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Seeking information on Columbia in the Korean War

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: May 28, 2013 
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Wanted to ask where I may get history of Colombia, South America's part in the Korean war in the year 1954 (Old Baldie).

I'm also seeking information about the United Nations' Colombian reps in Tokyo in summer of 1954 at the peace talks, including who was known as the "Fat General." I'm not sure if he was an American or from Colombia.


? ? ?

Dear Nancy,

Colombia was the only South American nation to participate in the Korean War, first shipping 1,080 troops aboard the frigate Padilla on November 1, 1950. Ultimately 5,100 Colombian service personnel would serve there, suffering 218 dead and 448 wounded or injured. At the Fifth Battle of Hill 266 (aka Old Baldy) on March 26, 1953, Chinese attacks on one flank and then the other caused the U.S. 7th Infantry Division to misdirect its forces and then finally abandon the hill, leaving the then-counterattacking Colombian Battalion on its own—what reinforcements that remained were being committed to an American assault on Pork Chop Hill. The Colombians extricated themselves after having lost 95 dead, 97 wounded and 30 missing—20 percent of their strength—but the Americans estimated Chinese casualties at 750, and it is generally agreed that had it not been for the fight the Colombians put up, the Chinese might have advanced further to cut off the 7th Division's Line of Resistance.

I believe the most likely sources other than official U.S. Army records or the Internet would be: Colombia en la Guerra de Corea, by Alvaro Valencia Tovar and Jairo Sandoval Franky, Editorial Planeta SA, Bogotá, 2001 (ISBN 958-42-0178-6)


Sangre en Coreo, Alejandro Martinez Roa, Graficas Mundo Nuevo, 1974.

I have noticed that someone (presumably you?) has contacted Colombian official sources regarding that country's participation in peace talks in Tokyo and asking about the "Fat General," though I have yet to see them respond. If they don't know the answer, I wonder what American would? However, given the size of Colombia's military presence in the world—it had a lieutenant colonel commanding its battalion in Korea—I rather doubt that it had a general in Tokyo, let alone a fat one.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


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