William Sitman died to save his platoon


File photo

Bellwood-Antis graduate William Sitman sacrificed his life to save his platoon during the Korean War.

Aarron Laird, page Editor

At the battle of Chipyong-Ni in the midst of the Korean War, the United Nations achieved victory in a battle that has been called “the Gettysburg” of the Korean War.”

Bellwood-Antis graduate William Sitman was one of the heroes of that battle, and he deserves recognition as the community prepares to celebrate Veterans day.

Due to the ferocity of the Chinese attack and the heroism of the defenders, the battle Chipyong-Ni has been called “one of the greatest regimental defense actions in military history.” According to Robert Timmons’ article Allies Mark 60th Anniversary of Chipyong-Ni,  “5,600 South Korean, U.S., and French troops were surrounded on all sides by 25,000 PVA. UN forces had previously retreated in the face of large PVA/KPA forces instead of getting cut off, but this time they stood and fought, and won.”

The battle took place from February 13-15, 1951, less than a year after American intervention in the war began, and it was the selfless effort of men like Sitman who helped make it a turning point in the war.

William S. Sitman was born on August 9, 1923. He spent all his life in Bellwood until he went to the United States army. He was a 1941 graduate of BAHS who played football, among other activities. He fought in World War II, joining the army in 1943, and reenlisted in 1950. Sitman was a Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army, company M, 23rd Infantry Division.

While Sitman was leading his men in the Battle of Chipyong-Ni, the enemy lobbed a grenade into their position and without hesitation, and being fully aware of the odds against him, he threw himself onto the grenade and absorbed the full impact. The decision cost him his life, but his act of bravery saved the lives of five of his men and enabled them to keep firing at the enemy.

Sitman posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions, the fifth serviceman from Blair County to receive the honor. In 1952, the Bellwood VFW post dedicated Sitman Memorial Park in his honor. Fifteen years later, in 1966, a training camp in South Korea near the demilitarized was named Camp Sitman.

The B-A community continued to pay tribute to Sitman’s bravery when in 1990, the newly expanded and remodeled Bellwood-Antis Middle and High Schools were dedicated to him. The structure is officially  called the William S. Sitman Middle/High School.

Each spring, further Sitman is accorded further respect when the UVHA distributes a scholarship to a Bellwood-Antis senior called UVHA William S. Sitman Memorial Scholarship.

William Sitman is one of many veterans from Bellwood and Antis Township to devote their lives to service of their country. Others like him made the ultimate sacrifice. But Sitman stands alone as a hero who accepted death in order to save his platoon members, and for that he will be remembered as an American hero.