Korean War (2)

A face of the war

A face of the war

General MacArthur flew to Korea for an inspection tour and witnessed fires eating through Seoul and the city about to be captured. His report was cabled to Washington, but would not be received until 29 June.

Four war correspondents, Keyes Beech of the “Chicago Daily News;” Frank Gibney of the “Time”;” Burton Crane from “The New York Times” and Marguerite Higgins, also of the “NY Herald-Tribune,” hitched a none-way ride on a transport plane going to Kimpo airfield. The pilot informed them that his orders from Tokyo said to swoop low enough to look for American evacuees, if no one was spotted, they would have to leave since the field was actually in enemy hands. As it turned out, thirty people stood there on the runway frantically waving at the C-47.

Maggie Higgins w/ MacArthur, June 1950

Maggie Higgins w/ MacArthur, June 1950

Once they were on the ground, the reporters located a car and drove to the KMAG Headquarters. General Chae told them, “We fightin’ hard now. Things gettin’ better.” But, as they saw nothing but chaos around them, none of the reporters were convinced. Maggie Higgins grabbed her typewriter and jumped into a jeep with Colonel Wright to head south. Boatmen had to be coaxed by gun point to ferry the correspondents and soldiers across the Han River where they picked up a dirt trail going over the hills to reach Suwon. At this site, Higgins met Brig. General John Church, head of the “survey group,” now known as the Advance Command Group. He knew little about Korea, but had been a division commander in Europe during WWII. (Korea would be a learning experience for soldiers and officers alike.)

It was the 27th in the U.S. when the United Nations Security Council met again at Lake Success on Long Island. Russia was still boycotting, but made a point to complain that Mao’s regime had not been allowed to replace Chiang’s delegate. Once again, the members were urged to assist South Korea in repelling the “armed attack.” The vote was 7-1 in favor; Yugoslavia voted no, while Egypt and India abstained.

The Pentagon authorized the 507th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion to protect the airfield and secure the docks at Pusan for men and supplies to land. President Rhee of South Korea fled Seoul and afterward, announced in a radio broadcast that the United States was to blame for his country’s plight. Meanwhile, the Navy started a blockade and the Air Force knocked out enemy communications.

General Church had been given command of an army in total disarray. He stated to Harold Noble, from the embassy, “I would rather have 100 New York City policemen than the whole Korean army.” (This is no reflection on the future ROKs who would receive combat training and proper equipment.) With so much of the war being fought up close and personal, all the troops needed to become combat experienced immediately.

RF-80A  Shooting Star, Korea

RF-80A Shooting Star, Korea

General George Stratemeyer, commander of the FEAF, temporarily grounded the C-54 Bataan due to weather conditions that produced a zero ceiling of visibility. Lt. Bryce Poe II took off in a RF-80A Shooting Star to find the leading edge of the NKPA forces; this was the first combat sortie by an American jet. F-80 pilots were ordered to bomb anything above the Han River and they proceeded to empty their napalm.

MacArthur w/ the "Bataan", a Lockheed C-121A Constellation in Korea.  Plane would later be used by Gen. Ridgeway.

MacArthur w/ the “Bataan”, a Lockheed C-121A Constellation in Korea. Plane would later be used by Gen. Ridgeway.

At a meeting in Taejon, MacArthur and Church assessed the deteriorating situation. General Chae was blamed for the premature destruction of the Han River bridges and four enemy planes (YAKS) circled over the Bataan as the generals watched the faster P-51s shoot down two of them; the other two escaped to the north. The “Life” photographer, David Douglas Duncan, said that MacArthur looked buoyant as he said, “Let’s get up to the front and have a look;” which he did. Upon his return to Suwon, he remarked, “Nobody is fighting.” MacArthur and four pressmen returned to Tokyo. The reports that the correspondents sent home were later described as ‘bordering on fiction.’

Click on photos to enlarge.


Farewell Salutes –

Roy Krieger – Springfield, VA; USMC (Ret.) Lt. Colonel, 3 wars w/ Purple Heart, Bronze Star w/ combat V, Navy Commendation Medal

Charles Van Winfree – Hopkinsville, KY & Longboat Key, FL; U.S. Army in Middle East during WWII

Wendell Martin Houston – Charleston, SC; Colonel U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, WWII & Korea

Martha Dee Campbell – Benton, AR & AZ; U.S. Air Force 21 years

Martin Dicken – Laurel, MD; USMC, Vietnam


Personal note – I had Frank Gibney down as working for the incorrect publication, it is now re-edited as “Time.” I apologize to my readers for the mistake.


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 8, 2013, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. If you think that all the correspondents who covered Korea paid no attention to the truth, then I suggest you do a little more research. I was a correspondent in the Korean War for two years (for International News Service and for Time magazine) and I can tell you that most of us did our damndest to get at the facts and report them as quickly as possible to the American people. Sure there were a couple of jerks in the press corps, as there are in any group of people, but don’t blame all of us for them. And if you young folks don’t know much abut the Korean War, again don’t blame the correspondents, blame the teachers and the officials who came later. The American newspaper readers at the time got plenty of information. Korea was the biggest story in the world at that time. Did we make some mistakes? Sure. Did the generals often try to hide stuff from us? Yes again. And did the generals accuse us sometimes of lying because we did not report things exactly as they told us? Yes again. I often got better information from sergeants than I did from generals.
    But I applaud your attempt to remind people of that war that has largely been forgotten.Forgotten because of the bigger and even more awful conflict in Vietnam.


    • Please do not take offense; as you did at the time, I am merely reporting what facts I am locating. And, by your own admission, you reported what you were told – how could you know if it was true? Now that archives have been opened, we are looking at the story from a distance and with an insight into information possibly unavailable to you. No one is blaming the media here for never learning much about Korea during school, I believe here you must have misunderstood. The readers have ALL been saying that their SCHOOLS did not teach them and THAT is why it is the Forgotten War.


      • Well, you did talk about the reporters “embellishing” the facts. Amd some of your commenters also indicated mistrust of the press corps as a whole, which is unfounded. You say we reported only what we were told. Not true, much of the reporting was of what we saw with our own eyes.
        In the interest of accuracy, I’d like to point out that the correspondent Frank Gibney, whom you mentioned, worked for Time, not the Herald Tribune. I knew Frank well.
        And Task Force Smith was part of the 24th Division, under General Dean. The Task Force consisted only of a few companies, about a battalion plus. Not the 4 divisions that you indicated. I was not there in June ’50: my source on that is a very fine book, :”Korea; the Untold Story of the War” by Joseph Goulden, published in 1982.
        As I said earlier, I admire your attempt to give an overview of the war for people who, for one reason or another, know nothing about it.
        And thanks for your comments and Likes on my blog.


  2. What an interesting and educational website! I’m going to pass this along to my friend who teaches US History. Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by The Brass Rag. Come back and see us again soon.


    • Thanks for stopping in and giving this site a referral. It would be very interesting to hear a history teacher’s remarks; there are a few teachers who add to the info here.


  3. gpcox – So much more information !!! This is fascinating. Thank you for all your detailed research.


  4. The aircraft behind MacArthur is NOT a C-121A and was not built by Lockheed. It is a Douglas C-54. The windshield and cockpit windows are very different from the C-121. Also the C-54’s nose gear retracted forward; the 121’s to the rear. I truly appreciate your sharing the story you have shared over the months. THANK YOU, SIR!


  5. Love that photo of the RF-80A.


  6. This war was the stimulus for US develop jet fighters at much bigger and immediate scale as would have otherwise been pursued I think. Post WW2 focus was on long range bombers until Korea. That B-36 was certainly a ridiculous looking airplane.


    • Do you think that is bad or militarily beneficial? Once the jet was developed, wasn’t it a sure bet that it would be used at the next chance? Frankly, with Truman being so ‘Europe-Orientated,’ I’m surprised anything went to Korea.


  7. I would say that war correspondents back then actually reported — unlike today. Seems today’s reporters are fixated on Hollywood rather than what our fighting men and women are accomplishing. Oh, gosh, don’t get me started!


    • I agree, Linda and get started all you want. Yes, they seemed to do more reporting, but even back then their main aim was having the biggest story, so they were not beyond “embellishing” the facts a bit.


  8. I find it interesting that the South Korean president fled Seoul and blamed the U.S. for the situation.


    • He blamed the U.S. for the North Koreans attacking him period. Granted, the U.S. did not handle Korean affairs very well over the years, but Rhee felt the military should have made Korea into a powerful country.


  9. I know the building you are speaking of, I worked for Sperry Gyroscope back in 1957 – 1965. I passed it all the time. Little did I know what really went on in there. Thanks for these wonderful reports.


  10. I love being educated thru such delightful “story telling”. A wonderful gift. Keep thwe storys coming, I am learning so much.


  11. Remarkable report…reporting on the reporters! 🙂 Indeed, those folks had some guts – I was going to use another word but one of them was of the female persuasion. (By the way, I assume it was a “one-way ride”.)

    All I’ve read about the war is pretty much based on my textbooks of the 60’s since WWII has occupied my free time entirely… but all this stuff is really revealing. I also didn’t know the SK president blamed the US.

    I actually saw the Bataan at Chino Planes of Fame’s airfield. I watched her land. The Connie was one of the most graceful planes ever designed in my book. Inside the Bataan, we saw a chrome toaster, cooking and serving area but didn’t get a chance to look into the cockpit. I believe this was circa 1995? Old age…

    Good stuff once again, gpcox!


  12. It’s interesting both to see the international alignments and the types of communications associated with the early days of conflict.


    • Our younger generation would be curious as to why some messages took so long to go across the ocean, so I added that info. Not at all like today, big difference.


  13. Nothing better to encourage the troops than to see MacArthur right up at the front, I reckon.


  14. Pierre Lagacé

    As if we were there with the reporters…


  15. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    More about the Korean War


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