The soldiers of the Greek Expeditionary Forces called it Outpost «Haros» the Greek name for Death. It was classic wartime humor, a dark pun borne of a hopeless mission. More than 88,000 rounds of Chinese artillery would pound Outpost Harry a tiny Korean hilltop no bigger than Times Square, 425 yards ahead of the front line. Defended each night by a single company of American or Greek soldiers of between 90 and 150 infantrymen, the 3000 Chinese soldiers had anticipated an easy capture. Over a period of eight days, vast waves of Chinese Communist Forces would flood into Harry’s trench lines–more than 13,000 soldiers in all. And yet each of the five companies ordered to hold Outpost Harry, when its turn came, held it. It was nothing less than a modern-day Battle of Thermopylae.
The nightly Chinese assaults would advance and recede with each passing day–a relentless tide that would churn up a roiling, bloody flurry of hand to hand combat. On the night of the first attack, June 10, 1953, the Chinese had outnumbered Harry’s defenders by 30 to 1. All total, there was a reinforced CCF regiment of approximately 3,600 enemy trying to kill us, said Captain Martin Markley, commander of K Company, 15th Infantry Regiment. There was no time to formally prepare the troops spiritually for the possibility of their death in the battle that was about to take place. By morning more than half had fallen and many were wounded. But they had held the hill
The relentless attacks would continue throughout the week, each evening bringing a flood of Chinese soldiers pouring through barbed wire, and on the worst nights, into Harry’s trenches. «We could see them out there near the wire, falling right on top of each other. It just wasn’t human», said Pvt. William McLennan, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, «I guess they wanted Harry. But they didn’t get it. They told us to hold it. We did.»
On the seventh day of the siege, Outpost Harry’s defiant, week-long survival and its continued defense were entrusted to the Greek soldiers of Peter Company, Sparta Battalion. Just before the midnight hour of June 17, an entire regiment of nearly 3000 Chinese soldiers burst forth from their positions and stormed the hill’s northern slope. According to official U.S. military records, «Company P of the Greek Battalion, refusing to withdraw, closed in and met the attackers in a furious hand to hand struggle in which many of the enemy were driven off. The aggressors regrouped, quickly attacked a second time, and again gained the friendly trenches. Immediately, the Greek Forces launched a series of counterattacks. After two hours of close-in fighting, the aggressors were again routed and the friendly positions restored.»
It was the last defeat the Chinese Communist Forces could endure in their pursuit of Outpost Harry. Their failed adventure had, in eight days, cost them 4200 casualties. Their entire 74th Division had been decimated. And for the first time in the annals of U.S. military history, five rifle companies together four American and one Greek would receive the prestigious Distinguished Unit Citation for the outstanding performance of their shared mission.
Despite its unparalleled intensity, the heroism it engendered, and the international camaraderie uniting its brothers-in-arms, the siege of Outpost Harry is a battle unknown to most, in a war too many have since forgotten. Director-producer Christos Epperson and writer-producer Michael Epperson are proud to announce a new documentary film project dedicated to telling this inspirational story, through interviews with its American and Greek veterans and dramatic re-enactments of key events of the battle. The project was inspired by executive producer Mike Pagomenos, whose father George, an Outpost Harry survivor, recently published his Korean War journal in the Greek language. Following closely in the wake of critical acclaim for the Epperson brothers’ recent World War II documentary, The 11th Day, Archangel Films looks forward to sharing a never-before-seen glimpse into the harrowing ordeal these American and Greek veterans of the Forgotten War met with such courage, and endured with such sacrifice.