The forgotten Korean Hero Major Tadesse Wondem Agegnehu !

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The forgotten Korean Hero Major Tadesse Wondem Agegnehu !


As a victim of both Fascist Italy’s 1935 aggression and the negligence of the League of Nations to protect member nations from aggressor nations, Ethiopia was always invested in collective security and peaceful co-existence of all nations. When North Korea, supported and encouraged by China, crossed the border with South Korea, and the United Nations asked members to protect the country, Emperor Haile Selassie saw it as a collective security issue, and agreed to send some of his best troops. The Ethiopian Battalion was recruited from and trained among the best professional Imperial bodyguard soldiers, and were mostly over six feet tall.

After 6 to 8 months of additional training in the mountains of Ethiopia, 931 Ethiopian troops called the Kagnaw Shaleqa Battalion (Kagnaw was the name of Menelik’s warhorse), departed the port of Djibouti on April 16, 1951 and arrived on May 17, 1951 in Pusan, South Korea, the first of three tours totaling 6,037 in soldiers. The Kagnaw Shaleqa battalion was then attached to the US 7th Division and 32nd infantry division, although they operated independently. The Ethiopian infantry, fighting mostly at Old Baldy and in the Pork Chop Hill area, became the fiercest and toughest infantry unit in Korea. The Ethiopian battalion was best both in defensive and offensive combat, winning each of the 238 times they engaged the enemy, which brought them respect from both their allies (United Nations forces, specifically American soldiers) and their opponents (the Chinese and North Koreans). Kimon Skordiles observes in his book, Kagnew: The Story of the Ethiopian Fighters in Korea, “ true to their motto, there were 124 deaths and 536 injuries but not a single one of the 6,037 warriors went missing or became a prisoner of war”.

Major Tadesse Wondem Agegnehu, one of the commanding officers in the field of the first and third Ethiopian Kagnaw Battalions, was the first Ethiopian to be awarded the Bronze Star Medal by the order of President Truman on July 4, 1952. The attached commendations, newspaper clips, and congratulation letter were sent to him from his American friend, Major A. Irwin, the son of Lt. General N.M.S. Irwin. His writing attests to the mutual respect and friendship among Americans and Ethiopian soldiers!


Important Documents!
citation for Major Tadesse heroism.
Letter from Major A Irwin
Clip from the African Standard News Paper
Typed copy from the News Paper
News Itmems from July 4th, 1952



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