Korean War (6)

Briefing before landing on Wolmi-do

Briefing before landing on Wolmi-do

General Almond (with no seaborne experience) would command the X Corps and it would remain separate of the 8th Army and General Walton Walker. The Navy, represented by Admiral Arleigh Burke, told MacArthur that the harbor at Inchon had natural obstacles and typhoon season was quickly approaching, the landing should take place sooner than originally planned. The 7th Division and 5th Marines were to be utilized despite Walker’s objections. The 187th Regimental Combat Team was included in the original plans, but MacArthur chose to keep them in reserve and ordered the South Koreans to be used to fill in the gaps.

Transport Wantuck sets out loaded w/ Marines

Transport Wantuck sets out loaded w/ Marines

10-12 September 1950, a flotilla of 261 transports, warships and support vessels left for Korea under the flags of Australia, Canada, Britain, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the U.S.. Thirty-seven of the 47 U.S. ships had Japanese aboard them to man the LSTs and hundred that would be stevedores to assist in unloading the supplies at Inchon. Japan would play a major role in the war, including the factories that boomed with American contracts. MacArthur’s flagship, the USS Mount McKinley, sailed 13 September, just hours before the Naval guns opened up on the Inchon area.

The first landing was to be on Wolmi-do, an island off Inchon that had previously been bombed with napalm. (The ships approaching picked up a transmission from those pilots that said they were carrying napalm, but over the radio, they heard it as, “We have the A-Bomb,” hence a rumor started that MacArthur was going to nuke the Communists began to circulate.) A joint CIA and military operation code-named, “Trudy Jackson”, led by Eugene Clark, an older naval lieutenant who had scouted the area before WWII, preceded the landing and entered the dismantled lighthouse on the island and made it operational to guide in the approaching ships. The team also sunk an enemy patrol boat that happened to come up on them.

Wolmi-do

Wolmi-do

15 September, at 0629 hours, the destroyer, De Haven ceased firing its guns and at 0633 hours, the Marines hit the beach at Wolmi-do in Fish Channel, wave # 1 went on Green Beach while Marine Corsairs flew overhead dropping smoke bombs. The Inchon landing comprised Red Beach at the main port and Blue Beach, south of the city. Inchon was secured by midnight and 50,000 men would land in the next four days. The North Koreans were taken by surprise, but they were far from defeated.

On the evening of the 16th, the Marines had pushed 6 miles inland with General O.P. Smith in command at a forward post. Early the next morning, Lt.Colonel Harold Roise saw about 200 North Korean infantry with 6 Russian T-34 tanks. They seemed unaware of the U.S. presence. As they were talking and laughing, they were ambushed by the Marines and eliminated by the American troops equipped with tanks and rocket launchers. MacArthur, Almond and Struble left the flagship to survey the field. Unperturbed by the threat of sniper fire, MacArthur walked around the enemy’s smoking wreckage and remarked, “You damned Marines! You always seem to be in the right place at the right time. You could not have staged a more spectacular performance if you had planned and rehearsed it.” (They had done just that in their field training exercises.) When told that he should return to safety, the general responded, “No, anywhere my men are, I will go.” And, he was seen talking to officers and enlisted men alike even as things took a bad turn. (These are the kind of actions that endeared the general to men like Smitty.)

map from the Marine Gazette

map from the Marine Gazette

The 32nd Regiment of the 7th Division arrived shortly after the Marines. Every third soldier was a barely trained South Korean draftees; 1,873 ROKs to 3,241 Americans. As the troops moved on, the USS Missouri fired their 16″ guns from 28 miles away. The Marines had to slow down and this gave the NKPA time to burn down the Han River bridges. American amtraks crossed the river and bridge sections that remained were overlaid with pontoons for the heavier equipment to cross. On Hill 186, the 1st Marines entered into hand-to-hand combat.

In a POW camp at Manpo, in the far north, a small boy approached Larry Zellers and Father Philip Crosbie at the fence. He handed them a note. Once translated, it turned out to be a communique by Radio Taegu reporting the Marine landing at Inchon under direction of General Douglas MacArthur. The time the prisoners received the message was a mere 2 hours after it happened! The boy continued to deliver updates until he was told that the guards were becoming suspicious and it was too dangerous for him to return.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Updated WWII News –

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While walking through a barn near Normandy, France last summer, Glyn Nightingale’s teenage son discovered an old canteen. After washing it off, he saw “J.J. Ricks” stamped on it. Corporal Jesse J. Ricks was 24 in 1944 when he last saw the canteen. After months of research, the Nightingales traveled thousands of miles to return the possession to its rightful owner, who is now 92 years old. Mr. Nightingale said, “It was the least he could do for a man who gave him so much. I probably would be speaking German if it wasn’t for these guys.” The canteen will be donated to Camp Blanding where it will remain on display along with some of Ricks’ medals and other items found with his canteen.

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Farewell Salutes –

Marshall E. Baker – Chanderville, IL & Alexandria, VA; Colonel, U.S. Army, 8th Bomber Command, WWII ETO, 32 year veteran, 2 Legions of Merit & Bronze Star

Demetrius Jim Poumakis – (80) Lake Worth, FL: U.S. Air Force

Edith Dodge – (92), Fort Belboir, VA; American Red Cross, WWII

Margaret Hines – Washington,D.C.; Office of Secretary of Defense & the Pentagon, Korean War, retired after 23 years.

Joseph Malecek – Chicago, IL &Ft. Lauderdale, FL; U.S. Army, WWII

Thomas Ronald Reagan – (88) Oakland Park, FL; WWII veteran

Richard Point – W.Hazleton, PA; U.S. Navy, WWII

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Resources: “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; “The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; “Hey Mac, Where Ya Been?” by Henry Berry; Library of Congress; Korean War on line.com; Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentenial; taylorempire airways.com

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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 23, 2013, in Korean War, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Your note about the A-bomb was quite amusing yet a trademark of your blogs, gpcox. Such unusual information that will NOT be found anywhere else. I loved the short report you inserted of J. J. Ricks’ canteen. Indeed, the Greatest Generation…

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  2. Thanks for the interesting blog on the Korean War. I’m reading Steven Pressfield’s novel, Gates of Fire, on one of the greatest battles of all times, Thermopylae in 480 BC. There’s a lot of common threads in all battles it seems; courage, leadership,brutality, and comaraderie.

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  3. Another good one, thanks for all you do to bring these stories to light.

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  4. It saddens me that the children were used as messengers, but know that did happen. I especially liked your story of the teenager finding the canteen. You always add a personal touch to tragic times. Thanks!

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    • Luckily I discovered the canteen story just before posting. Children were often used as messengers because they would be less conspicuous, quicker and could sneak around more easily than an adult. Thanks for stopping by, Sheri – Always a pleasure.

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  5. I’m continually amazed by the amount of information/history you share with us. I know that if I decided to study the Korean War on my own I would miss out on the details you provide that make learning about this part of our nation’s history interesting. How do you keep up with the names of the service members that have passed? To me, that in and of itself is a gift of honor to them and their families.

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    • Thanks for the compliments, Sheri. If you notice, my resources for the war are listed at the bottom, so I don’t think you’d miss anything – actually you’d get more because I try to condense the story. For the farewell Salutes, I go into a small list of newspapers from around the country.

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      • Honoring the servicemembers touches so many people. Without mentioning your blog, I’ve heard individuals say they’ve read their loved one’s names and how much it means to them. I’m involved in several service positions at the Little Rock VA and I’ve passed your URL along to many of the veterans there in the long term facility. I started getting them involved as many have lost their eye-sight and I thought your blog was something they might enjoy hearing your column read. It really is a hit.

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        • Sheri, I don’t know what to say! You have really made my day – no, make that my week!! I am so thrilled that they are enjoying the site and I hope they will let someone (if not me) know THEIR story. I really am speechless.

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  6. I’m glad the A-Bomb thing was only a rumor. Could you imagine if the enemy had heard the same thing?

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  7. I wonder what the forces thought about MacArthur . He certainly wasn’t admired by soldiers after he left Corrigidor during WWII . He was nicknamed ” dugout Doug ” . During Korean War , I suppose he was admired for his advocacy of bombing Chinese targets . He must have been blamed for the screw-ups during the early war months , however . I don’t think that he was on the front lines much , though . For one thing , he was an old soldier by that time . Interesting character .

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  8. Fascinating story about the napalm and A-bomb!

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  9. “You damned Marines! You always seem to be in the right place at the right time…” Love that quote showing field training exercises paying off!

    A general talking to officers and enlisted alike – no wonder he was popular.Again, lots of interesting information here.

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  10. gpcox- O love the Behind-the-Scenes look you give us – great post !!

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  11. Pierre Lagacé

    I love the comment section!

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  12. Pierre Lagacé

    This I like… (also the rest of the post)

    While walking through a barn near Normandy, France last summer, Glyn Nightingale’s teenage son discovered an old canteen. After washing it off, he saw “J.J. Ricks” stamped on it. Corporal Jesse J. Ricks was 24 in 1944 when he last saw the canteen. After months of research, the Nightingales traveled thousands of miles to return the possession to its rightful owner, who is now 92 years old. Mr. Nightingale said, “It was the least he could do for a man who gave him so much. I probably would be speaking German if it wasn’t for these guys.” The canteen will be donated to Camp Blanding where it will remain on display along with some of Ricks’ medals and other items found with his canteen.

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    • I just wish some people would remember this young man’s statement instead of always criticizing us. Thanks for your comments and your reblog – you are a good friend.

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  13. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    Korean War Part 6

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  14. The story of the child-messenger was a good touch to the story.

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  15. “I probably would be speaking German if it wasn’t for these guys” true.. I wonder how the government of Europe today would be if things had gone differently.

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