Emperor's Own

Ethiopians in the Korean War

Dagmawi Abebe

On June 25, 1950, as he was flying back to Washington D.C. to deal with the outbreak of war in Korea, US President Harry Truman thought, "In my generation, this was not the first occasion when the strong had attacked the weak. I recalled some earlier instances: Manchuria, Ethiopia, Austria. I remembered how each time that the democracies failed to
Date Published :
October 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Series :
Asia@War
Illustration :
88 b/w photos, 8pp color section, 6 maps, 7 diagrams, 1 table
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Paperback
ISBN : 9781912866311
Pages : 96
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
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Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
$29.95

Overview
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On June 25, 1950, as he was flying back to Washington D.C. to deal with the outbreak of war in Korea, US President Harry Truman thought, “In my generation, this was not the first occasion when the strong had attacked the weak. I recalled some earlier instances: Manchuria, Ethiopia, Austria. I remembered how each time that the democracies failed to act it had encouraged the aggressor to keep going ahead. Communism was acting in Korea just as Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese had acted, ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier…. If this was allowed to go unchallenged it would mean a third world war.”

In response to North Korea’s invasion of South Korea, the United Nations sent an urgent plea to its members for military assistance. Sixteen nations answered the call by contributing combat troops. Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, a stalwart advocate of collective security, dispatched an infantry battalion composed of his Imperial Bodyguard to affirm this principle which had been abandoned in favor of appeasement when the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations) gave Fascist Italy a free-hand to invade Ethiopia in 1935.

The unit designated “Kagnew Battalion” was actually successive battalions which rotated yearly and fought as part of the US 32nd Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. When they arrived, these warriors from an ancient empire were viewed with suspicion by their American allies as they were untested in modern warfare. Their arrival in Korea also coincided with the desegregation of the US Army.

However, the Ethiopians eventually earned the respect of their comrades after countless bloody, often hand-to hand battles, with all three battalions which served during the war earning US Presidential Unit Citations. Remarkably, Kagnew was the only UN contingent which did not lose a single man as prisoner of war or missing in action.

Until now, few have heard the story of their stand for collective security and against aggression. The Emperor’s Own provides insight into who these men and women were as well as what became of them after the war.

About The Author
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Dagmawi Abebe was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His father was a naval officer and his mother was a nurse. He moved to the US as a teenager and later earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminology. He currently works as a criminal investigator and has experience both in the private and public sectors. His interest in military history of the obscure nature ranges from the Barbary Wars to 20th Century Imperial Ethiopia. He is an antiquarian and avid traveller.

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