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Yeon Jae-geunSecond-Class Soldier

Jan. 14, 1950 ~ Sept. 17, 1950

The basis of the counterattack. First contribution to
“Battle of the Hyeongsan River”

  • Crossing the Hyeongsan River with the left shoulder that the bullet had pierced through.
  • 20-year-old squad leader closes his eyes after the enemy machine gun camp was devastated...
On the 9th and 17th, 1950 at 4 A.M. the west bank of the Hyeongsan River in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Dozens of gunshots broke the stillness of the dawn. "diving!" Squad leader Yeon Jae-geun of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment, 3rd Division, exclaimed briefly as he swept through the water rising up to his chest. Following Squad Leader Yeon Jae-geun, 12 South Korean soldiers prostrated themselves on the riverbed and approached the North Korean machine gun position. A bullet belt was wrapped around his body and a grenade was filled with the suspenders of the military uniform. When he was out of breath, he put his head out of the water and inhaled the air. The machine gun of the North Korean Army, which discovered the South Korean Army, blew out nonstop fire. A rain of bullets and underwater hide-and-seek began.

The North Korean Army, attacking without mercy along the east coast since last month, has even occupied Pohang. The Nakdong River defense line was in emergency. Fortunately, the situation began to change with the Incheon Landing Operation on the 16th, a day before. While the North Korean Army was agitated, squad leader Yeon Jae-geun carried out the operation to cross the Hyeongsan River to recapture Pohang city. This is because there was only one bridge that crossed the Hyeongsan River. One foot, two feet and three feet. The squad leader crossed the river to threw a grenade at the North Korean positions with all his might. In the water, the bullet had already pierced his left shoulder. There were only three men who set foot on the North Korean positions with Squad Leader Yeon. The North Korean Army fired at the Yeon Squad Leader without mercy. When his machine gun position was devastated by a grenade detonation, Squad Leader Yeon closed his eyes. He was 20 years old. His achievements served as an opportunity for the Korean Army to reclaim Seoul and advance north to the Yalu River along with the Incheon Landing Operation. To the squad leader who died in this battle, the government conferred the Eulji Military Service Medal (December 1950), the Hwarang Military Service Medal (August 1951), and the Military Service Medal (October 1956) along with two-class special promotion. Born in Doan-myeon, Jeungpyeong-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do, after graduating from Doan Elementary School, he enlisted in the National Defense Guard in January 1948. In 1949, when he was a member of the 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment, 3rd Division, he participated in the Jirisan Partisan Subjugation Operation and made remarkable achievements, such as capturing 9 guerrilla members of the Communist Force. At this time, he was promoted his rank 2.

His spirit of sacrifice remains throughout the country. The city of Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do, erected a statue of Sergeant Yeon Jae-geun at Haedo Neighborhood Park in Nam-gu, and held the annual 'Remembrance Ceremony of the Korean War Dead in Hyeongsan River Crossing Operation' here. His hometown, Jeungpyeong-gun, North Chungcheong Province, built 'Yeon Jae-geun Park' in Doan-myeon in May 2015 and erected a 3m high statue. The Army Headquarters also changed the name of the 'Defense to Patriotism Award', which is given to non-commissioned officers who have worked continuously for more than 20 years, to the 'Jaegeun Award' since 2011.