WAEGWAN, Republic of Korea – In July 1950 U.S. and South Korean troops finally halted the advance of invading North Korean troops along the banks of the Nakdong River. The natural barrier helped form the bulk of what became known as the Pusan perimeter. Many of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War were fought along the perimeter. This is where Eighth Army Commander Lt. Gen. Walton Walker gave his famous “Stand or Die” order. They stood and many died. Nearly 20,000 Americans were killed or injured as they held the line over the next several months. South Korean loses were higher.
In memory of those who were killed or injured along the Pusan Perimeter, the Republic of Korea government established the Nakdong River Battle Victory Event in Waegwan in 2009, becoming part of the Nakdong River World Peace and Culture Festival in 2011.
The multi-day festival held annually in Oct. features displays of military equipment, a parade, and patriotic performances and is designed to inspire patriotism in the people of South Korea, especially the young, who never experienced the horrors of the Korean War.
Eighth Army participates in the event each year with the bulk of personnel coming from 19th ESC units stationed at nearby Camp Carroll, which is named after Korean War hero Charles F. Carroll who fought and died during the war.
“When we marvel at the strength and effectiveness of the ironclad ROK-U.S. Alliance, it is important to remember, that strength was forged along the banks of the Nakdong River 72 years ago,” said 19th ESC Commander Brig. Gen. Frederick Crist during the opening ceremony.
Before the official festival opening ceremony Republic of Korea, U.S. military and community leaders conducted a small ceremony at the nearby Hill 303 Memorial. Forty-one U.S. Soldiers from 1st Cavalry Division were massacred by North Korean troops on the hill in the early days of the Pusan perimeter.
The Korean War began when North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. An armistice ending major hostilities was signed on July 27, 1953, but the war has never officially ended which is why U.S. forces maintain a presence in the Republic of Korea to this day.
It is estimated that 5 million Soldiers and civilians were killed during the Korean War. United Nations forces suffered 550,000 casualties with almost 40,000 Americans killed. This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the war.