She added, “We are confident that any fair investigation will confirm AP’s central finding that the U.S. military was involved in the killing of a large number of Korean refugees at No Gun Ri.”
Following the Chain of Command
Some former members of the 2nd battalion, 7th Cavalry regiment, interviewed by AP, told of fears that the refugee columns had been infiltrated by enemy troops in order to ambush the Americans, and said they had orders to prevent any Korean civilians from approaching U.S. positions.
The AP also found in government archives declassified orders issued at the time by three high Army headquarters including the 1st Cavalry Division and an Air Force command to treat the Korean refugees as hostile. It was not immediately known whether the Army’s report acknowledges the existence of these orders, including a 1st Cavalry Division order to “fire everyone trying to cross lines.”
Two former 2nd battalion headquarters radiomen told the Army, and the AP in recent interviews, that they knew such orders came down the chain of command from higher headquarters and were delivered to the rifle companies. They, and two other former signal men, also told AP that written orders were all but nonexistent in Korean combat.
The Korean Investigation
Meanwhile, U.S. and Korean officials met Wednesday in Seoul to discuss their findings in separate investigations conducted over the past year. The talks focused on a proposed “joint memorandum of understanding.”
A Korean-language draft copy, obtained by The Associated Press, reflected divisions between the two sides over the number of people killed and whether U.S. troops acted under orders.
It quoted the U.S. version as saying both sides “understand that from July 25 to 29, 1950, there was no written or verbal order to kill any noncombatant Korean personnel around No Gun Ri, but some U.S. soldiers assumed that there was an attack order after watching mortar and howitzer bombs (shells) falling in the crowd of refugees.”
The Korean document also said U.S. investigators had concluded that “in areas around No Gun Ri, an unspecified number of Korean refugees were shot to death due to American combat action (but) no American Army or Air Force personnel were given any orders to shoot to kill” Korean civilians.
It said Korean investigators so far found that 248 people died, suffered injury or went missing at No Gun Ri, while the Americans said there were fewer casualties. But both sides referred to an “unknown number.”
A source close to the South Korean investigation affirmed the document was authentic, but said the U.S. position reflected in the document dated from early November and could have changed since then.