nakdong River Battle.
U.S. Soldiers from the 501st Sustainment Brigade, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, the 201st Commando Brigade, 2nd Operational Command and other leaders commemorated one of the fiercest battles of the Korean War with historical re-enactments and ceremonies Sept. 24-26 in Waegwan, South Korea.
The Nakdong River formed a natural border that U.N. and Republic of Korea forces used to secure the perimeter and in an effort to prevent the North Korean forces from advancing on Deagu, the bridge over the river was blown, putting a stop to North Korea's furthest advance, and marking the first defining moment of the 64-year victory.
Before an audience of more than 1,500 Korean War veterans, and nearly 20,000 service members, government officials, civilians, families, and students the field was scattered with fighting positions, self propelled artillery, tanks, howitzers, and other tactical vehicles.
The re-enactment portrayed the intentional demolition of the Waegwan railway bridge, ground battles between North Korean forces against ROK, UN and U.S. forces, gun battles, hand-to-hand combat, air strikes, field artillery fire, casualty evacuations, resupply operations, and lastly the victory for the stronghold of the Nakdong River.
Sgt. 1st Class Richard O. Stanley, civil affairs non-commissioned officer in charge, 19th ESC, said he was humbled to be in the presence of veterans of the Korean War stressing that it was a moment he will never forget.
"I was sitting next to veterans who participated in the war and watched their reaction as the event played out, and seeing their expressions meant so much to me, said Stanley. "When I saw the waving of the U.S., Korean and U.N. flags at the end of the re-enactment being held by all nationalities of people in victory; it made me very emotional because I know that this story will never die here and that the Soldiers lost on Hill 303 will never be forgotten."
On Aug. 17, 1950, at Hill 303, a hill above Waegwan, South Korea, 41 U.S. Army prisoners of war assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, were executed by North Korean troops during a retreat.
Service members paid respect to the fallen Soldiers during the anniversary of the Nakdong River Battle at the memorials built on Hill 303 by troops at Camp Carroll, honoring their lives.