The Outpost Harry Survivors Association
The Outpost Harry Survivors Association was organized to keep all men who were involved in the battles to hold Outpost Harry bonded together in common memory of that action and to honor the many sacrifices made by our comrades.
Outpost Harry was located in what was commonly referred to as the "Iron Triangle" in Korea. This was an area approximately 60 miles north of Seoul and was the most direct route to the South Korean capital. Outpost Harry's elevation was around 1280 feet high and positioned some 320 yards south of a larger landmass occupied by the CCF (Chinese Communist Forces) called "Star Hill" and some 425 yards northeast of United Nations positions. A service road that wound from the MLR (Main Line of Resistance) along an intermittent stream led to the rear of the outpost where a medical aid station and a supply point were located. The position contained a communication trench line which ran from the supply point forward some 400 yards to the top. At that point, the trench line joins another trench that makes a complete loop (circle) around the outpost with an additional finger that ran along the east ridge about 100 yards. The trench line was deep enough to walk around the perimeter unseen by the enemy. It was fortified with reinforced fighting bunkers, a command post and a forward observation bunker. It could accommodate approximately 150 infantrymen.
Outpost Harry and surrounding terrain features. (Map courtesy of James Jarboe) Click to enlarge
The outpost commanded an excellent view of the enemy positions as well as our own lines of defense. The elevation of the outpost was greater than any other friendly position within a mile. Since the Chinese did not have aerial observation, Outpost Harry was a strategic "military Hot Spot" and dearly desired by the Chinese. It's defense and preservation was viewed as critical because it blocked Chinese Communist Forces observation down the Kumwha Valley and shielded that portion of the MLR from enemy direct fire. If the UN forces lost the outpost, the U.S. Eighth Army would have had to withdraw approximately10 kilometers to the next defensible line, as shown in the photo at right. Furthermore, a CCF victory at Outpost Harry would have whet the appetite for more war and dishearten the American public to a point where it might accept an armistice term less favorable than was eventually was the case.
During the period of June 1-8, 1953, aerial reconnaissance indicated that the enemy Chinese Communist Forces were building for a major offensive. The enemy units identified were the 22nd & 221st Regiments of the Chinese Communist 74th Division.
King Company of the 15th. Infantry Regiment. was selected and ordered to occupy and defend Outpost Harry as they were considered a more experienced battle tested unit. It was a "Hold at all Costs" order with no withdrawal. With the background of "Peace Talks" on going, The CCF goal at this time was to inflect heavy casualties and to gain possible concessions at the truce table. King Company occupied Outpost Harry on the morning of June 6, 1953 through light enemy mortar fire. Upon reaching the summit and the outpost's fighting positions, King Company personnel along with the assistance of the 10th. Combat Engineers engaged in improving the fortifications. The trench line was deepened and expanded, bunkers reinforced, 55 gallons of napalm were installed and wired for firing, wire was strung, and communications improved. Meanwhile the company's defensive fire plan was developed and submitted to headquarters where the division artillery commander finally approved it.
On the evening of June 10th the Chinese launched their offensive by pounding the surrounding area and the outpost with artillery, mortar rounds and rocket fire. Around 2130 hours, and under the eerie glare of searchlights and parachute flares, the sudden blare of bugles and whistles signaled the enemy attack. Attacking in swarms, approximately 3600 enemy troops advanced forward throughout the night and the early hours of the next day. Despite an intense barrage of defensive firepower and the detonation of napalm, the invading CCF forces stormed the slopes of the outpost and soon penetrated the trenches. Over running the outpost they engaged King Company, 15th Infantry in hand to hand combat. The fighting became so intense that the Commanding Officer of King Company ordered his 39th Field Artillery Forward Observer to call in our artillery fire directly on the outpost. Fighting continued all night for possession of the outpost. In the early morning of June 11th advancing personnel of the 15th Infantry Easy and Charlie companies reinforced King Company to push the enemy forces back to their positions.
Action like this continued. On the night of June 11th, Baker Company of the 15th and Baker Company of the 5th. RCT defended Harry. On the night of June 12th, Able Company of the 5th. RCT and Love Company of the 15th. Infantry Regiment defended Harry. They were supported by a detachment from the 10th. Combat. Engineer Battalion that got trapped on the outpost while on a mine laying detail. Charlie Company of the 5th. RCT took responsibility for Harry on June 13th and was replaced by companies P and N of the Greek Battalion. Finally, on June l8th the enemy forces called off their attack due to horrible loses inflected by the defending units.
George, Easy and Able Companies of the 15th Infantry as well as Dog Company of the 5th. RCT also participated in the defense. Other units supporting the action were the 65th. Infantry Regiment., the 10th Combat Engineer Battalion, the 10th, 39th, 58th, 555th, and 3rd AAA Artillery Units. Additionally, the 64th Heavy Tank Battalion, the 3rd Medical and the 3rd Signal Unit provided much needed resources for the defense of Harry.
Units receiving the Distinguished Unit Citation for their performance on Harry were King Company, 15th. Infantry Regiment for the night of June 10/11, Baker Company, 15 Infantry for the night of June 11/12, Able Company, 5th. RCT for the night of June 12/13 and Peter Company, Greek Battalion for the night of June 17/18. In the annals of United States Infantry history it appears that this is the only time this many rifle companies received this distinguished award for an engagement of this type. Also recognized for valor and heroism was Sgt. Ola Mize, of King Co., 15th. Infantry Regiment. who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions of the night of June 10-11th, 1953.
Some 39 years later, 11 veterans from around the country decided to hold a reunion in honor of the Outpost Harry Siege. Click on the photo at right for a larger picture and the names of the founders. That first reunion was held at Fort Stewart, Ga. It was decided at that time that it would be appropriate to meet yearly around the anniversary date of June 10th to commemorate those that defended and preserved the outpost and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Click here to view the video of that first meeting made by Lillie Cunningham. James Evens added the music, etc.
Thus the Outpost Harry Survivors Association was established.
Since that first reunion meeting, The Outpost Harry Survivors Association has grown to over 160 members. At the reunion in 2001 it was decided that any veteran that defended Outpost Harry, regardless of time served, was to be considered a regular member of the Association.
There was never a safe time to be on Outpost Harry. The Greeks had a name for it and it was called "Death Place". If you served on Harry, you knew that was true. We invite you to share our Outpost Harry web site in honor of all that served and put their lives on the line to preserve it against overwhelming enemy numbers.
Out motto is, "WE HELD". And indeed we did!
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