Veteran Stories:
Duk Soo Kim


  • Duk Soo Kim receiving the Bronze Star Medal from US Brigadier General Hubert O. Johnson Jr., 1954.

    Duk Soo Kim
  • Duk Soo Kim's Eun-sung chung-mu Medal from the South Korean government. Mr. Kim was awarded the medal for his actions during an intense three day battle against Chinese soldiers who attempted to overrun their position. Indeed, the fighting was so intense that Mr. Kim called down artillery strikes on his own position.

    Duk Soo Kim
  • Colonel Duk Soo Kim and US President Lyndon Johnson. Duk Soo Kim is showing Johnson the facilities the Korean Infantry School during his 1965 visit to South Korea.

    Duk Soo Kim
  • From left to right: Colonel Duk Soo Kim, US President Lyndon Johnson, South Korean President Park Chung-hee. Duk Soo Kim is showing Johnson the facilities the Korean Infantry School during his 1965 visit to South Korea.

    Duk Soo Kim
  • Duk Soo Kim in Calgary, Alberta, May 2012.

    Historica Canada
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"So I fell down with my soldiers, after retreat some hundred metres after I put bayonet to my rifle, and attacked that hill, and occupied that one at once."


When the time they, 1950 25th June was a Sunday I believe. I participated in church and when I come, the finish the church worship and to go to home, when that time I saw many trucks, military trucks, they brought many soldiers toward to the north. So what happened this one, we didn’t know about the real stories, but after that the Korean War happened in that time, they, North Korean people invaded us, they totally 38th Parallel immediately in the morning of 25th June 1950, so that our members, some they went to vacation or some leave, they come back so and they go to their unit, so that why I saw many trucks go to the north with soldiers. That is one I remember, the first memory of the Korean War happen.

In 1951, 29th of April I enter the Korean Infantry School, at that time located in Tong near Pusan, and there I was trained for six month training as an infantry officer, and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in October some day of 1951. And just two days and half I had leave to my home, I make just my family two days and half meet, and after I dropped to the front line as a platoon leader of the infantry, rifle company [5th Infantry Division, ROK Army]. When that time we need young officers because of the lack of officers in the front line, we have to prepare many officers and produce them, so the infantry school collected many young people to train for the. When that time we train for six month there, and after graduate from the infantry school, immediately one or two days later we put to the front line for combat.

I was assigned the platoon leader under rifle company, in east coast of Korea, just beside of sea. When that time on mountain we occupied that one is 351, the hill we call, I assigned that unit because the Fifth, the Korean Infantry Division they occupied the east line, the east coast of Korea, so in most front line must note, I was assigned as a platoon leader. I met first time my subordinate soldiers, 32 people under my command.

We made the trenches, about six metres from our trench, enemy, North Korean, very close. When that time, because most the northern part of the Korean front line so when I was assigned as a platoon leader, maybe two or three, or one week later in the midnight we were attacked by enemies, the patrol team, that night they my soldiers fought with them, but very poor experienced platoon leader cannot how to fight them, because ignorance of the real combat, so I stayed in my platoon leader’s bunker. Quite a long night past when that time, the next morning, only in the morning though, I had seen my soldiers threw the hand grenade and killed two people of North Korean in that time. It was my first combat experience, very poor, very no experience platoon leader in that time. But after that for six months or one year, I have experienced how to combat, how to command the troops, how to fight against them. Later after war, first time, it was my first experience to real combat, I cannot move, I just stayed in my trench in that time yeah.

I finished my platoon leader, the duty, I was transferred to another division, the Infantry Division 20th, when that time I was the company commander, rifle company, when that time I was the temporary captain after two and a half years’ experience as a platoon leader, and under my command I had 180 people in that time, and we moved to the middle east, not the east, middle east, when that time, front line was the Red China’s, the Red Chinese people, not the Red, North Korean. When that time I remember my regimental commander called me one day, one day called me and, “Captain Kim,” my name, “you have to attack the one hill that occupied our strength first, according to that hill you through the next hill.” It was my receiving order to attack the Red Chinese people.

So I and my strength, 180, under my command, three platoon, rifle platoon and one weapon platoon, with them I went to the unknown small hill, because that hill still our strength, occupy, I heard. And approached in the dawn, in the early in the morning, I went that the hill but I heard the, what I say, the one trench there, their voice not friendly, it unknown language, “Too ha?” We don’t use too ha, too ha means “Who are you, who is it?” Occupied already the Red Chinese people when they are done, but I heard our friendly they keep that hill still, but when I really approached that hill, enemy occupied in that time, they took that hill. So I fell down with my soldiers, after retreat some hundred metres after I put bayonet to my rifle, and attacked that hill, and occupied that one at once.

So in that time I captured two Chinese people in that time, evacuate them to the rear, and occupied that hill with my people. And from that three days and night, I was attacked by the Red Chinese people, maybe I think four or six times, they attack and we, they captured that hill, we would retreat and after we attack, go, and many times after that when I, they took that hill finally, I found my people, eight or nine people with me, and after that the I keep that hill for three days and three nights. After we changed 24th US Infantry Division and I retreat. First time when in that time I only had eight or nine people beside me, but when we, after change it, retreat to the rear, about 30 people. So nine or eight people with me first, but the other people, they hide in the trenches there, so we 30 or 30 some people retreat from 180.

So this one was the reason that I received the decoration about the US Bronze [Star] Medal and the Korean decoration [Eun-sung chung-mu Medal] also. The Red Chinese people, so-called human wave attack so many people coming from that hill over to our, the hill, small hill. So finally I request what I say, the artillery they drop my head, my head, because I want to die with them, because so many people there, Red Chinese people attack us, our people is very few, they wounded or they died, they evacuated so back from that hill not so many, and our lay forces they not so many people to help us, so I request to our, the artillery troops, they attack my head with them.

When the 27th of the July of 1953 when the Korean War ceased that time I was company commander also in the front line. When that time our enemy was the north Korean people, not the Red Chinese, but at that day 27th, at ten o’clock in the night I believe just ceasefire, before that we still the rifle; stop 10 o’clock in that time I believe. In front of us enemy, they made flame, at the same time in front line you could not, you see the smoke, because its target of the rifle shoot, but when stop the war, at the same time they make flame, psychologically well trained them, but we did make the fire or another action about that.

And I received within 24 hours, withdraw when that position to south two kilometre, and the enemy also withdrew two kilometre to the north, so-called Demilitarized Zone, 24 hours after made. So we prepared our equipment and everything for that the retreat, when the time, very sad action happened. The, you know booby trap, booby trapped the hand grenade, put the trees and with the wires there, many, many the front line there. One of my soldiers when we retreat they touched that wire, and he died. So in real combat he did not die, but after the war dismissed, he touch the booby trap and died, so I was cried so much because of the, his poorness.

Follow us