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SEOUL — The 60th anniversary of the first ground combat engagement of the Korean War between U.S. and North Korean forces will be commemorated Friday near Osan, officials said.

The 10 a.m. ceremony will take place off Highway 1 about three miles north of Osan city at the monument to Task Force Smith — the outnumbered, outgunned U.S. ground force that delayed advancing North Korean forces for seven hours on July 5, 1950.

“It represents a defining moment in the Korean War, because it heralded the introduction of U.S. ground troops into the conflict,” said Ronney Miller, command historian for Eighth U.S. Army.

South Korean officials, as well as members of the South Korean and U.S. militaries, are expected to attend the ceremony, which the city hosts yearly.

Commanded by Army Lt. Col. Charles B. “Brad” Smith, the task force consisted of about 540 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment and Battery A, 52nd Field Artillery, all part of the 24th Infantry Division. They were among the first U.S. ground troops rushed from Japan to Korea soon after North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950.

Given the mission of delaying the North Korean advance down the peninsula, they became the first Americans to engage the enemy on the ground. Holding the high ground above the North Korean 4th Division advancing toward Osan, the task force turned its guns on the enemy and held them up for about seven hours before having to retreat south.

“They were outnumbered, outgunned and outequipped,” Miller said of the task force. Nevertheless, he said, “They held ‘em up for seven hours.”

From staff reports

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