Hoengsong Massacre

In early March, 1951, I was a young Marine, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, in Korea. We advanced north from Hoengsong, Korea for about two miles and then entered into an area that I will never forget. There, scattered along that road for about a mile was the destroyed convoy of American military vehicles and men, such as we had never seen before or since. Hundreds of Americans lay dead among the vehicles, all along that stretch of road. I took part in rescuing several wounded Americans who had been left behind , after the Chinese marched several hundred prisoners north. This spot became known as “Massacre Valley” by the Marines. At that time, reporters and photographers were forbidden from taking pictures or reporting what they saw at that time. Very little was ever written about what happened or how many Americans and their equipment were destroyed. There was, in fact, a great cover-up of this disaster and it has been kept out of the official history books.

Now, after all of these years, I am trying to assist Mrs. Merry Helms, an accomplished author, in searching out the facts of what really happened back then and at that place. The American people aught to know. And, the men who either lost their lives, or became prisoners of war through that disaster should be honored and remembered for their sacrifices in behalf of their country.

I am therefore respectfully requesting your kindness and assistance in locating any survivors of the “Hoengsong Massacre” with whom we may be able to communicate and have them help us, in turn, to prepare and publish an accurate account of what took place and how it affected their individual lives. Those of us who served at that time are fast passing from this life and it is of urgent need that we record this story while some of the survivors are still with us. I trust that you can understand what I am saying and asking of you. Please help us in any way possible to find and contact living survivors of the “Hoengsong Massacre.”

We would like to contact any survivors who were there in February 1951.

Please accept our humble appreciation for any assistance you may be able to provide.

Respectfully,

Jack M. Witter
e-mail address: JMDL54@charter.net


9 Comments

  1. Dan Hokanson

    Dear Sir,
    I came across your website researching “Massacre Valley” on my way to the plane side service for the remains of Corporal Ben L. Brown of Coos County, Oregon. His remains were recently identified and his funeral will be this Friday, 15 May 2015 at the Roseburg National Cemetary in Roseburg, Oregon. Cpl Brown was assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division and was killed in action near the village of Hoengsong the night of February 11th, seven days after being deployed to Korea. Oregonians will be in Roseburg to remember one of our own.
    Very Respectfully,
    Dan

  2. My father, Ray Wilbert Etter, was declared MIA, presumed killed, at Hoengsong. He was in Company A, 13th Engineer Combat Battalion, 7th Infantry Division.

  3. P. Justus

    My father was Lt. Bert W. Justus. He was captured at Hoengsong and taken North on one of the infamous “death marches”. We have been told he died of his wounds by the side of the road, but my poor mother died believing her husband was still imprisoned in some No. Korean hell hole. Not knowing has a different effect on a family than mourning a death. I am also writing a historical fiction novel about the incidents because somebody must do something to keep the facts straight. It is a story that must be told. Thank you.

  4. Keith Olson

    My Dad, Cpl. Harold B. Olson, was captured February 12, 1951, during this battle. He was wounded, and my Grandmother was informed he had died as a POW on May 1, 1951. I was 12. The notifications done at that time were primitive. We got a telegram. It took a long time for me to get information about what happened to him.We were not even informed that his named was added to the Punch Bowl Roll in Hawaii. I am looking for books and articles that tell the story. And I hope for a response from someone who may have known my Dad at that time. But I know time is short.

  5. Janet Blakeney

    My uncle Orvile Byrd was killed in Hoengsong. Remains were shipped home months later. Does the military ever disenterr remains to do DNA testing?

  6. becky clark

    I unfortunately am reading this too late. our neighbor John Brown just recently passed away from old age, he was there on those terrible days. just read an article his wife let me read that the army had given her. He received many medals for that day one was a purple heart. he never spoke of the ordeal even with his own children, they found out about it after his death. He was injured but stayed to continue fighting he was a cannon fighter.

  7. Stanley Bigos

    My father Stanley Bigos, turned 40 January 15, 1951, while serving in Army 7th Infantry Division as machine gunner. Because he could use climbing hooks, he also served as lineman to maintain communications. We were living in Nebraska when he got called up after signing up for the reserves after serving in WWII. He commonly identified himself by his home town of Blaine, Ohio 5 miles from Wheeling WV,

    I heard of “Hoengsong” when Jack Briggs, who served with my father in Korea, would come to visit. They described the “Massacre” as being trapped crawling for 4 days in a bowl with steep ridges with heavy artilery provided by both sides. They were both angry blaming McArthur for hiding the truth about the engagement for political reasons.

    Sorry but those are the only 2 names I can provide as I was 5 years old when he returned from Korea.
    Good luck in your writing endeavors.

  8. Lisa Lawer

    I want my cousin’s remains back; my daughter and I have both submitted DNA. He survived the massacre, was marched for months as a POW and killed.

    Harry C. Prunier 1931-1951, 20 years old

    Purple Heart
    Prisoner of War Medal
    National Defense Service Medal
    Korean Service Medal
    Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
    United Nations Service Medal
    Republic of Korea War Service Medal

    Sergeant Prunier was a member of Battery A, 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He was taken Prisoner of War while fighting the enemy near Hoengsong, South Korea on February 13, 1951 and died while a prisoner on July 31, 1951. His remains were not recovered. His name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial.

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