Correspondents’ View – 4

press photo release of Gen. Dean

press photo release of Gen. Dean

Night Owl has told us in previous comments that the Communist reporters could often be a more valuable source of information and in the following article, published 24 December 1951 in the New York Journal America, his statement is demonstrated.

Saga of Suffering and Survival:

Gen. Dean Foxed Reds for Month

By Rafael Steinberg

International News Service Staff Correspondent

PANMUNJOM, Korea, Dec. 24 – The incredible story of Maj. Gen. William F. Dean’s survival and capture after being cut off from his troops in the thick of battle was related today by a Communist newsman at Panmunjom.

Wilfred Burchett, correspondent for the Paris newspaper CE Soir, who said he interviewed Dean in a North Korean prison camp two days ago, gave Allied newsmen the drama-packed story of the heroic American officer.

Burchett told how the former commander of the 24th Div. survived 20 days without food; how he wondered through North Korea eluding capture for a month; how he had saved a bullet to kill himself rather than be captured and how he was twice betrayed to the reds.

Allied newsmen agreed Burchett’s story, although containing propaganda, was not a hoax.  Burchett said he interviewed Dean in his “prison cell” in the North Korean capitol of Pyongang.  His reference to a prison cell indicated Dean is held in solitary confinement.

The saga of Gen. Den began July 25, 1950, when a pitifully small band of American soldiers were fighting to slow down a powerful North Korean army crashing into Taejon in South Korea.  Dean returned to his command post to find escape routes cut by communist road blocks.

Dean left his jeep to encourage his outnumbered troops not to surrender.  He lost the jeep, hopped on a tractor and then ran up against the stone wall of red road blocks.

Gen. William F. Dean

Gen. William F. Dean

With a wounded aide, Lt. Arthur Clarke, and a small group of others, Dean tried to find a way out on foot.  He left the group to make his way to a brook and ordered the others to wait no longer than an hour for him.  On the way down he stumbled, and lost consciousness.  When he awoke it was 2:30 a.m.  Gen. Dean never knew if he had been unconscious a few hours or a full day.  Apparently suffering a fractured collar bone, he made his way to the brook to drink and remained there two days, too weak to move.

Dean hear footsteps and cocked his pistol but found the approaching man was an American officer who aided him.  Burchett said Dean does not remember the officer’s name although for two days the two trudged through hills and paddy fields.

Starving, Dean and his companion finally turned to a Korean peasant home for help.  They were given eggs and a place to sleep.  Then they were betrayed for the first time.  English speaking voices called to them to come out and they would not be harmed.  But they slipped away with Dean leading.  During the resultant firing and confusion, the officer became separated from Dean.  They never saw each other again.

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

Dean hid in a foxhole for an entire day and in some manner he does not remember, got some rice, the last food he was to eat for 20 days.  He survived solely on water.  Burchett quoted Dean as saying:  In his 20 agonizing days without food, Dean was surrounded five times but escaped.  Four of the five times he was surrounded he was betrayed by children who reported his presence in the neighborhood.

Dean attempted to move by night and sleep by day but was always betrayed by Korean civilians.  Dean began to think that his chances of escape were good.  But he was betrayed again to North Korean troops.  They captured him.

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These next articles were published in The Caberra Times on Saturday 15 December 1951. (Correspondents unknown)

NEW PROPOSAL IN ARMISTICE TALKS

(A.A.P. – Reuter)

TOKYO, Friday.

peace negotiations

peace negotiations

The Communists made a new six-point plan for the supervision of the armistice at the truce talks at Panmunjom today.  The proposal included the limited rotation of troops at the rate of 5000 on each side monthly.

The United Nations spokesman, General Nuckols, said that although this was below the present Allied level, it suggested that the Communists would accept the Allied plan for a neutral inspection body operating under a military armistice commission.

In the prisoner of war sub-committee, the Communists again deadlocked discussions by refusing to hand over information about Allied prisoners in their hands.  The Communists again refused to allow International Red Cross representatives to visit their prisoner of war camps.  United Nations negotiator, Rear Admiral Libby, asked them, “Is this because your prisoner list contains only a handful of names and you are ashamed to give it to us?”

Preserving Strength

TOKYO, Friday.

The Allies in Korea are bringing in enough additional troops to meet any forceable Communist ground attack.  This was announced “somewhere in Korea” today by the Allied ground commander, General James Van Fleet, in answer to queries from American United Press.

James Van Fleet

James Van Fleet

He was asked if he thought the Communists ever could get strong enough to push the Allies out of Korea, “The 8th Army will never be pushed out of Korea as far as comparative ground strength is concerned between the enemy and ourselves,” he replied.  “The point of balance lies in the air.  If the enemy throws in his Manchurian potential and we don’t have enough additional air power to combat that threat, then the 8th Army might be jeopardized.  At the present time, we do not anticipate that possibility.” he said.

Asked if he thought the Communists were getting stronger every day of the current lull in the fighting, General Van Fleet said they were and had been strengthening themselves even before the lull occurred.  For several months, he said, the Communist supply and replacement activities had been improving.

UN delegates

UN delegates

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Farewell Salutes – 

*Richard W. Asbury – Maryland; US Army Air Corps, Lt. Col. (Ret.), WWII, Korea, Vietnam – The last remaining WWII flying ace.

Laurice Tappan – Chandler, AZ; US Navy WWII nurse

Merlin Marion Andrew – London, England; ambulance driver, WWII, blitz

Clifford Gallant – Providence, RI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Japanese interpreter

Gene Hoffman – Rochester, NY; US Army, WWII

Samuel Leabo – Phoenix, AZ; US Navy, 1st Class Machinist Mate, WWII

#############################################################################

Resouces:

http://nightowlsnotebook.wordpress.com

National Library of Australia; Trove archives

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 29, 2013, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 41 Comments.

  1. Your eye for detail is amazing – thought and expertise bringing history that needs to be out in the public domain alive! I could say that about all the posts I have thus far read. Superb.

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  2. I have to say it… for a soldier “on in his years”, it was an incredible journey. Surviving was not only a goal – it was also eluding capture. I do now think of the other officer who reportedly came to his aid but was never seen again. Perhaps he perished as you would think if he made it back to safety, Dean’s existence and approximate position would have become known.

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  3. I will always be glad to remember the sacrifices of our soldiers.

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  4. Wow. This is just great stuff, thank you. In many ways it says so much about who we are and talks about our tenacity to survive. Thank you.

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  5. Hard to imagine how anyone could endure that kind of suffering for such a long period of time. Wonder what thoughts he had that kept him going?

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  6. gpcox – I’m sure there are many more stories of heroism and survival that were never documented. That makes this one especially poignant. Thank you, Mr. Steinberg, for getting the story and you, gpcox, for posting it.

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  7. Great journalism again by Steinberg! On the second Reuters article there is an ominous comment about a POW list that the North Korean’s are refusing to share… the UN spokesperson asks ‘is it because your list contains so few names that you’re ashamed to give it to us?’. What do you think this means? Were they just not captured or did they die?

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    • I’m afraid I don’t know. I believe there was a part of the Geneva Convention ruling about having to have an accurate list of names for POWs in any war on any side – but who’s to say anyone actually did? I’m certain many had died.

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  8. So was Gen. Dean every freed? Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Tough hombre that Gen. Dean! I suppose that his survival details could have been used for training manuals such as for downed pilots. Amazing story of resilience in adversity.

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  10. Just incredible!! Can you clarify? ” But they slipped away with Dean leading.” Exactly who were they who called him out and did Dean and the helpful buddy both come out and go with that group?

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  11. Truly incredible…do you know how long he was in captivity?

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  12. Wow, what a story about Gen Dean and Wow what a man. And what brave men the reporters were who risked so much to get the stories for the rest of us. I keep asking the question, “What is wrong with the human race that causes them to keep on killing each other forever?” Sadly, I don’t get an answer.

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  13. Amazing. Such determination to survive and serve his country. Betrayed so often — I wonder if those who betrayed him did it out of a sense of service to their own country or because of fear of consequences if they did not? I suppose we can never know.

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  14. Excellent story. I’m not sure “betrayed” is quite the right word, though, especially with regard to the children, but a minor quibble (pun intended). 😉

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  15. It is astonishing what a person can survive.

    These blogs featuring Rafael Steinberg’s reports are a reminder that history in books, by necessity, shortens the overall narrative to fit the venue, whereas newspaper accounts tend to expand to fit the need to know about events of the day, a raw and full of details that remind us that wars aren’t grey blobs fighting against red blobs, but men (and women, more and more) who breathe and aspire, have futures if they are lucky, and meet death well before their time if not.

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  16. Did General Dean survive the war?

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  17. That’s quite a harrowing story about Gen. Dean.

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  18. Gp, I would like to send you a picture I took while I was visiting to Hawaii Vet Memorial Cem in Honolulu. How might I go about doing that?

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