Purple Heart 64 years later


Thomas J. Gravley
24th Infantry Division
19th Infantry Regiment
Company C

Thomas Gravley served Korea with the 24th Division at the outbreak of the war. He was wounded during a mortar attack on 16 July 1950 finally receiving his Purple Heart 64 years later. Gravley’s 20 year career also included a tour in Vietnam.

The 24th Infantry Division led the advance into South Korea, through the port of Pusan, and it followed by elements of the 1st Cavalry Division and 25th Infantry Division from the Eighth Army. As more soldiers arrived, the 24th Infantry Division was placed under the command of I Corps, Eighth Army. For the first month after the defeat of Task Force Smith, 24th Infantry Division soldiers were repeatedly defeated and pushed south by the North Korean force’s superior numbers and equipment.  24th Infantry Division soldiers were pushed south at and around Chochiwon, Chonan, Pyongtaek, Hadong, and Yechon. The division’s 19th and 34th regiments engaged the North Korean 3rd Infantry Division and the North Korean 4th Infantry Division at the Kum River between 13 and 16 July and suffered 650 casualties of the 3,401 men committed there. The next day, the North Korean divisions attacked the 24th Infantry Division’s headquarters in Taejon and overran it in the Battle of Taejon. In the ensuing battle, 922 men of the 24th Infantry Division were killed and 228 were wounded of 3,933 committed there. Many soldiers were missing in action, including the division commander, Major General William F. Dean, who was captured and later won the Medal of Honor. On 1 August, the 24th Division’s 19th Infantry Regiment engaged North Korean forces; losing 90 killed. North Korean officers at the battle claimed that some US soldiers were “too frightened to fight.” However, the 24th Infantry Division managed to delay the advancing North Koreans for two days, long enough for significant numbers of UN forces to arrive in Pusan and begin establishing defenses further south. By the time the 24th Infantry Division retreated and reformed, the 1st Cavalry Division was in place behind it. The division suffered over 3,600 casualties in the 17 days it fought alone against the 3rd and 4th North Korean divisions.

Thomas Gravley’s awards include the:

Combat Infantry BadgeGravley2
Aircrew Member Badge
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Good Conduct Medal (5th award)
Army of Occupation Medal with Japan clasp
National Defense Service Medal w/1 OLC
Korean Service Medal w/1 campaign star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal w/3 campaign stars
United Nations Service Medal – Korea
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Republic of Korea War Service Medal
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/Palm

Fayetteville, N. Carolina (2014)