Captain MAKAROUNIS’ Full Testimony can be read in

“The Korean War Atrocities”

Hearing Before The Subcommittee on Korean War Atrocities


Senator POTTER Captain, will you identify yourself for the record, giving your full name and where you are stationed at the present time ? I believe you have a prepared statement; is that true?
Captain MAKAROUNIS Yes; I do.
Senator POTTER Feel free to go right ahead and give your statement. I believe it is correct that you have written an article outlining the experience that you have had, so if you care to read from your prepared statement feel free to do so. What is your home address, Captain?
Captain MAKAROUNIS My name is Alexander George Makarounis, captain, Infantry, 058962, United States Army. My home address is 548 Fletcher Street, Lcmell, Mass.

My military address presently is the Walter Reed Army Hospital, Washington, D. C.
My story as told here is what I personally saw, heard, and suffered along with hundreds of other fellow American soldiers who were captured by the Communist North Korean Army. What I personally did not see or hear I was told from the lips of fellow American prisoners with my group. To allow me to relate my complete story would take hours and thousands upon thousands of words, for there is much to tell. This committee in executive hearings agreed to allow two magazine articles into the record, one of which. appeared in March 1951, in Argosy, and again in April 1953, in Adventure. This story is titled "I Survived the Korean Death March." I have a copy here I would like to show. This was the picture when I was first liberated on October 20, 1950, in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Mr. O'DONNELL Captain, may we have that made-a part of the record as an exhibit?


Senator POTTER It will be made a part of the record. (The article was marked as "Exhibit No. 22" and may be found in the files of the subcommittee.)

Captain MAKAROUNIS This picture shows a beard of approximately 3 months. I never knew I had that heavy a beard, but I do now. The second article is in the Roman Columban Fathers Publication, The Far East, published in May of 1951. This story is titled "I Met Them in Jail," namely, three Columban Fathers, missionary priests.

Mr. O'DONNELL Could we prevail upon you to let us have that as an exhibit?

Captain MAKAROUNIS Yes, sir.

Senator POTTER Without objection, that will be made part of the record as an exhibit. (The article was marked as "Exhibit 23" and may be found in the files of the subcommittee.)

Captain MAKAROUNIS This story is fact, as told in my own words by me in November 1950, following my liberation as a prisoner. This is the truth and it is the actual thing as I saw it and told it back in 1950. My story tells of the suffering, the wounds, and the courage and guts of our soldiers, officers, and Columban Father Missionaries. It establishes our treatment as captured and wounded American soldiers and Roman Catholic missionaries in the early days of the Korean war. It shows the filth, the brutality, the forced Communist interrogatlon and propaganda thrust upon us, and the nonexistence of medical care, the lack of food to survive, the forced continuous marches, and the infamous Korean death march from which 33 out of 376 survived and are alive today. To corroborate this infamous death march story a Maj. William Locke, Air Force, Lt. James Smith, Lt. Douglas Blaylock, Sergeant First Class Sharpe, Sergeant First Class Kumagai, Corporal Arikawa, Private First Class Martin, Mr. Sylvester Volturo, and a small number of others who make up the

33 sole survivors from the Korean death march and the Sunchon Tunnel massacre, which is the one and same group that I was prisoner of. I shall read excerpts from this story which tells in over 31,000 words the numerous details, names, places, conditions, and other facts of evidence.

The who, when, where, what, how, and many times why is told here. This is actually something instilled in us as basic trainees in the United States Army.

I was company commander of I Company, 29th Infantry Regiment, stationed in Okinama. In July 1950 we were alerted for duty in Japan following the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. This was changed a few days later to movement to Korea, the place of hostilities.

While waiting to go to Korea, I remember the photograph carried in the Bar East publication of the Stars and Stripes of the first atrocity that was committed in the war by the Communist North Korean Army. It was that of four American soldiers, whom I believe were drivers of jeeps with trailers carrying ammunition to the front, who had their hands tied behind them and were shot through the head and back. This was a violation of the rules of land warfare. Having been assigned to duty with German prisoners of war during World War I1I was extremely familiar with the Geneva Convention rules governing prisoners of war. Being a soldier I am familiar with the rules of land warfare adhered to by all civilized countries of the world.

We landed in Pusan, South Korea, on the morning of July 24, 1950. Only 2 battalions of the 29th Infantry Regiment were committed from Okinawa. They were the First and Third Battalions. From Pusan we moved on to Masan Chinju. We became attached io the 19th Infantry Regiment at Chinju.

On July 25, 1950, my battalion, the 3d Battalion of the 29th Infantry Regiment, received a mission of moving to the area of a town called Ha Piong and engaging around 200 guerrillas. Instead of 200 guerrilla troops, we engaged leading elements of 4 Communist North Korean divisions moving down to form what we commonly know as the Pusan Perimeter. The Third Battalion was practically decimated at Hadong on July 27,1950. I was shot through the back and taken prisoner.

The first atrocity I knew and believed beyond any doubt was committed by the Communist North Korean Army was on July 27, 1950. Upon 18 to 24 multiple wounded American soldiers from our battalion were left behind at a road junction approximately 200 yards from the place of my capture. They were murdered by the Communist Army, for I saw them alive. They were piled up one on top of another in a pile. We never saw thein again and their bodies were never found. I believe they are still listed as missing in action by the Defense Department. - Our battalion had a handful of South Korean soldiers and officers attached to it. Among them was the former South Korean Chief of Staff of the Army who had been relieved following the fall of Seoul. My company, I Company, had three such South Korean soldiers attached to it. These South Korean soldiers when captured by the Communist army were murdered by being bayonetted in the rice paddies on the 27th of July 1950. This was following their capture as prisoners. Their number was from 5 to 10. This was reported to me by fellow American soldier-prisoners from my company who had seen this atrocity committed on the battlefield. I estimated approximately 150 American soldiers from our battalion were captured on July 27, 1950. The majority were wounded. The Communists loaded about 6 of our own captured jeeps and took approximately 30 seriously injured prisoners into the town of Hadong, a distance of 4 miles. The remainder of the prisoners marched into the city.

During this ride hundreds of Communist army troops marching on either side of the road of these four North Korean divisions would swing their rifles at we prisoners on the jeeps striking many of the prisoners, who were wounded. The one and only time we received medical care during my captivity was on the evening of July 27,1950.

Four North Korean Communists army medical first-aid men applied some sulfanilamide some iodine with a strip of gauze to approximately 30 of the captured seriously wounded American prisoners. None of us could walk or crawl but a short distance.

For example, one soldier was shot in both legs by small-arms fire, both legs belng broken. Another, 17 years of age from California, had a hole in the base of his spine approximately 4 inches long and 3 inches wide.

On July 28, 1950, approximately 100 prisoners of war, American, started a march from Hadong to Seoul, South Korea, under Communist army guards. On the 31st of July 1950, 2 other soldiers and I escaped from Hadong, all 3 of us having been wounded on the 27th of July 1950. The corporal who escaped with me was shot in the kneecap. The private first class was shot through the thigh, and I was shot through the back.

I would like to add here about the one and only time that we had food during our first 4 days of capture. About food, there wasn't a great deal. On the third evening-at least I think it was the third evening-they, the North Korean Army guards, brought us the water pail filled with rice and there were flies all over it. Some of the men ate it; flies and all, and I tried putting mine on a piece of paper and maybe took 1or 2 bites. By the time we finished, three-fourths of the pail was still full of the stuff, and that was all the food they ever gave us until I made my first escape.

I was a bit delirious at this time and felt sure I would die in Hadong. Being a soldier I felt sure I would not die in Communist hands. Five days later following my first escape I was recaptured with my two fellow American soldiers in a small Korean village where we were in a so-called doctor's office. We had found some soiled bandages, and sulfanilamide powder and we proceeded to redress our wounds. I believe we were all suffering from shock.

Following our recapture by the North Korean Communists army we were transferred from village to village and finally to the city jail in Kwanju, South Korea. All these jails to which we were committed until we reached Taejon also had civilian prisoners. This was a violation of the Geneva Convention in handling prisoners of war.

In Kwanju we met 3 Roman Catholic Columban missionaries who had also been taken prisoners in the port city, Mokpo. Among the 3 missionaries was an American monsignor and 2 missionary priests from Ireland. I will never forget these 3 Columban missionaries, for we were put in the cell with them in the early morning hours. The first morning that I awoke and turned over, opening my eyes, they were looking at me kind of smiling, 3 Roman Catholic priests.

I have entered their names here, but they are still missing. One was a monsignor from America-Chicago-and the other 2 were from Ireland. Two of the priests, the monsignor and 1 from Ireland, were formerly prisoners of the Japanese during World War 11. The monsignor was a prisoner of the Japanese for 6 months, and was repatriated on the Gripsholm back to the United States, where he entered the United States Army as a chaplain.

The other priest from Ireland was a captive of the Japanese for 3% years in Korea. This is where he learned to speak, read, and write Korean fluently, for in the years 1905 to 1945 the teaching of the national tongue of Korean was prohibited by the Japanese, as he explained to me.

All 3 of them were missionaries, and they had been arrested about a week after the war started. They, all 3, expected to be shot, but it didn't seem to bother them. If it did, they didn't let on. I mean by that the monsignor was always cheering us up. Once we heard a bird chirping outside the window, and he said, "That's a good sign, lad, that's an omen of hope." He said exactly that. I remember the words.

One of the missionaries from Ireland would sing, mostly Irish songs, and once he danced the jig, and one other time I will not likely forget he sang Far Away Places, and we cried like babies, all six of us.

Senator POTTER In other words, they had a greater faith than communism.

Captain MAKAROUNIS They certainly did, sir.
From Kwanju to Taejon our hands were handcuffed with hand irons and the hands of the priests were tied with rope. I might say before we moved out from Kwanju we were told that we would be going to Seoul. Generally at this time we were happy. We really were. We got onto a truck, 32 of us. There were 2 other American soldier prisoners who were in the jail, but in separate cells from us. They joined us. But, like I said, we were quite happy. I mean by that we had been told there were lots of American prisoners in Seoul and also that there was good food and the Red Cross was there, and we figured we could write letters and get letters and that our folks would find out we were all right. So we were generally encouraged.

I hope nobody will take offense if I say here that most of the Koreans I met reminded me of lawyers. You know, you ask a lawyer a question, and he'll give you all the points for and all the points against, but you'll never get anything definite out of him. The North Koreans were just like that, except when you did get a definite answer it was almost always a lie. I don't mean that is necessarily true of lawyers, of course. I mention that because there was no Red Cross. There was nothing of what they had promised us in Seoul when we finally arrived. Anyway, we started off, and I remember two things especially. First, these handcuffs were the kind that get tighter as you struggle. Well, with the fast driving and going over these bad mountain roads we jerked all the time. You couldn't help it, and the cuffs would tighten. It was very painful. Also, about the guards on the truck : We judged them to be front-line troops who maybe had been given a break, and they hated us. You could tell that right away. As we rode along they would point their guns at the hills and shoot and then laugh and sing, and if we moved an inch they jabbed their guns in our ribs and laughed again. I figure this was just more of the good old Korean sense of humour. We were on the truck for 3 nights straight. We would drive all night, and every morning we would be thrown into a jail cell and given a rice ball. Then at dusk off we'd go again. It was cold, too. Even though our bodies were huddled close together, we always seemed to be shivering and our teeth chattered.

All of us, including the missionaries, went through constant interrogation through my captivity until I reached Taejon in late August or early September 1950, It was constant interrogation and yelling at us by English-sp eaking North Korean officers. They kept asking us over and over why we had come to Korea. They told us we were invaders arid they continuously blamed Truman, MacArthur, and the Wall Street capitalists as responsible for the war.

During all these interrogations and questionings on many occasions the Communist North Korean Army officers would take their pistols and revolvers, cock the pieces, point them at our heads, and demand that we admit that we were there as invaders; that Truman, MacArthur, and the Wall Street capitalists were responsible for the war, and to sign papers to this effect. To my knowledge, none of us signed.

I might add that up to this point our food had consisted of 2 rice balls or 2 baili balls per day. There was no medical care of any kind whatsoever. The shoes of all other poor soldiers were taken away from them by the Communist Army guards. All our movement up to Taejon and from there to Seoul was done at night. It was at Taejon that the three Columban missionaries and we split never to see each other again. I shall always remember what the monsignor told me when we first met. He repeated many times, "Everything will come out all right in the end if you trust in God."