In the years between 1950 and 1953, the United States was involved in the Korean War.
The North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea, on June 25, 1950.
The 38th parallel was the border that split North and South Korea.
The South Korean military was backed by the United States.
North Korea, a socialist state under communist rule, was supported by China and the Soviet Union.
Former East Highland resident, John Chavez fought in that war as a paratrooper. He was a member of the Army’s Airborne 187 Regimental Combat Team.
Chavez joined the Army to be a paratrooper in 1948.
Chavez explained why he went into the military.
“I just had to get away from here. All the veterans were taking all the jobs,” said Chavez. “Some of the guys came back decorated, from World War II. Henry Lemos was part of Normandy. I didn’t want to go back to picking oranges.”
Chavez grew up in Redlands in 1934, until 1940.
“In 1940, we moved back to East Highland,” said Chavez.
According to Chavez, he participated in the famous Incheon Landing, that took place on Sept. 15, 1950, in South Korea.
The Battle of Incheon was an offensive that pushed the North Korean forces northward, from the Incheon area.
Incheon was recaptured by the United Nation’s forces on Sept. 19, 1950.
Chavez remembers that battle, as if it were yesterday.
“We came in with about 4,000 parachutists and infantrymen,” said Chavez. “We had one battalion of artillery and medics.
“We landed with the marines. We seized the air base. We were the only parachute regiment that went in. In total, there were about 5,000 men.”
Initially, Chavez was a point man, or a first or second scout.
“We would go up in front of the company, for about a half a mile,” said Chavez. “We would move around as the company moved out.”
Chavez gave signals to his company to alert them of anything that was questionable.
Chavez was in the first of three battalions there.
After making progress in the day, the company was still at nightfall.
“You didn’t move at night,” said Chavez. “You’d get shot.”
“We fought along the Han River, in South Korea.”
The Han River was at the Gimpo Peninsula, which bordered South and North Korea.
Chavez was later sent on another mission.
“We flew out of there [from Incheon] on Oct. 20, 1950,” said Chavez.
The American paratroopers flew north into enemy territory.
“We jumped 30 miles past Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea,” said Chavez. “Our mission was to seize trains that were leaving North Korea into Manchuria, with prisoners. Our mission was to cut them off.”
“We stayed there until we got relieved by an Australian Brigade.”
Stay tuned to learn about the Korean War, first-hand, from Highland resident and decorated soldier John Chavez.
If you know anything about the history of Highland, I would be interested in hearing from you. You can reach me at (909) 816-0318.