Korean War (17)

K Co., 35th RCT, 25th Div. fire at CCF w/ a M1919A4, 30 caliber air-cooler light machine gun during Operation Ripper.

K Co., 35th RCT, 25th Div. fire at CCF w/ a M1919A4, 30 caliber air-cooler light machine gun during Operation Ripper.

The battered men of the 38th Regiment of the 2nd Division, the Dutch battalion and the 187th RCT were ordered to “make the strongest possible stand to blunt the CCF.” This amounted to approximately 8,000 men. As expected on 13 February 1951, the enemy attacked along with their usual whistles, horns and bugles blaring. Hills numbered 339,340,341 and 342 were the east to west ridge-lines needed to be taken. Here, the fighting became so intense and continuous that it remains difficult to follow the progress over the rugged terrain and individual unit combat. Casualties mounted on both sides, but their position was held. Hill after hill and ridge after ridge, they grabbed whoever was still able to fight and went through Hills 240, 255 and 738. (Hills were numbered according to their height.)

CCF XIII Army attack on Hoengsong - ROK 8th Div. destroyed

CCF XIII Army attack on Hoengsong – ROK 8th Div. destroyed

18 February, the Chinese realized they were fighting a lost cause and pulled back. Ridgeway was notified and set up Operation Killer to launch a counterattack. Two days later, with a visit from MacArthur, they went over this plan that included recrossing the Han River. Later on, MacArthur would claim (with Almond’s confirmation) that this operation was his own by stating, “I ordered Ridgeway to start north again.” No such order had been given as far as the records show. Since censorship had been in force since December 1950, Ridgeway tried diplomatically to stymie MacArthur’s theatrics and grandstanding with the press. He complained that MacArthur’s long-standing habit of visiting when a major offensive was about to be enforced was most assuredly going to be picked up by the enemy.

By 28 February, all enemy resistance south of the Han River was eliminated. The 187th RCT Rakkasans were once again sent back to Taegu to reorganize.

1-12 March, the U.N. line was about halfway between the 37th and 38th parallels and this did not sit well with Ridgeway. The 1st Marine Division captured Hoengsong. 5 March, COMNAVFE (the commander of the Navy, Far East), stated his intelligence reports were showing a build-up of CCF and small boats in port opposite Formosa. The junk might be used for an amphibious attempt on Formosa. Operation Ripper, devised 2 weeks before with MacArthur’s approval, was to trap and eliminate the enemy. It was intended to split the Chinese and the North Koreans. This was put into action on the 7th with about 150,000 men on the offensive. By the 11th, the US IX Corps had reached their Line for Phase One.

14-19 March, Seoul was once again in Allied hands; being that it was deserted and laid in rubble, no great victory was declared. For these 5 days, the USS Missouri fired on Kyojo Wan, Songjin, Chaho and Wonsan. The ship was credited with 8 railroad bridges and 7 highway bridges.

Even Peng told Mao that no one would win the war. He reported back that with 227,000 American troops backing the 250,000 ROK troops and 21,000 from Britain, Australia, Turkey, the Philippines, Thailand, Canada, New Zealand, Greece, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, would be too many to eliminate.

enemy POWs

enemy POWs

IX and X Corps neared Chunchon; this was the 3rd Phase line and the Marines were met with heavy fighting. On 20 March, the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) informed MacArthur that the UN was ready to begin negotiations with Red China. The front had reached north far enough where the talks might produce a cease-fire line. MacArthur blamed Washington for not going in for a total victory; such Cold War rules alluded the general. Even the 150,000 POWs captured since Inchon were more of a hindrance than a bargaining chip. The logistics problems were enormous, but not the only ones. The militants, ordered by Mao to surrender, disrupted the camps with uprisings, drug trafficking, murder, prostitution and communication with the enemy forces out in the field. On the 23rd, MacArthur gave Ridgeway authorization to cross the 38th. This was done without JCS approval.

General Sams

A large spreading of a “plague-like disease” in the enemy bases would start accusations by the pro-Communist reporters that the Americans were waging germ warfare. BGeneral Crawford F. Sams, later to be named Surgeon General of the Army, took on a dangerous mission in the Wonsan sector. In this area, Sams examined strickened Chinese soldiers and found the disease to be hemorrhagic smallpox. The origin of which is known to be Manchuria.

Mosquito hunt

Mosquito hunt

When asked about UN troops crossing the 38th, Truman blundered, “That is a tactical matter for the field commander. A commander-in-chief 7,000 miles away does not interfere with field operations. We are working to free the Republic of Korea…” Upon hearing this in Tokyo, MacArthur grumbled about a “one-sided gag.” He said that officials in Washington can say what they want, but he needed approval for anything more significant than a morning report.

Click images to enlarge.

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Current News –

Picture released by Chinese of Allied POWs

Picture released by Chinese of Allied POWs

A “Korea Remembered 1950-1953” ceremony was given for Darrell Krenz and hundreds of other Korean War veterans in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this past Tuesday. Krenz, was a bazooka operator, sniper and POW; a member of the 24th Infantry Division.

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Farewell Salutes –korean67

Fred Alfele – Atlantis, FL; US Navy, oral surgeon

Bartley Fugler – Arlington, VA & Naples, FL; US Navy, pilot, WWII

George Kuhter – Chicago area; US Navy, WWII

Judge Clarence Lipnick – Chicago, IL; US Army WWII, D-Day

Raymond Vernier – Detroit, MI & Lake Worth, FL; US Army, medic, Korea

G.T. “Tom” Simpson – Greenville, SC; civilian employee, contractor WWII,; built bases in VA, SC & GA

Leonard Witt, Jr. – Marysville, WA; US Army, WWII

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Resources: Korean War on line; “Rakkasans” & “The Angels” by Gen. EM Flanagan; history.navy.mil;”MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; “The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsy; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant

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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 September 28, 2013, in Korean War, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 75 Comments.

  1. I thoroughly enjoy your writing. You make history come alive. I visited Night Owl. He’s interesting, too.
    I have one question I hope you can help with. I was going to do a blog on dancing. (Just a simple little piece all because of something someone else said.) I was born at the end of WW2, but I remember hearing about dances for the troops. Were those dances to raise money? Where they to boost morale?
    With the way the government is trying to change history, I think it is so important to have an accurate record.

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  2. So the USS Missouri was credited with 15 bridges! Amazing… and from a floating platform miles offshore. Can you imagine being at the receiving end?

    That reminded me of a combat story. An old friend of mine, a Marine, went ashore with a special forces unit under cover of darkness. He became a combat photographer after three tours of duty in ‘Nam (He was decorated to the hilt.). It was because of his combat experience and love of action that he was selected for this secret mission. He had a new viewing device where a laser light of some type could be aimed inside a room. Then on a special monitor, he could “see” inside. The dope was that a number of high ranking enemy generals were meeting inside a structure.

    His objective was to “look” inside the room from a distance, confirm the existence of the high value targets then skedaddle with his special forces protection. The com man radio’d a signal. He said they moved like hell. Within a few minutes, he could hear round after round of 16″ shells overhead coming in from the ocean (and they don’t sound a bit like what Hollywood makes them to be!). The ground shook immensely for many minutes, he said.

    The team reconnoitered from a distance where the structure was. My friend stated there was nothing but an immense crater. A VERY immense crater… and the rounds were from a battleship. I forgot the lady’s name. 😦

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    • Thanks for the story, Koji. Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. In future posts a lot of the battles were done by ship and IT IS amazing how they hit their targets with pin-point accuracy from so far away.

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  3. I find it strange that we fought the idea of not using chemical weapons in a war. We used the ABomb but a chemical attack is not acceptable. Over one hundred thousand dead with one bomb in less than a day. Yet fifteen hundred was enough to make us threaten Syria. Do not get me wrong, I am against germ warfare. It scares the hell out of me. But which is okay. The ABomb, starvation, firebombing European Cities? It confuses the daylights out of me.

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    • The way I see it, it depends on the politician or the politically acceptable death of the time.

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    • Awax (does that refer to AWACS?) – You need to understand the rampant racism in propaganda at the time. If you can find them, look up any WW2-period US film about the Japanese. They are regularly portrayed as thick-glassed, bucktooth monkeys. The opinion of Chinese weren’t much better, either. And a lot of the effects of the nuclear bomb, especially radiation, were not well known or widely understood, so the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombs were looked on as simply bigger versions of conventional HE bombs. That concept tended to continue through the Korean War – it wasn’t until the bigger fusion bombs were being tested that the concept was driven home as to just how horrible these things were. And one other fact – up until our recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, every Purple Heart medal given out from Korea through Desert Storm, were pulled from a stockpile minted specifically for the invasion of Japan. Death tolls among our troops were put in the hundreds of thousands, with potentials for well over a million wounded, and Japanese deaths nearing the half-million mark during the initial invasion of the southern island alone. Compared to those numbers, Little Boy and Fat Man were considered “cheap” ways of ending the war. And remember too – fewer people were killed by the atomic weapons, than were killed in the fire-bombing of Tokyo.
      Definitely a case of morals taking a back seat to numbers. And sometimes, morals didn’t even get into the car.

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  4. wonderfully entertaining and informative. Thank you!

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  5. I was so pleased to read Sheridegrom’s comment on your post today. It’s wonderful and heartwarming that your posts are proving to be of such value to the veterans.

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    • Isn’t it amazing! Who would have ever thought it would spread so far? I had started this site to get my father’s scrapbook down because it is very quickly falling apart. Smitty would be tickled to know this is happening with the veterans.

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      • Absolutely. What did he do when he was really pleased about something or with something you did?

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      • I really appreciate the work you have put into your blog. I have always liked to read, study, and learn history. I know that technically I am a veteran but I only served for 14 months because I butted heads with a lightning bolt and I didn’t win but the Army said they didn’t need me anymore. I know I lost my health from having been in the wrong place at the wrong time but I had hoped to make it a career but I haven’t ever felt like a veteran because I never got to even get through one hitch. But, I do appreciate those who have served our country when they were needed the most I admire their courage and their sacrifices

        ted.

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        • Something tells me you are a veteran and don’t even know it. A veteran is a person who vows to willingly die for his country and fellow soldiers. I do not need an answer to this question – you need to honestly ask it and answer it yourself – then you’ll know.

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          • I know that the VA says I am and my wife and family also. I guess it just wounds me inside that I wasn’t at least allowed to finish up four years. I and they knew that I would never be able to do any physical activities to speak of but it would have been appreciated if they would have at least let me ride a desk for the remainder of the four. I have always been very gung ho for our country, I just wanted to be able to serve her better than it turned out that I was allowed to because of the injuries. When I know, see, and read of events that our brothers went through and I didn’t, that is why I have always felt not totally worthy of the honor of being called a veteran.

            ted

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  6. It surprises me to discover all the info I thought I knew about the Korean War has been twisted to paint a picture of Harry S. Truman and the ultra-statesman, with a simply county philosophy. Reading your post and several of the comments is causing me to do more research on our 33rd president. Where did the ‘buck’ really ‘stop?’ It doesn’t appear to be with him.

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  7. GP – You’ve done it again. The veterans are loving the Korean War presentation. You are feeding their souls, their minds and most of all the feeling that what they did all those years ago that what they really did was important to our nation. I’m getting feedback daily from four different mental health providers that run groups and a psychologist that oversees the entire program – there’s a new bounce in their step. Thank you for allowing us to use your vessel to brighten the veteran’s days. I hear most of them are getting up for breakfast now and that rarely happened before and they’ve staked out their own little corner of the dining room as their very own.

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    • This is fantastic, Sheri. I so look forward to seeing your next comment about the veterans. I know your own health is not the best, so your efforts for them are all the more impressive. As usual, I can not find the words to express how you and the men have made me feel. Thank you, Sheri and give Tom my best.

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  8. Wow! Smallpox! I am sooooo glad they’ve “eradicated” wicked diseases like that one. Many thanks again for bringing yet another riveting, fact-filled piece to us, Gp!

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    • Unfortunately, I hear smallpox and mumps are making a comeback since so many new parents do not have their children vaccinated. If a school demands the shots, they home school their kids – and round and round we go…

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  9. I wish everyone would stop repeating this old distortion about the “police action.” I lived through those times — I was a WAR correspondent there– and everyone from the president through Congress and on down through everyone who read the newspapers knew that it was a war and an ugly one at that.
    President Truman never uttered the phrase “police action” as far as I can discover. What happened was that on June 29–well before any U.S. troops had entered the war– at his first meeting with the press after the North Korean invasion Truman was asked if the Korea situation could be called “a police action under the Uniuted Nations.” He said “Yes, that is exactly what it amounts to.” And at that moment it really had not become a full-fledged war. And of course Truman could not call it a war, because under the Constitution only Congress can declare war, and Congress was certainly not about to do that. If Truman had admitted publicly what he and everyone else knew, that he had committed US troops to war, he could have been impeached for violating his oath to defend the Constitution.
    The justification for the war that got most of the US public (and a dozen other countries that sent troops to help us) to support it was that it was aimed at stopping aggression. We understood that because we had fought and won World War II for that very reason.

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    • I can not speak for my readers, but in my opinion, your explanation is both accurate and the ACTUAL reason why everyone is upset. Truman DID side-step Congress and SHOULD have been impeached, yet the details of this war were hidden from us during school and after (WHY?) I wish you would tell us which paper you wrote for and when you were in Korea. Did you cover east or west coast, etc. Your career sounds interesting, why not let us in on some of the details?

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      • Do you believe that Truman should have done nothing and let the Communist North Koreans take over all of South Korea? From your own research you know that’s what would have happened if the US had not intervened. If you go back and read the newspapers and magazines and books of the day you will see that Congress would not have declared war — certainly not in time to stop the North Korean advance. I’m not saying you are wrong or right to believe that. A lot of people at the time thought that Korea was none of our business and that the South Korean regime of Syngman Rhee was just as undemocratic as the North Koreans and that we should leave them alone to fight their own battles. But I suggest you consider the alternatives that were open to Truman at the time. Remember he did not act unilaterally. He went to the United Nations and our effort in Korea was, theoretically and legally, a United Nations effort, even though the US bore the brunt of it. Whether following our treaty obligations under the United Nations was technically a breach of the Constitution is something for the legal scholars to determine, not you or me.
        As for my career: I was sent to Korea by the International News Service, which was the wire service of the Hearst newspapers. I didn’t get there until early 1951, so I missed the first, worst, winter. I was part of a team that covered all the military action, the political action, and the armistice talks in Kaesong and Panmunjom. As an accredited correspondent I could travel to any front or rear area that I needed to visit. Heartbreak Ridge, in September-October 1951, was one of the battles I covered.
        In 1952, I was hired by Time magazine and continued to cover the war for Time until the end of 1952, when I was transferred back to work as a news writer in the Time offices in New York.
        You and some of your readers have complained that you were not taught much about Korea in school, and I think that is deplorable that the war was partly forgotten. But at the time no one was hiding it. It was the biggest story in the world, constantly on the front pages. That’s why I, as a young journalist starting my career, was happy to be doing it even though, at first, I was paid only fifty bucks a week and was getting shot at once in a while. (I was not subject to the draft at the time because I had served in the Navy at the end of WW II.)
        If your readers would like to see something I wrote about the Korean War they can go to my blog, Night owl’s Notebook, and look at my post on July 26, the anniversary of the Korean armistice. I believe you read it and LIked it, for which I thank you.

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        • I thank you very much for your story and your opinions. A very impressive bio indeed and any time you wish to add any data about an area of the war – please comment. That is the plan of this web site, to state the facts, tell what actually happened, not give my opinion about events. I want to see others participate (such as yourself) and hear the different views. I am not attempting to bend people to my way of thinking, because I do my best to keep my ideas out of the post. I did have some difficulty getting a lot of info about Heartbreak Ridge, so your experience will be greatly appreciated. I’m afraid most of us were too young to read the newspapers back during the war and I’m afraid historians do not say it was such a big story after the first year – as you noted, Rhee’s regime was just as corrupt as the north, making the action and cause very unpopular.

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          • If you need more info on Heartbreak Ridge I suggest the book “This Kind of War” by T.R. Fehrenbach and also the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge. John Toland’s book “In Mortal Combat” has some interesting and controversial statements about why there was a battle there in the first place
            I have pdf files of some newspaper clippings of a couple of my stories on Heartbreak Ridge and I would be happy to send you copies but I don’t find your email address here on your blog. I suggest you send your email addresss as a comment on my blog and I will remove the comment as soon as I get the address. Or perhaps you can suggest another way I can send you the files.

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            • I appreciate the assistance. I hope other readers will also look into this era, I’m trying to spark curiosity in people to rediscover history and the names of these two books will help. (I always enjoy Toland)

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  10. gpcox –
    A large spreading of a “plague-like disease” in the enemy bases would start accusations by the pro-Communist reporters that the Americans were waging germ warfare.

    Isn’t the media still trying to create “mountains out of molehills”?

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  11. I always wanted to meet the person who made MacArthur’s hats. I think Ringling Bros. travels the country with less material! 😉
    Seriously, with the massive egos involved, both political and military, it’s a wonder we don’t remember Korea as the first nuclear war.

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  12. Yes , another excellent post . Thanks .

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  13. I too appreciate the interesting details you add – the fact that “the enemy attacked with their usual whistles, horns and bugles blaring’ is one of those that makes it all more human. Were they rallying their frightened side or trying to put more fear into the other side?

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  14. Didn’t know about the smallpox…thanks for including so many details. Woof!

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  15. Interesting point about MacArthur’s habit of showing up before a major offense. Thanks for the great post.

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  16. I do like your posts. To the point and bringing out aspects we never get to learn about. My uncle was in Korea and came back shattered – physically and mentally. He died very bitter about his treatment and how the “police action” was such a lie. Very sad. All war is brutal but this “police action” was brutal in many aspects only those there or people who care to do research and learn can know.

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  17. Reinforcing my thoughts on why Truman never should have been voted vice president. We really did go overboard on this communism stuff.

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  18. Habitual patterns are unwise when dealing with an adversary. It’s amazing that Gen MacArthur either didn’t see his own, or that someone didn’t alert him to this weakness.

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  19. Once again, great post. And once again, these are subjects that is virtually never discussed or written about in high school–all the little details that are really big ones, all the heroes and military personnel we never hear of, etc. Nice job…..

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  20. Your “no nonsense” way of writing is something I admire and appreciate. Thanks again for a great post.

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  21. Another great post about this “police action”.

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    • I continue to find new resources of information and it makes the term “police action” so obnoxious – how did Truman and the UN ever get away with trying to explain the war away like that?

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