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Buddhist chief monk Lee Doil says a blessing before the unveiling of a memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, in Chun-an-ri Monday. During the Battle of Kapyong in 1951, the unit fought off a North Korean and Chinese offensive while completely surrounded. Doil helped the the unit and the United Nations allies during the fight while living in a temple not far from the memorial. He still lives there today.
Buddhist chief monk Lee Doil says a blessing before the unveiling of a memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, in Chun-an-ri Monday. During the Battle of Kapyong in 1951, the unit fought off a North Korean and Chinese offensive while completely surrounded. Doil helped the the unit and the United Nations allies during the fight while living in a temple not far from the memorial. He still lives there today. (Erik Slavin / S&S)
Buddhist chief monk Lee Doil says a blessing before the unveiling of a memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, in Chun-an-ri Monday. During the Battle of Kapyong in 1951, the unit fought off a North Korean and Chinese offensive while completely surrounded. Doil helped the the unit and the United Nations allies during the fight while living in a temple not far from the memorial. He still lives there today.
Buddhist chief monk Lee Doil says a blessing before the unveiling of a memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, in Chun-an-ri Monday. During the Battle of Kapyong in 1951, the unit fought off a North Korean and Chinese offensive while completely surrounded. Doil helped the the unit and the United Nations allies during the fight while living in a temple not far from the memorial. He still lives there today. (Erik Slavin / S&S)
Soldiers and veterans from the U.S. and South Korea unveil the memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, in Chun-an-ri Monday.
Soldiers and veterans from the U.S. and South Korea unveil the memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, in Chun-an-ri Monday. (Erik Slavin / S&S)
Lt. Col. Thomas Isom, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, speaks at Monday's ceremony in Chun-an-ri.
Lt. Col. Thomas Isom, commander of the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, speaks at Monday's ceremony in Chun-an-ri. (Erik Slavin / S&S)
Capt. Patrick Stone, Alpha Company commander of the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, honors past comrades who fought while surrounded at the Battle of Kapyong during a memorial dedication to the unit in Chun-an-ri Monday.
Capt. Patrick Stone, Alpha Company commander of the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, honors past comrades who fought while surrounded at the Battle of Kapyong during a memorial dedication to the unit in Chun-an-ri Monday. (Erik Slavin / S&S)

CHUN-AN-RI, South Korea — South Korean veterans and active-duty U.S. soldiers gathered on a remote, icy hillside Monday to laud a 2nd Infantry Division unit that helped shape the course of the Korean War.

More than 100 soldiers and dignitaries unveiled a memorial to the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, then known as the 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion, at the site of the larger Battle of Kapyong memorial.

Despite heavy losses, the tankers halted a massive North Korean offensive carried out largely by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.

They blocked a key route to Seoul and caused North Korea to begin thinking about the possibility of a stalemate, Korean War veterans said Monday.

“This battle is what eventually pulled together the armistice negotiations. Because of that, it’s very significant,” said Cho Wan-heung, chairman of the Kapyong Battle Memorial Foundation.

On April 24 and 25, 1951, North Korean forces broke through the allied main line near Kapyong, not far from Mount Seorak and the 38th Parallel.

Fighting alongside South Korean, Canadian and Australian servicemembers, 1-72, in particular, showed valor, according to a plaque at the memorial site. The unit’s forward elements became completely surrounded by enemy troops and received their supplies by airlift.

The battalion’s Alpha Company received a presidential unit citation for their action.

“In what many call the fiercest fighting of the war, these fine warriors held,” said 1-72 commander Lt. Col. Thomas Isom. “They saved Kapyong, protected the approach to Seoul and likely saved all of South Korea.”

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