Fixed Mortar

Fixed Mortar

Mortar fixed to a base plate. The team that operated the 81-millimeter mortar was made up of the squad leader, function performed by Díaz, the person in charge of giving the command and order fire; the assistant gunner, who prepared the grenade and put it in the striker; and the gunner, who held the tube with the base plate and measured the height and direction of the shot.

Sergean Major next to the Mortar

Sergean Major next to the Mortar

Díaz next to one of the Bofors 40 mm antiaircraft autocannon during the maneuver warfare. The points of stagnation were located along the front, and were converted into exceptional defensive positions with mechanized mobile reserves and formidable artillery and aviation support8.

mortar

mortar

81mm mortar on fixed baseplate. The stakes that can be observed are the milestones. Move the sight unit to the right and to the left: learning this was essential for operating the mortar during the fire mission. The charges depended on the capacity or type of ammunition that was requested by the fire support.

mortar

mortar

Three types of mortar ammunition: high explosive, smoke and Illumination

In the warehouse of mortar

In the warehouse of mortar

Image of Díaz in an ammunition dump (warehouse) of mortar shells.

Mortar on fixed base

Mortar on fixed base

The troops remained in the trenches about ten to fifteen days, depending on the intensity of the attacks. Then, the Battalion went back to the reserve, where they rested and retrained.

Types of mortar ammunition

Types of mortar ammunition

Díaz showing two 81-mm mortar grenades. They were used to repel harassment from Chinese troops.

Advanced observation post

Advanced observation post

At one of the forward observation posts of the Colombia Battalion in Kumwha. When he was in the Heavy Weapons Company of the Colombia Battalion, Díaz was promoted from operator of the mortar to forward observer. One of his functions was directing a fire mission over the highest part of one of the hills that dominated a wide area of No Man’s Land.

Chimneys for burning waste

Chimneys for burning waste

Next to the bonfire used for burning waste, at the command post of the Colombia Battalion.

Gilberto at the observation post

Gilberto at the observation post

Observation post where artillery fire was directed to respond to mortar fire. This was a high-risk task given the presence of enemy snipers and the constant mortar discharges by Chinese troops.

Bombardment on enemy territory

Bombardment on enemy territory

Smoke column at No Man’s Land, product of the intense bombardments of the allied aviation and the artillery discharges.

Parachute of a flare

Parachute of a flare

Image of a flare parachute fired from an M1 carbine commonly used to direct artillery fires or indicate the enemy’s position.

Helicoptero Bell Sioux

Helicoptero Bell Sioux

Bell Sioux Helicopter. During the Korean War, helicopters were used for the first time to carry out supply missions and extraction of personnel injured in combat.

November of 1952

November of 1952

Díaz at the beginning of the winter of 1952. Between December and February, the climate changes drastically; the icy winds from Siberia cause the average temperature to drop to 0°C (32°F).

Reserve camp of 1952 Winter

Reserve camp of 1952 Winter

Camp in the Winter Reserve of 1952, with capacity for 30 soldiers. For Díaz, the winter season was a new experience as he was used to Colombia’s warm, tropical climate.

Reserve camp of 1952 Winter

Reserve camp of 1952 Winter

Platoon shelters in the Winter Reserve, 1952. Each of these shelters had a heating system, even those located in the line of fire. Therefore, personnel arriving on patrol could warm up and compensate for low temperatures9

1952 winter, in the reserve

1952 winter, in the reserve

Without a doubt, snow was a novelty for the personnel of the Battalion. Díaz took advantage of this season to take photographs.

1952 winter, in the reserve

1952 winter, in the reserve

Díaz posing in a snow-covered field. During the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir on November 27, 1950, at the beginning of the Korean War, difficult climatic conditions, characterized by sub-zero temperatures, caused great losses in both armies. To avoid this type of situations, the U.S. Army implemented the winter equipment M-1951.

Later, it would be used by the men of the Colombia Battalion as part of their winter equipment.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz next to ‘El Mudo’ (the Mute) in a snow covered field. Both wore the full combat M1951 cold weather uniform. The coat was called “parka” by the men of the Colombia Battalion. They also wore a field jacket and a pile cap; two trousers, one pair made of cloth and the other pair, long waterproof trousers up to the ankles; wool trigger finger mittens. These mittens allowed shooting without freezing fingers, while insulated rubber boots and winter cap with protection over the ears allowed them to maintain their temperature and prevent amputations or gangrene in the limbs by freezing.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

‘El Mudo’, one of Díaz’s best friends during his time in Korea. The men of the D Company sarcastically gave this nickname to this soldier because he would not stop talking.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz with a group of fellows in the tactical reserve before heading into the line of fire. Díaz and the men of the Colombia Battalion were later assigned to the line of fire for the holiday season of 1952, after relieving one of the North American units.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Lighting a fire with improvised material extracted from ammunition boxes to warm up during the winter.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Corporal Rafael Herrera. In the background, the Pukhang or Bukhan River.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz’s fellow wearing an American winter uniform. Getting used to this equipment was a process that took several days, but its use was mandatory for the combatants. The loss of any garment while being on the front could lead to the freezing of a part of the body.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz with some of his fellows. All of them wear part of the M1951 winter uniform, while they are in the reserve of the Battalion.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz wearing the complete winter uniform on the banks of what would be the frozen Pukhang River.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz and Corporal Rafael Herrera by the frozen Pukhang River. Winter 1952.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz on the frozen waters of the Pukhang River. The holiday season for the men of the Colombia Battalion passed with the greatest austerity, since they were fighting arduously on the front before the intensification of the actions at the end of 1952.

Jeep Willys M 38 with an interpreter

Jeep Willys M 38 with an interpreter

Díaz on a Willys M38, next to a Mexican interpreter. This jeep was an exceptional utility vehicle used in the Korean War. It became popular during and after World War II for the development of attack, command and control missions and emergency transportation of personnel wounded in combat. This vehicle was so versatile that multiple armies around the world used similar designs. In Korea, it was operated by the troops of the Colombia Battalion.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

The daily routine used to be interrupted while on the reserve. Soldiers took advantage of the arrival of winter to make snowmen and take photos to send to their families in Colombia.

Winter of 1952, next to a 105mm M2A1 Howitzer artillery piece

Winter of 1952, next to a 105mm M2A1 Howitzer artillery piece

Díaz next to a 105mm M2A1 Howitzer artillery piece, in the winter of 1952.

Members of Company D With rifles

Members of Company D With rifles

Members of the D Heavy Weapons Company of the Colombia Battalion with the “Super bazooka” M28A2, used as an anti-tank weapon in the Korean War.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

The 105mm M2A1 Howitzer has just been fired without recoil. The artillery fire caused a high number of casualties in the Korean War.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

The Colombian troops were recognized not only for their courage during each of the military actions in which they participated throughout the war, but also for the determination to represent Colombia well.

Winter of 1952

Winter of 1952

Díaz operating the 105mm M2A1 Howitzer without recoil. By the end of 1952, the Battalion was occupying the first line of defense, maintaining contact with enemy units when conducting patrol operations.

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombia Battalion

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombia Battalion

Soldiers of the Colombia Battalion at outdoor Mass.

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombian Battalion

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombian Battalion

Lieutenant Julio Salas, military chaplain. When they were not at the front, the men of the Colombian battalion took time to strengthen their faith.

Military Chaplain Lieutenant Julio Salas

Military Chaplain Lieutenant Julio Salas

Image Field Mass for Soldiers

Image Field Mass for Soldiers

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombian Battalion

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombian Battalion

Outdoor Mass for the soldiers of the Battalion on the celebration of the Infantry Day on December 9, 1952, at the command post.

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombian Battalion

Field Mass for the soldiers of the Colombian Battalion

Outdoor Mass for the soldiers of the Battalion on the celebration of the Infantry Day on December 9, 1952, at the command post.

Altar made by the soldiers to the virgin

Altar made by the soldiers to the virgin

Altar made by the soldiers for Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

Flag Delivery Image

Flag Delivery Image

Delivery of flag to the best squadrons of the Battalion.

Flag delivery to the best squads of the Battalion

Flag delivery to the best squads of the Battalion

Delivery of flag to the best squadrons of the Battalion during a ceremony held on December 9, 1952, on the occasion of the Colombian Infantry Day.

Flag delivery to the best squads of the Battalion

Flag delivery to the best squads of the Battalion

Battalion during the ceremony of delivery of flag to the best squads of the unit. The Unit Command also conferred the combat in international war badge to the men who had participated in war actions, while they were at the front. This badge was an initiative of Captain Alvaro Valencia Tovar, who was the liaison officer in Tokyo. Thus, a red ovoid plaque was made, inspired by the American Army’s combat badge, but with two rifles crossed and surrounded by a laurel wreath.

Honors to Lord General James Van Fleet

Honors to Lord General James Van Fleet

Honors to General James Van Fleet, commander of the U.S. 8th Army.

Honors to Lord General James Van Fleet

Honors to Lord General James Van Fleet

General James Van Fleet replaced General Matthew Ridgway, who in turn replaced General Douglas MacArthur, as commander of the U.S. 8th Army and the United Nations Forces in the Korean War on April 11, 1951. His leadership was essential to push Chinese troops northward until the consolidation of peace agreements that would end the conflict.

Imposition of the United States Presidential Citation

Imposition of the United States Presidential Citation

Imposition of the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation to the Colombian Flag by General James Van Fleet, for the heroism and acts of courage of the troops in the Korean War at a ceremony held on December 9, 1952. Lieutenant Edgardo Vallejo carries the standard.

Military parade in the Reserve. Winter 1952

Military parade in the Reserve. Winter 1952

Military parade in the Reserve

Military parade in the Reserve

Crane tank used to unclog

Crane tank used to unclog

Crane tank used to unblock tanks in winter. Because of the muddy terrain, many of the caterpillar tracks of the tanks got stuck.

in exercises of the Colombia Battalion

in exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Díaz and a Willys M38 during the harsh Korean winter.

in exercises of the Colombia Battalion

in exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Díaz and a Willys M38 during the harsh Korean winter.

Jeep Willys M 38

Jeep Willys M 38

Díaz and two more fellows on a Willys M38, vehicle handled by the Colombia Battalion.

Exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Díaz on an M4 Sherman tank, while the Battalion was developing exercises with an American tank company. In early January 1953, the Colombia Battalion attended hand-to-hand combat demonstrations made by a U.S. Army tank company

Exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Díaz on an El M4A3E8 tank during exercises carried out by the Colombia Battalion.
The North Korean and Chinese forces had an arsenal of tanks that included the T-34 Soviet tank, while the United States Army had, besides the Sherman tanks, the M26 Pershing, the only tank that could counter the Soviet T-3414

Exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Exercises of the Colombia Battalion

Exercises of the Colombia Battalion with a tank company that included the Sherman tank, built in 1942. It was widely used in the theaters of operations in the Pacific and Europe by the U.S. Army during World War II. The Sherman tank continued to be used until the Korean War. In addition to being equipped with a powerful cannon, it had two .30. machine guns and thick armor.

Self-propelled artillery of the United States Army

Self-propelled artillery of the United States Army

U.S. Army self-propelled artillery vehicle 155mm Howitzer M41. During the Korean War, the effective use of artillery depended on the ability to coordinate and integrate the fires of many artillery battalions over the targets, which were arranged from a Fire Management Center (FMC); it was the unit receiving the requirements of fire missions

M4A3 EB Sherman Tank

M4A3 EB Sherman Tank

M4A3 EB Sherman tank with camouflage net. The nets concealed the vehicle from enemy aviation tanks. Regiment battalions and tank companies were used in the Korean War to protect Infantry men from enemy tanks and to penetrate defensive positions

EB Sherman tank with camouflage meshes

M4A3 EB Sherman tank with camouflage meshes

M4A3 EB Sherman tank with camouflage net. The tanks were seen as intrinsically offensive weapons that could provide firepower and act with speed and versatility, from any direction, to support
the deployment of Infantry troops on the battlefield.

M4A3 EB Sherman

M4A3 EB Sherman

Díaz and several of his fellows on an American M4A3 EB Sherman tank.

M4A3 EB Sherman

M4A3 EB Sherman

Díaz and several of his fellows on an American M4A3 EB Sherman tank.

Soldiers of Company C installing

Soldiers of Company C installing

Soldiers from the Colombia Battalion installing barbed wires to reinforce the camp’s defense. During Christmas time, barbed wires appeared in the mornings filled with messages written in English and Spanish as part of a psychological warfare campaign implemented against the United Nations forces.

Spring of 1953

Spring of 1953

Fortified positions of the Colombia Battalion during the first days of the spring, 1953.

Spring of 1953

Spring of 1953

Díaz and his fellows in a wildflower field in the spring of 1953. Spring for the men of the Colombia Battalion was a completely different experience from the harsh Korean winter.

Spring of 1953

Spring of 1953

Díaz and his fellows in a wildflower field in the spring of 1953. Spring for the men of the Colombia Battalion was a completely different experience from the harsh Korean winter.

Spring of 1953

Spring of 1953

Díaz and his fellows in a wildflower field in the spring of 1953. Spring for the men of the Colombia Battalion was a completely different experience from the harsh Korean winter.

  • Heading for Korea

  • At the Boot Camp

  • Straight to the Line

  • Everyday on the front line

  • Back to Colombia

  • Colombia Veterans' present