U.S. repeats vow to investigate massacre at No Gun Ri
November 13, 1999
From staff and wire reports
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pentagon officials are vowing to "vigorously" investigate a massacre of hundreds of civilians at No Gun Ri during the Korean War -- and publish their findings about any role U.S. troops played.
The officials, including Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Charles Cragin, met Friday with four South Koreans who say that they are survivors of the massacre.
"We repeated the pledge of the United States to continue to work closely with the Republic of Korea government, and assured the survivors that the Department of Defense will vigorously pursue the facts of what happened at No Gun Ri," Cragin said.
The South Koreans met for an hour with Cragin and other senior Pentagon and Army officials, the Defense Department said in a statement.
Lt.Gen. Michael Ackerman, the Army's inspector general and head of an Army probe into the alleged massacre, also attended the meeting.
The South Koreans discussed their experiences during the incident, which allegedly took place at No Gun Ri July 26-29, 1950, early in the 1950-53 Korean War.
"There were no North Korean tanks around" when the incident occurred and no excuse for firing at unarmed civilians, Chung Eun Yong said after the talks.
The meeting was the survivors' latest effort in obtaining official recognition that the incident occurred, and an apology for the bloodshed. They previously attended a church service with U.S. veterans.
"We believe that God will forgive the veterans and the U.S. government when they repent their sins committed, as they fill their responsibilities on the massacre, and they ... apologize officially for their wrongdoings," Chung said during that service.
They did not receive an apology, just an acknowledgment that bad things happen during war. Their claims for compensation have also been rejected in the past by the U.S. and South Korean governments.
"No one enjoys war at all. There is no good thing about war. It happens. Unfortunately, the people that seem to suffer the most in a war zone are the civilians, the people who should be protected," Korean War veteran Robert Gray said.
"I sent letters four times to the U.S. government for an apology" but received none, Chung said.
He lost his son and daughter at No Gun Ri and his wife was seriously wounded, according to the National Council of Churches, which is sponsoring the Koreans' visit to the United States.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered a thorough Army review of the alleged massacre after The Associated Press quoted villagers and U.S. veterans as saying hundreds of civilians, including women and children, were killed by U.S. forces.
The U.S. Army had conducted a review of documents in the case earlier this year and said it did not discover any evidence of a massacre by U.S. soldiers during the conflict, which pitted communist against non-communist forces.
During a meeting between the alleged survivors and a small number of veterans in Cleveland on Monday, retired First Lt. Edward Daily, 68, told reporters of being put on alert by his superiors and being warned that some civilians who were fleeing a North Korean military advance could be North Korean troops in disguise.
There was no time to screen civilians trying to escape, he said, adding he recalled the civilians being herded into a tunnel under a bridge. When shots rang out from the spot, he said, U.S. soldiers started firing.
"There was massive rifle fire that lasted about 20 minutes, then it went quiet. Then it started again and lasted about another 10 minutes. Some of our men went down ... and we did find a couple of North Korean soldiers in brown uniforms under their (civilian) clothes," he said.
'Outside experts' to help probe Korea massacre allegations
U.S. Department of Defense
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