South Korean boy leads Yank 'lost battalion'

By PETER KALISCHER  |  July 28 1950
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ON THE YONGDONG FRONT IN KOREA, July 28, 1950 (UP) - A "lost battalion" of 200 Americans staggered out from behind enemy lines last night, led to safety by a 10-year-old South Korean boy.

Included in the American group which "came back from the dead" were American wounded and one likely appendicitis victim, carried on litters by South Koreans.

The ordeal began Tuesday when the Americans were cut off by a Communist roadblock south of Yongdong.

John W. Jackson of Richlands, Va., his face gray and drawn from exhaustion, told how the group twice tried to get through the enemy roadblock but couldn't make it.

Wednesday morning they headed south and dodged through mortar, machine-gun and rifle fire, plus "almost continuous sniper fire."

At mid-day Wednesday the Yanks managed to surprise some North Koreans in a town south of Yongdong.

"Here we did ourselves some good - we got plenty of them," Jackson said.

The Americans lost their tanks when the road narrowed down so much that the tanks couldn't get through. The tanks were blown up by their own crews so the enemy couldn't use them.

"We hadn't had anything to eat since the night before," Jackson said. "We kept climbing mountains and down gullies. The people were friendly but sometimes we had to get tough to get litter bearers for the wounded."

For a day and a half, Jackson said, the party had no water.

During the final leg of its dash to freedom, the South Korean boy was added to the party.

Jackson said he thought the Americans never would make it. But with the Korean boy in the lead, the Americans got back to their own units.

The boy, identified only as "Jimmy," now has been installed as unit mascot.

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