FORT BLISS – The mood was somber as the 2nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division’s unit colors were set alight on the Bulldog Field, Fort Bliss, December 5th, in remembrance of the Soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of Kunu-Ri during the Korean War.
This is the 69th Anniversary of the burning of colors, a tradition that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team honors every year.
“We are here this evening to recognize the service of the battalion and it’s soldiers in the most desperate times 69 years ago,” said Lt. Col. Jeremiah J. Willis, commander of the 2nd BEB.
In the late fall of 1950, the 2nd BEB was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division. During the battle, the battalion was instructed to hold down Kunu-Ri, a small Korean town, defending the right and rear flanks of the retreating Eighth Army.
The engineer battalion was the only unit standing protecting the rear flank. The Chinese Soldiers overran the ridgeline and U.S. troops withdrew.
“The battalion committed itself and fought to the end with courage, honor and determination to preserve the 2nd Engineer [Battalion]
and it’s RoK allies,” said Willis.
Realizing that they were being overrun by the Chinese, battalion commander Lt. Col. Alarich Zacherle ordered the men to burn the battalion colors so it would not be used as a Chinese trophy. The battalion reached friendly lines after 18 hours of combat.
Starting with 977 brave men, the battalion was down to only 266 by the end of the battle. The selfless service and sacrifice of the brave soldiers that served with Zacherle, stands as a patriotic reminder of honor, heroism, and making the ultimate sacrifice in dire times.
“Remember those who came before us, they were us and we are them,” Willis said. “We must remain steady to complete our assigned mission in a moments notice. We must remain focused on the awesome responsibility we have to each other, our families and our country; for we too may be asked one day to make a similar sacrifice.”
Author: Pfc. Autumn Rogers – 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element