The first contingent of the 20th BCT arrived in Korea a few weeks before the Battle of Yultong. On 5 September 1951, the rest of the battalion officially took over the line from the 10th BCT. A veteran unit in the anti-Huk campaign, the 20th brought 1,400 men to the Korean War. Its battalion commander was Col. Salvador Abcede, a famous and very experienced guerilla leader during World War 2.
A new kind of war
The 20th inherited a new kind of war from the 10th. Both the UNC and the Communists opened armistice negotiations to end the war beginning July 1951, first at the town of Kaesong then at Panmunjom. As a result, the great attacks and counterattacks of the war’s first year of the war gave way to a stalemate on the battlefield.
The war became akin to the Western Front in France during World War 1. A No Man’s Land separated both sides and the war turned into a series of patrols, raids and small scale but vicious actions in which each side tried to “improve” its line by seizing vital terrain. Artillery took on a dominant role in the constricted battlefront.
At the time the stalemate settled in, the UNC was back roughly to where it was before the Great Spring Offensive of the CPV on 22 April 1951. This line was just above the 38th parallel. Attached to the US 3rd Infantry Division, the 20th took part in actions along the 38th Parallel and northeast of Chorwon with other UNC troops.
The "Iron Triangle"
During the UNC’s autumn offensive, the 20th attacked and forced the Chinese from Hills 277, 321, 300 and 313. In its forward drive, the 20th penetrated the farthest north (towards Pyongyang) than any UNC unit. In late October the 20th took part in the UNC attack on the heavily defended “Iron Triangle,” made up of the cities of Pyonggang, Kumhwa and Chorwon. It took two hills from the CPV and repelled tank-led enemy attacks at Sibyon-yi. In late November, the battalion was in Kojang-yari, west of the Imjin River. It was part of the UN force that established the truce demarcation line and beat off repeated CPV attacks on this line. With the US 67th Infantry Regiment, the 20th repelled the CPV 64th Army that attacked the UNC line east of the Imjin River.
In late 1951 and early 1952, the 20th was engaged in establishing outposts in strategic terrain and in beating off CPV assaults on these forward positions. Offensive patrols raided CPV positions to the north. In March and April, the 20th was committed east of the Imjin. Patrol actions continued with the battalion knocking out several CPV tanks and self-propelled guns and inflicting close to 400 casualties on the enemy. In mid-March, the battalion took part in the action to rescue the Royal Hellenic Battalion from Greece that was being battered by the CPV.
At the town of Karhwagol, west of Chorwon, the battalion fought the CPV in nine combat actions, seven of which were close quarter fights at Hills Eerie, 191, 200, 198, Yoke and Old Baldy. Later on, the 20th fought at Pork Chop Hill and at the Alligator Jaw, a terrain feature so named because its hills and ridges formed the letter V. Hill Eerie, a particularly infamous hill that had changed hands many times, was attacked and taken for the last time on 21 May by a platoon commanded by Lt. Fidel Ramos who later became President of the Philippines.
In 350 days of combat, the 20th lost 13 men killed in action, 100 wounded in action and one man missing in action. The battalion’s combat experience from the anti-Huk campaign helped keep casualties low, as did the introduction of body armor.