Archive for the 'Korea' Category

Jun 17

U.S. Navy recipients of the Medal of Honor: Korean War

Monday, June 17, 2013 12:07 PM

Posted by Michael Ford

Tomorrow, the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, dedicates a Korean War display in the Pentagon. In honor of those who served and gave their life protecting freedom, today we remember the Navy Medal of Honor recipients for actions during the Korean conflict: Hospital Corpsman Third Class Edward C. Benfold; Hospital Corpsman Third Class William R. Charette; Hospital Corpsman Richard David De Wert; Hospital Corpsman Francis C. Hammond; Lieutenant (j.g.) Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr.; Hospital Corpsman John E. Kilmer; and Lieutenant (j.g.) John Kelvin Koelsch. (For more information on naval history during the Korean War see http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20Highlights/Korea/index.htm and http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/kowar/kowar.htm

USS Missouri firing 16 guns at Changjin, Korea, Oct 1950

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Hospital Corpsman Third Class Edward C. Benfold, United States Navy

For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving in operations against enemy aggressor forces. When his company was subjected to heavy artillery and mortar barrages, followed by a determined assault during the hours of darkness by an enemy force estimated at battalion strength, HC3c. Benfold resolutely moved from position to position in the face of intense hostile fire, treating the wounded and lending words of encouragement. Leaving the protection of his sheltered position to treat the wounded when the platoon area in which he was working was attacked from both the front and rear, he moved forward to an exposed ridge line where he observed 2 marines in a large crater. As he approached the 2 men to determine their condition, an enemy soldier threw 2 grenades into the crater while 2 other enemy charged the position. Picking up a grenade in each hand, HC3c. Benfold leaped out of the crater and hurled himself against the on-rushing hostile soldiers, pushing the grenades against their chests and killing both the attackers. Mortally wounded while carrying out this heroic act, HC3c. Benfold, by his great personal valor and resolute spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, was directly responsible for saving the lives of his 2 comrades. His exceptional courage reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for others.

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Hospital Corpsman Third Class William R. Charette, United States Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy aggressor forces during the early morning hours. Participating in a fierce encounter with a cleverly concealed and well-entrenched enemy force occupying positions on a vital and bitterly contested outpost far in advance of the main line of resistance, HC3c. Charette repeatedly and unhesitatingly moved about through a murderous barrage of hostile small-arms and mortar fire to render assistance to his wounded comrades. When an enemy grenade landed within a few feet of a marine he was attending, he immediately threw himself upon the stricken man and absorbed the entire concussion of the deadly missile with his body. Although sustaining painful facial wounds, and undergoing shock from the intensity of the blast which ripped the helmet and medical aid kit from his person, HC3c. Charette resourcefully improvised emergency bandages by tearing off part of his clothing, and gallantly continued to administer medical aid to the wounded in his own unit and to those in adjacent platoon areas as well. Observing a seriously wounded comrade whose armored vest had been torn from his body by the blast from an exploding shell, he selflessly removed his own battle vest and placed it upon the helpless man although fully aware of the added jeopardy to himself. Moving to the side of another casualty who was suffering excruciating pain from a serious leg wound, HC3c. Charette stood upright in the trench line and exposed himself to a deadly hail of enemy fire in order to lend more effective aid to the victim and to alleviate his anguish while being removed to a position of safety. By his indomitable courage and inspiring efforts in behalf of his wounded comrades, HC3c. Charette was directly responsible for saving many lives. His great personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

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Hospital Corpsman Richard David De Wert, United States Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HC, in action against enemy aggressor forces. When a fire team from the point platoon of his company was pinned down by a deadly barrage of hostile automatic weapons fired and suffered many casualties, HC De Wert rushed to the assistance of 1 of the more seriously wounded and, despite a painful leg wound sustained while dragging the stricken marine to safety, steadfastly refused medical treatment for himself and immediately dashed back through the fireswept area to carry a second wounded man out of the line of fire. Undaunted by the mounting hail of devastating enemy fire, he bravely moved forward a third time and received another serious wound in the shoulder after discovering that a wounded marine had already died. Still persistent in his refusal to submit to first aid, he resolutely answered the call of a fourth stricken comrade and, while rendering medical assistance, was himself mortally wounded by a burst of enemy fire. His courageous initiative, great personal valor, and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds reflect the highest credit upon HC De Wert and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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Hospital Corpsman Francis C. Hammond, United States Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a HC serving with the 1st Marine Division in action against enemy aggressor forces on the night of 26-27 March 1953. After reaching an intermediate objective during a counterattack against a heavily entrenched and numerically superior hostile force occupying ground on a bitterly contested outpost far in advance of the main line of resistance. HC Hammond’s platoon was subjected to a murderous barrage of hostile mortar and artillery fire, followed by a vicious assault by onrushing enemy troops. Resolutely advancing through the veritable curtain of fire to aid his stricken comrades, HC Hammond moved among the stalwart garrison of marines and, although critically wounded himself, valiantly continued to administer aid to the other wounded throughout an exhausting 4-hour period. When the unit was ordered to withdraw, he skillfully directed the evacuation of casualties and remained in the fire-swept area to assist the corpsmen of the relieving unit until he was struck by a round of enemy mortar fire and fell, mortally wounded. By his exceptional fortitude, inspiring initiative and self-sacrificing efforts, HC Hammond undoubtedly saved the lives of many marines. His great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds enhances and sustains the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

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Lieutenant (j.g.) Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr., United States Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, while attempting to rescue a squadron mate whose plane struck by antiaircraft fire and trailing smoke, was forced down behind enemy lines. Quickly maneuvering to circle the downed pilot and protect him from enemy troops infesting the area, Lt. (j.g.) Hudner risked his life to save the injured flier who was trapped alive in the burning wreckage. Fully aware of the extreme danger in landing on the rough mountainous terrain and the scant hope of escape or survival in subzero temperature, he put his plane down skillfully in a deliberate wheels-up landing in the presence of enemy troops. With his bare hands, he packed the fuselage with snow to keep the flames away from the pilot and struggled to pull him free. Unsuccessful in this, he returned to his crashed aircraft and radioed other airborne planes, requesting that a helicopter be dispatched with an ax and fire extinguisher. He then remained on the spot despite the continuing danger from enemy action and, with the assistance of the rescue pilot, renewed a desperate but unavailing battle against time, cold, and flames. Lt. (j.g.) Hudner’s exceptionally valiant action and selfless devotion to a shipmate sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

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Hospital Corpsman John E. Kilmer, United States Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his company engaged in defending a vitally important hill position well forward of the main line of resistance during an assault by large concentrations of hostile troops, HC Kilmer repeatedly braved intense enemy mortar, artillery, and sniper fire to move from 1 position to another, administering aid to the wounded and expediting their evacuation. Painfully wounded himself when struck by mortar fragments while moving to the aid of a casualty, he persisted in his efforts and inched his way to the side of the stricken marine through a hail of enemy shells falling around him. Undaunted by the devastating hostile fire, he skillfully administered first aid to his comrade and, as another mounting barrage of enemy fire shattered the immediate area, unhesitatingly shielded the wounded man with his body. Mortally wounded by flying shrapnel while carrying out this heroic action, HC Kilmer, by his great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice in saving the life of a comrade, served to inspire all who observed him. His unyielding devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for another.

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Lieutenant (j.g.) John Kelvin Koelsch, United States Navy

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a Navy helicopter rescue unit. Although darkness was rapidly approaching when information was received that a marine aviator had been shot down and was trapped by the enemy in mountainous terrain deep in hostile territory, Lt. (j.g.) Koelsch voluntarily flew a helicopter to the reported position of the downed airman in an attempt to effect a rescue. With an almost solid overcast concealing everything below the mountain peaks, he descended in his unarmed and vulnerable aircraft without the accompanying fighter escort to an extremely low altitude beneath the cloud level and began a systematic search. Despite the increasingly intense enemy fire, which struck his helicopter on 1 occasion, he persisted in his mission until he succeeded in locating the downed pilot, who was suffering from serious burns on the arms and legs. While the victim was being hoisted into the aircraft, it was struck again by an accurate burst of hostile fire and crashed on the side of the mountain. Quickly extricating his crewmen and the aviator from the wreckage, Lt. (j.g.) Koelsch led them from the vicinity in an effort to escape from hostile troops, evading the enemy forces for 9 days and rendering such medical attention as possible to his severely burned companion until all were captured. Up to the time of his death while still a captive of the enemy, Lt. (j.g.) Koelsch steadfastly refused to aid his captors in any manner and served to inspire his fellow prisoners by his fortitude and consideration for others. His great personal valor and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice throughout sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

 
Jul 26

Naval Reserves in the Korean War

Thursday, July 26, 2012 3:21 PM

Three Panther jets make a pass over their carrier USS Boxer (CV-21) before landing aboard in Korean waters.

On July 27, 1953, the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed at Panmunjon, Korea, and the Korean cease-fire went into effect at 10:00 PM, ending three years of combat. The following article, published in the July 1952 issue of Proceedings, gives an account of what it was like to be a part of a Naval reserve group in the Korean war.

STANDBY SQUADRON

By LIEUTENANT W. H. VERNOR, JR., U. S. Naval Reserve

 

IF you’ve ever driven between the Texas cities of Fort Worth and Dallas on a Sunday morning, chances are you’ve seen some of the rugged, old Navy TBM torpedo bombers lumbering into the air from Dallas’ nearby Naval Air Station. You’ve seen these planes on weekends because they’ve been turned over to the Navy’s Air Reserves, civilians who use their weekends to renew their proficiency in the art of flying and keep up with the latest developments in Naval Aviation. These air reserves, many of them Navy veterans, have maintained more than a nodding acquaintance with the Navy over the past few years. Not only at Dallas, but at other similar Naval Air Stations scattered over the nation, these Sunday flying reserves have become known as the “Weekend Warriors.”

This program was set up by foresighted regular Navy airmen at high command levels. Since the end of the last war, it has kept available a trained and ready pool of organized squadrons-at a fraction of the cost required to maintain a large, continuously active air arm. When fighting broke out in Korea, certain of these standby squadrons were quickly activated; the practical test of the plan was underway. And now that several air groups of these all-reserve squadrons have been operating from aircraft carriers off Korea for many months, the test results are clear: the Navy’s “Weekend Warrior” plan has paid off. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 20

The Wonsan Operation, 20 October 1950

Thursday, October 20, 2011 12:01 AM

The great success of the Inchon Invasion in September 1950 led General Douglas A. MacArthur to order a second amphibious assault, targeting Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast. After landing there, Tenth Corps could advance inland, link up with the Eighth Army moving north from Seoul, and hasten the destruction of the North Korean army. Wonsan would also provide UN forces with another logistics support seaport, one closer to the battlefronts than Pusan and with greater handling capacity than tide-encumbered Inchon.

Since the enemy army’s cohesiveness collapsed much more rapidly than expected, by the Wonsan operation’s planned execution date of 20 October 1950, its immediate strategic goals had been overtaken by events. However, the forces landed there proved valuable in the push up North Korea’s east side, and the captured port did fulfill its intended mission.

Wonsan’s greatest value, though, was unintended: it gave the U.S. Navy a valuable reminder of the fruits of neglecting mine countermeasures, that unglamorous side of maritime power that, when it is needed, is needed very badly. Admiral Forrest Sherman, the Chief of Naval Operations at the time, remarked, “when you can’t go where you want to, when you want to, you haven’t got command of the sea.” This experience provoked one of the greatest minesweeper building programs in the Navy’s history, one that produced hundreds of ships to serve not only under the U.S. flag, but under those of many allied nations.

 
Jun 25

Beginning of the Korean Conflict

Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:00 AM

On June 25, 1950, the Korean conflict began when North Korea invaded South Korea. Five days later, the United States joined the conflict to assist South Korea.

In Spetember 1950, Proceedings reprinted a short article from the Navy Public Relations News Letter, titled “Why We are fighting in Korea”, which concisely listed the crucial events that led to the Korean Conflict and prompted U. S. involvement:

Let’s review “by the numbers” what happened from about a year and a half after the Joint Commission was set up until the Soviet-trained North Koreans attacked the Republic of Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 24

Political Infighter: The Story of Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer, USN

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 12:01 AM

Thomas Moorer stands out as one of the few senior American military leaders who fought hard with the political establishment over the conduct of the Vietnam War. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from July 1970 to July 1970, Moorer constantly pushed for the authority to strike targets in the Hanoi area with air power, and

mine Haiphong harbor. President Nixon finally agreed to Moorer’s proposals in the spring of 1972, and the war ended eight months later on terms acceptable to the United States. A hardliner and reactionary to some critics of the war, Moorer is seen as patriot and a hero by many veterans—someone who, in the words of Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, “always put his country’s interest before anything else.”

Born in Mount Willing Alabama in 1912, Moorer graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933, completed aviator training in 1936, and then flew a variety of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, and patrol planes. He also served on the carriers Langley (AV 3), Lexington (CV 16), and Enterprise (CV 6).

Early in World War II, Japanese fighters attacked his PBY-5 patrol plane during a reconnaissance mission in the Southwest Pacific. Although wounded in the thigh, Moorer landed his aircraft in the water and got his crew of seven safely into a life raft. A Philippine merchant ship soon picked the group up but was attacked by Japanese aircraft that same day. One of Moorer’s crew died in that attack, but Moorer and the other survivors and many of the ship’s crew managed to escape from the vessel in a lifeboat and row to a nearby island. For his gallantry that day, the Navy awarded Moorer a Silver Star. He later received a Distinguished Flying Cross for flying supplies into and evacuating wounded from Timor Island in October 1942.

After the war, Commander Moorer continued to serve in both aviation and staff assignments and was promoted to rear admiral in 1957. As a junior flag officer, Moorer worked as a strategic planner for the Chief of Naval Operations. He commanded Carrier Division 6 for 17 months in 1959 and 1960. In 1962, Moorer received his third star and assumed command of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Two years later, the Navy promoted him to full admiral and appointed him Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In that position, he commanded U.S. Navy forces in the Pacific during the August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident and subsequent retaliatory strikes against North Vietnam. Moorer took command of the Atlantic Fleet the following year, thus becoming the first officer in the Navy’s history to lead both fleets.

Vietnam once again became a major focus for Moorer when President Johnson appointed him as Chief of Naval Operations in June 1967. Privately, Moorer opposed the land war in Vietnam “for the simple reason that we cannot afford to trade a high school graduate” for a North Vietnamese peasant. Once committed to the endeavor, however, he argued that the United States should focus its efforts on the source of Communist aggression in the region: North Vietnam. Moorer advocated bombing Hanoi, the enemy’s center of gravity, and mining North Vietnam’s most important port facility, Haiphong Harbor. Moorer, in short, rejected the idea of limited war and containment, instead favoring a decisive application of force, and with it, the possibility of compelling North Vietnam to end its aggression in South Vietnam.

His arguments fell upon deaf ears in the White House, and over time, frustration set in. President Johnson’s bombing halt following the 1968 Communist Tet Offensive and then his failure to retaliate against North Korea following the seizure of the technical research ship Pueblo (AGER 2) greatly concerned Admiral Moorer, who was afraid that America was losing global credibility. He also worried about the Navy’s aging ships and infrastructure. In January 1969, he testified to Congress that 58 percent of the fleet was at least 20 years old, while only 1 percent of Soviet navy ships were the same age. Finally, he deeply disagreed with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s habit of “meddling” in the selection and assignment of flag officers, which, Moorer argued was the purview of the Chief of Naval Operations.

On 2 July 1970, President Nixon appointed Admiral Moorer as the seventh Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Moorer perceived Nixon as a kindred spirit, someone willing to make hard choices and take significant risks to extricate America from Vietnam. Other members of the administration, however, often blocked his efforts to liberalize the rules of engagement and resume the bombing campaign against North Vietnam. In an attempt to counter these opponents and gain an upper hand with the new president, Moorer encouraged Charles Radford, a young yeoman working for the National Security Council, to make copies of pertinent White House policy documents for him. When President Nixon found out about Radford’s “spying” in December 1971, he sent Attorney General John Mitchell over to the Pentagon to let Moorer know that “we had the goods” on him. Nixon, however, retained Moorer as chairman because he valued him as a fellow hardliner and a vital counterweight against administration doves, especially Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird.

The Communist Easter Offensive of 1972 finally gave Nixon the justification he needed to relax bombing restrictions and turn up the heat against North Vietnam. One of the first moves he made was to order the mining of Haiphong harbor, an idea that Moorer and others in the Navy had been advocating since the early 1960s. He also initiated the Linebacker bombing raids against North Vietnam. Both operations helped convince Hanoi to agree with a peace settlement acceptable to the United States.

In addition to helping settle the Vietnam conflict, Moorer oversaw the transition of the U.S. armed services from a conscript based military to an all-volunteer force. He also managed deep cuts in the defense budget. While he did not always prevail in Washington’s bureaucratic battles, Moorer managed the services with great strength and confidence during a deeply divided period in our nation’s history. Appointed to a second term as JCS Chairman by President Nixon, Admiral Moorer retired in July 1974. He died on 5 February 2004.

 
Sep 1

LT Eugene F. Clark and the Inchon landing

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 12:01 AM

The invasion of South Korea in 1950 nearly resulted in a Communist victory. UN forces were driven into a perimeter around the southeastern port of Pusan when General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, commanding U.S. and UN forces in Korea, decided to launch an amphibious landing against the North Korean flank at Inchon. A successful assault at Inchon and an advance to the nearby South Korean capital of Seoul would sever the main communist supply lines. An attack launched from Pusan would then batter the now cut-off North Korean forces. It was a bold plan.

The Navy knew little of the dangerous waters around Inchon despite the fact that the U.S. had occupied Korea south of the 38th parallel for four years. With a tidal range of over 30 feet, accurate intelligence of Inchon and its water approaches was vital to the success of the landing.

No one did more to provide that information than the daring and resourceful Lieutenant Eugene F. Clark, USN, a geographic specialist on MacArthur’s intelligence staff. Clark had enlisted in the Navy in 1934, became a chief yeoman and earned a commission in World War II. He commanded an LST and a transport, and participated in several clandestine operations with the Nationalist Chinese against the communists after the war. Invasion planners needed detailed information about the harbor, the approaches and enemy defenses so they dispatched a reconnaissance team under Lieutenant Clark to get the answers. His small team included two South Korean officers who had fought in World War II and possessed sufficient arms to equip a small irregular force.

Clark’s team landed on Yonghung Do, an island only 14 miles from Inchon, on 1 September 1950. They quickly organized a force of local men and boys to watch the nearby enemy held island of Taebu Do. On the advice of his Korean officers, Clark had brought in rice and dried fish for the islanders, which brought much good will. Clark also equipped Yonghung Do’s one motorized sampan with a .50-caliber machine gun and armed his men with carbines and submachine guns. To acquire intelligence about the enemy, the team seized local fishing sampans-interrogating crewmen who generally professed loyalty to South Korea-and explored Inchon harbor. Clark’s young Korean operatives also infiltrated Inchon, Kimpo air base and even Seoul and returned with valuable information. Clark told the planners that the Japanese-prepared tide tables were accurate, that the mud flats fronting Inchon would support no weight and that the harbor’s sea walls were higher than estimated. Clark also reported that Wolmi Do, an island in Inchon harbor, was fortified with Soviet-made artillery.

The North Koreans, aware of Clark’s presence on Yonghung Do, sent only small parties to the island to investigate his hideaway. On 7 September, however, they sent one motorized and three sailing sampans loaded with troops. South Korean lookouts spotted the approaching boats, enabling Clark and his men to get their “flagship” underway. As Clark closed the enemy, a 37- mm anti-tank gun mounted in the bow of the Communist motorized craft opened up. A shell splashed well in front of Clark’s sampan. Undeterred by their poor shooting, Clark directed his flagship to within 100 yards of the enemy squadron. His .50 caliber machine gun raked two of the North Korean vessels, sinking one and demolishing another. Witnessing this slaughter, the two remaining boats fled the scene. After Clark reported that battle to headquarters, the destroyer Hanson (DD 832) arrived to take off the team. Clark, who had not asked to be extracted, instead requested Hanson’s skipper to pound Taebu Do. Hanson blasted the island with 212 5-inch rounds, covered by Marine Corsairs that bombed and strafed the North Korean positions.

The team stayed on the island and continued their mission. Clark scouted Palmi Do, an island centrally located in the approaches to Inchon, and reported that Canadian raiders had only damaged the lighthouse beacon. Clark was ordered to relight the lamp at midnight on the 15th. On 14 September, Clark’s team moved to Palmi Do and repaired the light. Meanwhile, the North Koreans sent a second contingent to wipe out the force on Yonghung Do that overwhelmed the defenders and executed over 50 men, women and children. Clark avenged their sacrifice when he activated the beacon atop the lighthouse at the appointed time on 15 September. With this light to guide them, the ships of the landing force safely threaded their way through the treacherous approach to Inchon. The Inchon landing was an incredible success and UN forces soon drove the remnants of the North Korean army across the 38th parallel.

In recognition of his heroic work, the Navy awarded Lieutenant Clark the Silver Star and the Army presented him with the Legion of Merit. Clark participated in several other special operations off Korea, earning a Navy Cross and an oak leaf cluster for the Silver Star. Commander Clark retired from the Navy in 1966 and died in 1998.