TOKYO, June 29, 1950 (UP) - The South Korean Army has rallied and is holding the Han River line south of Seoul with the aid of swarming fleets of United States warplanes, including B-29s, advices from the front said today. The Communists had taken the capital of Seoul yesterday and the Southern troops had started a demoralized retreat.
But at dawn today, front advices said the Korean 7th Division, rallied by its commander and re-equipped with arms flown from Japan, had fought off night-long attempts to cross the river.
Further, the advices said, the U.S. planes which took off in rain at dawn from Itazuke air base in Western Japan arrived over the battle front - in swarms - to find clearing skies.
American military headquarters and headquarters of the South Korean Army remained at Suwon, 20 miles south of Seoul and about 16 miles to the nearest point south of the river. Taejon, 85 miles south of Seoul, was set up as the temporary seat of the South Korean government.
If only for the moment, the South Korean army ws holding better than it had done at any time since the Communists swept down across the 38th Parallel frontier at dawn Sunday.
Gen. Yoo Chai Heung, commanding the 7th Division, rallied his men, herded them to Suwon, regrouped them and re-equipped them with arms which the United States Air Force flew in from Japan.
Yoo got them back to the Han River line in time to prevent a Red crossing.
"The momentum of the Communist attack has definitely stalled," a front-line correspondent reported.
The United States Air Force, realizing that this would be a critical day in the war and perhaps in Korea's history, put every ounce of strength into a strike against the Reds along the Han River.
Earlier dispatches had described the Southern Koreans, then still fleeing, as dazed and weary. Although dog-tired they were still fighting as of dawn today.
American headquarters reported that the Kimpo airport 16 miles northwest of Seoul was lost to the Reds, although a small force of South Koreans, almost surrounded, was still fighting to hold its runways. The port of Inchon to the west also was lost.
American B29s bombed Kimpo airfield today. The superforts hit primary targets with good results. All returned. Presumably the B29s were from Guam, 1,200 miles away.
One day now might make all the difference, it was indicated - to give the South Koreans rest at last and permit their reorganization.
"The main objective of the Air Force today is to hold Suwon," an Air Force spokesman said at the Itazuke air base in western Japan, from which Gen. Douglas MacArthur was flying aid to South Korea in answer to President Truman's orders and in behalf of the United Nations.
A dispatch from Itazuke, passed by censors, said:
"Everything necessary to carry out President Truman's instructions is being carried in transport planes, and from the looks of the equipment going in to the planes, Supreme Headquarters seems to be taking a broad interpretation of President Truman's instructions to furnish air and sea support to the South Koreans."
Describing how, including a squadron of C-54s transferred from the Philippines, were leaving for the front, the dispatch said:
"Bucket seat jobs are jammed with combat-kitted Signal Corps men who are carrying loaded rifles as well as walkie-talkies and short wave communications sets ... ground troops are tight-lipped about the part they are playing in the war, apparently under strictest orders to say nothing."
The South Koreans had lost nearly all of their heavy equipment in their retreat. United States warplanes were now their artillery, their anti-tank weapons, their close-support fire.
Supreme Headquarters here admits frankly that today is most crucial.
American strategy is to attack the Red supply lines and starve the invasion to a halt by preventing the transportation of the gasoline and ammunition upon which the tank-led Communist armies depend in their drive to the south.
Observers returning from the front were gloomy over the prospects unless the Air Force was able to hamstring the invaders.
Two American planes - an F-82 jet fighter and a B-26 bomber - were destroyed on the ground by enemy strafing yesterday. An F-82 and two B-26s made emergency landings at Suwon field. An F-80 twin Mustang was slightly damaged by small arms fire from the ground. There were no casualties to any plane crews.
Lieut. William G. Hudson, of Selma, La., was identified as the first U.S. Air Force pilot to shoot down a North Korean plane.
Dispatches from Itazuke indicated the urgency of the situation in describing sweating ground crew men working throughout the night under floodlights, preparing the planes for their takeoff.
The planes, despite the bad weather and slippery runways, were taking off with the precision of railroad trains.
Broadcasts by the Seoul radio and the Pyongyang radio in the Reds' northern capital said that Communist troops entered Seoul in force at 3:30 A.M. yesterday (1:30 P.M. EDT Tuesday) and completed the capture at 11:30 A.M. (9:30 P.M. EDT Tuesday).
"Government offices, the American Embassy, the radio station and newspapers were liberated," the Seoul radio said. "Prisoners were liberated from the central prison."
Dispatches from the front in South Korea said that American headquarters might have to be moved southward from Suwon at any time.
But even in the far south the situation was dangerous.
The Seoul radio reported that North Koreans had landed at Pohang, 170 miles southeast of Seoul on the southeast coast, and were advancing toward the important railroad town of Taegu, 40 miles west southwest.
Front dispatches from Suwon quoted unconfirmed reports of a guerilla uprising in Kwangju, 170 miles south of Seoul.
Taegu and Kwangju are the two most important cities in far Southern Korea.