Column of Colombia Battalion troops marching towards the battle front. They traveled for several kilometers until they occupied the defensive positions located over the Kumwha Valley.
Colombia Battalion troops building casemates and slit trenches.
C Company, Colombia Battalion, building defensive fighting positions over the Kumwha Valley. Summer 1952.
Díaz and other fellows and South Korean workers after building one of the casemates.
Fortified position of the Colombia Battalion in front of the firing line in the Kumwha Valley. These positions were built on hills that were five hundred to six hundred meters high. They became the main defense line of the allied troops to keep the communist forces at bay.
Mortar position of the Colombia Battalion in the Kumwha Valley in the summer of 1952. According to Díaz, building these casemates and slit trenches was an arduous work that required a lot of energy. They formed an extensive defensive network over the rough Korean topography, which preserved some parts of the terrain still burning after many days of combat.
Slit trench over the defensive lines occupied by the Colombia Battalion. Díaz remembers that during the Battle of Old Baldy (March 22-23, 1953) these trenches were completely erased by the artillery fire that fell on the positions of the Colombia Battalion. The following day, they were able to see that the actions had been so intense that the trenches had practically disappeared.
Men from the Colombia Battalion on the main line of defense. As a result of Operation Nomad, offensive carried out at the end of 1951 as part of the maneuver warfare (1952), the United Nations forces managed to consolidate the central front north of the 38th parallel, strengthening the positions of the U.S. Army.
Mortar on the front line. After the Battle of Kumsong, the Colombia Battalion troops realized that the attacks of the Chinese were more intense. The main line occupied by the Battalion since the early spring of 1952 was part of the so-called “Missouri Line”, over the Kumwha Valley, where the command post of the Colombian Battalion was established.
The Battalion command posts were located behind the mountains, which allowed securing the bunkers and the slit trenches to avoid bombings of enemy aircraft, especially the MIG-15 airplanes that constantly overflew the positions of the United Nations Forces and disputed air superiority with North American F-86 Sabre aircraft. The photo also shows the mortar positions and some of the Battalion’s shelters.
Fortified positions used by the Colombia Battalion in the Kumwha Valley. The men of the Colombian Army were watching every action of the enemy, beyond the 38th parallel. The flanks were covered by other armies, such as the the U.S and Ethiopian armies.
Díaz on the front lines. The fortified positions occupied by the Colombia Battalion, built on the hills of the Kumwha Valley, are observed in the background.
Díaz with his endowment weapon, a Colt 45. In the background, the so-called “No Man’s Land” and the hills that dominate the Kumwha Valley. No Man’s Land on the 38th parallel was the scenario of many bloody battles. The Chinese Army was positioned not less than seven hundred meters away; they were also on the defensive and awaiting the maneuvers of the United Nations armies.
Colombian infantry troops in the forward command post, wearing an American-style uniform for warm weather. Díaz’s “baptism of fire” occurred in July 1952, during the first patrol in the enemy’s zone. He remembers that instructions were an important part of planning when he was assigned a squad (ten to twenty men) for a listening patrol. He learned to train his ear to detect the enemy’s position. He says he lived disturbing moments, but the training he received at the Infantry Academy in Bogotá allowed him and the men under his command to face their first combat experience.
No Man’s Land, a strip 2 kilometers wide and 250 kilometers long that separated the Colombia Battalion from the Chinese forces. Patrols were made by two or more squads (15 to 40 men) and reinforced platoons of 45 to 60 men6. This area, which encompassed the regions of the Kumhwa Valley, Chorwon and Pyongang, was known as the “Iron Triangle,” a mountainous setting where the bloodiest actions of the war took place.
No Man’s Land, a barren wasteland full of craters, consequence of copious bombardments. The combats were sporadic due to the control on the surrounding hills and the geographical features that granted a dominant position on the ground. Actions took place throughout the day. Díaz remembers that carrying out day and night patrols in that place was challenging because of the massive presence of enemies and their constant assaults.
Soldier of the Colombia Battalion with an American M1 Garand rifle. The troops were informed about the procedures to report the enemy position and whom to ask for support when leaving to patrol. Any sound or noise could be the sign of an enemy position or a patrol. The patrols also allowed locating with certain accuracy the different attack units of the adversary.
Men of the Colombia Battalion frisking a North Korean war prisoner. Patrols in enemy territory were always high-risk actions, especially for the leader, who was in charge of guiding the unit by opening the way. This person had to be aware of the environment and track any kind of anomaly. If a prisoner was taken, the men of the Battalion were to hand him over to the immediate superior.
Díaz by the mortar stand along with several men who made up his combat team. They were all assigned to the Heavy Weapons C Heavy Weapons Company. Assquad leader of the 81mm mortar, Díaz learned to fire, graduate and establish the firing position to provide support and repel assaults from Chinese forces.
Díaz next to Corporal Pedro Martinez in the fortified positions of the Colombia Battalion, both wearing the mandatory M-1951 jacket with vest.