Korean War begins

38th parallel sign - courtesy of the 1st Cavalry

38th parallel sign – courtesy of the 1st Cavalry

The 6th Division, led by Pang Ho-san and manned by North Koreans (most of whom had previously fought with the Chinese Red Army) quickly swept south and then east, equipped with Russian matériel.  The NKPA totaled 130,00 in ten divisions as opposed to 100,000 undertrained ROKs in eight divisions.  The invasion came in two fronts, the second being led by Marshall Choe Yong Gun heading directly to Seoul and then on to Pusan.  There was no equal to this force below the 38th parallel and as the Republic of Korea troops abandoned all they had and fled, the In Min Gun trampled everything in front of them.  Operation Pokpoong had started and the battles of Kaesong-Musan and Ongjin were highly successful and  Yangwon and Kangryong were immediately captured.

U.S. Military Advisory Group

U.S. Military Advisory Group

25 June 1950, Captain Joseph Darrigo, a member of the Military Advisory Group, was woken by the sound of gunfire he knew to be too close for routine action.  He headed south while his house was fired on and witnessed NKPA soldiers disembarking a train that he never knew existed.  Darrigo turned toward the ROK 1st Division Headquarters across the Imjin River at Musan and he discovered that half of the troops were on leave and the remainder were in disorganized chaos.  He was informed that the 29 year old commander, Colonel Park Sun Yup was in Seoul, probably with his mistress and drunk.

MacArthur and Sygman Rhee

MacArthur and Sygman Rhee

Syngman Rhee, head of South Korea, having heard that Kaesong had fallen, called MacArthur in Tokyo and demanded that his country be saved.  The general replied that he had no authority to rescue Korea, but he did promise to send 10 fighter planes, howitzers and bazookas to aide in their fight.  MacArthur then sat on the edge of his bed and said to himself, “It couldn’t be. Not again!”  Once more, an attack had come early on a Sunday morning.

It was Saturday in the U.S. and the first news the Pentagon would receive came from the press when they contacted General Bradley to question him on the subject.  Pres. Truman was home in Missouri at the time.  MacArthur was left in a limbo state until such time that a United Nations Security Council meeting could be convened.  The general called the Pentagon to inform on the state of affairs, “…the ROK army lacks the will to fight and a complete collapse is imminent.”

John Foster Dulles at the 38th parallel

John Foster Dulles at the 38th parallel

John Foster Dulles, adviser on Far Eastern Affairs for the U.S. State Department, was vacationing in Japan.  He was inept in his previous reports on Korea and now claimed that MacArthur was downplaying the northern attack.  Dulles cabled Secretary Acheson and Dean Rusk, “…even if it risks Russian counter-moves, the U.S. forces should be used.”  He insisted that a Communist regime in South Korea would start a Third World War.

Top secret messages that began to fly across the oceans were sent by way of a teletype conference, called telecon.  This required a coded teleprinter and a screen at each end – The Pentagon, the White House and the Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo were buzzing.  In the first week of the war 44,000 ROKs were either KIA, WIA or MIA.

The U.N. Security Council, minus the boycotting Russians, called all members “to render assistance to the United Nations in the execution of this resolution and to refrain from giving assistance to the North Korean authorities.”  This statement voided the Soviet claim that it was a “civil war” and their insistence that the south had committed “naked aggression” against the north.

Korean War movement 1950

Korean War movement 1950

That night, Truman authorized MacArthur, under the U.N. umbrella, to employ air cover and arms to evacuate Americans from Korea.  For political reasons, he refused to name the general as commander-in-chief of Korea, but sent a “survey group” to the front.  Russian assistance was still, as yet, unconfirmed, but it was seriously suspected.  Conflicting information exchanged on the telecon as Truman said, “If we are tough enough now, if we stand up to them [Soviets] like we did in Greece three years ago, they won’t take any next steps.”

Formosa still remained in the picture. (In fact I believe my uncle, MSgt James O’Leary, USMC was there about this time – we’ll hear more about him in future posts.) This was the subject of Mao’s China verses Chiang’s government and it would not be put under MacArthur’s control. The 7th Fleet was deployed from the Philippines to keep the two forces apart. This decision freed Mao’s Red Army divisions for other assignments; a factor that would later come back to haunt Truman.

The President ordered MacArthur to fight the threat of a spread of communism. Dean Rusk, who had been involved in Far Eastern affairs since the early parts of WWII, and Dean Acheson both pressed for more aid in the Philippines and Indonesia. 26 June 1950, Truman, with bypassing Congress, produced the first undeclared war in American history. While Truman continued to remain “Europe orientated,” just as FDR had before him, these actions became the prelude to the Vietnam War.

Click photos to enlarge, and thank you for reading.

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Farewell Salutes –

Gilbert Clough – New Paltz, NY & ME & FL; U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII

John Edward Allen – Live Oak, FL & Albuquerque, NM; U.S. Army Air Corps, Tuskegee Airman 1945 – Vietnam

Charles Ellis Marshall – Detroit, MI & Ft. Lauderdale, FL; U.S. Army corpsman, Korean War

Gary Lee Zink – Moncks Corner, SC; U.S. Air Force, Vietnam

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An ETO story that was news to me:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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Resources: Koreanwar-educator.org; The Week magazine; MacArthur’s War, by Stanley Weintraub; Army photos; Kansas.com; WikiCommons; historyinink.com; The Palm Beach Post,

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 6, 2013, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on closetoeighty and commented:
    When Korean War started I was 16 years old and lived in Uzbekistan (a part of the USSR at that time). Next year I moved to Moscow (Russia) and started to learn engineering (the war ended while I was a college student).
    There was very little information about the Korean War in the Soviet Union. Whatever information was available was pure propaganda as all means of information (papers, radio, movies) belonged to the government.
    I think that this blog is very important as it tells facts about Korean War and prior wars.
    I decided to reblog this post to give my followers an introduction to the blog and also a starting point to the history of the Korean War.

    Like

  2. Hi Gary, I would love to print the Night witch who bombed the nazis in our family history journal
    Can you tell me what paper it was published in, the date of the paper and where it was published
    I found it to be very interesting indeed
    Keep up the good posts
    Cheers
    Marg

    Like

  3. Pierre Lagacé

    About Canada’s involment in the Korean War.

    http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/wars/koreanwar.htm

    Like

  4. It took 30 days to cross the Pacific with the Canadian Army. You were waiting for the UN declaration. Few days in camp Drake And we landed at Inchon. It happened to be the first day the Chinese entered the war And we were put on a train to Pusan with no equipment I believe many of. The MIA. Could be accounted for at this time. 13 months later we came home for dried milk Stale donuts

    Like

    • Thank you very much for your first-hand account. Going in as one of the first sure could not have been easy, how much training had you before being shipped out?

      Like

      • Regular Army 1948 Two-year enlistment Out in June 1950, Recalled July 1950 Fort Knox with Temporary ranked officers, Two days cutting corn . Then M C Meigs for 30 days . I was a buck sgt in Supplies. Ordinance supply in Korea.

        Like

  5. gpcox – I don’t know how you do it, but you find the most interesting stories that are a part of History, and educate the world. Well done. Love the story of Nadia and the female pilots.

    Like

  6. Sending this to my dad to read!

    Like

  7. As one studies Truman more and more we see his management of post ww 2 affairs was very competent and his stature in comparison of presidents should be very high. Stalin and the rest of post war leaders got quite a surprise having to deal with ol’ Harry. NATO, Marshall Plan, Soviet containment and attempt at Red China containment with Korea and support of Formosa. Truman also civil rights champion by integrating army by executive order.

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  8. the story of the night witch was very interesting.i never knew about them until you posted that story.
    jim

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  9. Thanks for this, it is a conflict that I know little about, to learn is to live

    Like

  10. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    The history lesson continues…

    Like

  11. It’s interesting how we can look back on events with pretty good information about how the Korean War happened ; but , at the time , it must have hit as tremendous chaos and the result was seat-of -the-pants political and military decisions , at least for a few months . Thanks for the post .

    Like

    • That’s exactly right, Dan. It came as an utter surprise (actually more so than Pearl Harbor), no one was trained, old equipment and MacArthur with no authority. A REAL mess that takes many months to get straightened out.

      Like

  12. I too was fascinated by the Night Witches. In England during WWII women piloted planes between aerodromes, dropping a Halifax here and picking up a Mosquito there. They had to be endlessly versatile and lives were lost in bad weather, breakdown and accidents, but they never went into combat as far as I know.
    The Korean war info was helpful too, particularly the map. I feel very ignorant about this period.

    Like

  13. Pierre Lagacé

    I knew about the Russian women pilots flying night missions. Nice reminder.
    I will reblog this post tomorrow since today is the day Robert Ritchie died aboard S.S. Bullhead.

    http://athabaskang07.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/august-6th-1945/

    Like

  14. The war was in full tilt before I was born. There has been some sort of “action” non-stop, my entire life.

    Like

  15. I just finished reading “Taps” by Willie Morris, a novel set in a small town in Mississippi during the Korean War when so many of their hometown boys were being sent home for funerals and taps by the 16-year-old main character. Good book and interesting to read of the reactions and thoughts of people of several generations to what was going on in Korea.
    Lillian

    Like

  16. So interesting to read about the night witches.I always get distracted by the wonderful snippets you add at the end of your main post.

    Like

  17. It makes better sense to attack US forces on a Sunday when they are most dispersed.

    The ‘good’ troopers are all on their knees in church, the naughty ones tucked in bed with their shack-ups—so the hostiles get a free ride in …

    Like

  18. Interesting but I particularly like the story about the “night witches”. They were amazing and courageous. I take my hat off to them.

    Like

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