Doubts About a Korean 'Massacre'
American soldiers allegedly slaughtered hundreds of innocent refugees at a place called No Gun Ri. A new review of the facts challenges that claim
"Some suspect things." There are other apparent discrepancies in Daily's war record. He claims to hold the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second-highest award for valor; the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. Army records again tell a different story. Daily was awarded the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Badge, and the Meritorious Unit Emblem. Daily received no medals for valor or combat action, the records show. Hanley, the AP reporter, says, "There are some suspect things about the medals."
How did Edward Daily create such an elaborate legend for himself?
In 1973, a fire at the Army's Personnel Records Center in St. Louis destroyed the service records of thousands of Korean War veterans. Afterward, officials at the center invited veterans whose paperwork was lost to help reconstruct their records by providing copies of discharge letters, movement orders, training records, and the like. Daily did so enthusiastically, according to officials who have reviewed the reconstructed file: In one instance, Daily supplied a letter to the records center on stationery of the Army adjutant general. The letter, supposedly mailed in May 1950, carried a return address with a ZIP code. The U.S. Postal Service didn't start using ZIP codes until 1963.
_ Between 1980 and 1985, Daily was a regular visitor to the National Archives in suburban Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. There, he spent hundreds of hours delving into the many boxes that contain the records of the units of the 1st Cavalry Division Association in Korea. (The division then comprised the 5th, 7th, and 8th Cavalry Regiments.) In 1990, Daily published The Legacy of Custer's 7th U.S. Cavalry in Korea. Two years later, Daily followed with another volume, Skirmish Red, White and Blue: The History of the 7th U.S. Cavalry (1945-1953).
Daily's enthusiasm for the cavalry seemed, to many, all consuming. He became president of the 7th Cavalry Association and spoke at reunions and ceremonies. On occasion, he turned up at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Often, he was turned out in an ankle-length black duster with captain's bars on his shoulders and a coal-black cavalry Stetson.
In its long piece on Daily, by veteran reporter Michael Dobbs, the Washington Post Magazine recounted Daily's terrible memories of Korea but also his deep fondness for the men with whom he served there. "Of all the former members of the 7th Cav's H Company," Dobbs wrote, "the one most steeped in the history and tradition of the regiment is probably Ed Daily." Asked about the report, Dobbs said that nothing seemed amiss during the several interviews he conducted with Daily. "It's possible, I guess, to fabricate an account like that," Dobbs said. "But what he said was consistent with what I knew independently about the history of H Company." The reporter added that he would be eager to review any new information about Daily's background.