A mortar crew of the Turkish Brigade in action, c. 1952
Less than a month after Turkey’s first democratically elected government took power, the Korean War broke out. As a result of the U.N. plea for troops, the Turkish government sent a 5000-man brigade—all in spite of Soviet retaliation and without demanding NATO admission.
The men had never fought away from home, but they entered the war with nothing short of style. They were fierce fighters, some of the most feared in the war, and respected for their commit and bravery. At the Battle of Wawon, they charging uphill with fixed bayonets to push back a Chinese advance in November 1950. For three days, the Turkish Brigade helped hold off Chinese forces long enough for the US Eight Army to retreat safety.
After Wawon, Douglas McArthur, commander of the U.N. Forces, remarked on the Turks that “in these concerned days, the heroism shown by the Turks has given hope to the American nation. It has inculeated them with courage. The American public fully appreciates the value of the services rendered by the Turkish Brigade and knows that because of them the Eighth American Army could withdraw without disarray.”