In most history books, war remains a constant factor. Every country defended and fought for its own, and others went out of their way to lend a hand. This was the case when the Philippines stood alongside Korea as they faced one of their biggest crises in 1950.
70 years ago, the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) braved the unfamiliar territory to aid South Korea in their battle against combined North Korea and the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA). For five years, the Filipino soldiers defended their stations; and on April 22, 1951, they witnessed and fought for one of the greatest victories in the Korean War, also known as the Battle of Yultong.
On the evening of April 22, 1951, the Philippine’s 10th Battle Combat Team (BCT) and the United States’ 65th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division were positioned in Yeoncheon when they were faced with the overwhelming number of combined elements of PVA and North Korea. The 10th BCT composed of 900 Filipino soldiers; along with the Turks, Puerto Rican, Belgian, and British soldiers; were trapped by 40,000 enemy forces with no contact with the main PEFTOK headquarters. The intense fight forced the U.S. 3rd Division and other foreign troops to retreat while the 10th BCT held their defensive positions.
The firefight and the numerical superiority of the enemies eventually affected the troops as it dragged on for two days, but despite the circumstances, the troops held their ground. Every unit in the team worked together to defend their positions until they eventually drove the enemy forces after launching a counter-attack.
Their success was considered a great victory in the Korean War as they successfully defended their positions and neutralized more than 500 enemy forces. The efforts of the 900-strong 10th BCT were not in vain, but not all of them got to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 12 soldiers lost their lives, while six soldiers went missing, and 38 others were injured when the battle was over. Among the unfortunate ones was Capt. Conrado D. Yap, who fought the enemies in close quarters while attempting to rescue his wounded and killed comrades.
Capt. Yap was posthumously awarded the Taeguk Award, South Korea’s highest military honor, for his display of courage in the face of danger. He was also awarded the Medal of Valor and U.S. Distinguished Service Cross. The 10th BCT’s tank commander Retired Maj. Maximo Young also received the Taeguk Award for his bravery in defending the Korean territory.
The Battle of Yultong demonstrated the strength and determination of our soldiers against overwhelming forces. Years may pass, but the blood they shed on the foreign lands will always be remembered in history. The sacrifices of the Filipino troops led to a deeper bond between the government of South Korea and the Philippines. The Philippine Army and the Republic of Korea Army maintain and strengthen their military relations even decades after the Battle of Yultong and the Korean War. #