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A recently published book by a Stafford County historian raises questions about the Pulitzer prize-winning Associated Press story alleging a massacre of South Korean civilians at No Gun Ri.
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Date published: 6/23/2002
SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED at No Gun Ri on July 26, 1950. Exactly what may never be known.
In a Pulitzer Prize-winning story published in 1999, three Associated Press writers said, "Early in the Korean war, villagers said, American soldiers machine-gunned hundreds of helpless civilians under a railroad bridge in the South Korean countryside. Now, a dozen ex-GIs have spoken, too, and support their story."
A recently published book by Army Maj. Robert L. Bateman, a Stafford County resident, disputes the accuracy of the AP findings. "No Gun Ri: A Military History of the Korean War Incident" was published by Stackpole Books.
The AP investigative team, comprising researcher Randy Herschaft and writers Sang-Hun Choe, Charles J. Hanley and Martha Mendoza, came to the conclusion that American soldiers were ordered to shoot South Korean refugees, that members of the 7th Cavalry Regiment's second battalion did so at No Gun Ri on July 26, 1950, and that for 50 years the U.S. Army denied that such an event took place.
The AP writers based their conclusions on what they were told by Korean survivors who have petitioned the U.S. government for redress, the recollections of American soldiers attached to the battalion at the time, and Army archival documents of the period.
Bateman, a former company commander in the 7th Cavalry, who spent a three-year tour teaching history at West Point, disagrees on the scope of the incident and the culpa-bility of U.S. troops.
He also researched Army archival documents and talked to veterans who were at No Gun Ri. He did not talk to any of the Koreans because of the language barrier, he said.
Bateman concluded there were civilians killed at No Gun Ri, but nowhere near the 400 claimed by the South Koreans. He also denies that battalion soldiers were given specific orders to shoot South Korean refugees.
Bateman contends the Americans were fired upon by South Korean communist guerrillas concealed among the refugees, and that's what set off the shooting.
Bateman is not the only person who has taken issue with the AP story. Pieces published in U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times and on the Web have also questioned its accuracy.