OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- While Americans prepare to celebrate their nation's Independence Day, community leaders at Osan commemorate sacrifices made by the first U.S. maneuver unit to enter combat in the Korean War during the annual Task Force Smith memorial ceremony July 2 at Jukmiryeong War monument.
Under the command of Lt. Col. Charles B. Smith, 400 infantrymen and an additional 120 field artillery Soldiers were tasked with delaying the advance of North Korean troops to buy time for additional personnel to arrive in support of the defense of South Korea during the Battle of Osan.
"During their time of bitter struggle, they could not have known that their fight for freedom and basic human rights would be part of a great success story that has become the Republic of Korea," said Maj. Gen. Brian McKiernan, deputy commanding general of Eighth Army.
Also in attendance was ROK Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Sung Guk Yoon, a veteran of the Battle of Osan, the governor of Gyeonggi Province, the mayor of Osan City, senior leaders of 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and the Osan City Veterans Association of Foreign Wars.
The ceremony marked the 65th anniversary of Task Force Smith's deployment to South Korea where more than 150 Soldiers would end up killed, wounded or missing.
As a result of their sacrifices, the onset of North Korean troops was delayed for several hours allowing for the reinforcement of troops in Pyeongtaek.
"Through their sacrifice, the Soldiers of Task Force Smith planted a seed that has helped the U.S./ROK alliance grow stronger," said Gov. Kyung-pil Nam of Gyeonggi Province.
"We bow our heads in gratitude for their noble sacrifice in defense of free democracy," said Nam. "Through your sacrifice, we managed to overcome the ravages of war and have built one of the strongest alliances in the world."
Attendees of the ceremony laid flowers at the memorial site before observing a moment of silence to remember the cost of their freedom. More than 100 flowers were left at the memorial site to pay tribute to the sacrifice of the fallen Soldiers of Task Force Smith.