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A PHANTOM FORCE-LOST TO HISTORY TASK FORCE MAC LEAN - FAITH


By Ray C. Vallowe
The Korean War memorial, DC

About these Task Forces
In the high mountains of North Korea, some 45 miles above the 40th Parallel, and just northeast of a village known as Hagaru - ri remain the remains of an ancient village named Hudong-ni; and at the edge of its road leading around the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir begins the base of a hill rising some 1221 meters (4,005 feet) towards the heavens. One tiny speck on a military map. At the base of that hill and two miles further north, lie the remains of some 1,000 American and South Korean soldiers who perished there in late November and early December of 1950. Hill 1221 is their only monument, a silent sentinel to the sky that marks their final resting place.

The families connected to these men that perished there, have little knowledge to this day that these men died within this area of North Korea. The military history books still list these men as missing - an entire force of over 2,505 American soldiers and some 1,500 South Koreans attached to the American force. All that the relatives, wives and friends may have is that standard telegram; "The Department of the Army regrets to inform you that your son, husband, etc., was either killed or is missing in action in Korea." Short and to the point. Those that were missing over fifty years are now listed as "Died of Wounds while missing in action." Where they died and how was not explained. Those that perished there are unnamed in part. I may be of some help to correct that.

I am a survivor of Task Forth Mac Lean - Faith; through no merit of my own. I am no hero of any kind; nor do I remotely profess to be.

Just one of the survivors of that faithful encounter with the Chinese forces between November 28 and December 2nd, 1950. Your lack of knowledge of your loved ones who fought and died around the base of Hill 1221, I know must be a source of grief and agony over the years. All that you may have are those designated units of the 7th Infantry Division; the 31st Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 57th Field Artillery Battalion, and the 15th AntAircraft-Artillery. But few know events beyond these facts. The years of research for information have been elusive and vague. This summary will attempt to explain why that came about. Why this was such a mixed force of infantry, the 31st & 32nd Battalions. On the Internet, (Korean sites) most reference is to Lieutenant Colonel Faith. But that is after Colonel Mac Lean's status, why is that?

Indeed those who have never been in military service may find it difficult to equate the exact unit designation to the units these men were united with, and since many know even less of the designation of a "Task Force", the confusion is indeed compounded. For the designation of a task force reduces the unit and men assembled into a single entity; named after the commander of a single group which exists fro one particular mission. Task Forth Faith, these were the survivors of Task Forth Mac Lean making it even more confusing for those not familiar with military jargon. Who was Faith? What is a task force? Who were the men? What was the mission, and the make-up of their force? And more important: Why did they vanish from American military history? I will try in my limited way to answer some of these questions!

Colonel Allan D. Mac Lean was the commander in charge of the 31st Infantry Regiment, one of the three Regiments in the 7th Infantry Division; the other two Regiments being the 17th and the 32nd Infantry Regiments. Colonel Mac Lean was also over a Regimental Combat Team (RCT) of his 31st Regiment, plus supporting groups. His RCT consisted of a service company, the 31st Regiments Tank Company, 31st Heavy Mortar Company, and the supporting artillery, the 57th FA, and the 15th AAA-Automatic Weapons Company.

The 31st Regiment is further divided into 3 separate battalions; 1st, 2nd and 3rd, each of these consisting of four companies. The 1st - A,B,C,D, the 2nd - E,F,G,H, and the 3rd - I,K,L,M, - there are no "J" Companies. It is this latter group concerning the 3rd Battalion that would be part of Task Force Mac Lean. Since this force lacks two of its three infantry battalions, and will have one battalion added from the 32nd Infantry Regiment, - commanded by Lieutanant Colonel Don C. Faith Jr. - being the foreign element; - it has therefore become a task force as opposed to a Regimental Combat Team.

This reduction to a task force would be a tactical colossal mistake, for its mission would be to replace the 5th Marine (full) Regiment mission on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir. The time element to assume that mission was also a tactical colossal fateful mistake, because this entire task force could not arrive intact for their mission, and that in the end was the final cause of the death of Task Forth Faith.

Those who may have had loved ones, relatives or friends in these units of these task forces could recognize that fact if during those days after December, 1950 your letters were returned and marked, Killed or Missing - in Action, and those letters were addressed to any of the following:

3rd Battalion - 31st Inf Regiment
I,K,L,M, Co's - 7th Inf Division
APO 7 - C/O Postmaster, San Francisco, Calif.

1st Battalion - 32nd Inf Regiment
Hq, A,B,C,D, Sv - 7th Inf. Division
APO 7 - C/O Postmaster, San Francisco, Calif.

57th FA Bn - Hq, A,B, Battery*
7th Inf Division, APO 7
C/O Postmaster, San Francisco, Calif.

15th AAA-Aw, Bn - D-Battery
7th Inf Division, APO 7
C/O Postmaster, San Francisco, Calif.
*some unit numbers may follow, 57th=Unit 4, etc.

If your letters were returned and they had been addressed to any of the above after December 1950, you can be assured that there is a 98.9 percent certainty that they were with Task Force Mac Lean - Faith.

The 31st Tank and Service companies were not part of the latter Task Force Faith. These units cut off four miles behind the other forces. Lieutenant Colonel Faith assumed command of the task force on the death of Colonel Mac Lean; he then leading a heroic, but unsuccessful breakout from the Chosin Reservoir area. Don Faith also losing his life around Hill 1221.

To those of you that may have lost loved ones at Chosin; I wish to add that they met many, may challenges there, and in the end overwhelming and overpowering odds. With lack of ammo, food, medical supplies, of personal exhaustion, multi-wounds, through friendly fire, napalm drops and the withdrawal of their own rear guard; these men did the very best they could with what little they had. And like the military history of America, a combination of Valley Forge - the cold - and the Alamo - fighting a delaying action - five additional days for those forces at Hagaru-ri, they bought time for others.

In that respect we can be proud of these men whose remains lie around the base of Hill 1221.

Though lost to history for over 4 decades, your memory and love for them has kept thier memories alive, history however has severly neglected them. as your rememberance of their lives meshed with yours throgh the 2nd World War, these men then only in their teens, young and energetic, teen faces of memories, forever to remain young, sailing from ports in Seattle, with that standard band refrain; "Now is the hour, when we must say goodbye." Too few of us knew then, nor could we guess while the world was temporarily at peace that this would be a final farewell; that last hug or a kiss to family, friend, a wife, a son or daughter who made that trip to see these men off to Japan or Korea for a tour of occupational duty. There were no thoughts of a war stirring there, and least of all that some of these men would never return; that as they matured from teen adolescence into early manhood; they would be sacrificed in these mountains of North Korea, around a Hill numbered 1221.

The reference to a Phantom Force will become known in time. From a list I have of 844 casualties: by date:

11/28/50 - 77
11/29/50 - 48
11/30/50 - 82
12/1/50 - 114
12/2/50 - 333
12/3/50 - 58
12/4/50 - 9
12/5/50 - 4
12/6/50* - 119

*Of special note: those KIA'S or MIA'S on December 6, 1950. Of these 119 men; 111 of these men are exclusively from the 57th Field Artillery Battalion. That date only for some closure, it can be justifiably assumed that those men were casualties also created on December 1 and 2, at that final roadblock at Hudong-ni. The 57th Field artillery - my outfit - being officially disbanded on this date!

TASK FORCE MAC LEAN - FAITH
By rank above Corporal:
Colonel - 1 (Mac Lean)
Lt Colonel - 1 (Faith)
Major - 6
Captain - 17
1st Lt - 26
MSgt - 33
SFC - 55
Sgt/Staff - 160

American's - 1,777
ROK's - 875

This force will be hit by two divisions of Chinese, (20,000 men) the ensuing battle will be fought between November 28th - December 2nd. Casualties drifting into Hagaru-ri for four additional days beyond. But destruction was total due to lack of ammo, leadership killed and other obstacles placed in our path.

In Washington DC, behind the Korean War memorial is a permanent Kiosk computer system established to provide information on those killed or Missing In Action in Korea. When visiting the memorial one may check on loved ones an/or friends reported killed or missing. You will also be allowed to up grade any information you may have.

One of the most important pieces of information which sould be added to the update should be the designation of the unit that soldier served with. This is critical information to others searching those files - other service members. If you have any updated information of a loved one, please add it to the files. Please honor that man by adding a photo to the read out sheet certificate you will recieve.

You may obtain one by mail as well, request that update form at that time.

You have several choices:
Records Correction - Records Additions
Photos added, (Photos cannot be returned)

You may obtain additional information by writing to:
American Battle Monuments Commission
RE: Korean War Memorial
Courthouse Plaza II, Suite 500
2300 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201

For faster service:
Telephone: (703) 696-6897
Fax: (703) 696-6666

Please note: When William and I visited the Korean War Memorial, 6/7/2000. The Kiosk was closed.

Also, stop in the Lincoln Memorial. At the top of the stairs, facing the statue of Lincoln, to the right is a small store with items on The Korean War and the Memorial!

Copyright (C) 2000, by Raymond C. Vallowe