Article Claims Female US Infantry Troops Not Being Held to Same Standard As Men

I have been a supporter of women in the infantry with the caveat they should be held to the same standard as male troops.  However, this article claims through anonymous sources they were not:

Soldiers-in-training assigned to A Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, start their first day of Infantry One Station Unit Training on Sand Hill, Fort Benning, Ga. The class that started Feb. 10 was the first to include female recruits. [Army Times]

America’s first female Army Infantrymen are here, but not all of them made it through.

In fact, only eighteen of the thirty-two female infantry recruits made it through the One Station Unit Training (OSUT) program at Fort Benning, Georgia.

While the attrition rate doesn’t seem all that alarming, it strikes a more concerning tone when factoring in that the females needed only to meet the much-lower female standards for physical fitness that separate them from their previously all-male counterparts.

That said, there were some women who certainly gave their male colleagues a run for their money.

“There was even one female that did better than 90 percent of the males on the PT test,” said one 22-year-old male trainee, who reportedly had high PT scores. “Speaking as the person who had the second-highest PT score- she had me looking over my soldier the whole cycle. It was something that definitely made me better, and maybe kept me up nights a few times. But certainly by the end of the cycle, I was doing more push-ups, because I had her chasing me.”

However, some sources who graduated from within the unit -whom requested concealed identities to protect their new careers- claimed a clear double-standard between males and females in their training cycle, including lighter rucksacks and lower expectations.

“No way,” one soldier told Popular Military when asked if women were held to the same standards. “Lighter rucks, things like that.”  [Popular Military]

You can read more at the link, but the Army has said the same standards were used so who knows what the truth is.

Army Investigating Allegations of Soldiers Sharing Nude Pictures

It will be interesting to see how the Army investigates this because you would think these posters are not using their real names:

The Army is looking into allegations that some soldiers may be involved in an image-sharing message board where troops from all branches of the service are allegedly crowdsourcing naked pictures of female service members.

“Special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s specialized Computer Crime Investigative Unit are currently assessing information and photographs on a civilian website that appear to include U.S. Army personnel,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in a statement to Army Times.

The special agents are working to “determine if a criminal offense has occurred,” Smith said.

First reported by Business Insider, the Army’s inquiry comes one day after news broke about AnonIB, a website where purported male service members request naked pictures of their female counterparts by name, rank and duty station. The Business Insider report also said the men allegedly were cyber-stalking and sharing nude photos of their female colleagues.   [Army Times]

You can read more at the link.

US Army Announces Project to Develop Biodegradable Mortar Rounds

This will be interesting to see what industry comes up with to develop mortar rounds that are biodegradable after they are fired and impact in the ground:

Marines train with the M203 40mm grenade launcher and the shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon at Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 23, 2015. The U.S. Army recently sought proposals to make biodegradable 40 mm to 120 mm training rounds loaded with specialized indigenous seeds that, when grown, will eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants from ranges around the world.

In a famous photograph from 1967, a Vietnam War protester placed flowers into rifle barrels of National Guardsmen. That role could one day fall to tank commanders and mortarmen.

The U.S. Army recently sought proposals to make biodegradable 40 mm to 120 mm training rounds loaded with specialized indigenous seeds that, when grown, will eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants from ranges around the world.

The three-phase study will test the concept’s viability and look at the potential financial and environmental impact, according to Frank Misurelli, a spokesman for the U.S. Army’s Armament Research Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. If successful, the winning proposal would become a “Program of Record” and the rounds could make their way into America’s military training arsenal.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Report Shows Very Few Army Senior Leaders Commit Misconduct

The AP prints the headline “Army says some misconduct trends are increasing” and then you read the article and it was just nearly 50 senior Army leaders in the entire force that got in trouble:

Sexual misconduct and harassment allegations against senior Army leaders increased this year and more were substantiated than in 2015, according to a closely held report by the Army Inspector General.

The memo obtained by The Associated Press also said the most frequent charge lodged against senior officers on active duty, in the National Guard, Reserves and senior executive service in the past budget year was reprisal, with nearly 50 such allegations as of Sept. 30.

The total number of cases is small, but they represent some of the more serious misconduct concerns faced by the military. And they underscore the fact that transgressions are occurring in the higher ranks, not rooted simply in the younger enlisted force.  [Associated Press]

Here is where most of the minute transgressions are coming from:

Most of this year’s cases involved charges against senior Army National Guard officials. There were eight allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment against National Guard members, four of them substantiated. In the regular Army, there were three allegations of sexual misconduct. The number substantiated was not provided.

You can read the rest at the link, but this article could have been titled, “Report Shows Very Few Senior Army Leaders Commit Misconduct”.

Gold Star Family Booed for Being Allowed to De-board Plane Early

I would hope these passengers would have showed some better respect if they knew the “special military family” were in fact a gold-star family. Regardless I have been on many flights where people who needed to catch connecting flights were allowed to de-board early to catch their flights and have never heard of anyone booing them:

The father of a soldier who was killed last weekend in Afghanistan was disappointed and hurt after airline passengers booed him and his family as they flew to meet his son’s remains.

Stewart Perry, an ex-Marine who lives in Stockton, said the ordeal left him feeling disrespected.

“It was really disgusting on the passengers’ part,” he said Friday.

His son, Sgt. John Perry, was one of two killed in an explosion at a United States airbase on Nov. 12. He was honored at a memorial service in Lodi on Thursday and will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  (……….)

Stewart Perry said he, his wife, Kathy, and daughter were flying on an American Airlines flight from Sacramento on Monday to Philadelphia, with a quick transfer in Phoenix. From Philadelphia, they traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive his son’s remains.

For unknown reasons, Perry said, the flight to Phoenix was 45 minutes late. The crew feared the delay might cause the Perrys miss their connecting flight.

So, when the plane landed in Phoenix, the captain made an announcement for all passengers to remain seated and to let a “special military family” exit the aircraft first, Perry said.

Several passengers in first class began to boo and complain, Perry said.

“Some people were saying ‘This is just baloney,’ and ‘I paid for first-class for this?’ ”

He said American Airlines “did everything they could” to accommodate his family.  [RecordNet.com]

You can read the rest at the link.

Hooker Hill Visit Leads to End of Career for Top Military Advisor to US Secretary of Defense

This general officer just committed career suicide.  I just can’t believe how these general officers getting in trouble like this think they can get away with such behavior?:

The former top military adviser to Defense Secretary Ash Carter used his government credit card for almost $2,900 at two strip clubs and behaved inappropriately with DOD female staff while on official travel, according to a Defense Department inspector general’s report released Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis, once considered a fast-rising star and a long-time trusted aide to Carter, was stripped of his position last fall just days after the delegation returned from an international trip that included stops in Malaysia, South Korea and Hawaii.  [Stars & Stripes]

Here is what he did while in South Korea:

The second government charge occurred in spring 2015, in Seoul at the “Candy Bar” club, “an establishment in an area of Itaewon, Seoul, commonly referred to locally as ‘Hooker Hill,’ ” according to the report. Many of the clubs in the area are off limits to U.S. servicemembers due to the illegal activities.

Lewis charged $1,121.25 on his government credit card at the Candy Bar and later told investigators he didn’t know why he had used that card there.

When defense staff processing his expenses noticed the charge, Lewis claimed that it must be fraudulent and had it disputed.

You can read much more on the link.

Family Programs To Face Steep Cuts On US Army Installations

Here is yet another area in the US Army seeing cuts:

Family members visit the sand art table to make colorful creations during the Month of the Military Child event at Thunder Mountain Activity Centre, Fort Huachuca.

Family members visit the sand art table to make colorful creations during the Month of the Military Child event at Thunder Mountain Activity Centre, Fort Huachuca.

After years of warnings that major cuts to Army family programs are coming, officials with the Army’s Installation Management Command announced that the day has finally arrived.

“The bottom line is in fiscal year ’17, beginning in October, we’re going to have a little less money to put into our family Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs than we have in previous years,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, head of Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM), which oversees family programs, said in a video posted on the command’s YouTube channel Aug. 30.

Until now, command officials said, Army budget shortfalls have been covered through non-appropriated fund accounts, which are filled by sales and exchange dividends. But that model isn’t sustainable long term, and anything that isn’t covered by taxpayer dollars must now be cut. Last year saw a $105 million overage.

“I can’t afford to keep borrowing money from our IMCOM bank accounts in order to reprogram into these funds,” Dahl said.

Rather than direct which programs to cut, Dahl has told garrison commanders the programs they must keep — and is leaving the rest up to them. Child care centers and child and youth services programs are safe from cuts, he said in the video, but almost everything else is fair game.  [Military.com]

You can read more at the link, but something else to keep in mind is that many military spouses and retirees work in these jobs which now will be lost with the elimination of these MWR programs.

Heroes of the Korean War: Captain Charles M. Bussey

Basic Information

charles_m_bussey

Background

Something many people may not realize is that the Korean War was the first conflict where the United States military fought with a policy of racial desegregation.  The policy was passed by executive order by President Harry Truman who wanted all the old all black units of World War II disbanded and African-American servicemembers integrated throughout the ranks of all the services.  This policy is what allowed Hero of the Korean War, Ensign Jesse Brown to become the first black US Navy pilot.


A 1950 image of Ensign Jesse Brown in his F4U-4 Corsair.

However, the policy was poorly implemented by some commanders, with segregation in the military really living on for another 10 years.  Overall though, black servicemembers were given increased opportunities in the military after the issuing of Truman’s order.  At the start of the Korean War there was roughly 100,000 black servicemembers in the US military, which composed 8% of the total manpower.  By the end of the war over 600,000 black servicemembers would serve in the 3-year long war.  It was one of these black servicembers Charles M. Bussey that would become one of the most recognized African-American servicemembers during the Korean War.

Charles Bussey Before the Korean War

Charles Bussey was born in 1922 and grew up in Bakersfield, California.  After graduating from high school Bussey attended Los Angeles City College for two years before enlisting into the US military.  Bussey was assigned to fly with the prestigious all-black Tuskegee Airmen who were tasked to defend US bombers during World War II.  His commander General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. played a big role in shaping Bussey who he speaks very highly of in his book, Firefight at Yechon: Courage and Racism in the Korean War.  For those that haven’t, I highly recommend reading up on General Davis because he may quite possibly be the greatest African-American servicemembers ever.


General Benjamin Davis

Following World War II Bussey left the Army and returned to Los Angeles where he became a policeman.  He didn’t like the work and decided to return to college by enrolling at San Francisco State University.   After graduating from SFSU in 1948, Bussey rejoined the Army and was eventually stationed in Japan on occupation duty.  Here is what Bussey says occupation duty in Japan was like:

Well, there was no combat-readiness for sure. The lifestyle involved a lot of leisure, a lot of involvement with the native women. The officers were involved with buying furniture, buying fancy chinaware for their homes there was no concern whatever about combat-readiness. Absolutely none. Even in the manoeuvre areas the concern was the good life. A very leisurely life was not involved in any way with combat. There was just no concern whatever and it was our life there was lived through the Sears Roebuck catalogue who bought nylons and whatnot for the native girls and that sort of thing. It was a good life.  [Charles Bussey – March 2, 1997]

What is funny I knew guys in Yongsan that still live like this.

Deployment to Korea

On May 26, 1950 Captain Charles Bussey would become one of the few black company commanders in the US Army when he took command of the 77th Engineer Combat Company in Gifu, Japan.  The 77th Engineers was an all-black unit that provided engineer support to the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment.  The 24th Infantry was the only all-black subordinate unit of the 25th Infantry Division commanded by Major General William B. Kean.  Here is how Bussey remembers taking command:

It was a time of my life when I had the maturity and the physical, mental, and emotional strength necessary to command a company of combat engineers.  When the opportunity came for me to assume command of the 77th Engineer Combat Company, I reveled in it.  I worked at it from sixteen to twenty hours aday.  Fortunately, it was when I was overseas in Japan, and fortunately, my family had not joined me.  I was free to work all the hours I needed or wanted, and I did.  There was no better job for a workaholic.  There was strong training requirements.  …………… But the biggest demand on my time and attention came from the men.  The men had problems of all kinds, and those who didn’t have problems usually generated some.

Sounds like the life of a Company Commander in 1950 is the same as one now a days.  A month after taking command the Korean War would begin and shortly after the 25th Infantry Division to include Captain Bussey’s 24th Infantry Regiment would find themselves deployed to Korea in July 1950.

Engagement at Yechon

On July 20, 1950 Captain Bussey was running mail to a platoon in his company that was currently stationed in the Korean village of Yecheon.

Along the way Bussey heard some rifle file from the village just further up the road.  Bussey stopped his vehicle and walked up a small hill that overlooked the village.  Captain Bussey saw from his elevated position men dressed in white trying to outflank his men in the village.  Bussey ran down the hill and rounded up three truck drivers from another unit that were parked along the road near the hill.  Bussey had them carry a .30 and .50 cal machine guns up to the top hill.  Here is Captain Bussey’s narrative from his book, Firefight at Yechon, that explains what happened next:

I watched the group of farmer-soldiers coming ever closer and reckoned that farmers scatter and tun if you send a long burst of machine-gun fire over their heads, but soldiers flatten out like quail and await orders from their leader…I sent a burst from the .50 caliber machine gun dangerously close above the heads of the approaching group…True to the form of soldiers, they flattened into the paddy as the bullets flew past them…Bullets raked and chewed the up mercilessly…The advancing column was under tight observation from somewhere on the mountain because large motar rounds started…overhead. I was knicked by a fragment. the gunner on the .30 caliber machine gunner was hit badly, and his assistant was killed. The enemy mortar was accurate. The shells were bursting about twenty to forty feet overhead, showering us with shell fragments. And we were now drawing small-arms fire from the rice paddies below…I chopped the North Korean troops to pieces…I was ashamed of the slaughter before me, but this was my job, my duty, and my responsibility. I stayed with it until not one white rag was left intact.

It is estimated that Bussey and his three men using these two machine guns killed approximately 250 guerrillas that day.  What I find interesting about this battle is that revisionist historians today would probably declare his engagement against these people dressed in white clothes as a war crime.  Bussey is lucky the Associated Press’s Charles Hanley and the Korean Truth & Reconcilliation Committee isn’t after him yet.

This engagement did happen just one week before the tragedy at No Gun Ri with civilians intermixed with guerrilla fighters.  Plus Captain Bussey’s unit the 25th Infantry Division was located on the eastern flank of the 1st Cavalry Division that was involved in the No Gun Ri tragedy. Later on Bussey writes that guerrilla fighters would hide during the day in the farm houses to ambush his men at night.  He even claims to have killed two guerrilla fighters during one of these ambushes who were as young as fourteen years old.

This is all just further evidence that guerrilla fighters were operating in the area of not only No Gun Ri, but throughout the frontlines of US forces wearing white Korean peasant clothes.  This is contrary to what many of the current historical revisionists want to believe, but Bussey provides yet another account of this guerrilla infiltration of the American front lines.

After the Firefight at Yechon

Following the engagement at Yecheon the 25th ID moved further south towards the city of Sanju and then eventually even further south between Chinju and Masan where his unit held a frontline position along the Pusan Perimeter.  Interestingly enough Captain Bussey would end up having a white lieutenant to become his executive officer as part of the slow integration of the ranks.  This lieutenant, Paul Wells would be one of the soldiers in his book that he speaks the mostly highly of during his time in command.

However, there was plenty of white officers he didn’t speak fondly of because of tactical decisions that were made that led to the 24th Infantry Regiment retreating from their frontline positions.  He feels very bitter that many people blamed the defeat of the 24th Infantry Regiment on the quality of black troops instead of the white officers that made the decisions that led to their retreat.

After the successful Incheon Landing Operation in September of 1950 the 24th Infantry Regiment found themselves on the offensive, pushing the retreating North Koreans farther north.  After crossing the 38th Parallel, Bussey felt like they had won the war and remembers celebrating a festiv Thanksgiving to only be spoiled two days later by advancing Chinese troops.  Bussey was very impressed with the Chinese troops, but would ultimately be more impressed with General Matthew Ridgeway who took over the command of the 8th United States Army and turned around the war effort.

Bussey After Retiring from the Military

Charles Bussey retired from the US Army in 1966 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He would work the next 20 years as a construction consultant before retiring and beginning work on his book about his wartime experiences, Firefight at Yechon: Courage and Racism in the Korean War.  Bussey’s book was published in 1991.


Post-Korean War picture of Charles Bussey via SFGate.com.

In 1994 a campaign was launched to try and upgrade Captain Bussey’s Silver Star for his actions at Yecheon to a Medal of Honor.  Captain Bussey is quoted as saying that the reason he didn’t get recommended for the Medal of Honor was due to racist reasons:

Well, I worked for a man whose name I guess I should not mention but he commanded the regiment and his attitude was — and he explained this to me — and this was a man with whom I drank a lot of whisky in those days — when he had whisky, he’d give me a call and come sundown, we’d toss a few and when I had whisky I did the same with him. And so we were drinking along, we were on the way into North Korea at the time and we stopped on the side of the road for something, that whole convoy had stopped, and we got to talking and he was saying ‘you know the general insisted that I put you in for a congressional medal for that thing at Yechon but I disagree with him.’ I said ‘oh, why?’ and he said ‘well you know how things are at home and you killed more than John Wayne and Audie Murphy and all these other guys and the American people wouldn’t like that. We don’t want black people to have heroes. Heroes are troublemakers and so if you had this medal then you’d be able to influence boy scouts and all kind of people and this is not good for us and I’ve been trained to not let these things happen and I can’t let it happen.’  [Charles Bussey – March 2, 1997]

Bussey still hasn’t had his award upgraded, but he has been recognized by the US military for his service during the Korean War all the way up to the Secretary of Defense:

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (left) shows his wife Janet (right) a memento presented to him by members of the legendary Tuskeegee Airmen on May 16, 1998. With Secretary and Mrs. Cohen are from left to right Col. Lee Archer, Lt. Col. Howard Baugh, and Lt. Col. Charles Bussey. Cohen visited Norfolk State University to kick off the nation’s 50th anniversary observance of President Harry S. Truman’s executive order desegregating the armed forces. DoD photo by Helene C. Stikkel.

President Harry Truman vowed “to end to such evils,” and he did — with a bold stroke of his pen that changed the face of the military, and indeed the face of America, forever. Justice Thurgood Marshall, Sr., once remarked that “Sometimes history takes things into its own hands.” 1948 surely was one of those times, for Truman’s executive order that year could not have put it any plainer: “There shall be equal treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.” President Truman cleared a path by wiping out an overtly racist rule. But it would fall to many others over many years to brave that path and turn those principles into practice.

One of the first who did was Charles Bussey, a Tuskeegee airman who made history again in July of 1950 at the battle of Yechon, South Korea. First Lieutenant Bussey was returning to the front when he spotted an enemy unit attempting to outflank his all-black company. Only Bussey, a group of three truck drivers and two machine guns stood between his men and 250 advancing North Koreans. But when the dust settled and the smoke had cleared, there was only Bussey and his men and America had one of its first victories of the Korean War. Reflecting on his heroic service to a country still shackled by segregation, this Silver Star hero later wrote, “I loved my country for what it could be, far beyond what it was.” Lieutenant Colonel Bussey, thank you for helping America to realize what it could be and taking us beyond what we were.   [William Cohen – May 16, 1998]

Here is why Charles Bussey says he wants his awarded upgraded to the Medal of Honor so badly:

“After 40 years the personal significance of this medal has largely deteriorated for me,” he said. “But the importance is that if I can earn one of these, other kids can earn one as well. I want to be able to tell them that they can be all that they can be in the Army and that the service is grateful. But I can’t do that now.”  [New York Times]

What I don’t understand about Charles Bussey’s reasoning is that there was other black soldiers during the Korean War that did get awarded the Medal of Honor if he is concerned about young kids having servicemembers who did get the medal to look up to:

Numerous African-Americans were awarded medals including the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Bronze Star for service during the Korean War. Two African-Americans, Private First Class William Thompson and Sergeant Cornelius Charlton were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Thompson was killed in action on Aug. 2, 1951, at a critical juncture in the 8th Army’s attempt to stop the North Korean Army’s southward movement. Charlton displayed extraordinary heroism in rallying his platoon to continue its assault on a hill near Chipo-ri, just north of the 38th parallel.  [Korean War 50th Anniversary Site]

Whatever the motivation for trying to have the medal upgraded I think Charles Bussey probably was not awarded the Medal of Honor because unlike the other black servicemembers who were awarded the medal Bussey did not die.  The vast majority of people who are awarded the Medal of Honor died conducting whatever heroic act they were recognized for.

However, Bussey does provide a little known, but interesting look at the service of black soldiers during the Korean War.  Bussey shows that just like any soldier, proper leadership is what determines the effectiveness of a servicemember; not the color of their skin.  Captain Charles Bussey was a commander that did provide that leadership and his actions at not only the firefight at Yechon, but throughout the war proved this, and that is why he is one of the Heroes of the Korean War.

Note: You can read much more about Charles M. Bussey by reading the book, Firefight at Yechon: Courage and Racism in the Korean War:

Army General Faces Punishment for Living Swinger’s Lifestyle for 11 Years

What was this guy thinking if he thought this could be kept under wraps:

Maj. Gen. David Haight, Army Ranger, combat veteran and family man, held a key post in Europe this spring and a future with three, maybe four stars.

He also led a double life: an 11-year affair and a “swinger lifestyle” of swapping sexual partners that put him at risk of blackmail and espionage, according to interviews and documents. Jennifer Armstrong, 49, a government employee, said she and Haight had been involved in the torrid love affair that began more than 10 years ago in Baghdad and ended this spring.

Badly.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but it will be interesting to see what rank this guy is forced to retire at considering how long we was living this lifestyle.

Heroes of the Korean War: Major Young-oak Kim

Basic Information

  • Name: Young-oak Kim
  • Rank: Major during Korean War
  • Born: January 29, 1919
  • Died: December 29, 2005
  • Korean War Service: April 1951 – Sept. 1952
  • Unit: 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division
  • More Info: Unsung Hero: The Story of Colonel Young Oak Kim


Image via Wikipedia.

Background

The Korean War is full of many combat heroes from many nationalities that fought to protect the freedom of the South Korean people from aggressive communist expansionism. However, there are few American veterans that fought in Korea that the people they fought to protect were in fact their own people. In the aftermath of the North Korean attack on South Korea many Korean-Americans signed up to fight in the country that was their historical home land when the US government made the decision to intervene in the Korean War. The US government was eager to attain the services of these Korean-Americans due to the lack of interpreters and cultural expertise in the US military. Out of all these Korean-American servicemembers one rises in prominence above all others, and that man is the incredible Young-oak Kim.

Early Life

Young-oak Kim was born in 1919 in Los Angeles California to two Korean immigrants. Kim grew up in a modest household with his three brothers and two sisters. During his childhood he was raised with a strong sense of Korean nationalism because his dad was a member of the Hawaii based Dahanin-dongjihwe or the Great Korean Association headed by South Korean exile Syngman Rhee. The association advocated for the independence of South Korea from the nation’s Japanese occupiers. Kim’s father’s beliefs instituted at a young age a strong sense of Korean unity with Young-oak Kim despite the fact he had never ever set foot in the country he identified with Korea.


Picture of Kim as a teen via 100thbattalion.org.

Interestingly as a young man, Kim was also friends with another legend of the Korean-American community Dr. Sammy Lee. Lee would become the first Asian-American to win an Olympic Gold Medal when in the 1948 Olympic games he won the Gold Medal in platform diving. He would go on to defend his first place finish by once again winning another Gold Medal in platform diving in the 1952. This also made him the first person ever to win back to back Gold Medals in diving in the Olympic Games.

This is what Dr. Lee had to say about his friendship with Young Oak Kim:

“Colonel Kim and I have been friends for 80 years, maybe even longer,” said Lee, who grew up with Kim in the Bunker Hill area of Los Angeles. “I was too damn young to remember when we first met. I don’t think we were housebroken at the time. Our fathers were followers of Syngman Rhee, and they fought for the independence of Korea against the imperial government of Japan. While other kids were playing cops and robbers, Young Kim and I were Koreans chasing the Japanese.”

After high school Kim enrolled in college in Los Angeles and would eventually drop out in order to pursue work before World War II broke out. Kim immediately tried to enlist in the military was turned away due to his racial background. It wasn’t until a bill was drafted by Congress allowing Asian-Americans to serve was Kim allowed to enter the military.

World War II

Kim was initially enlisted as a engineer before being selected for Infantry Officer Candidate School (OCS). Upon graduation from OCS in 1943, Kim was then assigned with the newly formed 100th Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) that was composed of mostly Japanese-Americans from Hawaii. Kim despite his strong Korean nationalist background had no problems serving with Japanese-Americans in the 442nd RCT because he considered them and himself all Americans fighting for a common cause.


CPT Young-oak Kim with the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team being inspected by the Assistant War Secretary in Italy in 1944. To left is Cpt. Young-oak Kim. Behind him is Fifth Army commander Lt. Gen. Mark Clark.  [Chosun Ilbo]

Kim would go on to fight with the 442nd RCT in North Africa and Italy where he participated in the Battle of Anzio and the liberation of Rome. His heroic combat actions during these battles earned Kim the moniker, “The Crazy Korean”. This Crazy Korean would then next move from Italy to fight the Germans in France where he was critically wounded by a gunshot wound and he was forced to return to Los Angeles to recover. Kim’s actions during his service in Europe led to him receiving much acclaim and numerous awards for valor as the 442nd RCT went on to become the mostly highly decorated combat unit in World War II.


The church at Biffontaine, a town in northeast France where Kim fought. On the entrance to the church is a sign saying “one of the heroes of the 100th Battalion, Cpt. Young-oak Kim” was injured on the right side of the church and taken captive, but later escaped with a medic.  [Chosun Ilbo]

This is how fellow 442nd RCT veteran and Medal of Honor winner, Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye remembered Kim’s service during World War II:

Inouye recalled when he was going through basic training “there was one name that always commanded attention and respect: Capt. Kim’s. He was a bona fide hero of the 100th Infantry Battalion.”

Inouye said that he knew of Kim’s heroism and leadership abilities before he met him on the battlefields in Europe. “When I got to meet him after I entered combat, my respect and admiration of him grew because he was such a fearless leader who, through his deeds, inspired his men.”  [Honolulu Star Bulletin]

Unfortunately after being wounded this would be the last of the heroism and leadership the men of the 442nd RCT would see from Captain Young-oak Kim. It took over six months for Kim to recover from his wound and by that time the war in Europe was over.


US Army Captain Young Oak Kim being awarded the Silver Star by General Mark Clark for World War II heroism in Italy via the 100thbattalion.org.

Post World War II

With the end of World War II, Kim left the service and decided to open his own private business. Kim opened a self service laundromat in Los Angeles which was a new concept at the time. Kim had some moderate success with his business and was actually making much more money with the business then when he was as a Captain in the military. That was until 1950 when war broke out in Korea.

In response to the communist aggression in Korea, Kim decided to sell his laundromat and once again join the US military to fight in Korea. Here was his rationale for doing so:

“As a Korean, the most direct way to help my father’s country even a little, and as a U.S. citizen, the most direct way to repay even a little the debt owed to Korea by the U.S. was to go to Korea, pick up a gun and fight,” he explains today. But he also believed the U.S. owed Korea for excluding the South from its defense perimeter in East Asia with the so-called Acheson Line, and that this was the cause for North Korea’s invasion of the South.  [Chosun Ilbo]

Kim’s return to service had one problem, his Korean heritage could actually be an imperative to him being able to fight because military intelligence was looking for Korean-Americans that could speak Korean to translate for them. Young-oak Kim did not want to be interpreter; he wanted back in the infantry leading soldiers and thus pretended to not speak Korean. Then with the help of some of his former infantry connections from World War II Kim was able to secure a spot as an intelligence officer in the 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division.

Korean War Service


MAJ Kim pictured below the tank during the Korean War. Picture via the YOK Center.

Serving as an intelligence officer with the 31st Infantry Regiment, Kim was used to do more then just intelligence work. Due to his prior combat experience Kim was also used as an operation officer and personally led many combat missions that rescued trapped allied troops. A few months later Kim was used to command a group of South Korean guerrillas. Kim was awarded both a Silver and Bronze Stars for his actions leading this guerrilla group. However, it was during this time leading this guerrilla unit that Kim suffered his most serious injury from the war. Due to their position well north of allied lines, Kim’s group was mistaken for enemy soldiers and artillery was called on their position:

During the Korean War, Kim led the first American unit to cross the 38th Parallel. “We were close to five miles in front of the units on our right and our left when I got wounded. But it wasn’t the enemy artillery. It was our own artillery. They had a big investigation, but I don’t want to get involved in that.

“They shouldn’t have fired but they did, and they hit me along with several other people. They thought they were shooting at the enemy because we were so far ahead of the unit on our right and the left. They couldn’t believe that an American unit could be that far ahead. It had to be a Chinese [unit], they thought.

“They were several thousand feet above us in a light airplane and all they saw was a battalion. We had just taken a hill, which is five miles ahead of the unit on our right and on our left. We were actually four miles further forward than anybody had any idea we were. So all the airplane would see was like little ants running around.”

He suffered serious injuries and was flown to Tokyo to receive emergency medical treatment. After two months of recovery Kim was ready for combat action again.

During this time Kim was promoted to Major and after he recovered, he was appointed as the first Asian-American to command a combat battalion in the US military. Kim commanded the 1-31 Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division for the remainder of his time in Korea. Kim would finish his service in Korea in September of 1952 but this would not be the last time he would see Korea.  In the 1960’s Kim returned to the ROK as a US military advisor and was able to see first hand the incredible economic development that occurred in the country at this time.

Retirement

Kim retired from the military in 1972. During his long career he had earned 19 medals. Most notably he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts and the French Croix de Guerre, among other medals, for his service in WWII. On February 4, 2005, Col. Kim was presented with the National Order of the Legion of Honor award from the government of France. This award is the highest bestowed to its citizens and foreign nationals.

During his retirement became very active in Asian American community affairs. He helped found the Go For Broke Educational Foundation, the Korean Health, Education, Information and Research Center, the Korean American Coalition, the Korean American Museum, the Korean Youth and Cultural Center, and the Center for Pacific Asian Families. Some people may be surprised by this considering Kim’s Korean background, but he also helped found the Japanese American National Museum. Despite Kim’s close ties to the Japanese-American community he was also a strong advocate of Congressman Mike Honda’s non-binding Congressional Resolution demanding an apology and compensation from the current Japanese government over the comfort women issue.

Young-oak Kim passed away December 28, 2005 at the age of 86 in California, leaving behind a military career and community activism record that few Asian-Americans have been able to match. Young-oak Kim is more then just a hero of both World War II and the Korean War, but he is also a hero to thousands of Asian-Americans impacted by his community activism work in California.


Program from Young Oak Kim’s funeral service.

Since COL Kim’s death there has been petitions to have his Distinguished Service Cross from World War II upgraded to the Medal Honor like other veterans of the 442nd have since had happen. Leading the effort has been fellow 442nd Veteran and Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye:

The surviving recipients, including Sen. Inouye, and community activists have since petitioned Congress in a campaign effort to award Kim the Medal of Honor.

“Captain Kim is a great American — still is,” Inouye said. “I was hoping that when the government of the United States decided to upgrade certain Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor, he would be on the top of the list. Somehow, something happened and he was not selected.”

Colonel Kim may not have been awarded the Medal of Honor, but his incredible life story has been made into one independent film, Forgotten Valor which was shown primarily in the Asian-American community, but really like other Korean War heroes I have pointed out, his story should be the subject of a larger film. Kim’s life story isn’t just one that Asian-Americans should be proud of, but one that all Americans should be proud of and that is why he is a hero of the Korean War.

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Note: You can read much more about Young-oak Kim by reading Unsung Hero: The Story of Colonel Young Oak Kim: