CAMP HENRY, Republic of Korea -- Servicemembers, veterans, civilian leaders and members of the local community paid respect to massacred US Soldiers during the Hill 303 Wreath Laying and Memorial Ceremony in Waegwan, Republic of Korea Aug. 17.
On Aug. 17,1950 41 US prisoners of war were executed by North Korean forces on the hill which overlooks the town of Waegwan, Republic of Korea. The 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers were taking part in the Battle of Taegu on the Pusan Perimeter when they became surrounded by North Korean People’s Army troops.
After they were captured, an American counter attack forced the NKPA troops to retreat.
Fearing the prisoners would slow them down, an NKPA officer ordered the prisoners be shot. Five Soldiers somehow survived, sharing what had happened.
Many memorials have been held near the site of the massacre over the years. The first official monument was built atop Hill 303 in 2003 by the 6th Ordnance Battalion who are still headquartered at nearby Camp Carroll.
“On Behalf of all US Soldiers on Camp Carroll, I pay my deepest respect to all who fought in the Korean War, and pause specifically to remember the 41 US Soldiers who were massacred by North Korean forces,” said Lt. Col. Bradley May, Commander of the 6th Ordnance Battalion, during his remarks during the ceremony.
In 2005, Chilgok County constructed a monument atop the hill.
“This is a place where we are reminded of the pain US Soldiers experienced during the Korean War,” said Chilgok County Governor Mr. Baek, Sun Ki.
On Aug. 17, 2012 6th Ordnance Battalion and the Republic of Korea National Unification Advisory Council Chilgok held the first official Hill 303 Memorial Ceremony atop the hill.
Five years later, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Chilgok County opened the Korean American Hill 303 Memorial Park at the site where the massacre occurred. All ceremonies have been held here since its opening.
“We built this symbolic space in honor of their sacrifice," said Baek. "I hope our presence will comfort the souls of the victims here and that the Korea and American Hill 303 Memorial Park will become a symbolic place for the strong Korea and American alliance.”
“The fact that our two countries are gathered here today, in friendship and partnership, guarantees these 41 heroes sacrifices were not in vain,” said May.
In 2020, a multi-story structure called the Chilgok Peace Observatory opened atop Hill 303. The observatory, which overlooks the Korean American Hill 303 Memorial Park, illuminates at sundown with what looks like a rising flame and can be seen for miles around. It commemorates the sacrifice and devotion of Korean War veterans and wishes for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.