Korean War (21)

USS Everett

USS Everett

With the success of the 8th Army during May 1951, the war began to look like a stalemate as the Chinese headed north. Operation Piledriver, another offensive action, pushing from the Kansas Line (above the 38th in X Corps area) on the retreating CCF was not the success the Allied generals had counted on. The 8th Army was unable to be as aggressive as usual for 5 reasons: 1- soldiers with the longest service were being shipped home; 2 – rumors of a cease-fire; 3 – onset of the monsoon-like rainy season; 4 – strong enemy resistance; 5 – troop fatigue. But through all this, they did reach the area that was known as the Iron Triangle and control of the east-to-west roads used by the CCF for supply lines. The Canadian troops were assigned in June to patrol these routes from Seoul to Chorwon.

USAF 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing,  James Jabara of Wichita, Kansas

USAF 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, James Jabara of Wichita, Kansas

The Korean War saw the first aerial combat using jet fighters. US Air Force Captain James Jabara became the world’s first jet ace in May 1951 and had a total of 15 MiGs. He was later promoted to Major. By the end of the war, US pilots had a total of 950 MiGs in all.

Kaesong

Kaesong

13 June, with the Allied forces at Line Wyoming (I Corps sector forward the Kansas Line), which included the base of the Iron Triangle. Van Fleet ordered the line fortified and held; it was dubbed the MLR (Main Line of Resistance). This satisfied the UN Security Council and the Soviet ambassador made a broadcast to suggest negotiations should begin. These would be military talks to end the fighting, not the political future of Korea. The town selected for this was Kaesong right between the opposing armies. Syngman Rhee felt betrayed by the Americans and the ROKA (Republic of Korea Army) would not attend. There was another snag for the Allies as Kaesong was 3 miles south of the 38th parallel and in enemy hands. The American delegation was portrayed by the communists as surrendering when they arrived for the talks.

significant battles

significant battles

28 June, the destroyer, the USS Henry W. Tucker, was firing on Wonsan Harbor and received counterbattery fire in return. 3 July, the frigate, USS Everett, was also attacked; killing one man. The Fast Carrier Task Force retaliated by holding 247 sorties on Wonsan and the South Korean Marines attacked the area by land. 6 July, the destroyer USS Evans, put men on the island of Hwangto-do and 2 other destroyers went after the buildings and a torpedo station. Still, the ships were being fired on and naval commanders put Operation Kickoff in action. 17 July, members of the fleet sailed within the harbor to fire on the North Korean positions. 31 July, the USS Helena was hit once, but destroyed 7 gun sites and an ammunition dump.

All through July, the talks were breaking up and coming to a stalemate. Ground action was hindered by Typhoon Kate. 8 July, a battle was fought about 7 miles south of Kosang on the west coast, but details are scarce. UN ships and the islands at Wonsan Harbor continued battling with the enemy on shore.

Punchbowl, map from 23 May 1951

Punchbowl, map from 23 May 1951

18 July, Operation Kickoff began in Wonsan Harbor with the navies. 28 July, the USS Los Angeles caught the enemy by surprise when they entered Haeju Man channel and bombed the shore troops. Other US ships bombarded the north bank of the Han River.

4 August, the British Royal Marines reinforced their defenses on Hwangto-do Island (Wonsan) by installing mortars. Two days later, LSMRs (landing ship medium rocket) reported firing over 100,000 rockets at the enemy in Korea. Typhoon Marge hit the entire Korean Theater in mid-August.

22 August, the talks in Kaesong broke down. The first new action was to push the CCF back from Hill 1211 which dominated the Hwachon Reservoir. The circular valley created by the hills was called the Punchbowl. The CCF was on the high ground and the UN forces on the Kansas Line. Bunker by bunker, the 36th ROK Ist Division Marines and 2nd US Infantry Division battled fiercely. The 2 heights named “Bloody Ridge” and “Heartbreak Ridge” would see extensive combat.

The sector dubbed Bloody Ridge by the Stars and Stripes, to describe the action, but did not for security reasons identify where it was. The Hills numbered 983, 940 and 773 and their connecting ridges were covered with enemy trenches and bunkers strong enough to withstand artillery and air strikes. The fighting had actually started while the peace talks were still dragging out. The area held little value for the Allies, but it was important the enemy not possess it. It was finally conquered on 5 September and would cost 2,700 lives.

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This just in…

001 (720x800)

Courtesy of the Smithsonian magazine.

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Farewell Salutes –

Allen Manning – Chelsea & Boston, MA; US Army, WWII

Punchbowl Marine sniper

Punchbowl Marine sniper

Alfred “Buddy” White, Jr. – Sommerville, MA; USMC WWII

Donald Scholefield – Burlington, Canada; Royal Canadian Navy, aircraft gunner HMCS Gifford

Patricia Macaluso – Scotland & Scarborough, Canada; Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force 1942-46

Mary Ann Ryan – Newfoundland & Toronto, Canada; RCAF, WWII

Click images to enlarge.

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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 17, 2013, in Korean War, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. sue marquis bishop

    What are. You doing with all the info on war you are collecting.?

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  2. sue marquis bishop

    Ok. I forwarded your email to him.
    Bishopsnc3@aol.com

    Also did u see my blog on ripening of Korean vets memorial in NC? Nov 12 blog

    Like

    • I have seen your site and it is very good, I’ll be back to visit some more. I hope you gave him the blog address to add his stories. Any one not in my contacts goes immediately to spam and is usually lost – I do not want him wasting time typing out a story and then it is lost in cyberspace forever.

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  3. sue marquis bishop

    My husband appreciated reading about Korean War. He is Kirean vet in air traffic control.

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  4. While I was researching my Dad’s stint on Attu, I came across this and although you may well already be aware of it, I thought to share:

    http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/aleut/aleut.htm

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  5. Do not forget Monday is armistice day – at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we should observe two minutes of silence in respect of all who fell in wars. A very nice post.

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  6. Wars are always about politics and power. When will we ever learn that it is never worth the loss of life???

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  7. A fascinating look back into history, reading it brings many questions and answers many questions, the worlds first ace fighter, what an achievement, makes one wonder if he is still alive and how old, and what his life was like after Korea.
    Regards
    Ian

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  8. It really begs the question: conflict or war? Is conflict an ‘undeclared’ war? While some folks say it’s all just semantics…I believe it goes beyond that…denying any association with the faction or party who initiated or returned fire on a provoked action of military force, perhaps?
    When I began my funeral service career, I became very familiar with the Naval Weapons Center and other military bases’ protocols when dealing with ‘mishaps.’ It was a bit of a mental adjustment for me as I would try to digest traumatic, horrific tragedies…and then write reports, in formal detail and description, complete the pathology diagrams and drawings…official death certifications and files for air crashes or ordnance testing explosions; most all used ‘misadventure’ or ‘mishap’ which to me sounded much less severe or serious than the reality of what I had to handle or see. It MAY be semantics to some…but for me, there have certainly been times (lots of them!) where words FAIL….I just will never forget the FIRST awful, fiery ‘mishap’ and how I burst into tears over the mere offense of the word at that moment in time…my brain had previously been trained to understand ‘mishaps’ as accidentally knocking over my milk glass reaching for the salt at dinner as a kid…not recon mission copters hitting high voltage power lines in steep river canyons, you know?
    So ‘Conflict’ might best be a term coined by politicos trying to cap their liabilities or play down their contributing tensions which played a part in the Korean war…but through these eye-opening and detailed vignettes you provide Gp, much blood spilled, many, many lives were spent, and great sacrifices were made in this very real WAR. “A rose is a rose, by any other name, would still smell as sweet..’

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    • You’ve seen the horrors yourself, CJ. So, that more or less answers your question. To me, a conflict is two people arguing, not an all-out international military operation. (May I ask what state your funeral service is in? We’ve been corresponding for some time, but I can not recall your general location – sorry.) Thank you for stopping in, I hope these posts don’t upset you too much.

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      • Firstly, Gp, I am never upset by anything you post. I am enriched and educated by them. I love that you endeavor to put the real true stories of true people who took part in the battles, wars, and events that shaped history and the world we live in. I admire that and look so forward to learning here.
        To answer your question, I served my apprenticeship in CA, where the China Lake Naval Weapons Center and Naval Air Station is located. Ft. Irwin is also nearby. I haven’t added that much ‘location’ to my blog. I went on to work in other establishments after a few years.I have kept it very Anytown, USA for purposes of respect and privacy of those people I speak of in my stories.

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        • I completely understand, that’s why I didn’t ask for a city location. I simply wanted to get an idea of what you were seeing when you first started out and now I truly do understand. I’m glad you are enjoying the posts, sometimes I think I really get too factual and sound cold and I didn’t want to upset you.

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          • Gp, never worry! If only you could have seen the stuff I have seen in regular ‘urban warfare’…you’d know I can take it! It takes a strong stomach and a skillful hand to deal with the dead. It’s the off-putting phraseology that is used by paper-pushers and clinical types that boggle my mind at times. BUT, I think every true patriotic soul SHOULD feel that twinge of heartache as they read and ponder the sheer numbers of people who did not hesitate to answer the call of duty to defend their country, knowing that in doing so they had no guarantee they would see the battle to victory. This should be a very solemn and grateful nation who honors those in the defense of it, now more than ever before.

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  9. Amazing stories but, yet again they aren’t stories. It’s factual history. I believe you’re opening the eyes of many of us who never really thought a great deal about the Korean War and what a tragedy that is. I clearly remember standing in front of the monument in DC so many times but something was always missing for me that I didn’t have at the other monuments and now I know – it was my own lack of knowledge. What a waste and shame on me!
    While enjoying coffee at one of our local coffee hang-outs, some of the individuals that joined our table are high school teachers moaning about how hard it is to make this period in history sound exciting for kids that were literraly teethed on X-Box. I mentioned your blog and suggested they take a look for ‘interesting information’ to transform their classroom presentations. There are so many possibilities. I may never see the teachers again but we can hope they’ll do more to engage their students.
    On another note – I look back on the many times my father and I walked the mall area together and now remember, he always took extra time at the Korean Memorial. How I wish he were still alive and I could ask him what the war meant to him and why. He would have been a cattle rancher during that time in history. You’ve peaked not only my historical wanting to know more brain, but my inquisitive side wherein I want to know more about what my father, my own personal John Wayne, may have been thinking.

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    • I spent most of my life not knowing much at all about the war. I almost didn’t even do this research, Pierre Lagace @ Lest We Forget, actually suggested I look into it and see what I could find. I had no idea what a huge can of worms was opened. It truly is a shame so many stories will never be told, such as why your father took longer at the Korean Memorial (a friend’s death perhaps?) we’ll never know. Those teachers are complaining that their students were raised on X-box, but I think their own lack of imagination in making their classes interesting has to do with the fact that they were raised on TV. When everything is put in front of you – why use your own imagination? I’m guilty of that myself – the true art of story telling is a dying art. Hope Tom is feeling spry today, say HI for me.

      Like

  10. Been reading your posts on my cellphone when on vacation. Could not post any comment.
    Been sharing your blog with my cousin Joe. As so many people, he did not know that much about paratroopers in the Pacific nor the Korean War.

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  11. I was looking for information on the enviromental legacy of all this warfare; found nothing but came across this interesting opinion piece http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/07/30/editorials/korean-wars-far-reaching-legacy/#.UmENZFPgwg4

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  12. 2700 lives lost for this sector alone! What was the estimated overall death count for this war – I’m reluctant to ask. I also see that you mention Canadians again – didn’t know how involved our country was in the Korea ‘conflict’.

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    • Many countries were involved, the problem is finding the material – another reason I am ALWAYS asking for personal stories, ones from relatives, etc. So much of this war just got pushed under the rug.

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    • I forgot to include the list, sorry…
      About 4 million military and civilian casualties were lost in these 3 years.
      US – 33,600
      UN Allies – 16,000
      South Korea – 415,000
      North Korea – 520,000
      Chinese – (estimated) – 900,000

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  13. It would be interesting to see the final casualty/costs lists for both sides. (I might just pop along to Wiki and see what they have to say … forgotten war—aren’t they all, eventually?

    Old soldiers never die, they just fade away … and become footnotes to the history they create.

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    • That’s what I like to hear – curiosity! You want to know more – that’s what I try to urge here, besides sharing your stories of course. Thanks for stopping in.

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  14. All that action, plus a typhoon to deal with. The mind boggles.
    I continue to be amazed at the extent and scope of a war which came across to ‘sheltered’ parts of the world as an incidental set of skirmishes after WW2.

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    • There were a number of individual wars after WWII, such as Indonesia fighting for their independence. It is a shame we were never truly taught much of anything about all this.

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  15. Liked the illustrated envelope by Jack Fogarty.

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  16. It was interesting to see the origins of the jet fighters. Interesting about the Chinese considering the American’s surrendered at the initial talks. I guess the saying, “location, location, location” is true after all. Beautiful letters that were donated.

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  17. It was interesting to learn about Jabara’s flying exploits. The fact of jet fighter combat is not usually mentioned in history. We assume it but aren’t specifically taught it.

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