I've written about the "Korean Thermopylae" previously. It is to say the least an inspiring story of courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Like many things these days it is unfortunately lost in the pages of history, a history that few people, especially the young, have any familiarity with. Combat changes a soldier forever but the friendships and mutual respect forged in its crucible can never be severed. Listening to the accounts of the Americans that fought side by side with the Greeks of Sparta battalion in Korea one can only be filled with pride. Lest we forget. Watch the whole video. If you are in a hurry jump to 6:48.
Outpost Harry was a remote Korean War station located on a tiny hilltop in what was commonly referred to as the "Iron Triangle" on the Korean Peninsula. This was an area approximately 60 miles (100 km) north of Seoul and was the most direct route to the South Korean capital.
More than 88,000 rounds of Chinese artillery fell on Outpost Harry. Since the outpost was defended each night by only a single company of American or Greek soldiers, the Chinese had anticipated an easy capture. Over a period of eight days, waves of Chinese forces moved into the outposts trench lines and totalling over 13,000 soldiers. Five UNC companies, four US and one Greek, took turns in defending the outpost.
Most of the fighting occurred at night, under heavy mortar fire, while the daylight hours were usually spent by the UNC forces evacuating the dead and wounded, replacing the defending company, sending up resupplies and repairing the fortified positions. The daylight hours were punctuated with artillery, mortar and sniper fire, making repairs and reinforcement a more dangerous task. During the 4 to 5 days prior to the initial attack on the outpost, Chinese artillery and mortar fire increased from an average of 275 to 670 per day during daylight hours.
The soldiers of the Greek Expeditionary Force adapted its name and called it Outpost "Haros", the modern Greek equivalent to Charon, Greek mythology's ferryman to the underworld of Hades.
The Chinese forces employed against Outpost Harry were tabulated by U.S. Intelligence Sections:
June 10 and June 11: one reinforced regiment (approximately 3,600 troops)
June 11 and June 12: one regiment (approximately 2,850 troops)
June 12 and June 13: one reinforced regiment
June 13 and June 14: an estimated 100 troops
June 14 and June 15: an estimated 120 troops
June 17 and June 18: one regiment.
During this period the entire 74th Division was utilized against this position and at the end of the engagement was considered combat ineffective. Rounds fired in support of their attack amounted to 88,810 rounds over 81mm in size: UNC mortar and artillery units in conjunction with friendly tank fires expended 368, 185 rounds over 81mm in size.
Casualty figures were
15th Infantry Regiment - 68 KIA, 343 WIA, 35 MIA; KATUSA - 8 KIA, 51 WIA, 7 MIA;
Greek Expeditionary Force, Sparta Battalion - 15 KIA, 36 WIA, 1 MIA.
Attached and supporting units 5th RCT - 13 KIA, 67 WIA, 1 MIA;
10th Engineer Battalion - 5 KIA, 23 WIA; 39th FA - 5 KIA, 13 WIA.
For the first time in the annals of U.S. military history, five rifle companies together, four American and one Greek, would receive the prestigious Distinguished Unit Citation for the outstanding performance of their shared mission.