Korean War (43)

Bombing raid

Bombing raid

In June 1953, the us 8th Army made the decision to not try and take back outposts Vegas, Elko and Carson that had been overrun by the Chinese in late May.  With an armistice apparently imminent, destruction of North Korean airfields became the prime targets for the naval air effort.  Thailand naval officers began their training to conduct mine-sweeping during this month.

"Clarion River" LSMR-409

“Clarion River” LSMR-409

4 June, the shore guns from Wonsan scored 2 direct hits on the USS Clarion River LSMR-409 causing 5 casualties and damaging the mess compartment and radio room.  (Wikipedia states that the LSMR-409 received no damage.  My statement comes from the US Naval records.)  The enemy had fired 30 rounds of 76mm before being silenced by over 200 rockets fired by the LSMR in retaliation.

7 June, Typhoon Judy, which crossed over the Japanese island of Kyushu, delayed Task Force-77’s flight operations for three days.

East view of MLR

East view of MLR

7-19 June, during this period the naval air efforts were primarily against the CCF front lines and supporting the counterattacks as the enemy attempted to gain as much ground as possible during the talks.  Flight operations were carried out on a round-the-clock basis and were not suspended for fueling operations.  Replenishment ships were retained with the task force and effected what might have been the largest scale night replenishment operation ever attempted by any navy.  Nighttime hostile aircraft activity was seen near Chodo.

West view of the MLR

West view of the MLR

9 June, the communists launched their largest offensive ground campaign in 2 years by sending 4-8 divisions against the ROK II and US X Corps fronts.  The enemy pushed the ROK troops back about 3 miles per week.  This terrain was without any military or tactical importance and was done by the CCF without regard for the human life of their troops. (By the 15th, 16,300 of the enemy were killed or wounded.)  It merely offered propaganda support for their willingness to sign an armistice while they were “winning the war.”  According to the naval history sheets, all-out air strikes from 4 US carriers in support of the UN ground troops was a herculean effort.

F9F "Able Eagles" Pohang 1953

F9F “Able Eagles” Pohang 1953

10 June, 68 F9Fs from VMF-115 (the “Able Eagles”) and VMF-311 (the “Fighting 311th), spread napalm on a 333-building troop billeting area in the Chaeryong area.  Recon photos later showed that 230 buildings were destroyed and 40 damaged.

13 June, the action behind the wire in one of the POW camps was reversed – Korean non-repatriate prisoners beat up on 8 communist agents, killing one.

14 June, in an effort to slow the communist offensive, YF-77 aircraft struck the Hasepori marshaling yard, a supply bottleneck for the Red Army.  In support of UN troops, the carriers of TF-77 launched no less than 508 sorties.

Polikarpov U-2 "Night Heckler"

Polikarpov U-2 “Night Heckler”

16 June, one enemy PO-2 (Polikarpov U-2 also known as “night hecklers”), was shot down by an AD (Douglas Skyraider) over front lines.  Two unidentified enemy planes dropped 5 bombs on the POL dump at Inchon, causing considerable damage.  Fire ignited 97,950  93-gallon drums and 48,000  5-gallon drums of petroleum products.

17-19 June, still furious at the US and in an attempt to sabotage the peace negotiations, Pres. Syngman Rhee ordered the ROK troops to release all enemy POWs.  Approximately 25 to 27,000 escaped from Sangmundai, Nonsan and Masan POW camps with the aid of the soldiers.  That night, North Korean POWs in Camp No. 10 near Abcom City attempted a breakout.  The Marines of the 1st Shore Party Battalion were the only Americans available to try and stop the breakout.  Forty-one prisoners were killed, one Marine wounded and 469 POWs were missing.  Company A of the Amphibian Tractor Battalion were sent to support the guards the following day.

11-20 June, a combined total of 703,637 of artillery and mortar fire fell on UN troops during this 10 day period, surpassing any previous record.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Alstrin – VillaPark, IL; US Army, Koreaplane-gun

Elaine (nee Cole) Andrrews – Christchurch, NZ;  WAAC, Cpl.

Edward Cynar – McLean, VA; US Army MSgt., WWII

Jean Elizabeth Geyer – Seattle, WA; Red Cross & India, WWII

Bobby Lugabihl – Lithia, FL; US Air Force, Vietnam

Thomas McClennan – Kerikeri, NZ; RNZE # 43077, Cpl., Egypt & Italy

Malcolm Mellington, Jr. – Washington DC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Hugh Miller – Webster City, Iowa – US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, D-Day

Donald Phillips – Chicago, IL; USMC, Korea

Barend (Barry) Volkers – Dauphin, Manitoba; 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, 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 February 8, 2014, in Korean War, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 51 Comments.

  1. I’m curious about how a Douglas F4D-1 Skyray, which did not participate in the Korean War was included in this excellent post.

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    • The Douglas was also listed as a plane used by the VMF-115; but to avoid any confusion I have edited the post to have the F9F used in 1953 by the “Able Eagles” Pohang 1953.

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  2. It is amazing that records disclose an exact count of 703,637 rounds having been hurled at the troops!! How in the world could they have come up with that number! Fascinating. And the continuing issues with POWs… What was the ET like during WWII? I don’t recall instances of mass escapes – primarily because I feel the POWs were just glad to be alive and taken care of for the most part. What’s your opinion?

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    • I imagine so, Koji. I haven’t come up against any reports outside of what I mentioned about Koje-do and Rhee ordering his troops to free them. Many were ordered to become prisoners on purpose so as to be in position to make trouble for the UN troops; some of these were professional spies.

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  3. Amazing information, GP. As an aside, I’m writing a military thriller which involves an attack by North Korea on an American Cruiser (USS Bunker Hill) and one of North Korea’s attack sites is Wonsan. Good to get some background from Wonsan’s part in the Korean War.

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  4. Syngman Rhee was such rat. And our politicians supported him during the war and after. To paraphrase an old quote: ‘He’s a rat, but he’s our rat.’ Except like all rats, He didn’t care if he bite the hand that was feeding him. He knew that when ‘peace’ came, he’d still be in power.

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  5. The definition of messy. Thanks for your continued documentation of this war.

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  6. It’s hard to believe that you can make war worse than it is. I guess there isn’t anything that can’t be made worse by the efforts of self-serving politicians. That’s very sad when you consider the human cost. Great post.

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    • You can always count on the politicians! “There is a wide difference between true courage and a mere contempt of life.”____ Cato
      Kind of seemed appropriate for this war (and Nam for that matter).

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      • Unfortunately, that does seem appropriate.

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        • You don’t think the Chinese had a pure contempt for life while the politicians used the propaganda of “winning” to their own benefit?

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          • It certainly wasn’t a courageous effort. I also liked your observation of the number of politicians who have served in the military. It scares me to think that someone in any Capitol would be waging war solely because it looks good on paper.

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            • I agree, Dan. I keep asking myself – why didn’t the men come home after Bin Laden was killed? The Afghani people don’t still want us there. History shows no useful purpose to be there and our troops are deployed 3 and 4 times – all this isn’t because you and I want them overseas.

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  7. Amazing what went on back then. I was too young to be aware at the time of the war and certainly never learned any of this stuff in school even though I graduated high school in 1964, not so many years after that war ended. It amazes me that so much was hidden. Thank you for the great education you are giving us on that unnecessary war!

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  8. My opinion is that the first American battle death demands that our country win that battle, and by extension, the war. Anything less is an affront to the men and women who wear our uniform. Unfortunately, those people who make such decisions rarely have worn the uniform of our county, and fewer still experienced the crucible of combat. Korea was just such a war … Americans so valiantly served, and yet were abandoned by the politicians in Washington. I am sorry to say this despicable trend continues …

    Again, thank you for this excellent blog!

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    • Actually Mustang, the trend has worsened. 86 of the 435 members of the House are veterans and only 17 of 100 Senators. This is the lowest percentage of veterans in Congress since WWII; so it is no coincidence that this same period has seen the gradual collapse of our ability to govern ourselves and a loss of control of the national debt. Members of Congress have collectively forgotten how to put country before their party and self-interest. [excerpt from Dana Milbank in the Washington Post]

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  9. Didn’t John Wayne say “Goldarnit!” and go steal a Sabre, fly it to the Presidential Palace, land in the grounds, charge into the Pres’s chambers and with his Colt 45 (1911) force the Pres to rescind his orders about releasing those prisoners—and then apologise to the US Moms? (Or am I confusing him with Errol Flynn … damn, history is tough.)

    But the wheels grind on. Still we vote for them and nothing changes except taxes increase to pay for their wars. Their wars, note, not ours. All we do is ‘do and die’ (as Tennyson put it). A form of Russian roulette, really, with benefits to the lucky and a nice free funeral to the others (win/win all round, no?)

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    • I’m not certain about the movie you’re talking about, but I find it hard to visualize Errol Flynn saying Goldarnit! Yes, the wheels do grind, don’t they?!

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  10. A couple of thoughts: One, you had a comment on naming of posts yesterday. Interesting that the three named today were all Nevada cities. Second, 97,950 93-gallon drums and 48,000 5-gallon drums– that would have made one hell of a bonfire. –Curt

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  11. That raid by biplanes is interesting. On two occasions, the British did the same thing with their Swordfish torpedo planes. Once against the battleship Bismarck, that’s how they put her rudder out of action and prevented an escape. Second time was when the German cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau made a run down the English Channel hurling rounds into the English countryside as they went (1943 I believe). Both times, the German’s state of the art fire control radar was unable to track the biplanes because it was designed for tracking modern ‘high-speed’ aircraft that day. The Swordfish were lumbering in at 140 MPH. Swordfish also made the surprise night raid on the naval base at Taranto, Italy that sparked the Japanese idea to attack Pearl Harbor. There is a lesson to be learned in those biplane raids, that modern militaries have been ignoring. We threw a similar scenario at the students when I was still working navy anti-air warfare training and every class ‘failed’. 😉

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    • Thanks for that info, Kevin – much I never knew about. Maybe you need to go back to teaching – you’re good at it.

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      • Well, unfortunately I don’t have a teaching degree. I only trained in military environments where you didn’t have to have one.

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        • It sure seems as though you do, Kevin. Teaching must come naturally to you and I meant it was a shame the boys coming up now didn’t have the advantage of your expertise.

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          • I’ve been told that before…lol Well, there’s still great instructors out there. And, my direct ‘fleet knowledge’ was getting a little dated. I have been out of the fleet now, nearly 20 years. So, I could read a tech manual on new combat systems suites, or sit and play with one in a laboratory. But, it isn’t the same thing as operating one out at sea, with live ships and aircraft around. Besides, when I left ATRC in 2007, it was to move way, way up in both salary and responsibility. Obama canned us all when he got the chance, but we delivered to the Navy what we set to, before he did though. So, the mission was accomplished despite him. 😉

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            • Politicians wiping out exactly what the country needs – who would have thought! LOL It is very hard to understand the mind of a politician; it’s too much for me anyway.

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              • It started almost as soon as the Berlin Wall came down. An old American flaw of gutting defense in between major conflicts. Obama has done the most damage, but it didn’t start with him. It actually started with ‘Dubya’ Bush’s daddy. Soon as Desert Storm was over, the cash payouts for ‘early retirement’ began. When that didn’t work, they started putting people out for no reason.

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    • I had a few beers with one of the guys in the swordfish that torpedoed Bismark’s rudder. He swore that the German gunners were laughing too much to concentrate on the job in hand, that’s why they survived …

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  12. Kenneth McLennan

    I’m learning a lot about a war that has mostly been forgotten – thank you for this opportunity. Like some of the other posts I was not aware of the use of napalm or the release of POW’s.

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    • It makes me happy to know this site is helping people to remember and/or learn about this war. For so long, everyone called it a UN police action and became shelved. Thank you, Kenneth.

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  13. All of the agendas going on are amazing especially in the straightforward way you describe it – from the bizarre actions of President Rhee, to the onslaught of attacks while peace talks continued, to the soldiers just following orders from those with agendas…fascinating in retrospect, while sad for so many who lived through it. Thanks again for the education.

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  14. I know very little about this war. I am surprised with Peace negotiations happening, that the fighting continued, escalated?

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    • Yes, it escalated. Land was considered a good bargaining chip and China wanted the propaganda that they were willing to still talk – even though they were “winning.” Thank you for reading.

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  15. So much senseless death and destruction (at least in my mind). Reading about the mine-sweeping in your first paragraph, I couldn’t help but think about how various countries are still finding live mines from WWII and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were still some in Korea.

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  16. I was not aware that the U.S. military dropped napalm in the Korean War. Also, the POWs that escaped–wow. What a story.

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  17. A continuing saga of hot action.
    It seems incomprehensible that a propaganda mindset could exist whereby the CCF were measuring success in worthless distance rather than in human lives.

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  18. It tells a lot about that war….

    17-19 June, still furious at the US and in an attempt to sabotage the peace negotiations, Pres. Syngman Rhee ordered the ROK troops to release all enemy POWs. Approximately 25 to 27,000 escaped from Sangmundai, Nonsan and Masan POW camps with the aid of the soldiers. That night, North Korean POWs in Camp No. 10 near Abcom City attempted a breakout. The Marines of the 1st Shore Party Battalion were the only Americans available to try and stop the breakout. Forty-one prisoners were killed, one Marine wounded and 469 POWs were missing. Company A of the Amphibian Tractor Battalion were sent to support the guards the following day.

    Like

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