The Battle of Hill Eerie refers to a multi-agency military engagement pitting Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) against the United Nations (UN) Forces (mainly from the Philippines and United States) deployed to fight in the Korean War. The battle, which commenced on March 21st, 1952, took place at Hill Eerie, a strategic military outpost located about ten miles travelling westwards from the rubble piles of Chorwon within present-day North Korea. Hill Eerie was viewed by both warring sides as a strategic location because of its commanding view of the plains below. The Chinese had dominated it for many years using it to cancel out all the UN Forces attacks. As such it was important for warring forces to capture it.
The belligerents on one side of the Hill Eerie conflicts were forces from the U.S. 45th Infantry Division and the Filipino 20th Battalion Combat Team fighting for the United Nations in protection of South Korea. Opposing them were members of the Chinese Army fighting in the interest of North Korean domination of their southern neighbors. The UN forces were led by Max Clark, Omer Manley, and Frederick Daugherty of the United States, and Fidel Ramos and Salvador Abcede of the Philippines.
In the years leading to the battle, Hill Eerie was heavily fortified by Chinese soldiers and a series of five attempted raids by enemy factions had largely been unsuccessful. On May 21, 1952, Major Felizardo Tanabe was ordered to prepare his battalion for the final assault of the Chinese-held positions. He sent the 44-man 2nd Reconnaissance Platoon, which was then under the leadership of Fidel Ramos, who would later become President of the Philippines. The United States Air Force availed fighter jets to provide aerial support to Ramos’ men. The Chinese attempted retaliation later in June of 1952, only to fail and lose 500 more soldiers over a span of 48 hours. The most memorable raid was launched on March 21, 1952 when Lieutenant Fidel Ramos of the Filipino Army led the 2nd Reconnaissance Platoon, with its 41 men and 3 officers, to an attacking position near an irrigation ditch about 400 meters from the top of the hill. The Chinese forces were armed with howitzers, mortars, bazookas, and .50-caliber machine guns. The Filipino platoon, on the other hand, was armed with M1 Garand’s 0.30-caliber rifles, bayonets, sniper rifles, and light machine guns while the US Air Force used 7 fighter jets of F-86 Sabre type.
Although the hilly terrain and bunkers worked to the advantage of the Chinese, the raiding soldiers seemed to have an upper hand (strategy-wise) and this helped them win the battle. The Chinese lost the war and even an attempt to regain control of the hill some two months later didn’t work out their way. In total, more than 2,500 soldiers were wounded and over 1,100 died in the Filipino raid. Later, when the Chinese tried to regain control of the hill, a further 500 casualties were reported, most of whom were Chinese, with only 24 deaths being seen by the Philippines’ forces.
The Battle of Hill Eerie is one of the most significant events in the Korean War. It is often seen as an important pillar of Philippines military strength as it helped the nation establish its footing in the South East and East Asia regions. The events before and after the raid are an important subject of study for patriots and military strategists alike. Besides that, the battle underscores the important role played by multi-agency forces in post-World War II global polity. Above all, the battle is of great significance to the overall Korean War which is seen by historians as the first shooting confrontation of the Cold War. This was the first United Nations (UN) war in the ‘Nuclear Age’, and the first to see the extensive use of jets and helicopters in combat. The Battle of Hill Eerie also saw extensive use of napalm bombing, which would characterize the Vietnam War in the following decades to come. The necessity to more effectively treat troops facilitated many medical breakthroughs as well, and forever changed the global security atmosphere.