EX-GIs: TROOPS TOLD TO SHOOT KOREAN CIVILIANS
The two men are the first link to a higher command level
Supporting charges of a civilian massacre.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Two ex-GIs who handled radio and message traffic told Pentagon investigators that American troops had orders from higher headquarters to fire on civilian refugees at Nogun-ri in the early days of the Korean War.
The sworn statements by Lawrence Levine and James Crume, who were assigned to the headquarters of 2nd battalion, 7th Cavalry regiment, are the first from a higher command level to publicly support recollections of some other veterans that they were ordered to shoot civilians for fear North Korean infiltrators were among them.
Although official Army documents don’t mention infiltrators at Nogun-ri, both men say they believed in July 1950—and today—that disguised enemy soldiers were a serious threat to the U.S. troops, then taking part in a chaotic southward retreat.
"Our understanding was, and it was an understanding, not absolute fact, that amongst these people there were North Korean spies and soldiers, who were reporting our positions," said Levine, 72, of Encino, California.
In recent interviews, Crume and Levine told The Associated Press that the order to fire on civilians came down the chain of command from division or higher headquarters and was passed on to the battalion’s line companies. The two foxhole buddies said they gave a similar account to Army investigators last spring.
"I’m sure the
battalion commander and the S3 (operations officer) discussed it… even before
they put the order out to stop the refugees," said Crume,
AP also found
wartime documents showing at least three high-level Army headquarters and an
Air Force command ordered troops to treat as hostile any civilians approaching
On July 26, 1950, the day of the bridge incident at Nogun-ri, Maj. Gen. Hobart Gay, commander of the 1st Cavalry division, told reporters that aerial reconnaissance had reported "heavy refugee movements" near the U.S. battle sector. Gay said he was certain most of the refugees were "North Korean guerrillas," according to a story by AP reporter Don Whitehead.