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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.

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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

Korean War (15)

Ridgeway in Korea

Ridgeway in Korea

Lt. General Mathew Bunker Ridgeway was chosen to replace the late Gen. Walton Walker. He arrived in Tokyo in the early evening of 26 December 1950, where he was given his orders to maintain a line of defense as far north in Korea as he could while keeping a hold on Seoul. MacArthur informed him that morale in the 8th Army was poor and he must supply the discipline they needed because of the methods of the CCF attacking at night and in mass. (American intelligence still had not identified General Peng Dehuai as the enemy’s major military influence.) MacArthur knew his wish to unite Korea under Syngman Rhee was not going to happen, but he still expected to hold the south.

Ridgeway had arrived in Tokyo anticipating to discount MacArthur, but by the end of the meeting, he gave his full support. When the 2 generals discussed the possibility of attack, MacArthur answered, “The 8th Army is yours, Matt. Do what you think is best.”

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Ridgeway had left the U.S. in such a hurry that he only had his WWII uniforms, civilian gloves and a cotton cap to unpack at his new HQ in Taegu, Korea. He said, I nearly froze there in the few days…” Upon flying to Seoul, he appearance was different; he wore his trademark grenade fastened to the right shoulder strap of his airborne trooper gear, a first-aid kit to the left strap and a .45 pistol at his web belt. This would start his nickname, “Old Iron Tits,” but when he said he wanted to go to the front, the men gave him the title, “Wrong Way Ridgeway.”

He began to move his dispirited men around and shoring up his front lines and retraining of the 8th Army began. This was done to prepare for the Chinese New Year offensive he saw building up, but Washington thought differently. Just as MacArthur was forced to deal with the “Europe First” attitude in WWII, resources were once again being diverted to Eisenhower and NATO in the divided but peaceful Europe. Mao’s message to Peng read, “The so-called 38th parallel is an old impression in people’s minds and will no longer exist after this new campaign…”

 

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1951

On New Year’s morning, Gen. Ridgeway saw ROK soldiers streaming south.  They had abandoned, lost or black marketed all their weapons.  He jumped from his jeep, and with the assistance of American MPs, he managed to stop them and take control.  For the first 5 days of January, FEAF (Far East Air Force) fighter-bombers flew about 500 sorties a day, but were proving ineffective.  Peng’s “Third Phase” offensive seemed unhampered and Ridgeway knew he would be unable to maintain control of Seoul.  A witness to this day described it as, “like floodwater down a mountain.”

U.S. military leaders have a meeting - Ridgeway in center, MacArthur on right

U.S. military leaders have a meeting – Ridgeway in center, MacArthur on right

 

On 3 January, at the Battle of Wonju, the 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion was scattered over a large area and each gun was firing.  Sgt.First Class Maria said, “…there was heavy traffic of all kinds on the road…headed south… In one 20 minute period, my gun fired 80 rounds of high explosives, burning the paint off the tube in the process.”

4 January, Ridgeway wrote in his diary, “…the ice was 4″ or 5″ thick…men in rubber boats fought ice floes away from the pontoons with scenes reminiscent of George Washington crossing the Delaware…Beyond the Han [River] were nearly 100,000 fighting men.”

Gen. Peng refused to believe that MacArthur would remove all troops from Korea.  His CCF ammunition and food was running low, so he planned to pause at the 37th parallel to reorganize and wait for better weather.  When his intel reports came on 8 January that the American retreat had stopped, he feared it was nothing more than a ruse to trap him in the south.

On the 8th, MacArthur advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the Chinese potential would render the Korean peninsula untenable.  Ridgeway received a document that indicated major elements of the 8th Army were to retreat to Pusan by 15 April — Ridgeway wrote “Disapproved” across the page.  Washington was looking for negotiations, but the JCS wanted confirmation of the situation; they sent the Army and Air Force Chiefs to observe first-hand.  The generals found the 8th Army to be in good shape and using the CCF lull in operations to organize offensive plans.

13 January, the 187th RCT (Regimental Combat Team), under X Corps, were sent to defend Punju Pass; they were forced to fight their way to the ridges overlooking it.  The enemy, with their reversible jackets were difficult to pick out, but the bombing was proving to be successful and the napalm cleared pathways for the 187th to move.  At 2100 hours, the Chinese started their massive attack, but none would even come close to the guns.  The following morning, the Rakkasans (187th) found enemy bodies everywhere; some in piles 10 deep.

 

The 56 year old Ridgeway, former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in WWII, was turning the war around.  One way he restored EUSAK (Eighth U.S. Army, Korea) morale was using the old method of insisting on a continuous front and letting the technology do the work; he called this “The Meatgrinder” of American artillery and air power.  The new matérial coming into Korea was hitting the lightly armed enemy hard, who had been accustomed to infiltration tactics rather than head-on confrontations.  Gen. Peng informed Mao that Korea could no longer be conquered by force.

 

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Farewell Salutes –

CPL Thomas Edwards, NYC, Co. A, 8th Cav Reg, 1st Cav Div is fed by PFC Cornelius Bosma, Ontario,CA 8063 MASH I Corps

CPL Thomas Edwards, NYC, Co. A, 8th Cav Reg, 1st Cav Div is fed by PFC Cornelius Bosma, Ontario,CA 8063 MASH I Corps

Caroline Mansur – Prince George County, VA & Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Navy LT. JG, WWII

William Barnes – Washington, DC; US Army, WWII PTO, Purple Heart

Harry Christian – Bowie, MD; US Navy, WWII PTO, gunners mate

Morgan Shinton – Lansford,PA & Boynton Bch., FL; USMC, S/Sgt, Korea, Good Conduct, Korean Service medals & UN Ribbon

John J. Clasby, Sr. – USMC Captain (pilot) Vietnam, Distinguished Flying Cross, (The actual helicopter flown by Clasby is at the Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport)

Richard M. Dragland – Alberta, Canada & Seattle, WA; US Army, Sgt., Vietnam, passed away while attending the reunion of the 53rd Signal Battalion.

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Resources: “Rakkasans” & “The Angels” by Gen. EM Flanagan; Korean War on line.com;”MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; Korean War.org; history.army.mil

Korean War (13)

View from the USS Mount McKinley

View from the USS Mount McKinley

Without reinforcements from the U.S. or Taiwan and no permission to bomb Manchuria or blockade China, MacArthur continued to issue his complaints, but felt there was nothing left to do but withdraw from Korea. Mao, upon hearing of the Allied retreats, ordered his general, Peng to advance to the 38th parallel and hold it.

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8 December 1950, explosives were used to create mass gravesites in the ground too frozen to dig individual plots. A Graves Registration officer drew a map for its relocation and a chaplain recited “The Lord Is My Shepard.” This would not be the only such site; Marines, soldiers and Royal Marine Commandos were interred hundreds at a time at Koto-ri. Also on this date, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines broke through a roadblock and took the CCF by such surprise at Chinhung-ni that a kettle of boiling rice was found.

9 December, the 1st Marine Division, the 3rd and 7th Infantry Divisions, close to Pusan, had extremely heavy battles; as did the Korean I Corps at Samchok. They would create a 60% loss of the Chinese they encountered.

10 December, the 187th was out of Pyongyang and set up a new command post at Sohung. They set fire and blew up the large stores of Russian supplies and equipment they had captured. A series of battles had to fought to now keep the withdrawal route open.

General O.P. Smith and 14,000 troops made it down the snow covered Funchilin Pass. Photographer, David Duncan, from “Life” magazine, snapped a photo of a Marine hacking his breakfast out of a frozen can of beans. The sight of ice crystals on the beans and in the Marine’s ragged beard made him ask a question, “If I were God and I could give you anything you wanted, what would it be?”
“Gimme tomorrow,” was the reply.

13 December, after General Bowen notified Gen. Walker that his 187th RCT was south of the 38th parallel, Walker ordered him to get them moving back north. The first two days, the troops would not see the enemy.

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15 December, General Peng, at a Chinese commanding officer’s meeting, stated he felt obligated to cross the 38th, but he was not eager to extend too far into South Korea. American intelligence at this point was uncertain of Chinese intentions. But, on this morning, as the 674th Field Artillery, 187 RCT prepared to move out, an observer spotted columns of CCF headed straight at them. The guns swung around into position, paused, and at 500 yards, ALL the heavy weapons opened up. The enemy was caught unawares and bodies fell everywhere, but still, those alive continued to charge. The 3rd Battalion received a radio message from approaching Air Force planes, “Is this a private fight or can anyone get in?” The ground force guns, already getting hot, couldn’t believe how perfect the timing was. The planes bombed, then dropped napalm and when they were empty, they strafed the area until they were out of ammo.

150px-PPCLI

Also on the 15th, the first contingent of Canadians, the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry arrived in Korea.

23 December, Gen. Walker and his usual driver, MSgt. George Belton, left the Seoul Headquarters with intentions of going 20 miles north to meet with Rhee. A ROK weapons carrier, rushing south, clipped the rear tire of the jeep, hurling it off the ice covered road. As it flipped and turned over, both men were killed instantly.

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At Hungnam, the city began to shrink in size as the Marines began to go aboard the ships. Reporters and photographers asked the men to smile for the cameras, but few obliged them. Lt. Charles Mize wrote his wife, “I’ll never forget the misery and bravery or the many buddies who died…” Gen. O.P. Smith held a memorial service at another gravesite as 22,215 Marines embarked. When the last ships cleared the beach on 24 December, 400 tons of dynamite (too frozen to ship back) and 500 abandoned 1,000 pound bombs blew the Hungnam waterfront apart.

Some of the troops showed the holiday spirit and their attitude toward the war by sending a HQ-mimeographed Christmas message to friends and family back home:

Xmas greetings from Korea,
Land of lice and diarrhea.
From mulchy shores we’ve half-mastered,
Merry Xmas, you lucky bastard!

November had been the largest retreat in U.S. history and December was not much better. The home front cheered the Marine victory at Chosin Reservoir, but there was little else to be happy about. Truman began to act and speak in what was described as a paranoid manner and Korea’s future was dubious.

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Current news – In Arlington, VA, construction began on the Pentagon, 11 September 1941 to house the rapidly expanding War Department, When completed at a cost of $85 million in 1943, the building accommodated approximately 20,000 workers along 17.5 miles of hallways. In 2001, 60 years later, the building was attacked.

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Farewell Salutes –purple_heart_medal_sticker-rc43cdfcb25234517914e87abe35e9c82_v9waf_8byvr_512

Robert Solomon – Bethesda, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII PTO

Edward T. Guggenheim – Silver Spring, MD; US Navy, WWII

Hazel (Molson) Iverson – Montreal, Canada; Royal Canadian Air Force, Eastern Air Command, radar plotter, WWII

Elwin Le Blanc – Montreal, Canada; flight officer, WWII

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Resources:Korean War.org; History.navy.mil; Canadians in Korea; “Rakkasans” by E.M. Flanagan; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; “The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; “The Week” magazine;

Korean War (12)

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MacArthur’s twice rejected appeal to bring Chiang’s troops in from Taiwan was sent out again. Washington responded that the idea was being considered, but would involve political and diplomatic consequences. The British were calling for a multi-national committee to run the war, but in answer to that, General Omar Bradley retorted that no war could be directed by a committee.

30 November 1950, Truman held a press conference that ultimately turned into a discussion about using the atomic bomb. When asked by Frank Bourgholtzer of NBC, “Does this mean that we would not use the atomic bomb except on a United Nations’ authorization?” Truman replied, “The action against Communist China depends on the action of the UN. The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of weapons, as he always has…” (Truman, forgetting the rules of the Atomic Energy Act, had in fact handed the use of the A-bomb over to MacArthur.) This news immediately shot around the world.

General Marshall knew that Prime Minister Atlee would panic at the subject of the Bomb and sure enough, he was on is way to the U.S. Atlee, who had praised MacArthur on the Inchon invasion was now concerned with protecting British international trade and its colonies. MacArthur only wanted the weapon to be stored on Okinawa in the event it would be imperative to use to withdraw the troops safely out of Korea. (The threat of the Bomb, by the end of December, would come mainly from Washington.)

The Chosin, Nov.-Dec. 1950

The Chosin, Nov.-Dec. 1950

The 10,000 men of the 1st Marine Division, about 2,000 G.I.s and a small unit of the British Royal Marine Commandos were also threatened to be entrapped at their location. The massive battle of the Chosin Reservoir, destined to become the most famous battle of the war, began on 1 December. With the foresight of their commander, General O.P. Smith, having had moved gingerly before the CCF attack, had stockpiled supplies along the route from Hungnam. The Chinese forces were running low on supplies and becoming exhausted. MacArthur felt that General Walker had lost control of his troops; if he had made a stand above Pyongyang, the war would have gone differently.

The British General Mansergh sent a dispatch to London: American soldiers are not interested in the Korean civil war, their morale is bad and they are untrained for defense. They only joined in peacetime so as to receive a G.I. Bill education after discharge.

While leadership was being blamed for any defeat or retreat, a Silver Star sergeant was pulling off his mittens to hurl a hand grenade and got frostbitten fingers for his effort; Navy Lt.Commander Lessenden, running a Marine hospital tent, reported that plasma bottles were freezing and breaking; Corpsman Pfc Win Scott was holding morphine Syrettes in his mouth to keep them from freezing and soldiers were sleeping with their rifles to keep them operational. The Chinese were also dealing with the gruesome weather: Sgt. Ray Davis brought his colonel to see an enemy outpost – all but 2 men were frozen to death.

The Chosin

The Chosin

The long march south from Hagaru to Koto-ri, to be followed by Hungnam, began 6 December. To dispose of surplus ordnance, they shelled the Chinese during the night. Captain Drake and his 31st Tank Company were among the last units out of Hagaru and the town was set on fire as they saw the enemy scrounge the streets in search of food. The rear guard blew the bridge over Changjun River to slow the CCF from following. The road down was still a dangerous trek of icy, twisting turns causing trucks and tanks to slide down. The Chinese still lay in ambush, but the exhausted Allies continued to fight. The CCF blew a 16′ gap in a bridge known as Funchilin Pass, but the American engineers built a steel span from materials dropped by parachute.

MSgt. Thomas Brett, US Army 3rd Division said, “Cold chills still go up my spine as I recall watching Marines, themselves frozen from head to foot, meticulously caring for their wounded and bringing back the dead bodies of their comrades…”

6 December, MacArthur issued the CINCFE (Commander-in-chief, Far East) Plan No. 203 that was 38 pages detailing ‘the orderly withdrawal” of all UN forces and equipment from Korea to Japan. This would also include the ROKs and POWs, “due to pressure from superior forces.”

937th Field Artillery self-propelled 155-mm "Long Tom" guns

937th Field Artillery self-propelled 155-mm “Long Tom” guns

Both General Almond and Walker acted as though everything they destroyed – MacArthur could replace. General O.P. Smith argued the point on the destruction of good materiel and Almond told him, “Don’t worry about your equipment, once you get back we’ll replace it all.” Smith responded, “I’m not going to do that. This is the equipment we fight with.” When Almond flew out, Smith told his operations officer, “This guy is a maniac. He’s nuts. I can’t believe he’s saying these things.”

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Farewell Salutes – imagesCAJ7G97J

Nathaniel Young – Fairfax, VA & Tallahassee, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII ETO 8th AF co-pilot, 35 combat missions + D-Day

Kenneth Condit – NYC, NY & Princeton, NJ; US Army, WWII

Frances Stueve – Dyerville, Iowa & Washington DC; survivor of Pearl Harbor

William A. Bennett – Fort Pierce & Gainsville, FL; US Navy, WWII aircraft communications instructor, graduate of Annapolis

Charles F. Milheron – Bangor, ME; US Army, Korean War

John Fallat – Dickson City, PA & Alexandria, VA; US Navy, Korean War

Dennis Reinke – Arlington, VA; US Navy, 26 year veteran, Master Chief Petty Officer

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Resources: armchairgeneral.com; olivedrab.com; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; Army archives; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub & “Hey Mac, Where Ya Been?” by Henry Berry

Korean War (11)

MacArthur watching the action

MacArthur watching the action

23 November was Thanksgiving Day in 1950 and the United Nation troops had special turkey dinners flown in, even for the New Zealand and Turkish troops who had never eaten turkey before. Some of the meals, including fruitcake and pumpkin pie, were delivered frozen. The cooks for the 7th Division worked to heat the dinners by the glare of truck headlights; but morale was high and the men up and down the peninsula talked of being home by Christmas. The festivities would be over quickly for the men as they began the Allied offensive once again the next day.

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The CCF also had their plans and hit the 8th Army on 25 November with massive “human wave” assaults; a frightening experience for any soldier. Units were overrun by the enemy and the front lines turned into chaos. The Friday after Thanksgiving, when MacArthur met up with Generals Walker, Melburn, Coulter and Church at an airstrip just south of Chongchon River, Church told the general that if the resistance remained status quo, his division would make it to the border. MacArthur answered, “Well, if they go fast enough, maybe some of them could be home for Christmas. Don’t make me a liar.” The UP news service picked up the statement, but misquoted it as, “…if they get to the Yula – they WILL go home for Christmas.” Hence – the misunderstanding by the troops and the home front.

USS Leyte

USS Leyte

To distract the enemy from MacArthur’s visit, the Far East Air Force beefed up its flight schedules and the aircraft carrier, Leyte bombed the Sinuiju bridges. Inadvertently, the Chinese People’s Volunteer HQ was hit and Mao’s eldest son was killed. (The chairman was not informed until a month later.)

 1950 Korea map

1950 Korea map


On Monday, 27 November, X Corps and General Almond were convinced that the CCF presence above the dam’s reservoir were equal to that of their own. Their orders were to draw the enemy away from Walker’s right flank. The temperatures bottomed out at 25 below zero, making the weather as much of an enemy as the Chinese. General O.P. Smith kept his men moving slowly north up the western slopes of the reservoir while Arnold became increasingly aggravated at their pace.

Army 31st RCT of Chosin Reservoir

Army 31st RCT of Chosin Reservoir

On the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, 3,200 soldiers of Task Force MacLean were cut off from making a retreat. The fighting continued for 4 days and Colonel Allan “Mac” MacLean, the commander, was wounded, captured and later died; as did his successor, Lt. Col. Don Faith. The surviving 350 men made their way across the frozen waters to the stronghold at Hagaru.

On the second day of the offensive, the Chinese seemingly exploded from everywhere in broad daylight; contrary to their usual tactics. The fighting lasted into the evening hours with the equivalent of 18 American divisions on the flanks and in the rear. Three divisions of ROK II Corps collapsed. The Turkish Brigade rushed in to assist and were ambushed; 770 of which would be buried on Korean soil.

28 November, MacArthur sent a message to Washington that was said to compare with that sent after Pearl Harbor. General Omar Bradley said it sounded “rather hysterical” and he doubted that it was much of a catastrophe as it sounded. Later that evening, MacArthur issued Communique No. 14, “Consequently we face an entirely new war…” He then called Almond and Walker to Tokyo for an emergency meeting. Admiral Joy and Generals Stratemeyer, Hickey, Willoughby, Whitney and Wright were also present. Quartermaster packers, C-119s, C-46s and C-47s were sent to Yonpo to prepare drops of supplies to the cut-off troops. Walker and Almond were back at their command posts (CPs) 29 November and ordered a discontinuing of offensive action and to withdraw. All over North Korea the reports were the same – the Chinese were everywhere and only visible when their guns flashed; the mountains looked like Christmas trees.

Chow time in a Korean winter.

Chow time in a Korean winter.

Casualties were heavy as they retreated on routes laden with ice and snow. Frostbite victims were added to the wounded lists. Lt. Col. Roy Davis had his head grazed by a sniper, but lived to win a Medal of Honor and later became Commandant of the Marine Corps. Bob Hammond remembered, “… the Chinese were coming out of everywhere, all lined up…” The Americans tried to hide in caves, but were flushed out by the enemy. Able Battery was overrun and the 2nd Division was trapped between Kunu-ri and Sunchon. MGeneral Keiser was sending out “HOW ABLE” (Haul Ass) messages over the radio, but there were no discernible front lines.

Yet, according to two former members of the Recon Company (the Chosin Few), the unit was receiving reports from pilots all along and knew of the “trap.” In one night alone, a report that 500 sets of headlights were headed for the Chosin Reservoir – “They sure as hell weren’t going to a ski resort,” one said. They also commented that Old “Blitzen Litzen,” (Colonel Homer Litzenburg of the 7th Marines) was not up to date on how to utilize a Reconnaissance Company.

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Farewell Salutes –

ambulance arrival at a MASH unit

ambulance arrival at a MASH unit

Lawrence Wigbels – Washington DC; U.S. Army Colonel, WWII ETO, 101st, 902nd Engineer HQ CO, 101st & 82nd Airborne Div.

John Levender, Sr. – Lindenhurst, NY; USMS Sgt., WWII

Paul Lozowsky – Massapequa, NY; U.S. Navy, WWII

Richard Lee Reed – Covington, KY; U.S. Army Air Corps, WWII

George Cavanaugh – Laurel, MD; U.S. Army Air Force, WWII

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Personal note – This coming Tuesday, 10 September, Judy will be posting my article on the Women of WWII. I will re-blog it here and sincerely hope you all enjoy reading.

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Resources: “Hey Mac, Where Ya Been?” by Henry Berry; “Rakkasans” by E.M. Flanagan; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; Kiki’s place.com; Wikipedia; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; Army Archives; National Archives

Korean War (9)

187th RCT jump from FEAF transports

187th RCT jump from FEAF transports

18 October 1950, General Peng and his Communist “volunteers” crossed the Manchurian border and reached the town of Pakchon under the cover of night. Disguised as refugees, by the following day, 260,000 men and their artillery began crossing the Yalu River. They traveled over the concrete road atop the Suiho dam that MacArthur had been ordered NOT to destroy. With B-29s flying overhead, the CCF troops built wooden bridges, painted to look like the river, and submerged them to be unseen from above.

314th Troop Carrier Wing

314th Troop Carrier Wing

The 187th Rakkasans, after a final debriefing were informed that due to worsening weather condition their jump was delayed. 20 October, at 1030 hours, the troopers were told to ‘chute up’ and they began boarding 73 C-119s of the 314th Troop Carrier Wing and 40 C-47s from the 21st Troop Carrier Wing. At noon, the first plane took off headed for DZ William, southeast of Sukchon. Sfc William Ignatz recalled their rendezvous in a 9-plane V of Vs over the Han River and then going north along the west coast of Korea. Fighters strafed DZ William and at 1400 hours, he heard, “GO!” The veterans of WWII in his plane yelled, “Geronimo” as they jumped and only encountered sparse sniper fire. In all, 1,470 men and 74 tons of equipment were unloaded.

The 3/187th went south of Sukchon setting up roadblocks across the highways and railroad. The 1/187th was assigned to clear the Sukchon area and secure the high ground to the north. The 1st platoon of Engineers reached Songnani-ni at 1530 hours and was met by enemy fire. The porters continued to move their equipment and reached Namil-ni. General Bowen set up his headquarters post at Chanyi-ni on Hill 97.

DZ Easy was another jump, this one southwest of Sukchon and the Rakkasans marched into Sunchon in a column of twos. Pfc Kirksey remarked on the noise that echoed in the streets as the 2,500 North Koreans tossed their weapons. The two drops at the two DZs would total 4,000 men and 600 tons of materiel. Although many of the NKPA were already heading north, the jumps were considered a success. Unfortunately, the Allied POWs they were scheduled to rescue had previously been moved. (unknown to Allied intelligence) Unaware of the Chinese presence, MacArthur flew in for his fourth visit in time to witness the jumps.

October 1950 Korea map

October 1950 Korea map

21-22 October, I Company of the 3/187th, 8 miles south of Sukchon, headed down the railroad while K Company took the highway to meet up with the 27th Commonwealth Brigade coming north. I Company was caught in an ambush by a North Korean battalion and their 120mm mortars and 40mm guns. A heavy firefight ensued for two hours. With 90 men missing, they retreated back to Hill 281. Fortunately, the NKPA withdrew to their former positions. Medic Private First Class Richard G. Wilson, with I Company, returned to the battlefield of Opari to remain and tend the wounded. Two days later, his body was found riddled with bullets. He was given the Medal of Honor posthumously for self-sacrifice.

Harvey Kurtzman comic books  - Frontline Combat & Two-Fisted Tales were so well researched that the soldiers enjoyed them as much as the home front

Harvey Kurtzman comic books – Frontline Combat & Two-Fisted Tales were so well researched that the soldiers enjoyed them as much as the home front

The 1st Cavalry discovered the POW train, that the 187th was to intercept, heading toward Suchon. Many of the prisoners had previously been executed; out of 370 Americans, 23 were still alive although two died that night. On 22 October, the North Korean capital was moved to Sinuijiu.

937th Field Artillery self-propelled 155-mm "Long Tom" guns

937th Field Artillery self-propelled 155-mm “Long Tom” guns

K Company/187th had their battle one mile north of Yongyu. After the combat with heavy fire, they entered the town and dug in on Hill 163 just north. A line of hills ran diagonally across the railroad and highway between Pyongyang and Opari; 2,500 of the North Korean 239th Regiment were dug in there. A column of these troops strolled down the road pretending to be ROKs and they got away with the ruse until dawn broke. L Company and Headquarters Company could see who they truly were and opened fire. Heavy combat again followed and 3 G.I. machine-gunners were killed. MSgt. Willard Ryals, with bullets streaming passed him. reached one of the guns and fired back. He received the Silver Star. When Pyongyang was secure, I Corps headed to the Yalu River.

Two companies of the Argyll 1st Battalion moved into Yongyu and the Australian 3rd Battalion arrived. Four companies seized the road attacking the NKPA as they went on. The CO of the Argylls, Lt. Colonel Charles Greene, had his command post attacked by a large enemy force, but even as it came down to hand-to-hand combat, the NKPA lost about 270 KIA and 200 captured against the Australians having only 7 wounded. The enemy fled and the Middlesex 1st Battalion linked up with the American 187th RCT. The Presidential Citation was awarded to the 3rd Battalion/187th, the 3rd Platoon A Company 127th Engineers and the 2nd Section of the Antitank Platoon for the battle at Yongyu and then went into reserve until their next jump. The 1st Battalion received battle honours for the Battle of Pakchon.

Click on images to enlarge.

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30 August 1950

Farewell Salutes –

Victor Keve – Brooklyn, NY & W. Palm Beach, FL; U.S. Army, WWII

Elden Arthur King – Highland, MI & Boynton Beach, FL; U.S. Army, Korea

Carroll Madison – Richmond, VA & Lake Worth, FL; U.S. Navy, WWII signal-man aboard ship, Atlantic Coast and D-Day

Joseph Jackson Paul – N. Palm Beach, FL; U.S. Army, SSgt. WWII

Philip Vultaggio – Amityville & Massapequa, NY & Delray Beach, FL; U.S. Army Pfc 115th Infantry/29th Division, WWII

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Resources: “Rakkasans” by Gen. EM Flanagan; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; Palm Beach Post; National Archives;Tiny Tot Comics; U.S. Army Military History Institute

Korean War (7)

casualty evacuation, Sikorski S-51 in background

casualty evacuation, Sikorski S-51 in background

The 5th Marines were under MacArthur’s orders to capture Kimpo (ASAP) as it would be beneficial in retaking Seoul. A Marine Corsair landed on Kimpo as bulldozers prepared to fill the craters in the runways. He was hustled off the field and the official first aircraft to land was a Sikorsky helicopter from Marine Observation Squadron 6. The squadron’s 8 helicopters were the only such aircraft used in Korea.

Sept. 1950, LST Munsan wrecked near Chansadong

Sept. 1950, LST Munsan wrecked near Chansadong

22 September 1950, Walker’s 8th Army was barely moving as troops from the Inchon landing were nearing Seoul. The 187th Rakkasans began landing at Kimpo airfield. Lt.Colonel Delbert Munson assumed command of the field which had mainly been cleared by the previous troops. Once the entire regiment was in place, their mission was to clear the Kimpo peninsula; the 1st Platoon, L Company took the point to go after North Korean guerrillas that were heading north. On 27 September at 1230 hours, the 187th was ambushed by approximately 400 of the enemy and the heavy combat lasted 4 hours.

Sept. 1950, U.S. troops in Seoul

Sept. 1950, U.S. troops in Seoul

MacArthur departed for Japan, leaving General Almond with a reminder to take Seoul back. In the States, newspapers made headlines of the success at Inchon while reservists were being called up for duty. According to Colonel Alpha Bowser, Gen. O.P. Smith’s deputy, “… nothing was fast enough for Almond… he had a habit of treating the Han River like it had 5 or 6 bridges across it, and of course it had none.” On 24 September, Almond pulled his jeep in front of Gen. Smith’s command post to threaten the Marines 5th Regiment, in particular,(who had been fighting since the first landings), if they did not “make headway” in the next 24 hours, he would divert Gen. Barr’s 7th Division to the center of the Seoul front. Barr noted in his diary for that day, “Almond displayed a complete ignorance of the fighting qualities of the Marines.” On 29 September, the 1st Battalion of the 187th attacked, heading northwest, and 10 men were lost in the battle as they approached Tongjin. They continued sweeping the hills and then would call Naval aircraft in to finish off the area.

Inchon 15 Sept. 1950

Carol H. Graham, from Tuscola, Tx, w/ 3 POWs at Inchon, 15 Sept. 1950

Syngman Rhee anticipated being reinstated as head of a unified nation and Truman responded that the United Nations would decide if troops were to cross the 38th parallel. The fight for Seoul would be done house-by-house and street-by-street as the NKPA intensified. Almond continued to push the men in his attempts to keep on MacArthur’s schedule.

26 September, Russian T-34 tanks rolled down the avenues of Seoul and American Marines were there to fight them. Streets and individual buildings changed hands repeatedly. With orders to take the capital city for the planned restoration ceremonies for Rhee, the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines stormed the National Assembly building and routed the North Koreans room-by-room. Lt. Charles Mize, a veteran of Okinawa, won a Navy Cross for Valor, for this operation.

Marines inspect captured enemy weapons

Marines inspect captured enemy weapons

During the ceremonies, Seoul continued to burn. Although in his speech Rhee called the day one of “unity, understanding and forgiveness,” an historian would say differently. Whereas the Communists had killed anyone in allegiance with South Korea, execution squads were now liquidating anyone who was accused of collaborating with the north – even as the ceremonies took place. On 29 September, MacArthur and Rhee both left for Kimpo field, in separate planes.

The North Koreans seemed to become lost and fell apart in the high-tech war and retreated to reorganize. (It would become evident to the Allied forces to shoot at the enemy buglers. Each one blew a different command and without them, the troops became confused.) Fifth Air Force Mustang fighter-bombers were dropping napalm in areas above the Naktong River with 110 pound tanks of the stuff. This was at first costing the U.S. $600 per tank, but was down to $36.35 now that it was produced in Japanese remodeled factories, thanks to Lt.Commander Edward Metcalf.

North Korean officers would often allow themselves to be captured while disguised as enlisted men. Once inside a POW camp, they could organize the prisoners to rally against their American guards. The American altruistic care of prisoners would actually create another problem. There were already about 110,000 POWs near Pusan alone – now how to get enough food and clothing not only for them but for the South Korean refugees – MacArthur was begging Washington for assistance.

American Col. "Mike" Michaelis w/ NY Herald Tribune correspondent Marguerite Higgins during the fight to take Taegu

Col. “Mike” Michaelis w/ Maggie Higgins, Taegu

When Maggie Higgins, reporter, met with MacArthur in Tokyo, she noticed his usually neat desk with congratulatory messages sprawled across it for the Inchon landing and she remarked on them. The general said, ” I’m afraid I can’t take these messages too seriously.” He then proceeded to tell her about when he was a pretty good baseball player at West Point and the sound of the cheers – until the day his knee gave way while running to catch a fly ball, “…the boos of the crowd were louder than the cheers had ever been.”

General Walker had ROK troops under his command, but at the same time, Syngman Rhee was telling them to ignore American orders and head into North Korea. Walker requested the Eighth Army be combined with the X Corps, but MacArthur refused. Inchon was jammed with Marines waiting to sail on to Wonsan and they were receiving the supplies that arrived directly from Japan while the Eighth Army was running out of fuel and supplies and becoming quite exhausted defending the perimeter.

Crossing the 38th Parallel

Crossing the 38th Parallel

1 October, offensive forces crossed the 38th parallel towards the Yalu River with the ROKs in the lead. The following day, the entire 187th RCT reassembled at Kimpo and continued with their training jumps while MacArthur kept them in reserve. General Walker was not a fan of the airborne as a rule and made it clear, in no uncertain terms, to MacArthur that he did not approve of the unit being held back.

British 29th Inf. Brigade meet up w/ G.I.s at Naktong River, Sept. 1950

British 29th Inf. Brigade meet up w/ G.I.s at Naktong River, Sept. 1950

4 October, General Almond was in Seoul and received Colonel Overshine’s 31st Infantry of the 7th Division. He was hoping he could find a reason to have the colonel sacked due to a friendly fire mishap on 26 September. Overshine was blamed for the incident and relieved the next day. (It is my belief that something else was coming into play.) That same morning, Colonel Powell’s 17th Infantry Regiment caused 5 casualties and 55 injured – but Powell was NOT sacked.

7 October, the 1st Marine Division prepared to board the ships that would take them the 850 mile U-turn voyage around the peninsula, while the 7th Infantry traveled by rail to Taegu and Pusan. NKPA troops were left behind to cause trouble another day. Gen. Almond went aboard the Mount McKinley and sent a sour message to MacArthur about MGeneral Barr. Barr had been warning other officers to obey every whim of Gen. Almond, lest they wind up like Overshine.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

David C. Jones – Aberdeen, SD & Washington DC; General, Joint Chiefs of Staff 1978-82, Commander of Headquarters USAF, Korea & Vietnam

Elmer Bourdage – Seattle, WA; U.S. Navy submarine service, USS Snapper, PTO WWII

Brian McGahan – Waltham, MA; U.S. Army, Vietnam

George W. Domasco – Sun City, AZ; U.S. Army WWII

Gregory R. Fine – Wasington DC & PA; Captain U.S. Navy submarine service

Jesus Villa – Glendale, AZ; U.S. Army, WWII PTO, 542nd Engineer Regiment

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Resources: “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Koreanwaronline.com; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; “The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; facilities.grc.nasa.gov

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Korean War (3)

tfsmithfirstpg

MacArthur, in his memoirs, stated that he began his plan for Operation Bluehearts (later named Chromite); the amphibious landing above Seoul to cut off the enemy. This was without approval from Washington. General Stratemeyer radioed Earl Partridge, deputy commander of the FEAF, “Take out North Korean airfields immediately. No publicity. MacArthur approves.” The general was counting on official approval after the fact – which he did receive. But, Maggie Higgins, reporter for the NY Herald-Tribune, did report the incident claiming that she had no knowledge of a security blackout. (The media interfered even back then.)

29 June 1950, Truman gave MacArthur the authority to restore order up to the 38th parallel, but Acheson made a broader interpretation of the statement. Russia said openly they would not interfere unless the U.S. crossed outside of North Korea. (They were quite willing to let the Chinese do their fighting for them.) The 24th Division, under MGeneral William, was ordered to make ready. As all occupation forces were, the unit was inexperienced, included few WWII veterans and were using WWII left-over equipment, but their proximity to Korea made them the obvious choice to land at Pusan. The U.S. Navy had its first combat action on this date. The USS Juneau (CL-119), the flagship of RAdmiral John Higgins fired her 5″ guns at shipping and shore targets.

North Korean invasion 25 July - 4 August 1950

North Korean invasion 25 July – 4 August 1950

Knowing that the news of American troops going to Korea would leak out, Truman announced,”This is all very delicate. I don’t want it stated any place that ‘I’ am telling MacArthur what to do. He is not an American general now, he is acting for the United Nations.” (Everyone in the loop knew otherwise, along with General Marshall having a firm hold on Truman’s ear.)

Norway, traditionally a neutral country, no longer held a peaceful attitude after spending 5 years under Nazi control. Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne, the Norwegian ambassador to Washington, went to Acheson personally at the State Department to convey those feelings from Trygve Lie, the First Secretary General of the U.N. to support the international action.

In seeing additional troops enter Korea in piecemeal fashion, General Dean reported to Doyle Hickey, Deputy Chief of Staff to MacArthur, that “I am convinced that the North Korean Army and the North Korean soldier and his status of training and equipment have been underestimated.” He had politely implied that the American troops, equipment and training were highly overrated. The logistics outside Tokyo were primitive, the list of inadequacies huge and maps were non-existent. (Gen. Dean, with no previous combat experience, won the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions and leadership. His medal was awarded to his wife since he became MIA and presumed KIA. Later he was found after being a POW. A very brave and honorable story)

Russian T-34 tank

Russian T-34 tank

30 June, Task Force Smith was formed, (named for Lt. Col. Charles Smith), and included the 21st, 34th and 19th divisions to join the 24th. They also would be using outdated weapons and many of the shells being duds as they landed 5 July. Immediately, they were attacked by the enemy with Russian T-34 tanks and the first American soldier was killed. (his name lost in history). There had already been Air Force casualties. After three days of fighting, 85 men were dead or missing out of a 130-man rifle company. MacArthur radioed the Pentagon that he needed 4 to 5 divisions, an airborne regimental combat team and an armored group; and this was the minimum. The NKPA leadership and tactical skills were rated as “excellent,” as good as any seen in WWII.

Gen. William F. Dean

Gen. William F. Dean

Gen. Dean’s 25th Division deleted the 7th in the attempt to be brought up to strength and embarked for Korea on 9 July. Communications were poor, the radios had short-range and replacement batteries were nowhere to be found. With the ROK forces running south and no way to distinguish the northern and southern troops, the first 4 Royal Australian pilots, on their first mission, sprayed a ROK ammunition train at Pyongtaek. An American pilot, having the same problem, was shot down and taken prisoner. MacArthur ordered ALL ROK vehicles to have a white star painted on top to be visible from above.

Edward R. Murrow in Korea

Edward R. Murrow in Korea

Edward R. Murrow was met by fellow CBS correspondent, Bill Downs, who sported a full beard and was covered with dirt from the front, told Murrow, “Go back! Go back you silly bastard! This ain’t our kind of war. This one is for the birds!” (In the future, Murrow would call this warning, “the best advice he ever ignored.”) Murrow watched as what was left of a black unit from the 24th Infantry return. The highest ranking officer of that regiment, Lt. Col. Forrest Lofton, refused to go to Korea. He remained at Gifu in Honshu. He was a follower of a preacher that held the opinion that it was inappropriate for black soldiers to fight an enemy of “color.”

The communist soldiers who had infiltrated groups of refugees made heroin easily available to the incoming troops and as the 24th debarked at Moji, the military began receiving reports of rape, robbery and desertion. Drugs were now entered as yet another problem in the war. The soldiers were shipped out on freighters, ferries and fertilizer haulers and they regrouped on 13 July in Pusan, boarded trains for Pohang and then onward to Kumchon by truck. There they were ordered to dig in and protect ROK forces on one side and the 27th on the other. The next day, they were under fire.

At Yechon, 20 July, Dean was injured and captured. The next day, the city was temporarily re-occupied by the 24th. Two days after that, when the 1st Cavalry Division relieved them, the 24th retreated 100 miles and had abandoned most of their equipment and had lost 30% KIA. Unashamed of their retreat, the men were heard singing “The Bugout Bogie”:
When the Commie mortars start to chug,
The Ol’ Deuce Four begin to bug…
When you hear the pitter-patter of little feet,
It’s the Ol’ Deuce Four in full retreat.

Washington disliked the term ‘bugout,’ but the press continued to use it.

Lt. Leon A. Gilbert refused a direct order to take his men back into the fight. He was given a chance to change his mind, on the threat of a treason charge, “No,” he said, “I’ll get killed.” Gilbert was tried and given the death sentence, but Truman intervened and cut the sentence down to 20 years. Following his sentencing, mass court-martialing of whole units of the 24th ensued.

The embarrassing facts about the war gradually made their way out even as reporters made their headlines out of the smallest of victories. Truman carefully chose his words to retain public support from here on out. I believe it is becoming clear why many of us learned very little of this war during our school years.

Click photos to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Edward O’Hara – Phoenix, AZ; U.S. Navy, PT boat radioman, WWII

Hugh Sisler – Friendsville, ME; U.S. Navy, WWII Aleutians and Okinawa

Alice Magruder Thompson – born 1914, Washington D.C.; pilot with the Civil Air Patrol & administrative aide Dept. Of Navy

Frederick Walton, Jr. – Maryland; U.S. Air Force, WWII

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Resources: “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; militarymuseum. org; history.army.org; Wikipedia; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; history.navy.mil; “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey

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Be sure to tune in for my latest guest post for Greatest Generation Lessons this coming Tuesday, “Rationing Gone Wild” is a step back in time for the home front. See you there.

Korean War (2)

A face of the war

A face of the war

General MacArthur flew to Korea for an inspection tour and witnessed fires eating through Seoul and the city about to be captured. His report was cabled to Washington, but would not be received until 29 June.

Four war correspondents, Keyes Beech of the “Chicago Daily News;” Frank Gibney of the “Time”;” Burton Crane from “The New York Times” and Marguerite Higgins, also of the “NY Herald-Tribune,” hitched a none-way ride on a transport plane going to Kimpo airfield. The pilot informed them that his orders from Tokyo said to swoop low enough to look for American evacuees, if no one was spotted, they would have to leave since the field was actually in enemy hands. As it turned out, thirty people stood there on the runway frantically waving at the C-47.

Maggie Higgins w/ MacArthur, June 1950

Maggie Higgins w/ MacArthur, June 1950

Once they were on the ground, the reporters located a car and drove to the KMAG Headquarters. General Chae told them, “We fightin’ hard now. Things gettin’ better.” But, as they saw nothing but chaos around them, none of the reporters were convinced. Maggie Higgins grabbed her typewriter and jumped into a jeep with Colonel Wright to head south. Boatmen had to be coaxed by gun point to ferry the correspondents and soldiers across the Han River where they picked up a dirt trail going over the hills to reach Suwon. At this site, Higgins met Brig. General John Church, head of the “survey group,” now known as the Advance Command Group. He knew little about Korea, but had been a division commander in Europe during WWII. (Korea would be a learning experience for soldiers and officers alike.)

It was the 27th in the U.S. when the United Nations Security Council met again at Lake Success on Long Island. Russia was still boycotting, but made a point to complain that Mao’s regime had not been allowed to replace Chiang’s delegate. Once again, the members were urged to assist South Korea in repelling the “armed attack.” The vote was 7-1 in favor; Yugoslavia voted no, while Egypt and India abstained.

The Pentagon authorized the 507th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion to protect the airfield and secure the docks at Pusan for men and supplies to land. President Rhee of South Korea fled Seoul and afterward, announced in a radio broadcast that the United States was to blame for his country’s plight. Meanwhile, the Navy started a blockade and the Air Force knocked out enemy communications.

General Church had been given command of an army in total disarray. He stated to Harold Noble, from the embassy, “I would rather have 100 New York City policemen than the whole Korean army.” (This is no reflection on the future ROKs who would receive combat training and proper equipment.) With so much of the war being fought up close and personal, all the troops needed to become combat experienced immediately.

RF-80A  Shooting Star, Korea

RF-80A Shooting Star, Korea

General George Stratemeyer, commander of the FEAF, temporarily grounded the C-54 Bataan due to weather conditions that produced a zero ceiling of visibility. Lt. Bryce Poe II took off in a RF-80A Shooting Star to find the leading edge of the NKPA forces; this was the first combat sortie by an American jet. F-80 pilots were ordered to bomb anything above the Han River and they proceeded to empty their napalm.

MacArthur w/ the "Bataan", a Lockheed C-121A Constellation in Korea.  Plane would later be used by Gen. Ridgeway.

MacArthur w/ the “Bataan”, a Lockheed C-121A Constellation in Korea. Plane would later be used by Gen. Ridgeway.

At a meeting in Taejon, MacArthur and Church assessed the deteriorating situation. General Chae was blamed for the premature destruction of the Han River bridges and four enemy planes (YAKS) circled over the Bataan as the generals watched the faster P-51s shoot down two of them; the other two escaped to the north. The “Life” photographer, David Douglas Duncan, said that MacArthur looked buoyant as he said, “Let’s get up to the front and have a look;” which he did. Upon his return to Suwon, he remarked, “Nobody is fighting.” MacArthur and four pressmen returned to Tokyo. The reports that the correspondents sent home were later described as ‘bordering on fiction.’

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Roy Krieger – Springfield, VA; USMC (Ret.) Lt. Colonel, 3 wars w/ Purple Heart, Bronze Star w/ combat V, Navy Commendation Medal

Charles Van Winfree – Hopkinsville, KY & Longboat Key, FL; U.S. Army in Middle East during WWII

Wendell Martin Houston – Charleston, SC; Colonel U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, WWII & Korea

Martha Dee Campbell – Benton, AR & AZ; U.S. Air Force 21 years

Martin Dicken – Laurel, MD; USMC, Vietnam

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Personal note – I had Frank Gibney down as working for the incorrect publication, it is now re-edited as “Time.” I apologize to my readers for the mistake.

Background for Korea

Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo flying both the American and United Nations flags

Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo flying both the American and United Nations flags

Korea was not a happy nation and hadn’t been for a long time. After the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, it was annexed by Japan in 1910. Korea was then promised her independence in 1943 by the Allied conference in Cairo; this was reaffirmed by the July 1945 Potsdam Conference. But, when Japan surrendered one month later, Soviet forces were already entering Korea via Manchuria. The sector north of the 38th was given to Russia and the southern zone to the U.S.

After two years of political debate, the Communists still refused to leave and the U.S. handed the problem over to the United Nations. The U.N. attempted, with nationwide elections, to help unite the country, but without Soviet cooperation, it was to no avail. The southern Republic of Korea was created 15 August 1947 and Seoul, its capital. The Communists responded by declaring the northern part to be called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea shortly afterward and established Pyongyang as its capital.

Korean War map

Korean War map

The Soviet forces officially left North Korea in December 1948, but left behind advisers, instructors and massive amounts of matériel and supplies.  On the other hand, the Americans departed in June 1949, leaving behind very little. The South Korean army was left pretty much to fend for themselves and one year later, on 25 June 1950, the movement and tactical surprise attacks would be overwhelming.

MacArthur and Sygman Rhee

MacArthur and Sygman Rhee

While handling the affairs of Japanese occupation, MacArthur only visited Korea twice before the war would erupt with Russia and China both influencing those north of the 38th. South Korea still felt the U.S. would back them in their wish to reunite the country, despite public American statements to the contrary. The four military divisions in Japan in May 1950 had only one regiment in three as infantry and they were not prepared for or experienced combat.

Between 1945-50, the U.S. government, in its struggle to halt the rapid spread of communism, prepared for a WWII-style of war and they expected it to be fought in Europe. Congress had ratified the Truman Doctrine and sent economic and military aid to Turkey and Greece. Afterward came the Marshall Plan for a foreign aid program to rebuild Europe. The U.S. military reduced its forces, with the bulk of the remaining men stationed across the Atlantic. The U.S. was wholly unprepared for another war in the Pacific. Any defensive plan they did have, excluded Korea altogether. A soldier who received orders for Japan considered it a plum assignment and had not been given combat training.

Formosa was the only cause for U.S. concern at this time. Mac Arthur’s intelligence, from a source in Taipei in June, found “undeniable evidence” of a Communist invasion fleet along the Chinese coast near Formosa; 121 miles across the Strait of Korea. But, the U.S. State Department had jurisdiction, not the general. Also, MacArthur’s data was coming through MGeneral Willoughby (Chief of Intelligence for MacArthur), who was known to pretty much tell the general what he felt he wanted to hear; and he kept the CIA out of the area as well. (so no confirmation of intel.)

General Omar Bradley

General Omar Bradley

Omar Bradley did not trust MacArthur and asked BGeneral William Roberts, who sat 25 miles from the 38th parallel, for his opinion. The reply came back that the U.S. Korean Military Group were perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. But, during the first half of 1950, no one apparently was aware of construction going on; roads and railroads were being built to accommodate heavy equipment and troops. MacArthur did apparently give Cyrus Sulzberger, a “N.Y. Times” correspondent, the opinion that if another war broke out – it would be there [Korea]. The general told him, “WWII had changed the nature of war. Scientists had made mass killing easy… Even the public realizes all too well in terms of war that there can be no victory in a future war.”

By early June, Kim Il Sung’s army (with men and women) had infiltrated the south with orders to disrupt transportation and communications once war broke out. Russian “training officers” withdrew and elite operation advisers took their place. Attacks were to begin at 0400 hours on 25 June, as per orders from Pyongyang, but one participant observed border defenses going on as early as the 21st.

Kim Il Sung speaking at a mass rally

Kim Il Sung speaking at a mass rally

The ROK army had no heavy artillery and many of the troops had left to harvest the crops on their farms. The divisions, in all reality, were no more than gendarmerie who were unable to put a halt on any offensive action. Five hours after his own invasion had started, Kim Il Sung announced in a radio broadcast that the south had “dared to commit armed aggression north of the 38th parallel.” North Korean troops, armed with Russian T-34 tanks were met by grenades and American supplied 2 36-inch bazookas, that did nothing to slow the onslaught.

This is a digested version of events combated with the U.S. only having concern for Formosa and the sparse or lack of concern for intelligence, that would lead to the start of the Korean War. What becomes evident here, is this and any future conflict would be a political battle. The one fact that remains constant – our troops die. During my section on Korea, I will disregard any of Truman’s memoirs on the subject. After reading countless pages of quotes, I discovered that the politician’s recollections to be contrary to his actions and statements at the time of the war.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

George “Bud” Day – Shalimar, FL; Colonel USMC, WWII, Korea, Vietnam; POW for over 5 years, Medal of Honor recipient.

Alice Brausch – Honea Path, SC & W.Palm Beach, FL; U.S. Army Nursing Corps during Korea

George Fenimore, Jr. – Bertrand, MI & LA, CA; U.S. Air Force, WWII

George O’Shea – Ft Lauderdale, FL; USMC, class of 1945 Annapolis

Edgar Wyant – born in Germany, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; became U.S. citizen and enlisted U.S. Army prior to Pearl Harbor, WWII ETO

Albert Steidel – Alexandria, VA, U.S. Navy, Korea

J. Roger Miller – Phoenix, AZ; U.S. Air Force, WWII

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Resources: “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; History.com; WikiCommons; Kansas.com; historyinink.com; Army photos

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