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24TH (VICTORY) INFANTRY DIVISION

Prior to the start of the Korean War, the 24th Infantry Division had occupation duty on JapanÂ’s southernmost main island of Kyushu. When President Harry S. Truman ordered U.S. ground forces to support the Republic of Korea, the 24th Infantry Division was the closest so was tasked with providing the first ground forces. This took the form a scratch unit designated "Task Force Smith" which deployed from Itazuke Air Base on 2 July 1950. At the time, Task Force Smith consisted of the following units from the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment: 2 under-strength rifle companies "A" & "B," one-half of Headquarters Company, one-half of the battalionÂ’s communications platoon, a composite 75-mm Recoilless Rifle platoon with four guns, and four 4.2" mortars, for a total of 440 men but only 406 actually arrived in Korea. Task Force Smith was transported to Osan, South Korea where it dug in to wait the North Koreans, now supported by a battery of 105mm howitzers.

They did not have long to wait. At approximately 0730, 5 July 1950, North Korean tanks were observed advancing south. The, at 0816, Task Force Smith supporting artillery fired its first rounds. The lightly armed Task Force Smith was no match for Soviet-built T-34 tanks, backed by a North Korean division so by early afternoon, survivors from the task force were running for their lives. In the next three weeks the 24th Infantry Division suffered defeat after defeat as it fought gallantly while slowly retreating southward, trading lives and ground for time so U.S. forces could build up in the country.

The 24th Infantry Division was replaced in Korea by the 40th Infantry Division, 23 January 1952, and redeployed to Japan, returning to Korea a second time on 16 July 1953, one week before the ceasefire was signed.

The division consisted of:

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