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Solda ers : Korean; massacr'e p did occur uring war-
The Associated Press
It was a story no one wanted to hear: Early
in the Korean War, villagers said, American
soldiers machine-gunned hundreds of helpless
civilians under a railroad bridge in the South
When the families spoke out, seeking
redress, they met only rejection and denial,
from the U.S. military and their own govern-
ment in Seoul. Now a dozen ex-GIs have spo-
ken, too, and support their story with haunting
memories from a "forgotten" war.
American veterans of the Korean War say
that in late July 1950, in the conflict's first des-
perate weeks, U.S. troops killed a large num-
ber of South Korean refugees, many of them
women and children, trapped beneath a bridge
at a hamlet called No Gun Ri.
In interviews with The Associated Press,
ex-GIs speak of 100 or 200 or "hundreds"
dead. The Koreans, whose claim for compen-
sation was rejected last year, say 300 were
killed at the bridge and 100 in a preceding air
American soldiers, in their third day at the
warfront, feared North Korean infiltrators
among the fleeing South Korean peasants, vet-
erans told the AP
The ex-GIs described other refugee killings
as well in the war's first weeks, when U.S.
commanders ordered their troops to shoot
civilians, citizens of an allied nation, as a
defense against disguised enemy soldiers,
according to once-classified documents found
by the AP in U.S. military archives.
Six veterans of the 1st Cavalry Division said
they fired on the civilians at No Gun Ri, and
six others said they witnessed the mass killing.
"We just annihilated them," said ex-machine
gunner Norman Tinkler of Glasco, Kan.
After five decades, none gave a complete,
detailed account. But the ex-GIs agreed on
such elements as time and place, and on the
preponderance of women, children and old
men among the victims.
Some said they were fired on from among
the refugees beneath the bridge. Others said
they don't remember hostile fire. One said
they later found a few disguised North Korean
soldiers among the dead. But others disputed
Some soldiers refused to shoot what one
described as "civilians just trying to hide."
The 30 Korean claimants said what hap-
pened July 26-29, 1950, was an unprovoked,
three-day carnage. "The American soldiers
played with our lives like boys playing with
flies," said Chun Choon-ja, a 12-year-old girl
at the time of the massacre.
The reported death toll would make No Gun
Ri one of only two known cases of large-scale
killings of noncombatants by -U.S. ground
troops in this century's major wars, military
law experts note. The other was Vietnam's My
Lai massacre, in 1968, in which more than 500
Vietnamese may have died.
From the start of the 1950-53 conflict,
North Korean atrocities were widely reported
- the killing of civilians and summary execu-
tions of prisoners. The story of No Gun Ri has
remained undisclosed for a half-century.
The Pentagon, told generally of the AP's
findings, said it had found no substantiation
for the allegations in the official record. The
AP's research also found no official Army
account of the events.
Some elements of the No Gun Ri episode
are unclear: What chain of officers gave open-
fire orders? Did GIs see gunfire from the
refugees or their own ricochets? How many
soldiers refused to fire? How high in the ranks
did knowledge of the events extend?
The troops dug in at No Gun Ri, 100 miles
southeast of Seoul, South Korea's capital, were
members of the 7th Cavalry, a regiment of the
1st Cavalry Division. The refugees who
encountered them had been rousted by U.S.
soldiers from nearby villages as the invading
army of communist North Korea approached,
the Korean claimants said.
Maj. Gen. William Kean (center) not wearing a helmet, commander of the U.S. 25th Infantry Division
...e. rainates ne.ar..--.e&L-s..o m- i..s in uM Inn r i .se .,7,1 IC
confers with subo
rdinates near the front lines in South Korea on Aug. o, 1to.
Exection is to top
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100 by year'
WASHINGTON (AP) - With three Many co
months remaining, 1999 already is the death pen
deadliest year on America's death row Australia,
in almost half a century. Eighteen Amnesty In
states have executed 76 killers and the reports of
total could reach 100 by year's end. in 1998,
"There has been this stairway Democrati
Iupward since the death penalty was re- 66 in Iran.
instituted" in 1976, said Richard Dieter also has un
of the Death Penalty Information dreds of e,
Center, a group critical of how capital Eighteen
punishment is administered. "It hasn't with death
peaked yet ... 150 is probably where capital pur
things may max out over the next three again Texa
to four years." tions.
Executions last Friday in Delaware "What s
and North Carolina raised the year's of is thatl
total to 76, the most since 1954, when death pena
81 people were put to death in U.S. 12 folks (o
prisons. If the year-end toll reaches Holmes d
100, as Dieter said could happen, it County,
would be the first time since 105 peo- Houston.
ple were executed in 1951. Holmes'
There were 68 executions last year, tence in 1
74 in 1997. almost alw
ountries have abolished the
nalty, including Cana*
France and Germany.
nternational said it received
1,067 executions in China
more than 100 in the
c Republic of Congo and
nThe organization said it
iconfirmed reports of hun-
xecutions in Iraq.
n of the 38 American states
penalty laws have imposed
iishment this year, and o*$
is is first with 25 execu-
ometimes people lose sight
prosecutors don't give the
lty - it takes a unanimous
n a jury) to do it," said John
istrict attorney in Harris
Texas, which includes
' office seeks a death sen-
2 to 20 cases a year
ve a good sense for knowing
's a death-worthy prosecu-
aid. "We don't seek it cal-
unadvisedly ... These people
ing death on generally have
States have executed 576 convicted
kills since the Supreme Court ended in
1976 a four-year nationwide ban on
capital punishment. Currently, about
3,565 people are on death rows across
tion," he s
lously or u