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Milam County, Texas

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Milam County, Texas: List of Honor --
Individuals Who Have Given Their Lives in the
Defense of Their Country from World War I through Vietnam

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Nicolas Contreras Garza [1] [2]

Private First Class (PFC), U.S. Army, Korean War


Service No.: 18224872

Born: 10 Sep 1931 at Henderson Co., TX [3]

Died: 20 Dec 1950 at Chungung, North Korea

Age at time of loss: 19 years, 3 months, 10 days

Home of Record: Rockdale, Texas

Race: Mexican-American

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Farm Laborer

Attended: Rockdale School, Rockdale, Texas

Religion: Catholic

Nickname: Nico

Entered Service: 9 Dec 1948

Overseas Duty: 26 Mar 1949

Physical Description: Height-5'6", Weight-139 lbs., Eyes-brown, Hair-black, Shoe Size-7ŻE

Ship/Unit: Co. C, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division


Missing-in-Action (MIA): 5 Jul 1950

Last Known Location: map coordinates CS 263 180

Casualty Type: Hostile, died while Prisoner of War (POW)

Cause of Death: Malnutrition and Dysentery

Casualty Location: Burial grounds at Hanjang-ni near Chungang map coordinates CB 287 290 (converted map reference CM 285 297)

Soundex Code: G-620

Census: None available

Parents: Jose Garza and Magdalena Contreras Salinas Garza

Brothers: Francisco Contreras Garza (killed-in-action at Normandy, France, U.S. Army, World War II), John Contreras "Juan" Salinas (veteran, U.S. Army), Benito Contreras Garza

Sisters: Florence Garza Nieto, Teresa Garza Marceleno, Margaret Garza, Leona Garza Castillo, Beatriz Garza Dimas

Paternal Grandparents: Francisco Garza and Donaciana ___________ Garza

Maternal Grandparents: Candelario Contreras and Magdalena Garza Contreras

Wife: None

Children: None

Burial: Body not recovered

Arrangements: None

Milam County War Memorial:

PFC Garza was missing-in-action about 1 o'clock, 5 Jul 1950, while defending a position approximately 2-miles north of Osan, South Korea, when the position was overrun by enemy forces. He last seen during the withdrawal from the area. [4]

PFC Wayne A. Johnson, (Service No.: 15281155) stated that he witnessed the death of PFC Garza on 20 Dec 1950, at Chungung, as the result of malnutrition. He further stated that PFC Garza was buried in the same place and he had known PFC Garza for 5-months.

A hearsay statement made by PFC Shelby G. Creel (Service No.: 18283880) stated that he was told by the guys that buried PFC Garza that he died during Dec. 1950 of dysentery and malnutrition in a village near Chungung, and was buried on a hill near the village. He stated that he'd known PFC Garza for 6-months. [5]

Letter Home

Camp Wood
April 13, 1950

Dear Love [letter to Leona Garza Castillo (Mrs. Pete)]

Well I received your letter in which you said that you were married. Well Love how do you like married life or don't you like it.

Love have you got the money I am sending home an has mother got it if you have it know about sending me about half of it. I nead it I would to buy me a scooter and the ress you can keep or give it to Mother. I've got to have something to do and I'll go crazy here in this place. About getting out of the army, I don't won't out now just when I got mad because there is nothing to do around here is when I want get out. So the Jimenez's are going to Colorado to work beets. They sent me cigarettes for Christmas and I never wrote to them but I'll write them some day. Well Juan wrote to me and it took me six months to answer and I haven't heard from him yet. I guess he's mad. Love I sent Mother some pictures of myself I'll send you one later. Well I guess this will be all for today. I have to get to town in a hurry good by.

p.s. Give my regards to everybody.

Your Brother


Letter from Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office [6]

Private Garza was a member of Task Force Smith, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, which was the first U.S. unit to engage the North Koreans after arriving on the Korean peninsula from Japan. By 3:00 a.m. on July 5, the delaying forces were in position just north of Osan blocking the north-south road running from Suwon to Taejon. Your brother's unit, Charlie Company, established positions that covered Bravo Company's flank and a railroad line running parallel to the road which happened to be a major avenue of advance for the North Koreans. Thus, Task Force Smith forces occupied a mile long line that included the shallow saddle formed by the two knolls. Where the road passed through this saddle and begins to wind down to the valley floor, Task Force Smith was to make its initial stand. Despite the rain, at 7:30 a.m., the infantrymen detected a column of eight tanks moving sough along the road from Suwon. The anti-tank weapons employed by the infantry were ineffective and by 9:00 a.m. more than 33 tanks were in the rear of the task force. Private Garza was last seen at 1:00 pm. while he was defending his position from enemy attacks. By 2:30 p.m., in order to prevent the complete annihilation of the Task Force, Lieutenant Colonel Smith ordered a withdrawal to the south. The Task Force suffered its heaviest casualties during this withdrawal including the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry losing 153 men in the first 24 hours of fighting. It was after this fight that Private Garza was captured by the North Koreans and taken to a POW (prisoner-of-war) camp near Chungung village along the Yalu River. Returning American prisoners reported he died of malnutrition and dysentery on December 20, 1950, and was buried on a hill near the camp.

"Johnson's List" [7]

PFC Johnnie Johnson, from Lima, OH, was captured by the North Koreans on July 11, 1950. Thinking the families of fellow Prisoners of War (POW) had a right to know where and when they died, he began keeping a list of their names, units and date of death. After repatriation, Johnson's list of those who'd died totaled 496 names. One of the names listed was from Milam County, Texas:

Garza, Nicholas C., PVT -- 501220 -- 21 Inf -- Rockdale, TX

"Memories of Wayne A. "Johnnie" Johnson" [8] [9]

From the time we were capture in July 1950 we move around quite frequently from one location to another. We arrived at what we called, "the cornfield," around the 27 Oct 1950. This was on the banks of the Yalu River which separates North Korea from China. It was at this location that the infamous "Tiger Death March" commenced on 31 Oct 1950. We were force marched through mountainous terrain, in sub-zero weather, for approximately 108-miles. During this march, they (the North Koreans) shot approx-imately a man a mile for the 108-miles. The march ended on 9 Nov 1950 at a place called Chunggang-jin. This was only a 7-day stop and then we were moved to a more permanent location, a short distance away, which later we learned was called Hanjang-ni.

We were housed in an old wooden school building which wasn't heated. The only heat we had most of the time was body heat. Every morning when we woke-up, we'd shake the guy's next to us to make sure they were alive. During Dec (1950) and Jan (1951), the men who died weren't buried immediately because, in most cases, the temperature was approximately 40░ below zero. The bodies were stacked outside like logs because the ground was like concrete, and they were buried sometime later, before we were moved on to the next camp. On 29 Mar 1951 we were moved to Andong, an old Japanese Camp, which later was known as Camp #7.

We remained here until we were moved to Camp #3 at Changsong and turned over to the Chinese. From then on, we were Chinese prisoners-of-war, and remained there until our release in Aug 1953.

Nicholas Garza survived the "Tiger Death March" but later died on 20 Dec 1950, which means he died in Hanjang-ni, North Korea, along with a couple hundred other men.

Memories of Wilbert R. "Shorty" Estabrook [10]

Nicholas died at a place called HANJANG-NI, NORTH KOREA. It is a very small hamlet on the banks of the Yalu River, north of the major town of MAMPO-JIN. Both are frontier places. I called Hanjang-ni a hamlet because it's so small. We were housed in a school house and several out buildings. Two hundred and two (202) people died in the God awful place. I said people because we had women and children with us. There were 79 multi-national civilians with our group.

We ended our Death March on 9 Nov 1950 at CHUNGGANG-JIN and moved very suddenly to Hanjang-ni on 16 Nov 1950. Our forces were fast approaching. The North Korean officer in charge was nicknamed "The Tiger" because of his brutality. At that time we were in very bad shape.

Even though 202 people died in Hanjang-ni, there would not be any graves. The dead were taken, usually without clothing, to the nearby hillside and left in indentations in the land. No graves were dug because most died in the winter-time when the ground was frozen. It can be assumed that wild pigs, wolverines and even tigers got to the remains. The area is referred to as APEX on military maps.

In later years, the place at Hanjang-ni became known as "KPA Camp 7" but we never knew it at the time.

"Rockdale Soldier Missing in Korea" [11]

Pfc. Nicolas Garza, son of Mrs. Magdalina Garza of Rockdale, has been missing in action in Korea since July 5, his mother was notified by wire from the army Monday.

Young Garza, 18 years old, joined the army in December of 1948 and went overseas March 26, 1949. He was with the 21st Infantry, his mother said.

A brother, Pfc. Frank Garza, was killed in action on D-Day in Normandy in World War II, June 6, 1944.

Mrs. Garza was notified only that her son was missing in action since July 5 in the telegram received Monday, and that further information would be forwarded to her when received.


[1] Casey, p. 136.

[2] Individual Deceased Personnel 293 File, U.S. Army Total Personnel Command Center, Alexandria, VA

[3] Birth Certificate No. 9497, Henderson Co., TX

[4] Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF/293 File) - Review and Determination of Status Under the Missing Persons Act, memorandum dated 6 Jul 1951.

[5] Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF/293 File) - Report of Death Memorandum (AGPS Form 1) dated 18 Feb 1954.

[6] Letter from Kaye H. Whitley, Ed.D, Special Assistant for Family Advocacy, dated 8 Sep 1997.

[7] McConnell, M., Reader's Digest Magazine, website

[8] Interview with Wayne A. "Johnny" Johnson on 9 Jan 1998.

[9] Letter dated 4 Feb 1998 from Phoenix, AZ.

[10] Two e-mail letters dated 18 Mar 1998

[11] Rockdale Reporter, 20 Jul 1950, p. 1.

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Created 26 Dec 2004 and last revised on _______ 2004