Korean War (7)

casualty evacuation, Sikorski S-51 in background

casualty evacuation, Sikorski S-51 in background

The 5th Marines were under MacArthur’s orders to capture Kimpo (ASAP) as it would be beneficial in retaking Seoul. A Marine Corsair landed on Kimpo as bulldozers prepared to fill the craters in the runways. He was hustled off the field and the official first aircraft to land was a Sikorsky helicopter from Marine Observation Squadron 6. The squadron’s 8 helicopters were the only such aircraft used in Korea.

Sept. 1950, LST Munsan wrecked near Chansadong

Sept. 1950, LST Munsan wrecked near Chansadong

22 September 1950, Walker’s 8th Army was barely moving as troops from the Inchon landing were nearing Seoul. The 187th Rakkasans began landing at Kimpo airfield. Lt.Colonel Delbert Munson assumed command of the field which had mainly been cleared by the previous troops. Once the entire regiment was in place, their mission was to clear the Kimpo peninsula; the 1st Platoon, L Company took the point to go after North Korean guerrillas that were heading north. On 27 September at 1230 hours, the 187th was ambushed by approximately 400 of the enemy and the heavy combat lasted 4 hours.

Sept. 1950, U.S. troops in Seoul

Sept. 1950, U.S. troops in Seoul

MacArthur departed for Japan, leaving General Almond with a reminder to take Seoul back. In the States, newspapers made headlines of the success at Inchon while reservists were being called up for duty. According to Colonel Alpha Bowser, Gen. O.P. Smith’s deputy, “… nothing was fast enough for Almond… he had a habit of treating the Han River like it had 5 or 6 bridges across it, and of course it had none.” On 24 September, Almond pulled his jeep in front of Gen. Smith’s command post to threaten the Marines 5th Regiment, in particular,(who had been fighting since the first landings), if they did not “make headway” in the next 24 hours, he would divert Gen. Barr’s 7th Division to the center of the Seoul front. Barr noted in his diary for that day, “Almond displayed a complete ignorance of the fighting qualities of the Marines.” On 29 September, the 1st Battalion of the 187th attacked, heading northwest, and 10 men were lost in the battle as they approached Tongjin. They continued sweeping the hills and then would call Naval aircraft in to finish off the area.

Inchon 15 Sept. 1950

Carol H. Graham, from Tuscola, Tx, w/ 3 POWs at Inchon, 15 Sept. 1950

Syngman Rhee anticipated being reinstated as head of a unified nation and Truman responded that the United Nations would decide if troops were to cross the 38th parallel. The fight for Seoul would be done house-by-house and street-by-street as the NKPA intensified. Almond continued to push the men in his attempts to keep on MacArthur’s schedule.

26 September, Russian T-34 tanks rolled down the avenues of Seoul and American Marines were there to fight them. Streets and individual buildings changed hands repeatedly. With orders to take the capital city for the planned restoration ceremonies for Rhee, the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines stormed the National Assembly building and routed the North Koreans room-by-room. Lt. Charles Mize, a veteran of Okinawa, won a Navy Cross for Valor, for this operation.

Marines inspect captured enemy weapons

Marines inspect captured enemy weapons

During the ceremonies, Seoul continued to burn. Although in his speech Rhee called the day one of “unity, understanding and forgiveness,” an historian would say differently. Whereas the Communists had killed anyone in allegiance with South Korea, execution squads were now liquidating anyone who was accused of collaborating with the north – even as the ceremonies took place. On 29 September, MacArthur and Rhee both left for Kimpo field, in separate planes.

The North Koreans seemed to become lost and fell apart in the high-tech war and retreated to reorganize. (It would become evident to the Allied forces to shoot at the enemy buglers. Each one blew a different command and without them, the troops became confused.) Fifth Air Force Mustang fighter-bombers were dropping napalm in areas above the Naktong River with 110 pound tanks of the stuff. This was at first costing the U.S. $600 per tank, but was down to $36.35 now that it was produced in Japanese remodeled factories, thanks to Lt.Commander Edward Metcalf.

North Korean officers would often allow themselves to be captured while disguised as enlisted men. Once inside a POW camp, they could organize the prisoners to rally against their American guards. The American altruistic care of prisoners would actually create another problem. There were already about 110,000 POWs near Pusan alone – now how to get enough food and clothing not only for them but for the South Korean refugees – MacArthur was begging Washington for assistance.

Col. Richard Stephens w/ Maggie Higgins, Taegu

Col. Richard Stephens w/ Maggie Higgins, Taegu

When Maggie Higgins, reporter, met with MacArthur in Tokyo, she noticed his usually neat desk with congratulatory messages sprawled across it for the Inchon landing and she remarked on them. The general said, ” I’m afraid I can’t take these messages too seriously.” He then proceeded to tell her about when he was a pretty good baseball player at West Point and the sound of the cheers – until the day his knee gave way while running to catch a fly ball, “…the boos of the crowd were louder than the cheers had ever been.”

General Walker had ROK troops under his command, but at the same time, Syngman Rhee was telling them to ignore American orders and head into North Korea. Walker requested the Eighth Army be combined with the X Corps, but MacArthur refused. Inchon was jammed with Marines waiting to sail on to Wonsan and they were receiving the supplies that arrived directly from Japan while the Eighth Army was running out of fuel and supplies and becoming quite exhausted defending the perimeter.

Crossing the 38th Parallel

Crossing the 38th Parallel

1 October, offensive forces crossed the 38th parallel towards the Yalu River with the ROKs in the lead. The following day, the entire 187th RCT reassembled at Kimpo and continued with their training jumps while MacArthur kept them in reserve. General Walker was not a fan of the airborne as a rule and made it clear, in no uncertain terms, to MacArthur that he did not approve of the unit being held back.

British 29th Inf. Brigade meet up w/ G.I.s at Naktong River, Sept. 1950

British 29th Inf. Brigade meet up w/ G.I.s at Naktong River, Sept. 1950

4 October, General Almond was in Seoul and received Colonel Overshine’s 31st Infantry of the 7th Division. He was hoping he could find a reason to have the colonel sacked due to a friendly fire mishap on 26 September. Overshine was blamed for the incident and relieved the next day. (It is my belief that something else was coming into play.) That same morning, Colonel Powell’s 17th Infantry Regiment caused 5 casualties and 55 injured – but Powell was NOT sacked.

7 October, the 1st Marine Division prepared to board the ships that would take them the 850 mile U-turn voyage around the peninsula, while the 7th Infantry traveled by rail to Taegu and Pusan. NKPA troops were left behind to cause trouble another day. Gen. Almond went aboard the Mount McKinley and sent a sour message to MacArthur about MGeneral Barr. Barr had been warning other officers to obey every whim of Gen. Almond, lest they wind up like Overshine.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

David C. Jones – Aberdeen, SD & Washington DC; General, Joint Chiefs of Staff 1978-82, Commander of Headquarters USAF, Korea & Vietnam

Elmer Bourdage – Seattle, WA; U.S. Navy submarine service, USS Snapper, PTO WWII

Brian McGahan – Waltham, MA; U.S. Army, Vietnam

George W. Domasco – Sun City, AZ; U.S. Army WWII

Gregory R. Fine – Wasington DC & PA; Captain U.S. Navy submarine service

Jesus Villa – Glendale, AZ; U.S. Army, WWII PTO, 542nd Engineer Regiment

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Resources: “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Koreanwaronline.com; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; “The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; facilities.grc.nasa.gov

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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 26, 2013, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. The third picture in your set, the Marine taking the three prisoners is my great uncle, Carol H. Graham. He was a kid from Tuscola, Texas who would later fight his way out of Chosin with a Springfield 1903 he had picked up along the way. He always told us the pistol in that picture was empty, but the guys surrendering didn’t know, or more likely, didn’t care. You may already know that a cropped version of that photo appeared as the cover of Newsweek on October 9, 1950. This is the first time I have ever seen the picture in it entirety. I have never seen his name mentioned anywhere else this picture has been published, so I thought you might like to put a name to the face. Thank you for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thank you very much for contacting me! In this way we both benefit and your uncle will forever have his name put to picture!! I appreciate you taking the time for this. You must be very proud of your uncle – as it should be!!

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  2. This in-fighting is truly an eye-opener for the boots that may have been on the ground. While it doesn’t completely surprise me, it is cause for distress for me… Great info, gpcox.

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  3. Two things I took away from this . . . yet again, egoes rule over smarts, and another reminder of how often we align ourselves with dubious regimes.

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  4. Pierre Lagacé

    A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    Part 7

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    • Only if the politicians decide to learn from history. Thanks for being such a faithful reader; some have fallen by the wayside or are waiting for me to get back to WWII.

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  5. It was interesting what the NKorean officers did – new to me.

    The political in-fighting by the UN officers – a pity that

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  6. What a sad state of affairs and so different from the unity that was often found in WWII. Quite interesting to read about the whole POW situation and infiltration.

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  7. Leaving the lovely Maggie to one side—a cynic can’t help but notice that it seems to be all about personal ambitions and politics … while the poor old grunt is just a (disposable) tool for the ambitious (or ass-covering).

    Your reporting must rattle a few cages—if most of the reportees aren’t deceased? As the actress said to the bishop: “Please don’t stop~!”

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    • That is certainly how it is ending up and just one of the reasons I will NOT be going into the Vietnam War; but back to about 1937 and the start of WWII, more in depth than before. You’re not being cynical at the moment – you’re being realistic.

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  8. One of the things I enjoy about your posts are the fascinating pics. Nicely done.

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  9. Another informative post . Thanks again .

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  10. Thanks again for the news digest of an extremely complicated and fluid situation. There are so many lessons here, not just for our school kids, but the voters and the government.

    Keep the information fl,owing.

    God bless,

    Don

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  11. Interesting info about Almond. As I recall, he was considered to be MacArthur’s puppet and was just channeling MacArthur’s impatience. I think X Corps had originally been part of Eighth Army (Corps is normally under Army) but MacArthur separated them so that he could have more direct control of the Corps, bypassing Army commander Walker.
    That reminds us that generals are humans too, and sometimes can be just as “political” as “politicians.”

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    • Yes, everything I’ve found so far corroborates what you’ve said about Almond. Yes, the generals are human and can be ‘politicians’, but at least they are informed in military knowledge, the actual politicians are informed in ……?

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  12. For a moment, I thought it was Amelia Earhart, which, of course, wouldn’t have been possible.

    I’ve found this series very informative, and appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into the research behind it. Nearly everything I’ve read is new or explained in deeper detail than I was familiar with.

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    • Very happy to hear you say that, Weggie. And, yes you’re right about Higgins. I was wondering how long it would be before someone noticed the resemblance to Earhart.

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  13. The fine picture of the S-51 at the top of this post should be spelled Sikorsky; not Sikorski. Excellent post, btw.

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  14. Always interesting reading. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. The intrigue by the N. Korean POWs is interesting. I didn’t know that until now.

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  16. Don’t mean to go off topic but when I saw that cover of the Life mag. in your post, it made me think about the two box loads I have, given to me by my father. Still don’t know what I’m gonna do with them! 🙂

    Like

  17. Pierre Lagacé

    No wonder they refer to the Korean War as the Forgotten War.

    Forgotten no more.

    BTW…
    Lovely picture of Maggie.

    Like

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