OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Warfare usually means rifles and smart bombs these days. The aging men who attended Thursday’s Korean War commemoration at the Battle of Hill 180 recalled something much more up close: bayonets.
Osan Air Base marked the anniversary of Col. Lewis Millett’s famed charge, better known as the Battle of Bayonet Hill, with a wreath-laying ceremony to honor the nine soldiers who died capturing the hill from communist forces.
The assault by Millett’s Easy Company, 27th Infantry Regiment, was to be the Army’s last known bayonet charge.
“The significance of the event is to remember the last bayonet charge of this hill 62 years ago when then-Capt. Millett led a courageous bunch of kids up this hill to push back the enemy forces of the North Koreans and Chinese,” Shawn Watson, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post senior vice commander, told the 100 or so people in attendance.
Lt. Col. Paul Vido, 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment-Korea commander, described Millett, who died in 2009, as a World War II battle-hardened officer, leading his company against a hail of Chinese gunfire to take Hill 180.
“Get ready to move out!” Vido said, repeating Millett’s famed order. “We’re going up the hill. Fix bayonets! Charge! Everyone goes with me!”
Vido said the battle left 47 enemy troops dead on the hill’s forward slope. Millett was evacuated after the battle with grenade injuries and was later awarded the Medal of Honor.