Trivia: Who remembers Walker Hill in Seoul….but do you know who the hill was named after and what Korean President name the hill after him?!
ANSWER: The hill was named in honor of General Walton Walker.
Shortly after the North Korean invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950, the Eighth Army was ordered to intervene and drive the invaders back across the 38th parallel, the border between the two countries.
With only four lightly equipped and poorly trained divisions, General Walker began landing troops on the southeast side of the Korean peninsula in July.
After his lead units, elements of the 24th Infantry Division were virtually destroyed in a few days of furious fighting between Osan and Taejon, General Walker realized his assigned mission was impossible and went on the defensive.
Pushed steadily back towards the southeast by the North Korean advance, General Walker’s forces suffered heavy losses and for a time were unable to form a defensible front, even after bringing the 1st Cavalry and 25th Infantry Divisions into the fight.
General Walker’s situation was not helped by unrealistic demands from General MacArthur in Tokyo not to retreat an inch.
Attempting to obey, General Walker gave a bombastic “not a step back” speech to his staff and subordinate commanders which did not go over well.
Nor did it stop the North Koreans from pushing back the Americans and the Republic of Korea Army (ROK), which had been badly mauled in the opening days of the invasion, even further.
As American and ROK forces retreated further east and south, they finally arrived at a defensible line on the Nakdong River.
They took advantage of shortened supply routes and a relatively good road network to exploit the advantages of “interior lines”. General Walker was able to quickly shift his units from point to point, stopping North Korean attacks before they could be reinforced.
A critical advantage General Walker had was that military intelligence had cracked the North Korean radio codes. So General Walker knew every major North Korean Army movement prior to the event.
His advance knowledge of enemy movements also allowed him to be able to employ artillery and airpower to great effect.
American forces gradually solidified this defensive position on the southeast side of the Korean peninsula, dubbed the “Pusan Perimeter”.
General Walker received reinforcements, including the Provisional Marine Brigade, which he used along with the Army’s 27th Infantry Regiment as “fire brigades,” reliable troops who specialized in counterattacking and wiping out enemy penetrations.
With General MacArthur’s amphibious flanking move, the North Koreans seemed trapped but General Walker’s rapid advance northwest towards Inchon and Seoul emphasized speed over maneuver and made no attempt to encircle and destroy the North Koreans after punching through their lines.
Although thousands of prisoners were taken, many North Korean units successfully disengaged from the fighting, melting away into the interior of South Korea where they would conduct a guerrilla war for two years. Others escaped all the way back to North Korea.
With the war apparently won, General Walker’s Eighth Army quickly moved north and, with the independent X Corps on its right, crossed the 38th parallel to occupy North Korea.
Fighting tapered off to sporadic, sharp clashes with remnants of North Korean forces.
By late October 1950 the Eighth Army was nearing the Yalu River, North Korea’s border with China.
General Walker, informed by General MacArthur’s headquarters that the Chinese would not intervene, did not insure that his troops maintained watchful security.
Due to a lack of coordination between General Walker, General Edward Almond, Commander of the X Corps, and General MacArthur’s headquarters in Tokyo, a gap had opened between Eighth Army and X Corps as they moved close to the Chinese border.
Eventually, the weather had turned savagely cold, and most American units had no training and inadequate equipment for the bitter temperatures.
General Walker was killed in a military connected traffic accident on 23 December 1950, near Uijeongbu, South Korea, when his command jeep collided with a civilian truck at high speed as he inspected US military positions north of Seoul.
His body was escorted back to the United States by his son, future US Army General Sam S. Walker, who was also serving in Korea.
General Walker was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on January 2, 1951.
NOTE: General Sam Walker (son) passed away on 8 August 2015.
In 1963, South Korea President Park Chung-hee honored the general by naming a hill in the southern part of Seoul after General Walker.
Today, Walker Hill is the site of the Sheraton Walker Hill, a five-star international resort and hotel, and Walker Hill Apartment in Gwangjin-Gu.
In December 2009, the mayor of Dobong-gu district, Choi Sun-Kil, unveiled the Walton Harris Walker monument to mark the site of his death.
The memorial, which is near Dobong subway Station, pays tribute to General Walker and to all those who defended South Korea in the Korean War.
by Peter T Yeschenko