THE TASK FORCE
Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, November 27, 1950 The Army's 31st Regimental Combat team (later known as Task Force Faith) is moving into the east shore area. They are replacing the Marine forces. Provisions are running low. A Siberian front has moved in and temperature is dropping below -35 degrees. They are still in their summer gear. This must be a mop up operation.
"We were informed that our rations were being cut in half…it was a big joke with us cause we had no food anyway...I never visualized that they would take a unit as poorly equipped as we was and dilapidated as we was and send us up to a situation like that"
(Cpl. Gerard Francois Hq/3/31/7)
They are pushing to the Yalu River. Command has said they would be home by Christmas. The road is narrow, the terrain is rough and night is closing in. Moving equipment and over 2500 men has been difficult and slow.
"DON'T LET A BUNCH OF CHINESE LAUNDRYMEN STOP YOU!"
Gen. Ned Almond
Under the cover of darkness, the Chinese attack. The 31st RCT is outnumbered 8 to 1. For 5 days the Chinese attacks seem endless. Everything is frozen; food, medical supplies, trucks, guns and blood. Everything is chaos. The 31st RCT has run out of ammunition. Fighting is hand to hand. They can't help the wounded, they can't bury their dead. There will be no reinforcements, they are cut off. Everything must be abandoned and those remaining begin to find their way to the Marine lines in small groups. The 31st RCT have held the eastern Chinese advance and the UN forces are able to evacuate. The price was high. Only 1 man in 3 had returned. Some were taken prisoner; most are dead including 90% of their officers. Frozen, wounded and in shock, the survivors know they have done their job.
"They were scattered on the ice almost as far as I could see…It was the most horrible sight I've ever seen. Some of them were practically dismembered. One man had an eye shot away. It makes you want to cry to see our people shot up like that." "The men's hands were black with frost bite…Some had no shoes. The Chinese had taken them. …Some had so many wounds you could hardly touch them"
(Marine Lt. Fred Van Brunt, Baton Rouge Advocate, 12/4/1950)
FIGHTING FOR HONOR
In March, 1951 a false accusation of cowardice is made against the 31st RCT. Across the country, newspapers run the story with zeal. Although an investigation is made and the story proved untrue, the damage is done. Only the survivors know the accurate accounts of what happened east of the Chosin and no one will listen. When the Presidential Unit Citation for the Chosin is presented, the 31st RCT is passed over. The falsehood has becomes fact and the 31st RCT disappears from history.
... supplies of such things as "delicate crackers, cookies, cheeses, also vast quantities of beer" being hauled to the front made "necessary transportation difficult."
(Time Magazine, April 2, 1950)
"In the face of attacks which was not overwhelming by any means, this unit (31st RCT) was completely routed."
(Washington UP wire, June 15, 1951)
Decades passed but the survivors would not give up. The truth had to be told. The 31st RCT had become known as Task Force Faith, in honor of Col. Don Faith who had taken command after the death of Col. Allan MacLean, the original commander. In 1987, Roy Appleman published "East of Chosin". For the first time, a major work revealed the facts. That same year, Clay Blair published "The Forgotten War". Historians started questioning the inaccuracy of what history had recorded. The truth was beginning to surface.
In 2001, five decades after the Chosin, the Navy awarded the 31st RCT the Navy Presidential Unit Citation.
In the late 1990's, Julie Precious was a government employee assigned to research the Army battle at Chosin Reservoir to support U.S. remains recovery efforts in North Korea. She moved on in her career, but never forgot the haunting story of the Army's Task Force Faith or the injustice of the way its veterans were treated.
In 2004, she decided to interview Task Force Faith veterans and record their experiences on film. The story of the Army battle touched even those with no military background, and soon more people--from Los Angeles to Washington DC-- volunteered or provided their services at a low cost. Experts and historians donated countless hours to assist.
Julie and her team championed the cause and a documentary was born. The team gave heart and soul to this project. Julie was determined her documentary would be the undeniable truth about Task Force Faith. Her goal was not monetary but to educate a nation about these American heroes. Julie’s documentary, "Task Force Faith: The Story of the 31st Regimental Combat Team" was cleared for public release in March 2014.
Today, most people don’t know about the battle for the Chosin Reservoir. Many choose to stand by the old falsehood and some don’t realize the Army was there. Join Julie Precious and the survivors of the Chosin Reservoir in rewriting history and give the 31st RCT the honor they deserve.