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JIPYEONG-RI, South Korea — Fifty-six years ago, U.S. and allied forces proved that numerical advantage alone wouldn’t decide the Korean War.

Despite attacks from five Chinese People’s Volunteer Army divisions, the much-smaller U.S. force fought with French and South Korean forces and held a town, then known as Chipyong-ni, in a battle lasting from Feb. 13 to Feb. 15, 1951.

On Monday, 2nd Infantry Division soldiers joined French representatives, South Korean soldiers and veterans to commemorate the battle at the memorial site in Jipyeong-ri, about 40 miles northeast of Seoul.

“Even though outnumbered, they never considered giving up this ground,” said 2nd ID commander Maj. Gen. James Coggin, who spoke along with South Korean Maj. Gen. Oh Jeong-sok.

Commanded by Col. Paul Freeman, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team was a 5,000-man force of U.S. soldiers joined with the French and South Koreans and split into four sectors around the town. The town was considered a transportation hub and a vital protecting flank, officials said.

The allies had suffered several defeats since the Chinese entry into the war, and Chipyong-ri would prove a turning point.

Around 10 p.m. on Feb. 13, the Chinese began attacks on the perimeter and by midnight nearly all Freeman’s units were engaged. Around 2 a.m. Feb. 14, the French heard bugles and whistles outside their sector of the perimeter.

The Chinese overran some U.S. ground with human wave attacks. Each side engaged in hand-to-hand combat. But by Feb. 15, U.S. air and artillery attacks converged with ground forces and forced the Chinese to withdraw.

“It was the first victory for U.N. forces since the Chinese Communist Army joined the war,” said South Korean Lt. Col. Shin Ki-eup, who briefed the audience on the battle.

And French Army Col. Allain Nass paid his respects to the sacrifices of the fallen and thanked 2nd ID for its efforts.

The 2nd ID saw action in France during World War I and World War II before fighting alongside French and other U.N. forces during the Korean War, Nass noted.

“So for us, 2nd (Infantry) Division history is also our history,” Nass said. “That explains our everlasting gratitude for the division.”

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