Korean War (4)

M*A*S*H* doctors of the 8055th

M*A*S*H* doctors of the 8055th

The first M*A*S*H* unit 8055 (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital), arrived in Korea 8 July 1950 and attached to the Eighth Army. Unit 8055 would prove to be so successful that Congress realized the need for more such units and enacted the Doctors Draft Act, Public Law 779 on 1 September. Physicians under 51 years of age could then be drafted and an increasing amount of residents and interns were tagged for Korea. (Members of the 8055 M*A*S*H* have stated that the television series depicted their unit quite well.)

Nurses of the 8055th

Nurses of the 8055th

General Walton Walker, commander of the Eighth Army in Korea was receiving troops for the 29th Infantry Regiment with only 8 weeks of basic training under their belts. On 24 July, they were sent into combat at Chinju with untested mortars and brand new .50 machine guns still packed in Cosmoline grease. The 3rd Battalion was ambushed and the call for air support went unheard when the radios refused to work. Of the 757 men, 313 died or were taken prisoner. (The North Koreans were not taking prisoners unless they felt the men held some intelligence of importance. The treatment and torture of those prisoners equaled what we hear of today happening to our men overseas.)

Generals Collins, MacArthur & Sherman, Korea, August 1950

Generals Collins, MacArthur & Sherman, Korea, August 1950

29 July, every soldier in the field received the same order, “There would be no more retreating… There is no line behind us… Every unit must counterattack to keep the enemy in a state of confusion… We must fight to the end.” MacArthur issued this statement after spending an hour and a half in the war zone. The press would call this order the “stand or die.”

North Korean invasion 25 July - 4 August 1950

North Korean invasion 25 July – 4 August 1950

On 30 July, three Canadian destroyers: Cayuga, Athabaskan and Sioux arrived in Sasebo, Japan with orders to sail immediately to Korea. No. 426 Transport Squadron, RCAF, flew the first of 600 round trips this month and during the war, they would carry over 13,000 passengers and 3 million kilograms of freight; also 22 RCAF fighter pilots were attached to the U.S. Fifth Air Force. During July, the USS Juneau had numerous gunnery operations as well as US Naval destroyers and British Royal Navy ships, including the HMS Belfast. The tiny South Korean Navy, with their patrol crafts were active on the west coast; checking inland waterways for activity. In late July, the cruisers USS Helena (CA-75) and USS Toledo (CA-133) joined the 7th Fleet’s flagship USS Rochester (CL-124) and the 8″ guns began to play an important role in Korea.

2 August, the 6th NKPA Division, met unexpectedly up with the 19th Infantry Regiment and the 24th Infantry Division as they protected the pass 5 miles short of Masan, in what would later be called the Battle of the Notch. The North Koreans retreated and regrouped up in the mountainous terrain after the Air Force attacked their truck columns. The U.S. troops protected the southern flank of Pusan for the 5 days needed for further support to arrive.

camouflaged command post

camouflaged command post

The Soviets decided that the more the U.S. was involved in Korea, the less effective they would be in Europe. So, also on 2 August, Russian, Jacob Malik, resumed his United Nations Security Council seat to assist Stalin with his agenda. The Revolutionary Military Committee (Communist military VIPs) were meeting in Beijing. It was here that Mao and his generals planned their aid to North Korea and an attack on Formosa. General Walker began throwing everything he had into the war. The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, largely troops of the 5th Marines, a regiment of the 1st Marine Division along with the U.S. Army’s 2d Infantry Division and the British 27th Brigade, entered Pusan. They headed west and spent the night at Changwon on their way to Masa, 7 miles from the enemy lines.

6 August, about 800 North Koreans waded across the Naktong River in the 34th Infantry area. The 1st Battalion was halted at Cloverleaf Hill with the extensive fighting. The 19th and 34th were sent to counterattack and the 25th Infantry Division was ordered to Chinju.

15 August, Walker called in the Navy to rescue the ROK 3rd Division Task Force 77. Two carriers bombarded the coast while a destroyer, led by 4 LSTs moved in to evacuate 5,800 troops and 1,200 refugees. Most of the materiel given to the ROKs by the U.S. was left behind. Despite all this, Rhee communicated to MacArthur of the good job being done.

Edward R. Murrow in Korea 1950

Edward R. Murrow in Korea 1950

When Edward R. Murrow made his final broadcast, from Tokyo 15 August, he said, “The Eighth Army and 5th Marines were committed to that push along the southern end of the peninsula to secure the high ground east of Chinju. This is not a decision forced upon us by the enemy. Our high command took it because, in the words of one officer who was in position to know, ‘We decided we needed a victory.’ The result of that victory was the loss of an important airfield…'” The broadcast continued on with additional criticism of the military and management of the war. Murrow’s broadcast was sent by teletype to CBS in New York. CBS Executive, Frank Stanton, telephoned Murrow and informed the reporter that his piece gave aid and comfort to the enemy and he was scrubbed from his own show. Murrow remained silent for a month and then his piece ran in “Newsweek.”

Click on map and photos to enlarge.

####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

Archie Carlson, Jr. – Burlington, Iowa & Washington D.C.; U.S. Navy, WWII

Dennis Harpool – Haymarket, VA; U.S. Army, Vietnam, 2 Bronze Stars

Phyllis Shanklin – Washington D.C. & Ashburn, VA; Office of War Information, WWII

Frank Ridge – N.Y.C., NY; U.S. Army, WWII, Battle of the Bulge, Bronze Star

Roseanne Dial – (95) – Argyle, MO & Fairfax, VA; civilian employee of U.S. Navy, WWII until 1979

Henry Paige – Bethesda, MD; Lieutenant, U.S. Navy

#####################################################################################

Resources: “The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; “MacArthur’s War’ by Stanley Weintraub; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; history.navy.mil; Korean War – educator.org (the memoirs of Harold E. Secor, medic Unit # 8055); USA Today.com; Wodumedia.com

Advertisements

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 17, 2013, in Korean War, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 54 Comments.

  1. Great post GP. I missed this one somehow. I didn’t know that the TV show MASH was patterned after a real unit. There’s always something to learn here. Great photo of the nurses and as usual, the rest of the post was very interesting too GP 🙂

    Like

    • I think you were off on your vacation when I posted this? But, now you saw it and now you know. Not all the stories came from that unit tho, stories were contributed by veterans all during the time the show aired.

      Like

  2. gpcox… Don’t get me started on the media! LOL But I had not understood that the doctors were actually drafted. Perhaps I was naive but I was under the impression some of them volunteered for the service…While the doctors gained invaluable experience in emergency surgery, I would imagine a number of them were darn upset.

    Like

    • I’m sure many were upset about it and many enlisted – but so many more were needed. Valuable procedures were developed thanks to these doctors who had to improvise sometimes to keep the men alive, but it wasn’t all voluntary.

      Like

  3. Good for CBS! Unfortunately, today’s media gets away with murder, I think. One has to wonder WHOSE side some of these commentators, or government officials, for that matter, ARE ON when it comes to strategies for military pull-outs, decisions a general feels is best in any given situation, national security intelligence ops, and so on.
    Shameful when folks like Murrow opine and ad lib in any way that gives anti-American sentiment. Our kids are dying for America and these knuckleheads seem to care less. They all ought to stick to delivering the news, period. No commentary from the peanut gallery.

    Like

    • It brings us to things like WikiLeaks – what should the public know and how much?

      Like

      • AND, how much of this ‘leaking’ is ACCURATE? Yikes. The sheeple may want to believe everything they read, see, or hear…but I prefer to do my own research, just as you and your readers do. Glad to know I’m in with a good crowd here!
        I love your posts GP, they are so interesting…and as someone here commented, it isn’t the candy-flavored paragraph the kids see in one of the history books at school. These vignettes from history are important if we are to understand what REALLY took place, from the actual people who were involved. The quick glossy paragraph really hides the raw, blood-soaked fields and trenches of battles and wars that countless lives were sacrificed in. Thanks for your superb postings. I look forward to reading here.

        Like

  4. Reading today about the agreement of the two Koreas to begin talks again about allowing family reunification visits. It’s so sad that the desire of the elderly Koreans to see loved ones before they die is being used as bargaining chip for political ends (mainly by North Korea I think). I wonder if anyone, (most especially politicians), at the beginning of the Korean War saw this current situation as a possible outcome of the war.

    Like

  5. Great picture of the 8055 .

    Like

    • It’s as tho the tv series copied them to a tee, doesn’t it? There were other pix showing the ward and operating room and it looked like it came straight from a movie set – it was just as you imagine.

      Like

  6. Your work is wonderful, the visuals and the excellent writing. Ann

    Like

  7. Once again, the authenticity and raw feel of the writing is such a pleasure to read. Once again, school textbooks either gloss over the Korean War or devote a lousy whitewashed chapter of it. Just imagine what a history teacher could do if he had the word M.A.S.H. on the board, showed a clip or ep of the show and then did a lesson about this really interesting topic. Once again, I look at it from a teacher’s point of view because I was one–not history, but English–and hated all the history texts I saw. The best history teachers I witnessed were those that were able to captivate a class with a “story”, as you do here.

    Like

  8. Thanks for mentioning the Ed Murrow incident, reminding us how the efforts of good journalists to report the truth were/are often blocked by higher-ups both civilian and military. A minor correction: Murrow had been in Korea but he was already back in New York when he made that recording, just hours before it was to be broadcast. (you can’t send a voice recording by teletype). The CBS chiefs heard the recording and killed it, as you said. The whole press corps heard about it and protested, and that’s what Newsweek covered. My source on that is “In Mortal Combat,” John Toland’s excellent book on the Korean War. (I was not yet personally involved in the war at that point.)

    Like

    • My info states that it was dictated to be sent by teletype and after he was sacked, he returned to the States, but no matter. Don’t you think it would have been better if he gave his data directly to Washington; he definitely had the connections to do that, instead of helping the enemy out with their propaganda? I commend all you reporters sticking together, but jeez – draw the line somewhere.

      Like

      • As I understand it his report was several days after the action he described and thus was of no use to the enemy in any military intelligence way. As for propaganda, “Giving aid and comfort to the enemy” was an excuse often used by military and political leaders to attack and censor any embarassing or critical reports that they did not want the American people to read or hear.. Murrow was a respected journalist who has never been accused any kind of disloyalty. In this case, as he had been in Korea and saw what was happening, my guess is that he knew a lot more about it than his bosses at CBS in New York. I happen to believe that the American people can be trusted with the truth. I don’t think the press should report what is going on in a combat situation right at the moment, because that indeed could help the enemy. But after-action reports I think the people should get because it is their blood and their money that is paying for the war. Often in Korea the military censors delayed our stories for seveal days, until the action they described was over, and none of us had any problem with that.

        Like

        • Glad to hear all this. But, could you make a supposition as to why CBS would want such a respected reporter fired or why they were the ones accusing Murrow of “aid and comfort?”

          Like

          • They did not fire Murrow. He worked for CBS for at least another ten years and became their most popular and successful news personality, producing “See It Now” and many other very popular programs . He left CBS sometime in the 1960s to become director of the United States Information Agency, which, as you know, was in charge of American information and propaganda to the rest of the world. So there is no question in anyone’s mind about his loyalty. In 1950, in the incident you mention, CBS merely killed one particular broadcast of his. And there was such a howl of protest about that, from many sectors of the country, that I believe they never again tried to muzzle him. For many years Murrow WAS CBS news, the way Cronkite later was the flagship for the network.

            Like

  9. I have been enjoying this series on the Korean War. It was the first war in my lifetime but I was a very small child during it so I didn’t know anything about it until a few years later and even then, not much. We weren’t taught much about it in school in later years either. I can begin now to see why that was the case.

    Like

    • Isn’t that the truth. I was born two months after it started and I can’t recalled anything about it from school except that it happened 1950-53 – that’s it!

      Like

  10. The photos bring even greater depth to the meticulous detail you provide your readers. Your efforts are tireless, GP. Thank you for your dedication.

    Like

  11. Loved the MASH tidbit, so sad about the 3rd Battalion…so much loss of life. Kudos to Edward R Murrows, he won in the end.

    Like

  12. A different war, perhaps, but, as with so many, this photo makes me think of this song. I believe that Michael Jerling happened to capture what has probably been an experience shared by many…
    I thought that you would appreciate this… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHitk4RcSf8

    Old Henry’s House © 1999 Michael Jerling

    When old Henry died
    No one was there
    Gave up the ghost
    In his easy chair
    Neighbor found him
    With the TV on
    Picked up the phone
    Dialed 911
    At old Henry’s house

    His sister called me
    From Buffalo
    She just thought that
    I’d like to know
    She’d leave a key
    I could stop on by
    For some little thing
    To remember him by
    At old Henry’s house

    But old Henry’s house
    Had been picked clean
    Marks on the walls
    Where things used to be
    Still I found a pipe wrench
    I could use
    An old fly rod
    Made of bamboo
    At old Henry’s house

    Photograph on
    The dusty floor
    Six young Marines
    Nineteen forty-four
    The names were written
    On the back
    And all but one
    Crossed out in black
    At old Henry’s house

    When old Henry died
    No one was there
    He gave up the ghost
    In his easy chair

    Michael Jerling – mandolin, high-strung guitar, vocal
    Tony Markellis – acoustic bass
    Teresina Huxtable – reed organ
    Kevin Maul – slide guitar

    Like

    • Outstanding – Thank you very much for this and for taking the time to include them here. If people don’t read it here in the comments (or even if they do) I may have to re-post it when I get back into WWII.

      Like

  13. Awesome post! Love the history, the story, the TV show–the works. 🙂

    Like

  14. enjoyed this very much, fine text.

    Like

  15. So amazing to get the detail on a war that few people I know have been willing to talk about much. When I was little, Korean veterans were grownups, and so naturally seemed “much” older than I. But the kids I’ve taught recently see these vets and myself as in being in virtually the same generation. Yet I have so few shared memories with them. This is a wonderful series, and makes me feel so much closer to these friends.

    Like

    • I’m very glad you’re enjoying these posts, but I’m also certain you can now understand why people don’t want to talk about it – on so many levels.

      Like

  16. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    The Korean War Part Four

    Like

  17. Pierre Lagacé

    The North Stars of 426 Squadron played a very valuable part in the Korean War between 1950 and 1952, transporting supplies and troops to Japan in support of United Nations operations. In July 1950, a few days after the start of the war, 426 Squadron was detached to McChord Air Force Base in Washington State where it came under the operational control of the US Military Air Transport Service (MATS). A typical Korean Air Lift route for North Star 17515, and the other 426 Squadron aeroplanes was a physically and mentally demanding fifty hour round trip flight from McChord to Japan and back with stops at Elmendorf (Alaska), Shemya (the Aleutian Islands), Handed and Misawa (Japan).

    http://www.projectnorthstar.ca/html/northstarprimer/ch03s02.html

    Like

  18. Pierre Lagacé

    On 30 July, three Canadian destroyers: Cayuga, Athabaskan and Sioux arrived in Sasebo, Japan with orders to sail immediately to Korea. No. 426 Transport Squadron, RCAF, flew the first of 600 round trips this month and during the war, they would carry over 13,000 passengers and 3 million kilograms of freight; also 22 RCAF fighter pilots were attached to the U.S. Fifth Air Force.

    Did not know that!!!

    Darn!

    Like

  19. I have been on the Belfast, in peace time as a kid..

    Like

  20. I Remember MASH with great fondness, Radar and Hot Lips et al. A few years back we had a plumber who was a Korean veteran, a UK national serviceman and he remembered vividly the human wave charges they fought off.

    He was a Bren gunner and his mate just kept changing barrels and loading mags until the ‘wave’ stopped.

    By the end of the action they were ankle deep in cartridges and his number 2 had burnt lots of the skin of his hands changing red hot barrels. He said he could still hear the bugles, whistle and gongs the Chinese years on.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s