Monthly Archives: March 2014

Operation Big Switch

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Article 111 of the Korean Armistice Agreement laid the ground work for the exchange of prisoners that started 5 August 1953.  Phase One would transfer  the prisoners who chose repatriation to the neutral area around Panmunjom and be supervised by three representatives from both sides.

Phase Two was for those that refused repatriation.  Red Cross teams went to the camps to be certain the POW’s choices were voluntary.  Officer teams from Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Czechoslovakia directed the activities; 3,000 Indians troops were sent to arrange the required interviews.

Arriving at the Gate of Freedom

Arriving at the Gate to Freedom

All during this difficult process, continuous little battles were being fought behind the wire and there were constant threats to the interrogators and their families.  By 31 December 1953, only 5,000 prisoners had been screened out of 22,604.

The United Nations returned 75,823 to North Korea and 22,604 were turned over to the NNRC (Neutral Natural Reparations Commission, overseen by India.)

The Communists returned 12,773 to the United Nations and 359 to the NNRC.

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The UN General Assembly expressed , by Resolution 712, it’s “profound satisfaction that fighting has now ceased in Korea on the basis of an honorable armistice.”  The UNCURK (The United Nations Commission for the Unification of Korea) was disbanded in 1977.

The Signing

The Signing

Syngman Rhee was more and likely retained as president of South Korea due to the war’s onset.  The invasion of North Korea had failed the plans of an internal revolt to dispose of the leader.  A similar uprising in 1960 did however succeed in overthrowing Rhee.

To quote “America At War: The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; published by Facts On File, Inc.:   ….and it was Ridgeway, who would warn prophetically in the spring of 1954,  against American military involvement in Vietnam.

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Adair, Jr. – Chandler, AZ; US Army 161st Infantry, SSgt., WWII PTO, 2 Bronze Stars

Cameron S. Baird – Burnei, Tasmania; Cpl./4th Battalion/2nd Commando Unit/RAR, Afghanistan, Victoria Cross

John M. Copoulos – Westminster, AR; US Army, WWII

Victoria Cross for Valor

Victoria Cross for Valor

James Daniel, Jr. – Coral Hills, MD; US Army, Korea

Alexander (Ted) Edward – Christchurch, NZ; EX2nd Division, RNZEF # 111589

Francis Gerow – Springfield, VA; US Navy, Captain (Ret.)

Herbert Swing – Highland Creek, Canada; RC Engineers, WWII

William Was – Santa Ana, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Henry Wronka – Sun City, AZ; US Air Force, Korea

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Korean War – Final Day (?)

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27 JULY 1953

US Marine Corps emblem

US Marine Corps emblem

In the U.S. Marine report – Hill 119 was attacked once more at 0035 hours by an enemy platoon.  Shortly afterwards, Hill 111 was also embroiled in combat with an enemy platoon.  After one hour and 20 minutes, the Chinese troops were forced to withdraw.  Although the cease-fire was signed at 1000 hours and became effective at 2200 hours, the 1st Korean Marine Corps RCT reported 5 rounds of 82mm mortar landed near Command Outpost Camel.

U.S. Navy emblem

U.S. Navy emblem

In the U.S. Naval Report – Task Force 77 expended its major effort on transportation facilities with airfields.  The TF-77 aircraft destroyed or badly damaged 23 railroad cars, 11 railroad bridges, one railroad tunnel, 69 buildings, 100 yards of trenches and 9 highway bridges.  In addition, 5 airfields were cratered.  All hostilities ended at 2200 hours.

US Army emblem

US Army emblem

From the Airborne 187th RCT –  They heard fire coming from Sniper Ridge throughout the night.  Just five hours before the cease-fire, the 187th Rakkasans lost one more man – Sgt. Carl Hammer, 22 years old.  By morning, everything was eerily quiet.  All at once the war was over and by dawn’s light, the men began to police their areas.  On 1 August, they were back on the Nebraska Line and building the “Blackjack Bastion” straddling the road to Seoul called the ‘bowling alley’.  On 3 October 1954, they boarded the USS General Pope to a welcome home reception at Fort Bragg, NC.  The Rakkasans have continued their serve into Vietnam, Desert Storm, The Iraq Campaign and the Afghanistan Campaign.

Australian emblem

Australian emblem

From the Australian Army, Air Force & Navy – After the ceasefire, the 2 and 3 RAR withdrew from the Hook and sent to the Kansas Line to build new fortifications.  They returned home in April and November respectively the following year, with the 1 RAR taking their place, stationed at Gallipoli Camp for 17 months.  The 77 Squadron/RAAF remained in South Korea for one year after the ceasefire, during which time Pilot Officer H. Andrews was killed in a mid-air collision.  The Australian records show that 44 MIAs are still on their books for Korea. The RAN was to maintain 2 ships in Korean water until 1955: during the tour of HMAS Sydney, Acting Sublieutenants M. Beardsall and J. Clinton were killed in air accidents.  The final ship HMAS Condamine departed 9 October 1955.

It appeared quite possible for the first year after the signing of the armistice that war would erupt again, such as, in October 1953 when a communist raid on United Nations forces resulted in the deaths of 4 South Koreans and 2 Americans.

Canadian Forces badge

Canadian Forces badge

An interesting video for the Canadians and additional Korean information can be located on this site here.

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Farewell Salutes – 

James J. Alfano – Sun City, AZ; US Army, Korea

Ernest Ralph Carlson – Oamaru, NZ; 2nd NZEF # 6835

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

Terrance M. Crowe – Franklin Park, IL; USMC, Vietnam, Purple Heart

Earl Doyle – Kelowna, B.C. & St. Lambert, Quebec; RCAF, 438th Squadron, Captain, Sabres & Otters

Ivan A. Frost – Lower Hutt, NZ; RNZAF Flt. Sgt., RAF 75th Squadron # N24215678, WWII

Bernard Moran, Jr. – Washington DC; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Pittsburg

Robert Raup – Kansas City, MO & D.C.; US Navy, WWII; Pentagon & Nato civilian service later

Edward Touhy – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Leslie Venner – Mississauga, Canada; RCNavy, HMCS Waskesiau, WWII

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Royal Australian Regiment and The Hook (2)

4th Platoon/B Company/3rd Battalion/3 RAR

4th Platoon/B Company/3rd Battalion/3 RAR

It appeared that the attack on Boulder City was intended to secure a base and firm right shoulder against the inter-divisional boundary between the 1st US Marine Division and the 1st Commonwealth Division (CW Div.).  [An entire scenario was written out in this special report, knowing full well how the enemy could have taken the entire Hook area of dispute.]  There were sufficient additional enemy forces to the north and west of Paris and Betty Grable to do this.  But, “there is little doubt on one point, had it not been for a few stalwart infantrymen on Hill 121 and 2 tanks in the blocking positions…the speed and flexibility and weight of the 1st CW Div. artillery, the enemy would have broken through.”

Outpost locations at the Hook

Outpost locations at the Hook

“The night of 24/25 July was hectic! From about 0230 hours, incoming artillery and mortars were generally at a rate of 30 per minute… The actions by individual soldiers, NCOs was inspirational…like Sgt. Cooper’s section on Hill 111, who for most of the night were alone.  The composure of young NCOs in calling in artillery fire onto their own position was courageous, as was the literally toe-to-toe personal fights around the positions on Hill 111 and the Contact Bunker.  The standing patrols on Green Finger and Ronson on that same night were severely attacked and on Ronson, withdrawn after calling in defensive fire tasks.”

1st Battalion

1st Battalion

The night of 25 July, throughout the evening, sky turned to nearly daylight from the battalion’s flares and those dropped by an aircraft crisscrossing above the battle zone.  “The accuracy and speed with which the division’s artillery performed in defensive fire task was extraordinary.  It is assessed that some 25,000 mixed rounds of shells and mortars were fired against the enemy.”

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Human and material damage, both extensive, could be seen when broke that morning.  The Chinese communist forces attacked again that night, but with less enthusiasm as previously fought and by full morning, the attack gradually came to a halt.

The CCF

The CCF

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hector Bethart – Gainsville, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 187th RCT,  medical unit, PTO

Wright M. Buckley – Connerville, IN – UA Army Air Corps, WWII, 127th Engineers, PTO

Alfred J. Carlson – Peoria, AZ; US Air Force, Korea

Albert Haddad – Toronto, Canada; Canadian Armored Corps, Captain, WWII

soldier's salute

soldier’s salute

Kenneth Hitch – Fairfax, VA; US Army, WWII & Korea, medical

Bertram Long – Washington, DC; US Navy, WWII

Roland V. Rakow – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, North Africa, 83rd Squadron, POW – escaped

William Render – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

John Tillman Simpson – Green Forest, AR; US Army, WWII

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To All our troops out there protecting those of us at home – THANK YOU – I do not have any other words to express the gratitude!  Take care and God Bless!

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