Battle of Boomerang

June 14-15, 1953

With Wartime, Post-War, and Modern Photos,

Maps, and Command Reports

 

The Battle in Perspective

     The UN-occupied hill mass known as Boomerang faced Chinese held hills just several hundred yards away at the southwestern foot of Hill 1062, better known as Papasan.   The hills of Boomerang protected the open Kumhwa Valley in its rear and bridged the valley between the famous Triangle Hill-mass to the east and a large hill mass to the west which extended to Chorwon.  It included Hills 717 and 682 further west and in enemy territory and further still Outpost Harry, the subject of an intense Chinese attack on June 10th and 11th, 1953 just several days before the attack on Boomerang.  In all likelihood these attacks were intended to divert American attention from Chinese attacks on the South Korean army.

     The Boomerang area was the site of frequent combat.  The 25th Division captured the town of Kumhwa in June 1951, and the UN line stabilized along a rail line in the valley north of town.  After being briefly relieved by the 3rd Division, the 25th returned in July 1951.  During this time, Boomerang was captured.  Raids were frequent then and included a November 4, 1951 strike on Hills 400 (or 399) and 419 by David Hackworth and the Wolfhound Raiders.  In November or December of 1951, the 25th Division was replaced by the 2nd Division.  By the spring of 1953, UN lines had advanced from the railroad in the Kumhwa Valley to Boomerang itself.  In April 1953, the Belgian Battalion repulsed Chinese attacks on Boomerang (Chat-kol) until they were replaced by the 7th Regiment of the 3rd Division.  By this time of the war, peace talks in Panmunjom had been underway for some time.  Peace appeared near, but South Korean President Syngman Rhee wanted to continue the war until the North was completely liberated.  In fact, his uncompromising position created such a problem, the US considered having him assassinated.  The Chinese took a different approach - a massive offensive against the South Korean army.

     These Chinese attacks involved human wave attacks preceded by never before seen concentrations of artillery.  The attacks gained at most three kilometers and took place mostly to the east of American positions on Boomerang - on Triangle Hill, Sniper's Ridge and beyond, but they included the ROK 9th Division on the eastern end of Boomerang.  Later, they included the far right of the 3rd Division - Company F of the 7th Regiment.  This was the intense June 14-15 battle which is the subject of this webpage.  In the Second Platoon alone, 42 of its 56 men became casualties.   Due to the heavy losses Company F was withdrawn from the line.

     Units of the 7th Regiment which replaced them endured another attack on June 23rd and 24th.   The 3rd Division was then replaced on the line by the 2nd Division, which arrived on July 14th.  The 3rd Battalion of the 9th Regiment repulsed further Chinese attacks between July 16th and 18th, and the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.  Although now part of the so-called demilitarized zone, the action has not stopped.  South Korean troops near Boomerang have had several firefights with North Korean infiltrators.    




7th Regiment June 1953 Command Report

This regimental report covers the battle of June 14-15, the focus of this section of the webpage, and helps put the fight into the perspective of the regiment's mission and experiences during the month.

The regiment suffered 306 casualties during the month, 205 of which are accountable to the three major actions listed.  Eight of these occurred during the tank raid of June 13th, one hundred five during the June 14-15 battle, and 92 during the June 23-24 battle.  The report says the enemy lost 70 men in the tank raid, 2,123 in the June 14-15 attack, at least 218 in the June 23-24 attack, and 124 to tank direct fire through the month for an estimated total of at least 2,535.

The enemy fired a total of 45,431 artillery rounds at the regiment during the month, around 17,000 of which were on June 14-15.  In typical understatement, the report says, "The attack was preceded by an intense artillery and mortar preparation and supported with armor."  After the battle, efforts were made to preserve the wire network during future bombardments.  Interestingly, somewhat contradictory statements are made concerning the June 23-24 attack.  On page 5 it states, "Enemy artillery and mortar fire was extremely heavy prior to the attack and knocked out most of the wire communications."  In the Commander's Recommendations on page 8 it states, "Only three lines were out and these were in the immediate CP area of the battalions and Heavy Mortar Company."  Regardless, it is an interesting and useful report.



Battalion Level

Maj. Roger Whiting's Citation for 3rd Oak leaf Cluster to the Silver Star  Details some of the actions of the battalion commander during the battle.   



After Action Report

Sgt. Medina's After Action Report  Unfortunately, this is the only after action report I have.




Links - Sgt. Bob Barfield's Recommendation for the Medal of Honor

http://www.robertbarfield.com/  

Defense Link Article about Bob Barfield



Remembrances

Willard Hamill  submitted to Watch on the Rhine

Ernie Clifford  from Watch on the Rhine, see page 19 

Budd Sarisohn   from Watch on the Rhine, see page18

see also December 1998 issue of Watch on the Rhine page 14

Ricardo (Rick) Cardenas  Biography of the company commander, a veteran of three wars who passed away in 2004.



Maps

Boomerang - Wartime 1:50,000.  These wartime maps are not as accurate as modern maps, especially with elevation numbers, but are still very useful.  Ignoring the top border, the horizontal lines are numbered 43, 42, and 41.  The right of F Company and therefore the 3rd Division was along horizontal line 43 eight tenths of the way from vertical lines 60 to 61.  This is expressed as CT608430.

Boomerang and Triangle Hill Area - Post-war color map showing the whole area, including the enemy position opposite Boomerang as well as Hill 1062, or Papasan.  OP Crush Communism, where the modern photos were taken, was the position of the 7th Regiment's left flank.  The attack on Boomerang was part of a massive Chinese offensive over the course of June and July 1953, mostly against the South Korean army to the east of Boomerang.  South Korean positions to the east of Boomerang were attacked, and the Triangle Hill complex was largely captured.  In the course of their offensives, the Chinese advanced at most three kilometers or 1.8 miles against the ROK Army.

Belgian Map  The Belgian Bn. fought on Boomerang in March and April 1953.  This Belgian veterans' website has a map and a few photos of the area.

Chat-Kol Battles of the Belgian Bn.  Provides a map and more detail of the Belgians at Boomerang. 

 


 

 

Boomerang Related Photos


Wartime Views from 2nd Infantry Division Book

Aerial

From Behind


September 2001 Photos of the Boomerang Area

McGinn and Hamill Photos From OP Crush Communism

Hamill Papasan Photos

Newspaper Article 


Modern Photos of Boomerang Veterans and Families

Willard Hamill and Ernie Clifford - Aug. 2001 at Washington Union Station.


Jeanette and Willard Hamill and Ernie and Bernie Clifford - Aug. 2001 at Washington Union Station.


June 2002 Hamilton, Ohio Reunion - From top right:  1st Sgt. Reed Patchen, Stan Cahill of counter fire, Willard Hamill of Co. F, Bud Sarisohn, a Co. F supply sgt and member of counterattack force.  Bottom row: Co. F Commander 1st Lt. Ricardo Cardenas, Platoon Leader Lt. Lewis Hotelling.


Some Boomerang and Co. F Vets at Hamilton, OH 2004

Willard Hamill

 

Reed Patchen

 

Kendall Everett

 

Ernie Clifford

 

Larry Jines is holding the paper.

 

George Barnett - George joined the company soon after the battle.

 

Re-enactment of a postwar photo.

 


Left to Right - Willard Hamill, Rose Patchen, Kendall Everett, Reed Patchen, and the Sarisohns


The Thursday evening dinner panorama.  Left to right - Kendall Everett's sister in law, Kendall Everett, Rose and Reed Patchen, the Sarisohns, and Willard Hamill.


2006 Reunion DC Outing

At the Korean War Memorial.  Left to right - John and Willard Hamill, Kendall Everett, and seated is Reed Patchen.

 

Korean War Memorial

 



 

Wartime Photos and News Articles of Willard Hamill - Dealing with the June 14-15 attack and before and after the battle. 

Chinese casualties the next day.  The center chest cavity is of a Chinese soldier blown apart by his own grenades in front of Willard Hamill's and Bill Brown's fighting bunker.


Chiggies removing the bodies.


A zoom of the previous photo.  Behind is a jeep that was crushed by the withdrawing tank.


Chiggies dragging a Chinese body up the hill with commo wire.


Emanuel L. "Natureboy" Dalton and the area to the rear of the tank.   Willard Hamill spent his first night on the frontlines with Natureboy in the rightmost fighting position of the 3rd Inf. Division.  The 9th ROK Division held the area to the east.  Dalton was sent to the rear to be a chaplain's assistant, but he insisted on returning to the platoon and became a platoon runner.  As the battle began on June 13th, he told Lt. Hotelling that he believed he would be killed.  Hotelling sent him to the safety of a new well built bunker.  Hotelling had just left when the bunker took a direct hit, killing everyone inside.  

In trench on phone  Natureboy Dalton.

 

News Article A good article from Rock of the Marne with interviews, however the statement that Willard Hamill and Bill Brown evacuated their bunker is incorrect. 

Lt. Cardenas Article - Being given an award for assisting the ROK 9th Division defense prior to the June 14-15 attack.  Cardenas was commander of Fox Company, 7th Regiment.  Drafted into the army in World War II, he served as a scout in the Pacific.  He served two tours in Korea plus service in Vietnam and retired as a Lt. Colonel.  Until his death in 2004, he lived in California.


Lt. Hotelling Article  Lt. Hotelling was platoon leader, 2nd Platoon Fox Company.  Pvt. Hamill was a member of Lt. Hotelling first patrol toward enemy lines.  Hotelling was wounded on Boomerang and awarded the Silver Star.  He remained in the Army and retired as a major.  He now lives in Hamilton, Ohio.


Pvt. Kendall Everett Article.  The squad sniper.  He turned 18 years of age on the front lines.  After the war he was assistant squad leader for Willard Hamill.  Photo.  Zoom.,  2  With Willard Hamill


Pvt. Ernie Clifford Article.  A baseball player.  Severely wounded in the knee June 15, 1953 on Boomerang and sent back to Walter Reed hospital where he and Lt. Hotelling were treated.  Photo.


 

Frank Williams and William Willis awarded Silver Stars.

Rear of Ridge near tank looking west  Frank Williams on left.  Possibly the 2nd Platoon CP bunker.

Chow Line  Extending down Boomerang with men spaced 10 yards apart.

Pvt. Hamill Photo 1,(with 57mm recoilless rifle ammo)  2 behind tank   3 (With Tex Jones. At the bottom is a roll of concertina wire.), 4 (with Belgian(?) weapon and Chinese burp gun (submachine gun) after battle of Boomerang during reconstitution of Fox Company because of heavy casualties)


 

Tex Jones and Bobby Wellman with submachine gun and attached flashlight that Willard Hamill removed from a dead Chinese soldier.


 

Papasan and Hill 399  399 was an enemy outpost which had been shelled regularly and resembled a pile of dirt.

Terrain to left of Papasan  No man's land.

Terrain to right of Papasan  clear view.

Terrain to right of Papasan  With white phosphorus shells exploding.

A Mountain  is this Papasan from another angle or another mountain entirely?

Deep Communications Trench  Leslie Martin, later wounded and returned to the company.

In a trench  Left: unknown Right: probably Elbert Davidson.

Along ridgeline  Looking west with the enemy toward the right.  Tank was positioned in saddle.  Some of the troops near here could see fighting at Outpost Harry before the Boomerang battles.

Rear area near showers  The truck had a pump which pumped water from a stream into the water heater then into the shower tent.

Terrain in front of Boomerang  No mans land with patrol activity.

Terrain and overhead camouflage  Papasan may be in the background.

Bunker  Unknown.

Deep Trench

Bunker in rear  In foreground is "urination" tube, to be tactful.  Do you know any of these men? 

Bunker


With a mattock in deep trench  Al Melvin of Long Island, NY.  Killed in action on Boomerang.


 

In trench

bunker and terrain  Platoon CP?  To the right is Kumhwa valley.

in trench  Unknown.

Sign says 3rd Plat. End 3rd Squad, Squad Leader Cpl. Jones sign  Cpl. Norman "Jonesy" Jones (later wounded and shipped stateside), Nick Medori, and Jay Janezic holding a propaganda leaflet.  From Boomerang.  Background is one of the Jane Russell hills.(?)


Squad and danger backblast area sign  Foreground: Bobby Wellman and ROK 8, Middle: Tex Jones, Roland Stacey of NC killed by a short round on June 14, 1953, Willard Hamill then Bill Brown his BAR man, Jay Janezic  Back: Nick Medori. 


 

Janezic, Hamill, and Medori with Kumhwa valley behind

Group Photo  ROK 8, Bobby Wellman, ROK 20, Ernie Clifford, Al Melvin, and Bill Brown.

In Trench

In trench  Unknown

In trench  Unknown.

In trench  Unknown


ROK 8, Hamill, Ernie Clifford, Al Melvin with tools


 

Looking back down the hill  Chow line?

Decorations Article  in Rock of the Marne.

Cleaning Weapons  Second from left is William Willis who is mentioned in an article about Boomerang.  Center is Janezic.  Others unknown.

Sorting out gear after Boomerang fight  Foreground: Bill Brown.  Far right: Tex Jones.  Area was within sight of Boomerang.

Hamill sorting gear after fight

Weapons sorting after battle

Pile of weapons  In rear area after major battle on Boomerang.

Bill Brown and Willard Hamill in area behind Boomerang  Boomerang in background?

Willard Hamill eating C rations

Jay Janezic with Kumhwa valley

ROK 20 and Kendall Everett by River  Near the war's end.

Bronze Star Recommendation

Bronze Star Recommendation Part 2

Bronze Star List

Bronze Star List Part 2

Bronze Star Citation

Bronze Star Article  in Roanoke Times and World News.

Combat Infantryman's Badge List  

CIB Card

Bill Brown cleaning BAR

Group and Terrain  Janezic, Medori, Hamill, and Brown.  Kumhwa valley behind.

M46 Patton tank just behind its fighting position   James Burns of Boynton Beach, FL writes me that M46s are rebuilt M26s that can be told apart by a pioneer rack on the glacis and a higher rear sprocket.

Willard Hamill at entrance to Fighting Position (AR 952 was bunker number)


Douglas Ford, later killed, cutting Willard Hamill's hair (with view of terrain in background)


Willard Hamill and Bill Brown, the BAR man


 

Willard Hamill, ROKs, JooIn Kyoo (ROK 8) and RaByung Jin (ROK 20) with terrain (in front of platoon CP?)

Nick Medori and Jay Janezic

Willard Hamill and the BAR

Propaganda Leaflet

Propaganda Leaflet Part 2

ROKs and US  Made on the way back to corps HQ.  Kendall Everett and three ROKs.

Armistice Notice

 


 

Post War

Willard Hamill with carbine and Kendall Everett   during a deer hunt after the war.

group  Willard Hamill, Rich Gregori, Robert 'Beatle Bailey' Martin, Lawson, unknown

Korean Flag  displayed by William Heady, Charles(?) Brown

group  'RA' Kendall Everett, Dezel Ball, Kenneth Bright

Doc  Willard Hamill, Frank 'Doc' Williams

Large Group    Top Row: Willard Hamill, Rich Gregori, Kenney, Raphael Dicicco, Kenneth Bright, Dunn ;  Middle Row: ROK, Billy Jo Reams, Bobby Wellman, ROK, Kendall Everett ; Bottom Row: Lawson, George Barnett, "Beatle Bailey" Martin, Sam Alston, ROK

Large Group 2   Top Row second from left: Larry McSherry

Group of Four  Front: Jimmy Johnson, Willard Hamill, Left: Barnett, Right: Dicicco

Group of Three  Willard Hamill, George Barnett, Bobby Wellman

Medic Frank Williams.  Clowns are Raphael Dicicco and George Barnett

Charlie Brown, Willard Hamill, Peterson, two unknowns, Kenneth Bright behind

Ziarkowski (squad leader of 2nd squad of 2nd platoon), right unknown

Harold Fink, Harold Hollingsworth, and Willard Hamill

Unknown  Who are these?

Tom Innocenti  

3rd Division Sign

7th Regt Sign

Chapel

Hamill and Sgt. Russell Mertens

Chapel Article  in the Rock of the Marne.  Post War.

Another Chapel Article

Service Schedule

Chapel

Chapel Sign

Chapel and terrain  2nd Bn. HQ area several miles south of Kumhwa.

Outside Chapel  and the chaplain.

Hamill with "Has Done" Sign and terrain  The 15th was the Can Do Regiment.  

ROKs  The two older are chiggies, civilians who worked on the front lines.

Group Photo  Post War.  3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Fox Company.  Squad leader Hamill is back left.

Hamill and Lausier twist drying under aerial camouflage

Group Photo  3rd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Fox Co.

 


 

Photos Made By Others

Photos by Rene Silva:

Rene Silva


Photo by Dewey McLean:

 
Clouds obscuring Papasan

Photos by Jack Fleming:

Jack Fleming the Day After the Battle

Papasan




Papasan




Papasan





Eastern end of Boomerang





East of Papasan





Up Near Searchlights



One of Cardenas's jeeps, F3, after the battle

Ricardo Cardenas and Jack Fleming




Ridgeway Visits.  The 3rd Div C.G. was either Smyth or Ridings.  There was a command change in May.



The top photo is of the rear area.  The photo below it is a cropped version.  Jack Fleiming has this to say:

A: Battalion Aid Station

B: BOQ tent (bachelor officers' quarters)

C:  probably the S-1 area.  Cpt. O'Brian was S-1

D: road going to the trains, or motor pool

Jack Fleming writes: "By the time the Battle came around I was the BN Motor Officer.  The night of the Battle word got back to the CP that things were not going too well so I rounded up all the cooks, clerks and assorted others, grabbed a couple trucks and headed for the Boomerang. . . . never knew there was so much artillery and other crap flying thru the air. . . "




Fleming's Office and watchdog




"Under enemy observation.  Keep 200 yards distance!"  On MSR going up to Boomerang.  After the hill and right turn, Boomerang was visible.






On MSR coming back from Boomerang.  The yellow sign is in Korean and says the same as the English one, that the road is under enemy observation.





Trains Overlook - "from the CP area . . . that road going up the hill leads to another area that we occupied previously. . . it had a nice stream running thru and a battery of 105's right down the road."





7th Regiment HQ area





"Cowboy", Alvin J. Cowger from Potlatch, Idaho




Urination tube is visible in the foreground



 

"Poncho" and Kelley kept the lights on in the CP area.  Poncho came from the 65th, a Puerto Rican outfit, after it was reorganized.  He was a mechanic in the motor pool.  When he arrived, he said to call him anything BUT 'Poncho', so they called him just that.  Kelley was an honest-to-God Irishman who was serving to expedite his becoming a US citizen. . . he was in the commo platoon.  There was also a German in the S-4 shop who is said to have had his old SS serial number tattooed on his armpit.





Pusan Cemetery - Jack took this photo on his way home, glad to not be buried there.

Fleming and Cardenas at Ft Benning, GA in early 1952.  Cardenas was home from Korea and Fleming was at his first assignment at officer basic.  The Ford belonged to Cardenas.


Photos from Tom Innocenti:


Cardenas

 

 

Heinrich

 

Joo In Koo with Ra Byung Jin

 

Larry Jines

 

Albrecht

 


Color Photos

A toilet box.

 

 

Sfc. Mertens with a peak of what Boomerang veterans call Jane Russell in background.  

 

 

Lt. Maguire on left and Belgians.  Lt. Maguire replaced Lt. Hotelling as platoon leader after Hotelling's wounding.  On the back of the picture it has two dates, June 23rd and July 3rd, 1953.  On Jane Russell.



Photos of Lt. Frank McGuire


Beal


Cpl Mahan and Sgt Sarishon , Oct 1953


IX Corps, Aug 1953


Lt Beal and Cpl Venable, Sept 1953


Owens, "Baldy", Love


Chaplin Thompson


Cpt Cardenas, Sept 1953


Keeling, CO of 2nd Bn, 7th Regt


Marylin Monroe


Cardenas and Beal




Col Estabrook, CO of 7th Regt


Kim



Sgt Sanislo


Cpl Heady and Pvt Gulpin, Seoul


Heinrich


Leonard






Boomerang Veterans Please Contact Us!   Please help us identify the men in these pictures.  We would be happy to put your photos, remembrances, or important documents on this webpage, or just talk.  I am forming a basic understanding of this battle, but there is still much I don't know.  The battle at Boomerang should not be forgotten but will be unless your memories are recorded.  I would be happy to hear from you.



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