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Cohen Orders Review of Alleged Massacre

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 1999 – Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has directed the Army to investigate allegations that U.S. soldiers massacred hundreds of South Korean villagers nearly 50 years ago.

"Secretary Cohen has asked me to lead a review on behalf of the Department of Defense to determine the full scope of the facts surrounding press reports of civilian deaths near No Gun Ri, Korea, in 1950, early in the Korean conflict," Army Secretary Louis Caldera announced Sept. 30 at the Pentagon.

Caldera said Cohen directed him to use whatever resources are available to do a quick and thorough review. P.T. Henry, assistant Army secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, will help oversee the effort.

An Associated Press article published Sept. 30 in the New York Times, reported that U.S. soldiers allegedly killed hundreds of refugees, including many women and children, beneath a railroad bridge at No Gun Ri. The wire service report was based on some 130 interviews with American veterans and 24 South Korean survivors.

The article claimed that military records indicate the Army's 2nd Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, part of the First Cavalry Division, were dug in at No Gun Ri on the three days the killings allegedly occurred in July 1950.

"These reports are, of course, very disturbing," Caldera told reporters here. "Earlier this year, our Army Center for Military History did a search and found nothing in the official records that substantiates the claim that U.S. Army soldiers perpetrated such massacres."

Caldera said the Army's review will be an all encompassing review that goes beyond a search of the documentary records, Caldera said. "I am committed to finding out the truth of these matters as best we can after these many years," he said.

The early weeks of the Korean conflict were very chaotic, Caldera said. U.S. soldiers were ill-trained and ill- equipped to fight because of a large reduction in resources for training and equipment following World War II. None- the-less, Caldera said, U.S. soldiers fought with great courage under very harsh conditions. More than 30,000 Americans died in the conflict that ended in 1953.

"We owe these dead and the vast, vast majority of our veterans of the Korean War our nation's gratitude for their sacrifices on behalf of our country," Caldera said. He added, "we owe the American people, our veterans, and the people -- our friends and allies of the Republic of Korea, a full accounting of these matters and I'm confident the review I've ordered will provide just that."

Related Site of Interest: DoD News Briefing, September 30, 1999

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