Korean War (18)

Operation Ripper - Tanks of the 25th Div. cross the Han River, March '51

Operation Ripper – Tanks of the 25th Div. cross the Han River, March ’51

17 March 1951, Operation Ripper had started to meet its objectives. Ridgeway was handling the problems of bad weather and rough terrain by using Korean porters, with A-frames strapped to their backs, to assist the troops with the equipment. Large enemy forces appeared to be drawing north. MacArthur flew in wanting a jeep tour of the 1st Marine Division, making it his 12th visit to the country and the day before Hill 399 had been taken.

When Marshall returned to the Dai Ichi HQ in Tokyo, he received a complaint from Washington that they had not been informed of Operation Ripper; this time MacArthur was innocent, he did order Ridgeway not to cross the 38th parallel. With the UN in plans for negotiations, Gen. Marshall, Acheson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 19 March, drafted a proposal to rein in MacArthur and sent it to a vacationing Truman in Key West, FL. 21 March (in Japan), MacArthur responded that his existing orders gave him whatever authority he needed.

Operation Ripper

Operation Ripper

With a top-secret message NOT to cross the 38th, Ridgeway changed the operation’s name to Tomahawk on 23 March and made a drop at Munsan, north of Seoul and astride of the parallel. Ridgeway and his pilot, Lynch, took off to watch the paratroopers and saw that the planes had released them too early. While under fire, Lynch landed and told the men they were 10 miles off their target DZ (drop zone). He then led a squad out, silenced the enemy machine-gun and returned with 4 prisoners. The troopers turned the plane around so that he and the general could take off again and meet MacArthur at Kimpo airfield.

 MacArthur

MacArthur

MacArthur stayed at Kimpo a short time, but when he returned to Japan, he released a communique that thwarted efforts for easy peace talks. It was still 23 March when Robert Lovett, undersecretary of defense was made aware of the message by the Pentagon. He was at Dean Acheson’s home at the time, along with Dean Rusk and Soviet expert Alexis Johnson. The 4 men decided to wake Truman and demand MacArthur’s removal. “Newsweek” published a story stating that the general was in violation of orders from Washington and that he should stay out of foreign policy.

3 April, as I and IX Corps were about to start Operation Dauntless, MacArthur made, what he did not know, would be his final visit to Korea. Ridgeway met him at K-18 air base near Kangnung on the east coast and they went by jeep to Yangyang; recently occupied just above the 38th. He made his inspection and then returned once again to Japan. General Peng informed Beijing that he felt the meeting of the 2 generals must mean a frontal attack in the east coordinated with an amphibious operation on Wonsan and Tongchon.

General Peng, 1951

General Peng, 1951

6 April, Bradley brought a recommendation to Truman to authorize MacArthur on a preemptive nuclear strike if the Chinese decided to push south of the 38th. The Bomb, Truman said, might be used beyond Korea’s borders, but he would reserve the decision until the National Security Council’s special committee on atomic energy held their meeting. AEC Chairman, Gordon Dean, then gave Gen. Vandenberg authorization to transfer 9 nuclear cores.

Residents return to Seoul

Residents return to Seoul

7 April, the 99th Medium Bomber Wing picked up the bombs for delivery to Guam, not Okinawa as originally requested. The president had Paul Nitze draw up orders for MacArthur’s dismissal, it began bluntly, “You will turn over your command at once to Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgeway. You are authorized to have such orders as are necessary to complete desired travel to such place as you may select…” But, this was not yet signed.

On this same day, Judge Irving Kaufman made his famous decision on the fate of the otherwise notorious Rosenbergs. They were sentenced to die in the electric chair for treason.

9 April, The US I and IX Corps and the ROK I Corps, on the east coast fought their way to Line Kansas; this was the onset of Operation Rugged. From 11-14 April, the Fast Carrier Task Force (TF-77) began air operations in the Straits of Formosa. They were outside the 3 mile limit of mainland China to photograph possible targets on land.

Click on images to enlarge.

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F-86 Sabre

F-86 Sabre

16 February 1951 – 27 July 1953, Wonsan was reduced to rubble by the longest siege in American Naval history. (I will include here, in future posts, only a handful of the individual battles fought during that period, the naval records for this is quite extensive.) Hugnam and Sagjim endured similar fates. In the air was the US F-86 Sabres, British Fleet Air Arm aircraft; the Australians and South Africans also supplied a fighter squadron each, to add to the existing UN force.

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Farewell Salutes –

Phillip Nowak – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

Howard Woltman – Westchester, IL; US Navy, WWII

Melvin Shapiro – Lauderhill, FL; US Navy WWII

Joseph Garbacz – Alexandria, VA; US Army Air Corps, Colonel Corps of Engineers (Ret.), WWII & Korea

Hugh Harvey – Childs, MD; US Coast Guard, WWII

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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 October 1, 2013, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 67 Comments.

  1. It was probably a surprise to some to learn of South Africa’s participation in the Korean War. South Africa was long anathema due to its policies of apartheid; however, its soldiers well deserve recognition for their service: http://saafww2pilots.yolasite.com/. You might want to check out the website.

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    • Thank you. I try to include as many countries as I can find for the posts, so you link will come in handy. Too much data from historians is listed as units of the Commonwealth and it makes things difficult for giving individual credit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As the website, SAAF WW2 Heritage Site, notes, “the history of the South African force’s participation in the second world war has been badly neglected since 1948, when a new government came to power that opposed South Africa’s involvement in the war.” That government, by the way, also instituted the apartheid laws that dominated South Africa for the next 50 years.

        The website, http://biltongbru.wix.com/ww2-saaf-heritage#labout/c24de, provides an extensive review of the South African Air Force achievements during WW II. It is a fascinating story that well deserves wider exposure.

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        • You are quite right, this is an outstanding site! Unfortunately, as I went from page to page, I found that every one served in the ETO. So, you see the conundrum in my locating the South Africans who served in the Pacific. As I said when I restarted my research on WWII, I am trying to be more international, but including the ETO would be stretching me thin – I know my limitations. I grew up interested in the PTO, so I’ll leave the ETO to others. Thank you for giving me the link, perhaps I can find some way to the PTO men thru them.

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          • For some reason, I believe SAAF pilots and personnel were sent to India at the conclusion of the war in Europe. I think they were recalled to South Africa before entering combat in Southeast Asia.

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            • I’ll jot that down and check into it, thanks for your efforts!! I feel bad when I happen to overlook someone.

              Liked by 1 person

            • In trying to locate additional data on SAAF in the Pacific, I found the 11th East African Division in Burma, 1944 – another unknown fact for me. One thing about research – it’s basically endless……

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              • There is an interesting article along with a graphic at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8344170.stm. It is worth a look. The graphic, entitled “Africa’s forgotten soldiers in WW2”, can be viewed at
                http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/46684000/gif/_46684746_africa_soldier_ww2_466.gif. While we have gotten off topic , it is interesting how in thinking about World War II so many focus only on the major belligerents. The involvement of “colonial” troops probably accelerated the independence movements in Africa, the East Indies, Indo China and other areas.

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                • Thanks, and not totally off topic – in searching some more, I found in my old files – Units in Burma – and this not only gives credence to your thoughts on colonial independence, but also the reason I have such difficulty giving credit to everyone –
                  What is listed in historical journals for the British 14th Army: English, Irish, Welsh, Scots, New Zealanders, Australians, NewFoundlanders, Canadians, South Africans, Chinese, East & West Africans, Chins, Kachins, Karens, Burmans, Sikhs, Pathans, Garhwalis, & Gurkhas.
                  All these people are under the credits of the British.

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. Another amazing history lesson! 🙂

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  3. I thought you would be interested in this little booklet that my Mama wrote when my oldest brother George was shot and killed during the Normandy invasion. Have you run across it before? paratroopersfaith@cox.net

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    • I’m not certain it is the same one, but I have run across paratrooper’s prayers on Magro’s site; Drop Zone.org etc. What unit was George in? Tell us more about him.

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      • I have sent an email to a paratrooper friend who was in Nam. He knows lots of details. Back to you soon. He may write you directly ….Bil Hawkins.

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        • If he does, please have him do it thru this site. Any one not in my contacts goes into spam and gets deleted – sorry. I’ll look forward to hearing from him.

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          • OK. Will try…I am not very good with technology. I sent him the address of your site.

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          • I found some information. George was a Sergeant of 507th Parachute Infantry , 82nd Airborne Division. He jumped into St Marie E’glese in France , the night before D-Day. He was only wounded in the hip but there were no antibiotics and he died on the ship back to England. He is buried in Cambridge. Have you been to the Paratroopers’ Museum in St. Marie E’Glese? It is wonderful. When we went to Normandy, it was pouring down rain, so we didn’t go to that cemetery or walk on the beach but the holiness of the ground was quite evident when you see the beach and the cliffs and the bunkers. I was not born until 1946 so I don’t know so much. Bil got one of the Paratroopers Faiths when he was at Fr Bragg and he started writing to my mom. He has been a family friend now for all those years. He is in AZ so the time is different. Where are you located? Where was your Dad located in the war?

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            • I have not been to Europe, so, no I have not seen the museum. My father’s information is how this site began, so you would have to go to September 2012 in the archives here to read the entire story of him and the 11th Airborne Division in the Pacific.

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  4. gpcox – Somehow, you make history very interesting with your style and presentation. It was never like this at school !!!

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  5. Question for you – Didn’t Truman dislike MacArthur since he was in the Pacific Theater during WWII or am I getting mixed up with Patton?
    I am very excited to read the rest of your blog – your writing is concise and straightforward – love it!

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  6. First, I gotta say that sure looks like Chesty in that MacArthur photo!

    But you brought the possibilities of a nuclear quagmire to the forefront here. Indeed, the temptation is always there… Sometimes, I wonder how long (misguided) leaders or terrorists can resist the urge.

    Your accounting of the unexpected stop at the DZ was an eye opener. These leaders were truly “boots on the ground” type of leaders that grunts admired (except, perhaps, when it was Patton but their blood and guts 🙂 ). I have admiration for Lynch indeed.

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    • I believe that is Chesty on the left with MacArthur; he really was a man’s man, wasn’t he! Patton might have been hated by some of his men, but he was ‘boots on the ground’ and a student of war strategy. The Bomb is still a threat today, but hopefully we know better. ( nut cases I can’t comment on – they seem to be multiplying.)

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      • Indeed… Nut cases… “Sane” people, loosely described, are not a threat to us or the world. The loonie tunes folks are the ones… but our pro-rights majority seem to buoy these unstable ones to the spotlight unfortunately… Well, that’s how I feel anyways.

        BTW… When will Obama and his supporters begin to ban cars as they did guns? 🙂

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  7. Great post, still surprised at how different this had been relayed in school. Loving the comments, learning even more from those who are following…a nice compliment to all of your hard work.

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  8. Interesting post. But what is your source for the statement that that on April 6 Washington was considering giving MacArthur authority to use nuclear weapons? I have never heard of that either in my own reporting experience or in all the reading I have done on the war. What was going on that day and the next was Truman talking to Marshall, Acheson, Bradely, the JCS and all the top brass as they were planning to fire MacArthur.
    Separate from that was a JCS plan to authorize MacArthur to make air attacks against the Chinese in Manchuria if the Chinese launched another attack south of the 38th parallel, but that never went through because MacArthur was about to be fired.
    And in any case, as far as I can figure out, there was never any thought of using nuclear bombs in those attacks. Ordinary air raids yes, but not nukes. If I am missing something, please point me to it.

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  9. I am amazed that, so soon after Hiroshima, there was a plan mooted to use a nuclear bomb.

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    • Boys with their new toys? Don’t know why. I was surprised myself – I guess that’s why we were always having bomb drills in grammar school and our siren would go off at noon and 6pm for a test. Back then it was always a threat.

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  10. Well done. I enjoyed the read.

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  11. WOW! That’s all I am able to say here…speechless….

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  12. I know each post is a lot of work and I just wanted to say thank you. To be honest, I think maybe I had one teacher in school discuss it for part of one class. Once. The “forgotten war” is an understatement. I did watch quite a few M*A*S*H reruns but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count. So thank you for pulling this all together.

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  13. Have you considered putting the whole Korean War series into a PDF for people to download afterward? Or putting it into an ebook on Amazon for purchase?

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    • Frankly, I’m computer illiterate. I’ve read the instructions to convert to PDF and swoosh – right over my head. If I were to publish for profit, I would have a much harder time acquiring the rights to publish from way too many references (don’t think I’d live long enough to see it). But, I must say, that is quite the compliment and I thank you for the thought.

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  14. For MacArthur, wars were all or nothing–limited wars and diplomacy weren’t his forte. This reminded me how close we came to using nuclear weapons in this conflict.

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    • Yes, MacArthur could not understand getting into a war if you didn’t intend on winning it. This was truly the first completely political war and he did not comprehend that concept. Now a days it goes all the time, all around the world and the U.S. has their nose in just about every one.

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  15. Another excellent post. One thing going on behind the scenes between Truman and MacArthur, was the prospect that he may be drafted by the Republican Party to run for President in 1952. Hope that isn’t a spoiler for your next post… 😉

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  16. I really appreciate the work you’ve undertaken for these posts. It is an amazing story that few talk about any more, and I’m really glad you are telling it. Thanks for your efforts!

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  17. It’s amazing Truman held out firing MacArthur as long as he did.

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  1. Pingback: Korea unveils new cruise missile on Armed Forces Day | Journalist on the run

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