The U.S. Army’s Manchu Regiment

Most people have heard of the British Army’s famed Gurkhas, but how many are aware of the American Manchu Regiment? It played a vital role in numerous key military campaigns.

[World War I:] In early October 1917, the Manchus moved to the front. The Regiment first became involved in the then static warfare in the Sous Reuvrois Sector. When subsequently moved to Chateau-Thierry, it met and stalled the Boche Purge on Paris….

The German’s attempt to make the Bevel Forest one of the fierce, slow defensive maneuvers was thwarted and their lines became utterly disorganized. This was one of three successful night moves or raids made by the Manchu Regiment within a period of days that aided considerably in dealing a death blow to the bewildered Germans.

After the armistice was signed on 11 November 1918, Manchu troops marched into Germany to serve as an occupation force…. The Regiment was awarded battle streamers for Aisne, Meuse-Argonne, Lorraine, Ile de France, St. Mihiel and Aisne-Mame campaigns. In 1918, the Manchus were awarded the French Fourragere for gallantry during the Meuse-Argonne offensive….

[World War II:] On 07 June 1944 (D-Day +1) the Manchu Regiment set foot on the hostile soil of Omaha Beach, Normandy and immediately moved forward to capture Rubercy. Within three days they had intercepted the main rail line between Cherbourg and Paris and had driven through the Carisy Forest….

The Manchus were operating as a hinge on the “Bulge” at the Rocherather Baracken crossroads. The Manchus fought for eighteen hours against overwhelming odds, destroying seventeen German tanks, and repulsing a key drive in the German thrust. This stand enabled two battalions of the 38’h Infantry Regiment to escape encirclement, and coupled with similar stands by other allied units, caused the German counteroffensive to falter, thereby providing time to regroup and defeat this last great German effort.

After Allied lines had been re-established in January 1945, the Manchu Regiment once again spearheaded a drive through the Siegfried Line to begin a dash across Germany. The Rhine River was crossed on 21 March 1945. The Manchu Regiment then continued its drive across Germany and into Czechoslovakia to the outskirts of Pilsen where it was engaged in combat until the last days of the war. The Manchu Regiment remained in that sector on occupation duty until July 1945, when it embarked for the United States with many decorations, including three Presidential Citations….

[Korea:] Manchu troops were the first element of the Indianhead Division to touch Korean soil when they arrived at the Korean port city of Pusan on 31 July 1950. The Manchus were immediately placed on line in defense of the Pusan Perimeter and it received its baptism of fire in the battle of the Naktong Bulge. Later they broke out from that defensive position, and began the attack Northward, when they assaulted and seized Cloverleaf and Obong-Ni Ridge on 1 August 1950….

The Manchu Regiment participated in the breakout from the Pusan perimeter and began the advance north with the rest of the Eighth Army towards the Yalu River. The soldiers thought that the war would be over and that they would be home for Christmas as they neared the end of their push northward. Those beliefs were crushed on 25 November 1950 though, when several Red Chinese Armies attacked the Eighth Army in the vicinity of the Chongehon River…. On 30 November 1950, the majority of the Manchu Regiment began to run the “Gauntlet” to Kunu-Ri with the rest of the 2nd Infantry Division. The 1st Battalion remained with the 23d Infantry Regiment to fight a rear guard action to cover the withdrawal of the rest of the 2nd Division….

After running the gauntlet to Kunu-Ri, the remnants of the Regiment were withdrawn to an area south of the Korean capital of Seoul to refit. Manchus then spent the month of December 1950 on the monumental task of reorganizing, re-equipping, re-supplying and training, while patrolling the roads east of Seoul to Hongchon, Hoengsong and Wonju….

On 18 September 1951 the Regiment was ordered to attack the ridge lines southwest of Heartbreak Ridge in an attempt to relieve pressure on the 23rd Infantry Regiment, which was attacking up the east-west spur of the ridge. After heavy fighting the Manchus secured their objective on 23 September. The North Koreans did not relinquish Heartbreak Ridge and in late September the Manchus were ordered to attack the west-side of the Mundung-Ni Valley in a final attempt to capture the ridge. The attack was successful and Heartbreak Ridge fell on 13 October 1951….

The Regiment earned an additional Presidential Unit Citation for its gallant service in Hongchon, and the Manchus received streamers for the following campaigns while serving in Korea: UN Defensive, UN Offensive, CCF Intervention, First UN Counteroffensive, CCF Spring Offensive, UN Summer-Fall Offensive, Second Korean Winter, Korea Summer-Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter, Korea Summer 1953….

[Vietnam:] April 29th [1966] saw the battalion disembark the ship General Walker at Vung Tau, Vietnam. The Manchus got a taste of what was to come almost immediately. Within hours of their arrival they found themselves under fire as their convoy made its way to the 25th Division base camp at Cu Chi. The next day, a little more than 24 hours after arriving in country, Alpha company engaged the enemy in a firefight – setting the tone of regular contact that would characterize the Manchu experience for the next four and a half years….

On February 22, 1968 the Manchus closed the base at Katum which had served as the large forward base for the 1st BDE near the Cambodian border. After a day at Tay Ninh to prepare, the Manchus moved out to Cu Chi and eventually arrived north of Tan Son Nhut on February 25. The mission was to find and destroy rocket sites that had been used to fire on Tan Son Nhut Air Base since the Tet Offensive began nearly a month earlier. At 9:00 a.m. on March 2, 1968, the Manchus walked into what was to become one of the worst single encounter loss of life incidents in the history of the Vietnam war. Forty nine members of Charlie company were killed and 24 wounded in an ambush by a large communist force on Route 248 north and east of Tan Son Nhut near the small village of Quoi Xuan. In addition, C company suffered 24 wounded while D company suffered casualties in the fighting to reach Charlie company. Manchu Alpha, Bravo, and Delta continued operations in this area and took many more casualties until finally leaving on March 11, 1968. Rocket sites had been destroyed, and a formidable communist force had been weakened, if not destroyed. But, it had come at a great cost to the Manchus and particularly the courageous men of Charlie Company….

In the four years and six months of Service in Vietnam with the 25th Division, the 4th Battalion of the Manchus received two Presidential Citations and added 12 campaign streamers to the Regimental Colors for Combat Operations in the Republic of South Vietnam. It is estimated that 450 4th Battalion Manchus were killed in the Vietnam War. Three Manchus were posthumous recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor….

[Cold War:] On August 2, 1972 the 4th Battalion was relieved from assignment to the 25th Infantry Division and was reassigned to Alaska with the 172nd Infantry [where morale was maintained by daily repetitions of the unit motto: “Keep Up the Fire!”]….

In 1976 the 1st Manchus were deployed into the DMZ to provide security for a focus of the infamous tree-cutting incident. This incident occurred when two U.S. soldiers were killed by the North Koreans when they were attempting to trim a tree which hindered observation of the North Korean border.

Surprisingly enough, the Manchus were one of the oldest infantry regiments in the U.S. Army, first commissioned in 1798. It fought in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Little Big Horn campaigns, Cuba, the Philippines, and during the Boxer Rebellion in Peking, where it was awarded the honorary title of “Manchus” and its motto, “Keep Up The Fire.”

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