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Korean War (20)

USS Toledo off Korean coast

USS Toledo off Korean coast

1 May 1951, the approximate line of battle in Korea on this date extended from a point about 6 miles north of Yangyang on the east coast to slightly north of Yongdongpo on the west. The 1st Marine Division was defending north of Hong Ch’on under the the X Corps. During most of May, the USS Toledo, sitting off od Inchon used her guns to support the ground troops of I Corps (8th Army).

Douglas Skyraider

Douglas Skyraider

3 May, 12 Corsairs and 8 Skyraiders from the USS Princeton made an inland attack on the enemy controlled Hwachon Dam. The destruction of one dam gate and damaging of two others left the dam of no tactical use to the enemy.

5-7 May, the ROKN JML-306 (a small ex-Japanese minesweeper) hit a mine and sank. Gunfire support from five US ships supported the ROK troops in the Kosong and Kansong area which resulted in extensive damage to the enemy troops, shelters, gun positions and transportation facilities.

USS Orleck, DD-886 in heavy seas, Korea

USS Orleck, DD-886 in heavy seas, Korea

11 May, on the east coast, the USS Orleck fired on enemy troops using a SFCP (Spotting Fire Command Post) and caused about 300 enemy KIA. Later firings caused about another 140 and saved the ROK men from annihilation in that area. On the west coast, the US Air Force TF (Task Force) 77 was called in to bomb four rail bridges.

16-20 May, the Chinese Communist forces, starting their Second Step, 5th Phase Offensive, and the X Corps began the battle of Soyang-Gang. After two days of fighting, the 8th Army requested air support. Once more the ROK III Corps collapsed. Van Fleet switched the US 3rd Division and 187th ARCT across from I Corps to bolster the X Corps. After relentless battles that would continue into June, the enemy was pushed back into the Iron Triangle (the 50 square mile plateau surrounded by large mountains). According to the US Marine Corps histories, the Chinese were “scourged with bullets, rockets and napalm as planes swooped down upon them like hawks scattering chickens.” The Wyoming Line (near the 38th parallel) was chosen as the best area to stand and defend. The National Security Council’s meeting felt this was the best for the US political aims. The UN troops were capable, but did push the enemy back to the Yalu River.

US Navy F-4U Corsair waits to take off from the USS Philippine Sea

US Navy F-4U Corsair waits to take off from the USS Philippine Sea

TF-77 suffered its heaviest casualties to date; 6 aircraft (5 F4-Us and 1 AD Skyraider) were lost during combat; 3 pilots were killed, one missing and 2 recovered. The USS Brinkley Bass lost one man and had 9 WIA after a heavy battle with enemy shore guns at Wonsan.

23 May, two landing ships with medium rockets (LSMR) fired a total of 4,903 rockets in a 35 minute period at enemy concentrations in the Wonsan area. This was a coordinated action with light cruisers and destroyers for Operation Fireball. This was the first time the LSMR was used.

7 June, a raiding party was put ashore at Sonjin from the USS Rupertus and entered into a small arms battle. The men returned to the ship with 3 North Korean prisoners.

12-20 June, the USS Walke struck a mine; 26 men were killed and 35 were wounded. The USS Thompson was hit 14 times by enemy shore batteries off of Songjin and 3 men were killed and 4 wounded. Songjin was now in its 100th day of siege. The 1st Marine Division secured their area of the reservoir.

Battle of Soyang

Battle of Soyang

The Battle of Soyang involved Canadians, Australians, New Zealand, the Dutch, British, French and US I, IX and X Corps verses thousands of Chinese troops: one division of their 15th Army and two divisions of their 12th Army were merely the frontal attack. The enemy’s 27th Army, III Army and 18th Division of the 60th Army were also involved.

[Three times I attempted to consolidate the data for this battle, but I was unable to do so without making it incomprehensible. Therefore I am including this link to the Army records in the event a reader is interested.]

http://www.history.army.mil/books/korea/ebb/ch25.htm

During the month of May, the Chinese Communist forces lost approximately 100,000 men killed in action. It was now the first time whole units of the enemy began to lay down their weapons and surrender to UN troops.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 2919573205_5a3a5035a8_b (800x545)

Emily deForest Guertin – Winsted, CT; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Pharmacist Mate Third Class

Joseph Philip Gomer – Duluth, Minn.; US Army, WWII, Minnesota’s last surviving Tuskegee Airman

Albin Warner – Chicago, IL; US Army WWII, ETP, D-Day, Battle of the Bulge w/ Silver Star

James Trone – Bethesda, MD; US Navy, Captain MC (Ret.)

Thomas Dougherty – Pocasset, MA; USMC 1st Marine Division, Korea (Chosin Reservoir & Inchon)

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