OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea –
Seventy-two years ago, Soldiers fixed bayonets and charged up Hill 180 through vicious opposing gun fire during the Korean War.
On Feb. 7, 1951, during Operation Thunderbolt, Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment’s Company E led by Capt. Lewis Millet came under intense machine gun fire from Communist Chinese forces on Hill 180.
While under fire, Millet recalled an enemy document he previously read during World War II claiming American troops were unwilling to engage in close quarter combat. Under Millet’s command, the Soldiers of Company E proved the document wrong.
“We’re going up the hill. Fix bayonets! Charge! Everyone goes with me!” shouted Millet as he led the assault up the machine gun fire-swept hill.
In honor of the nine Soldiers who perished during the battle, Osan Air Base hosts an annual Battle of Hill 180 ceremony. This year's commemoration was held Feb. 2. Attendees payed their respects with the laying of wreaths and a 21-gun salute carried out by Soldiers of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
The Eighth Army Band provided music for the event.
Also known as “Battle of Bayonet Hill," the exact location of Hill 180 has been the subject of some debate. Osan Air Base holds the annual ceremony and is home to the U.S. Air Force’s 7th Air Force and 51st Fighter Wing. Eighth Army’s 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade is based out of Osan and the 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment, which falls under U.S. Army Pacific, also makes the air base its home.
For his actions, Millet was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman and Company E earned the nickname “Cold Easy Steel” from that battle.