Chosin Reservoir - Ray Vallowe Research

Chapter 1 - This Budget War

Author's Background | Prologue | Chapt 1 - Budget War | Chapt 2 - Inchon | Chapt 3 - Capture Seoul
Chapt 4 - Inchon to Pusan | Chapt 5 - Fateful Journey into N Korea | Chapt 6 - Inter-service Rivalry-1
Chapt 7 - Inter-service Rivalry-2 | Chapt 8 - Press Corps | Chapt 9 - Secret/Classified Mission
Chapt 10 - Circumstantial Evidence | Chapt 11 - Mission Change | Chapt 12 - The Tank Withdrawal
MIA/KIA East of Chosin | Postscript | Important Maps | Declassified Documents| Reader Comments


Prelude to a New War

As the Second World War ended in the Pacific, new problems for occupation duty and the acceptance of prisoners of war and their surrender were being reviewed in Washington. America sought to establish a surrender line as far north in Korea as the Soviets would accept. However, due to the fact that the Soviet army could move quickly into Korea, there was little that America could do. The nearest American forces were on Okinawa some 600 miles distant from Korea (Policy and Direction, 9). The 38th Parallel seemed the best choice, although Admiral M. B. Gardner suggested moving this line further north to the 39th Parallel. That line included Dairen within the Liaotung Peninsula. All agreed that Korea was more important than Dairen. Either way, America would be hard pressed to beat the Russians to any position in Korea.

Between August 11-14, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) that he had three priorities for his occupation forces.  Japan was the first; Korea was the second; and China was the third. Shortly before August 15, 1945, General Order #1 was sent to General MacArthur.  It directed that he furnish a time table for the occupation of a port in Korea. This General Order stated that all Japanese forces north of the 38th Parallel would surrender to the Russian commander.  Those south of the parallel would surrender to the United States Military Expeditionary forces. While Washington waited for a reaction to this General Order from Moscow, it was planned that if the Russians failed to accept the proposal of this General Order, the plan would then be modified and changed for our forces to occupy the port of Pusan. However, Russian forces had already entered Korea three days before.

Premier Josef V. Stalin replied to President Truman on August 16, 1945.  He had very little to say concerning the 38th Parallel. His main concern was to correct and authorize Russian forces to accept the surrender of Japanese in the northern half of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, thus dividing that island and placing Russian forces in Japan. Truman would not agree to that, so Stalin informed the President that the Liaotung Peninsula included Dairen and Port Arthur and were located within the USSR military zone. That zone was directly across the Yellow Sea at the mouth of the Korean bay which lies directly across the North Korean capitol. "President Truman parried Stalin's proposal to place Russian forces on Hokkaido, Stalin's message settled the surrender zones in Korea, and canceled American plans to land troops at Darien." (Policy and Direction, 11)

Thus the creation of this zone--the 38th Parallel--became the dividing line in Korea, cutting more than 75 streams and 12 rivers, 104 country roads, and six north to south railroad lines. American zone south covered some 37,000 square miles. There were 12 principal cities of 20 principal cities on the Korean peninsula within the American zone. The barrier zone created serious adverse conditions in both zones. The North and South were mutually dependent on each other. The hydroelectric plants in the north had to supply the southern regions as well. This created a natural irritant to the South, as power was continually cut off from the southern regions at will. It was a prelude to an upcoming conflict.

The Occupation

General MacArthur designated the XXIV Corps, commanded by Lieutenant General John R. Hodge, to occupy and administer South Korea on behalf of the United States. General Hodge appointed Major General Archibald V. Arnold, commander of the 7th Infantry Division, as head of the United Occupation Force, Military Government of South Korea, on 12 September 1945.

The Soviets sent forces into Korea with definite objectives. They sealed their zone, and stopped inter-zone communications and transportation. They set up road blocks with machinegun emplacements, yet some 5,000 to 6,000 refugees from North Korea poured into the American zone within the first few months. Communist-inspired riots throughout the southern area marked the close of the first year of the American occupation. In the fall of 1946, General Hodge was forced to declare martial law. Within this year, the three regiments of the 7th Division were on line.  The 17th and the 32nd were sent to their areas of responsibility, the 32nd being sent to the 38th Parallel as the border guard regiment.  Shortly thereafter, the "Iron Curtain" dropped in Korea. The border became an armed zone. The 17th Regiment was sent into the area south of Seoul, their area being quite large. The 184th Regiment was stationed in and around Seoul, the Capitol City of South Korea.  In January of 1946, the 31st Regiment was reactivated and joined the 7th Division, replacing the 184th Regiment, which returned to the California National Guard. (Division Book 98).

The 7th Division's mission was variable.  It assisted the Military Government in its occupation duties wherever possible.  It guarded the 38th Parallel to prevent unauthorized North Koreans and Russian personnel from crossing the parallel.  It protected refugees from North Korea. It trained the division for combat duty.  And, unconsciously, its troops performed individually in the role of American ambassadors to the Orient. The engineers rebuilt and expanded roads and bridges, establishing fresh water basins.  Health and sanitation was updated to minimize common disease. A small military defense force for South Korean was created.  Later, it proved to be even too small to ward off any impending invasion from the north. The biggest contribution of the American occupation to the Korean people would be that, for the first time in forty years, freedom of thought, action, and speech was theirs.

On June 30, 1949, the last tactical occupation forces left Korea. The countdown to an invasion and a new war had begun. D-Day was now only 360 days away, and the clock was ticking.

This Budget War

"War is not a question of valor, but a question of money. It is not regulated by the laws of honor, but by the laws of trade....against representative governments who can throw the most projectiles. Who can afford the most iron or lead."

Congressman Roscoe Conkling, NY 1862

Putting Numbers in Perspective

One of the sad facts about the Korean War, concerning the reports over the "quality" of the American occupation forces committed to action the first six months in particular, was what was expected from these troops. These early forces had to meet and do battle with a North Korean Army that had some four or more years of planned offensive for the invasion of South Korea on their own time table and at the place of their selection. First, one must obtain some kind of a perspective of what training our American forces had and the equipment they had to work with at the time. Next, the urgent need to throw these men into combat without being a full and complete combat team must also be placed in perspective. On the eve of the North Korean invasion, the Eighth Army in Japan under the command of General Walton "Bulldog" Walker had about 93 percent of its authorized strength. Each division had an authorized strength of 12,500 men, and none of these divisions were even up to their peace time strength. (Policy & Direction, 54)

Each division was short of its war strength by nearly 7,000 men, 1,500 rifles, and 100 ninety millimeter anti-tank guns.  Three rifle battalions, six heavy tank companies, three 105mm field artillery batteries, and three anti-aircraft batteries were missing from each division. In terms of battle potential, each infantry division could lay down only 62 percent of their infantry firepower, 69 percent of their anti-aircraft artillery firepower and only 14 percent of their tank firepower. Add to this the continuous turnover of personnel which amounted to 43 percent annually in the Far East Command (FEC). Between 1945 and 1949, the main duty of this personnel was that of occupation duty focusing on discipline, courtesy, and conduct. In April of 1949, MacArthur directed and ordered all divisions to complete Regimental Combat Team (RCT) field exercises. The time tables he set in order for minimum proficiency level to be maintained were: (1) company (battery) level - by December 15, 1949, (2) battalion (squadron or task force) level by 15 May 1950, and (3) regimental (group or task force) level by 31 July 1950, - Unfortunately, the 15 May date was all the time frame we had before the war broke out.  At the regimental level --sorry, it was too late.  The battle was already underway.  (4) Division (air force or task force) level proficiency was to be reached by 31 December 1950, and (5) combined and joint operations training was to include amphibious exercises concurrently with RCT and division level training. The latter would be folded into the 7th Division's urgent amphibious training for Inchon as well.

Still, there were other problems, including space to train.  An area in the vicinity of Mount Fugi was acquired to accommodate limited division exercises over rugged terrain. Each and very other area was exploited to its maximum use.  The 1st Cavalry Division was around Tokyo, in maximum use of its training sites. The 7th Cavalry Regiment (I was with "B" Troop at the time) was 1ocated at Camp Drake.  We completed our battalion training before completing basic individual training in order to use that division's lone training area. However, the 1st Cavalry Division was rated the most effective on the eve of the Korean invasion.  Its proficiency score was 84%. On an average, these troops were several years younger then their counterparts of World War II, and had only "very basic" basic training of only eight week before being sent to overseas assignments. These deficiencies were not the fault of the men in the lower ranks, nor necessarily those of the training officers or the non-commissioned officers. They did what was required of them with the orders passed down to them. America was too eager to roll back the budget to support its occupation forces. The tug of war between occupying and rebuilding a top notch fighting force did not seem that important. After all, we were a "super power," and no one in their right mind would dare challenge us.

But the Russians would--with the A-bomb. In late 1949, their tests were known.  They had the 'bomb" as well, and our government thought that we had better respond by changing from a peacetime Army back into a war trained force--overnight.  Hence the urgency in the Far East to build.  But there was nothing to build with.

MacArthur's Eighth Army "combat" forces on June 25, 1950, consisted of four under strength infantry divisions and seven anti-aircraft artillery battalions in Japan, one infantry regiment, and two anti-aircraft battalions on Okinawa. He restated that his mission required at least five full-strength infantry divisions, 23 anti-aircraft artillery battalions, and one separate RCT with previous full wartime strength. The low enlistment rate and budget limitations forced reorganization of all units, and in reality shifted numbers.  The new table of reference was now 100% efficiency among 12,500 men. For example, if we refer to a division as 93% effective, the 12,500 x 93% is equa1 to a 11,625 man force, short 925 men--each in a full division. Thus the burden fell on the cadre to concentrate on smaller forces (task forces) to get the same job done that had been accomplished by larger forces of World War 2.

These cadre did one hell’va job with what they had to work with.  Most of those cadre trainers would pay the price of their own lives, lost in the first six months of the Korean War. At Chosin, some 160 cadre men ranked as sergeants gave their lives in the span of five days. For anyone to degrade their effort is unconscionable, uninformed, and entirely insensitive to the problems that existed within that time frame. Training was needed, but in a country as densely populated as Japan, training areas were hard to come by.  Large training areas were at a premium, encroaching into the farming areas adjacent to the area of training. As a result, troops were restricted in their training to very small posts of regimental size. Divisions could not be concentrated and trained together. Road network restricted heavy tank movements.  As such, those heavy tanks sat in storage. The ratio of non-combat personnel in the Far East was excessive.  This stemmed from the past war years, as it does today, to make the Army an attractive career by leaving the choice of arms or service largely to the individual. The combat arm, and especially the infantry, failed to attract sufficient men to keep the infantry forces on a par with other arms and branches. Many enlistees went directly to service schools, which reduced the infantry force further. (Policy & Direction, 54)

Operation Roll-Up

This was a mission to refurbish and rebuild Eighth Army infantry division equipment at minimum cost. It was planned that the project would be completed by June 30, 1950. On the date of the North Korean invasion, thousands of pieces of these refurbished and rebuilt military vehicles were available that would not have been otherwise. In reality, the Far East Command had received no new vehicles, tanks, or other equipment since World War II. When one criticizes the force east of Chosin for not bringing out their equipment with them, this is the equipment in reference. I repeat again: "America, you got off cheap within the first six months of this war, with very low cost in equipment and manpower replacement."

On the June 25, 1950 date of the North Korean invasion, an estimated 80 percent of the Army's 60-day reserve of armament equipment was unserviceable. Almost 90 percent of the armament equipment and 75 percent of the automotive equipment was issued to the combat divisions on that date, rebuilt by the Roll-Up program. Units deactivated after World War II within the command had turned over large quantities of this abandoned equipment, but most of it was not serviceable. Eighth Army was authorized 226 recoilless rifles, but it only had 21. Of 18,000 1/4 ton trucks, only 10,000 were serviceable, and of 13,780 two and1/2 ton trucks, only 4,441 were in running condition. Total ammunition supply was 45 days, and much of that was over 5 years old.  Plus, there was the same number of days for perishable food and canned supplies. I personally had a can of food in Korea that had been canned in 1943. There were 180 days worth of packaged petroleum supplies, and 75 days as bulk supply (in refinery or underground storage tanks or other holding tanks not prepackaged for individual units as 55 gallon barrels or Gerry cans, etc., with only a 15-day supply being distributed to individual divisional units.

Such was the American commitment to its armed services on the eve of commitment into combat. Those who seek to degrade these occupation troops have been severely mislead if they think that these troops were leading the "good life."  They have been incorrectly compared to the ease of life that the reporters had enjoyed back in the states during the five years after the last war. As I will state again and again in this and following chapters, I believe that the American people got more than their money’s worth out of the "occupation forces" who were subsequently engaged in the first six months of the war. They had reached the Yalu River (7th Division) at two points, looking into Manchuria, They had destroyed the North Korean Army. They had been driven back below the 38th Parallel, and fought and returned there. All this was done on a budget, and all with World War II rebuilt equipment. What more could one ask of them?

In May of 1950 one. month before the North Korean invasion our forces were at or near the task set by MacArthur (level 2) battalion strength level, (squadron or task force) which explains the numerous uses of the many task forces created in Korea. 0n July 14, 1950, the 1st Cavalry Division was preparing for an amphibious landing on the east coast of Korea ( All units in Japan had served as amphibious units during World War II) in order to show some semblance of effective fighting strength, MacArthur stripped the 7th Division of trained officers and men, leaving the 7th Division, a skeleton or crust that was temporarily useless for combat. (Policy & Direction, 85)As to his other forces; General Walton Walker of Eighth Army would report concerning his 24th Division-first in combat-"With only two battalions in each regiment, American forces in Korea could not employ normal tactical maneuvers based on the full firepower and the flexibility of triangular organization, nor can we guarantee flank protection. (Policy & Direction, 89).

The latter concerning flank protection was important in this respect, the number of the missing in action forces came mainly from the inability to defend ones flank position, allowing the enemy to breach your sides and rear guard. As of this date -50 years later-there are still ever 8,000 men missing in action. The official decree, "Died of Wounds while missing in action."

0n July 23rd, Army officials in Washington asked MacArthur to recheck his figures on casualties. Perhaps, just perhaps, the actual casualty rate was lower then the number forecast. It was reported back to Washington that the actual number of men and officers lost in Korea closely approximated the earlier educated guess. (That did not seem to make any big difference in replacements.) The only discrepancy was the excessive missing-in-action rate, which reflected the ability of the enemy to envelop the under-strength American units almost at will. General William Dean, commander of the 24th Division, commented that his troops could not stop the enemy tanks. The World War II-era 2.36 inch rocket launcher (bazooka) was wholly inadequate, and proved dangerously disappointing against the heavily-armored Russian tanks.

MacArthur continued to request replacement and filler units, He requested over 200 company-sized units from Chemical, Engineer, Medical, Transportation, and other technical services.  This requisition would require 43,472 men and officers, but there were only 150 such units in the United States. While he was seeking more forces, the 24th Division faced nine North Korean divisions with more than 80,000 men, as well as a total of 120 to 150 modern tanks. Still, as above, this North Korean force would be destroyed by American forces prior to the entry of the Chinese armies in November of 1950.

Forces in Korea

MacArthur’s piecemeal commitment of inadequate American forces that were weak in manpower, mobility, and reserves against a determined and numerically superior enemy constituted a basic violation of military doctrine. The under-trained Koreans in the south could not hold the line, so the need for American forces could not be avoided.  The consequences had to be taken until reinforcements arrived. As he stated, little did he realize that they would never be provided in an adequate number.  The occupation forces on line were extended for one full year, and recycled as needed on the firing line.  MacArthur also had to rely on returning men to duty and combat who had been casualties.  After they recovered from their wounds in the FEC hospitals, they were returned to front line duty.  On August 4, they numbered 30% of the casualties received on the same day. Thus these early line forces were expendable, destined to hit the casualty charts as repeated numbers on the "wounded in action" column. Replacements of any sort only came over time as they become available through the draft, and from National Guard and Federal Reserve units.

After the opening shots were fired by the American Task Force Smith on July 5, 1950, the United States commenced its involvement--but not its entire will--in the Korean War. By July 22, after a 17-day battle against two superior North Korean divisions on their own time table of invasion, the American 24th Infantry Division had pulled back almost 100 miles.  It had also lost more than 2,400 men missing-in-action, and enough material to equip an entire division. Their death rate was consistent at 31.5%, a rate that would hold steady throughout the war for this division. Their own commanding officer of the division, Major General William Dean, would be separated from his forces and captured during this withdrawal. Much was asked and requested of this division of occupation-trained forces.  Indeed, much was given by these forces in cost of their own lives on this early field of battle. A sad note in history, however, is that more count was kept on the tanks, trucks, artillery pieces, and other equipment lost than on the men that fought around and used that equipment.

General MacArthur chose the 24th Division because its location was the closest to Korea.  Therefore, it could be deployed faster--a concept that I detail in depth later in this writing, "using forces already in place." This division on the last day of May 1950 was reported as being the lowest in combat effectiveness of all major units in Japan. The list:

  • 1st Cavalry Division - 84% effective
  • 7th Division - 74% effective
  • 25th Division - 72% effective
  • 24th Division - 62% effective

Keep firmly in mind that no one at any time had ever made any claim or boast that any of these units were at any time 100% effective. Within the first six months, these divisions were going to be eroded by whatever combat effectiveness they had on the eve of the Korean invasion. They were a prime target, not only for the North Korean Army.  Additionally, they were highly susceptible to press criticism (sniping from the rear) because they were not performing at that 100% rate. Expecting a 62% force to operate at 100% efficiency?  Come on.  Get real.  Only if 100% was operating at 62% would one have justification to bitch.

Replacements were slow to arrive.  By August 5, most surface shipping space was filled by units and equipment. Airlift brought in about 340 replacements each day, but this was far from adequate to build beyond the daily casualty rate just to break even. Losses by August 5th totaled 7,858, with replacements only at 7,711.  Furthermore, not all of these were immediately sent to Korea. As General Walker was steadily being pushed back towards the port of Pusan, he stopped and established his "Stand or Die" line, otherwise known as the Pusan Perimeter. He now had on line the 25th Division and the incoming 1st Cavalry Division.

At the Pusan Perimeter, General Walker tried to stabilize his battle lines in a defensive posture.  Meanwhile, he was still responsible for the 7th Division in procuring training and new replacements of this division still in Japan.  General Walker was ever busy rushing his Eighth Army forces back and forth to fill gaps breached by the enemy. His forces were battle weary with little immediate hope of any relief. MacArthur’s plans earlier for the 1st Cavalry and the 5th Marine Brigade for an amphibious landing above and behind the Pusan Perimeter were aborted due to logistical necessity.  He had to commit both units to the perimeter to maintain the port of Pusan for receiving shipping cargo of much-needed war materials.

Rebuilding the 7th Division

The interval between June 25 and September 15, 1950 left only one division in Japan--the 7th Infantry Division. Located at various camps spread between the northern regions of the main island of Honshu, and the upper island of Hokkaido, the division was severely disorganized from its May rating of 74%, most likely under 50%. It was gutted of its cadre of non-commissioned officers and specialists, and then described as, "a three-ring circus," "a revolving door," "one hell’va mess," "a crust without filling," and "a skeleton of a military organization."  In short, it was considered to be a "lousy division." After depleting the division, it stood at one-half of its pre-Korean invasion strength, with only 574 officers and 8,200 enlisted men (of which I was one).  Many of these enlisted men had little if any unit training.  Warm bodies were the main concern.  Many of the technical staff and experienced non-commissioned officers had not been replaced.

On July 29, General Walker appealed to MacArthur for the 7th Division's 32nd Infantry Regiment to be flown into his perimeter. MacArthur denied that request, stating that it would "completely emasculate pre-set plans for the entire division, which was being reconstructed and will move to Korea possibly in late September."

MacArthur assisted on rebuilding the division by moving 1,600 men from Okinawa, these men intended for a third battalion of the 29th Infantry Regiment. He diverted to the division an automatic Anti-Aircraft Artillery unit (15th AAA-AW), this unit apparently a replacement for the division's own 29th AAA-AW Battery A.  That battery had been deactivated while the division was serving in Korea on occupation duty (after its reactivation on April 20, 1948). This later unit attached proved of prime value at the Chosin Reservoir, saving many, many lives there.  Its twin 40mm guns and quad 50s were responsible for many who are alive today.  Without this unit, disaster would have been total.

MacArthur assigned two companies of Combat Engineers, and requested an urgent need for three infantry battalion cadre destined for the division to be sent without delay. He requested that General Walker now return to the division those specialists "loaned" him.  Walker felt it would be impossible to withdraw anyone from his front line perimeter. MacArthur compiled a needs list of specialists he could not find within his command. He requested the Department of the Army quickly scout out experienced non-commissioned officers (NCOs) from the many who served in World War II. He ordered 30% of ‘all’ replacements before September 10 to be diverted into the 7th Division. He had already completely exhausted all other sources of replacements. Still, that would in no way bring the 7th Division up to any reasonable wartime strength in numbers. What to do?

The "Buddy System"--a new kind of replacement

General MacArthur conceived a new plan for replacements. South Korea might be asked to provide soldiers for American units. He would attach more than 8,000 to the 7th Division. On August 11, MacArthur directed General Walker to procure, screen, and ship to Japan for use in augmenting the 7th Division, able-bodied male South Koreans. The Republic of Korea (ROK) government cooperated, and on the 17th of August, about 7.000 Koreans were shipped out of Pusan. "They were right out of the rice paddies... and had nothing but shorts and straw hats. It was ‘understood’ that they had physical examinations, were inoculated and had some kind of papers."  These men were briefly trained--somewhere--and then "attached" to the 7th Division.  They were officially outfitted with American fatigues, M-1 rifles, and back packs. For every intent and purpose, they were with the 7th Division. By August 7, the 7th Division began amphibious training--without the ROKs.  Admiral Turner Joy had already conferred before embarkation with General David Barr, the division commander, as to our amphibious objectives.

Preparations for all of the above problems was further compounded by the required relocation of the division into camps just vacated by the 1st Cavalry Division.  Those of us from Hokkaido were moved closer to the port of Yokohama for embarkation. The problems were many, and then on top of them we had ROKs added to every unit.  Still, as I restate throughout this book, the "Hourglass" Division worked the problems through as best they could. Later, much more would also be required of these men in the 7th Division.

Still unknown and yet to materialize at Chosin, there was an unexpected problem--an added obstacle--one which required still more of this mixed force of Americans and South Koreans attached to our division, each one accounted for on our morning reports and rosters and assigned to units, sections, and squads. My section was the work detail section of Headquarters Battery-wire section.  It had the responsibility for all wire communications lines between forward infantry regiments and the rear Fire Direction Center (FDC).  Our duty was to distribute and lay lines forward either by roadside or overhead lines or both. We were also to operate and maintain switchboards and phones between the forward observers position. Wherever the command post was, we were to be there as well, linked to that unit. We were to be road runners between forward units. But more importantly, our section was rounded out with ROK "buddies" from MacArthur’s Buddy System.  They were South Koreans who spoke very little, if any, English.

Consider the individual ROK position.  He had been grabbed off of the streets in South Korea and shipped to Japan to be integrated with American forces. These forces were, for the most part immediately resented and ignored. Any details assigned to them kept them in their own groups. Because of the language barrier, it was more difficult for them because we completely ignored them. As far as combat was concerned, most of them stayed put. We do not know what the interpreter told them to do when the battles started. I was sure that our side would not want them roaming around our perimeter in the heat of battle. There was an underlying reason for that.  We had been told about the North Koreans infiltrating our lines wearing American uniforms obtained from captured or killed American soldiers. Just having these ROKs in our area wearing our uniforms made us jittery.

In the Task Force MacLean-Faith area at Chosin, it was a highly confused situation. In the consolidated perimeter we were forced to defend, all of the battalions were mixed together. Artillery men were also required to become infantry men. The howitzers were of no long-range use except for direct fire, their barrels being pointed downward instead of skyward, sight more down the barrel. This was a strange and weird war.  The NKPA committed atrocities against our forces in South Korea, yet in the north--in their home territory--the North Korean people did not seem to really resent us.  Indeed, many favored us over the Chinese, as evident by some 90,000 or more evacuated from Hungnam for South Korea.

The American soldiers could not get their minds straight concerning the South Koreans who served with us, as it was rumored and later a proven fact, that General Dean, a past 7th Division commander, had been betrayed by the South Koreans who turned him over to the NKPA, and that was in South Korea. We got better cooperation in North Korea from their people while we were in reality their enemy. I personally believed that the forces on line were more at ease with the ROKs staying in place keeping a low profile, not moving around the perimeter firing their weapons at God knows what.

A classic line from the movie "Cool hand Luke" would fit like a glove here between the ROKs and American forces. "What we have here is a failure to communicate." Years after the Korean War, the ROKs fought in Vietnam, but there they were a separate fighting unit with their own commander.  Their battle record in Vietnam proves that, as a unit, the ROKs were not cowards.  In Korea, the situation was entirely different.  Unlike, for example, Colonel Drysdale's 41st British Commandos who were OPCON or attached to the 1st Marine Division as a unit during the Korean War, the ROKs were not joined to the division as separate units with their own commander.  Instead, they were integrated into the 7th Division to fill vacancies for American wiremen, radiomen, or riflemen needed on the line. They wore the 7th Division uniform and were entitled to wear the division patch for identification.  To reach them by mail if they were attached to my unit (57th FAB), their mailing address was the same as mine: 57th FAB, Unit Four, c/o Postmaster, San Francisco, CA, APO 7.  They were placed in a squad or section as if they were an American individual, without regard to any connection to their own government.  They were on our daily roster.

Thus, when one speaks of 2,800 men in Task Force Faith, the ROKs are automatically included.  They were listed as attached to the 7th Division, and like it or not, their casualties were also our casualties, they were a part of our division at Suwon and at Chosin.  They were a part of Task Force MacLean-Faith-that Phantom Force, and thus were part of its fate and its place in history.  Their bodies are mixed with the American bodies that lie somewhere together still around Hill 1221 (Faith Mountain). In the book, Ebb and Flow, the casualty figures for the 7th Division and its attached ROKs during the Changjin Campaign, 27 November-10 December, are separated on Chart Page 147 in the following manner:

Army Unit





7th Division





ROK's attached










It has been the general consensus that ROKs made up 33 percent of the 7th Division's Task Force Faith and Task Force Smith.  However, if using the 33 percent figure when speaking of the total casualties in the 2,800-man Task Force Faith, the figures would be as follows.  There were 4,065 missing in action.  If ROKs made up 33 percent of the total, the number of ROK MIA's would have been 1,340.  The ROK figure in the above table represents 38 percent of the task force, not 33 percent.  That means that, within a group of 100 men, 38 of them were inadequately-trained South Korean ROKs.  Similarly, if 38 percent of Task Force MacLean's 2,800 men were ROKs, that meant that there were 1,064 ROKs attached to this 7th Division task force.  If only 33 percent, there were 924 ROKs mixed with only 1,876 American troops to carry the weight of the battle east of Chosin. Their bodies are mixed with the American bodies that still lie together somewhere around Hill 1221 (Faith Mountain) in North Korea.

Having mixed units is by no means a new precedent for a combat force, but it is important with regards to the Chosin Reservoir campaign.  For without this perspective, it would be difficult to understand what this author is trying to convey to the reader. MacArthur had also authorized General Walker to add ROKs to his units, but that was a slow process, as they had to first be trained to prepare them to enter the front lines. By late August the 1st Cavalry had 739 ROK soldiers, the 2nd Division had 234, the 24th Division had 949, and the 25th Division had some 240 assigned to them.

One cannot state as pure fact that all of these South Koreans were entirely useless and not deserving of being listed as lost in combat.  Some undoubtedly did more than their share.  After all, they spoke the same language as the North Koreans.  It would have been easy for them to desert into the countryside. Most of them were named Kim.  How could one truly report them absent?  But some were valuable without question, as was one with our small group after the break-up of the Task Force Faith at Hudong-ni, on the early morning hours of December 2,1950.  Many men died that night. The South Koreans taking shelter in a hut with some of us survivors went out for assistance and brought back an elderly North Korean couple.  They brought us some food and broth (dog soup).  The women made a sling for my injured arm and provided information of the Chinese in the area.  With some of that information, the South Korean could point the way around the enemy strongholds onto the ice of the Chosin Reservoir. But that drama is a distance off in this narrative.

As the downsizing of the 7th Division progressed, the workload on the remaining force increased--some to twelve and fourteen-hour days. Ammunition, new clothing, and M-1 rifles for the ROKs came in and went out.  Scheduling this supply was outside of our routine duties.  Most clothing was supplied by and issued to new inductees through the training units and camps for that purpose. Our supply was routine reissue.

In review of my letters home for that time frame, the complaint was lack of sleep and physical fatigue. Letter writing was reduced.  What we were doing was of a self censorship disciplinary scale. We were not informed of our itinerary to begin with, or the dates to relocate.  We moved material as we were told, and we moved to other camps as was required.  But common sense alerted us that we were Korean bound, ready or not.  It was common knowledge as well as we were revamping trucks and jeeps, moving spare tire mounts from the back to the side to attach wire telephone reels, and painting those white battle stars on all vehicle hoods for our air identification that these were not necessary for "peacetime" missions.

As our forces were gutted of men for other divisions, so, too, were our supplies.  In the wire section, we were short of pliers, pocket knives, wire strippers, and friction and rubber tape for splicing wraps.  (Vinyl tape was not yet available.)  Souvenir season was over. With money vouchers in hand, we went on scavenger hunts in the countryside for the equivalent of the American hardware store,  picking up extra batteries, wrenches of all kinds, and other needed items.  We loaded freight rail cars, moving large crates of whatever--including 105mm shells, four to a crate--by raw rope handles on each end. I lost track of how many we loaded and unloaded during this never-ending task.  Being a detail section, the wire section was called upon for all duties. I remember that word was out to weld the wire breakers on the jeep front bumpers.  A favorite enemy tactic was stretching wire low across the roads.  If an unsuspecting jeep driver rode into these wires with his windshield down, he could be decapitated.  The wire breakers we welded onto the jeep bumpers before leaving for Korea prevented this from happening. Everyone in every category (MOS) had urgency built-in as we prepared for war, but at least for the time being, we were not being shot at--yet.

Amphibious training was scheduled.  We had to scale down a three-story building on the debarkation nets, keeping in mind that our helmets had to be buckled under our chin.  (It could be a missile if landing on the man under us on the net).  This training, however, could not simulate the real thing.  The building did not move back and forth, nor up and down.  In the real thing, the net slammed against the side of the ship, pulling us upwards away from the landing craft that we were trying to get into.  The maneuver was even more difficult for those having burdensome M-1 rifles.  As is evident, there were many problems before we loaded ships for Korea.  We discovered that they were all minor ones compared to those yet to come. The Frozen Chosin was totally unknown to us at that point.  Its fate to us was yet to unfold.

The Korean "buddies" were slowly distributed throughout the division. There was absolutely no time to train them. Since they were not being shipped to Japan from Korea until August 17, and not fully attached until August 31, D-Day and embarkation day was 10-15 days away. Our amphibious exercises had been completed upon our arrival at those various camps vacated by the other divisions already in Korea. Each section had a "Kim" or two added, but what were we suppose to do with them? Due to the language barrier they were not fully understood. Those assigned to the wire section were integrated to man and run lines with the crews, but the wire section required communications between those crews and the switchboard section. The last thing we wanted was to try to explain what had to be done between English and Korean over these lines.  We needed an interpreter between the Koreans and Americans--not the best scenario in a combat situation.  Furthermore, these "buddies" were required to stay put within the perimeters, unless with another GI. One of the safeguards we observed in Korea--as in all wars--was the assigned daily use of passwords.  They were picked at random and designed to make it difficult for the Koreans or Chinese to pronounce. Examples were "Helter" reply "Skelter"; "Abraham" reply "Lincoln"; "Cairo" reply "Egypt", etc.

Problems similar to those that other army divisions had were multiplied one-third for our division.  Additionally, there was the added reality that we could be more easily infiltrated by North Koreans if they dressed in army uniforms acquired by our "buddies."  Since we had so many ROKs already in our division, it was by no means a reassuring situation.  But that was our problem again to work through, one we handled as best as we could.  It was a problem exclusive to the 7th Division, its men, cadre, and officers, these men, cadre and officers, hopefully with some semblance of infantry and/or artillery training, knowledge of the Korean language a plus, however, we would exempt either and all requirements at this point in time, this was not the time to be highly selective.

With these "buddies," their strength in numbers brought us close to World War II wartime strength.  But as equipment was added, the firing batteries had to rely on the Koreans to man the gun crews. Any misunderstanding here between the fire direction center and the gun crews as to elevation, charge, or other required settings endangered the accuracy of the fire mission. As the infantry moved forward under cover of an artillery barrage, the rounds could fall short of their target and land in friendly territory.  This happened too often due to untrained personnel.  The enemy was enough problem eroding our ranks; we did not have to contribute to their efforts. But the "buddies" had added to our warm body count, and the ROKs added would not be reported separate from our division. We were all Seventh Division "soldiers," like it or not. The artillerymen took their ration of 15 rounds of ammo for their M-2 Carbines, and prepared for the upcoming Inchon Landing.

The real cost of war is measured in lives, not in equipment.

Indeed, "War is not a question of valor."  For "valor" was not lacking in Korea with MacArthur, but in Washington, in cooled or heated and brilliantly lighted marble and granite halls. Young men in Korea were being sacrificed to a situation that Congress had helped to create.  Yet that same Congress avoided legislation for funds to end the war as economically as possible. In this era of winning wars by the 'Who can throw the most iron or lead' method, truly we should have been the ones in the winning position. Yet, the battle reality was that we had to rely on "dead man supplies"--grabbing what we needed from our fallen comrades in arms just killed beside is. That diminished us somewhat in honor and valor, and placed a guilt trip on our own survival.

At Chosin, withdrawing our 31st RCT army tank force for use by others was a premature action, based on the assumption that our task force was already written off as "dead men," who had no further use for tank defense. The fact that such a decision had to be made at all was a crime in itself. Yet it was made and activated, and those who were sacrificed due to that action were denied even their place in history for some 30 years. They became the scapegoats of the Chosin battle in North Korea. Whose responsibility was that? Did that responsibility lay at the feet of MacArthur, or did it truly belong in those warm halls of Congress? For Congress failed to press forcibly for a "Declaration of a National Emergency" to lay the groundwork for action in North Korea. The results are history, without this task force included within its history.  Whatever guilt is not the fault of the members of that task force at Chosin.  What they did--or failed to do--was not a question of their personal valor.   Rather, it was a question of abandonment, and I am not referring to any equipment loss.

Still, one glowing difference between "dead man supplies" and Task Force Faith was that, at that time, Faith’s force was still alive. The question left hanging is, "Who benefited by the withdrawal of those tanks?"  My theory on this will be covered later in this narrative. From Day One of our troop involvement in North and South Korea until 16 December 1950, no Declaration of a National Emergency was issued. Why the delay? That is a burning question of commitment to this action in Korea between July 5, 1950 and that date in history.

Task Forces

"Any infantry officer must at times be ruthless. Part of the job is to send men into places from which you know they are not likely to come out again. This is never easy, but it is especially a soul searing business when the only thing you can buy with other men’s lives is a little more time."

General William F. Dean

The first general assigned to the "police action" in Korea was Major General William F. Dean of the 24th Infantry Division. He had been the 7th Infantry Division commander while they were still in Korea before relocation to Japan before war broke out in Korea. His orders were to place a small force of men as far north towards the 38th Parallel as time would allow. This small force, now known in history as Task Force Smith, was comprised of the first American troops to engage the enemy in Korea. Named after its commander, [Brad] Smith, it could well be considered to be engaged in a suicide mission to buy "a little more time." That time was needed to move larger forces into South Korea in the hope of stopping the North Korean Army from completely overrunning the south.

In reality, this first task force created by General Dean was not as disastrous in cost of lives and equipment as the one created by the Marine commander Major General O. P. Smith known as Task Force Drysdale. Still, all historians record this reality as a myth: that "Smith kept his MSR open and secure at all times." It can’t be both. It must be one or the other.  The reality was that, on the first night of the official opening of the Chinese Campaign, ‘all roads’ into and surrounding Hagaru-ri were severed by CCF forces. The proof of this lies in the fact that Task Forces Drysdale and MacLean--5th & 7th Marines--were all cut off from Hagaru and each other. MG Smith’s new Command Post and MG Almond’s X Corps CP were established at Hagaru-ri.  Drysdale's force totaled 922 men with 141 vehicles, including 250 41st British Commandos; Company G, 1st Marines Regiment; B Company, 7th Division, 31st Infantry Regiment; and other divisional elements. Pulling out from Koto-ri ‘ten miles south’ of Hagaru at 290930 November. This force was faced with serious resistance by the time it had traveled less than two miles.  It was reinforced with seventeen additional tanks from D Company USMC. At 291615, the column was stopped four miles north of Koto-ri. Lt. Colonel Drysdale asked Marine Division HQ if he should resume the advance. MG Smith ordered him to continue at "all costs." Halfway to Hagaru, the CCF closed in and split the column.  By then it was pitch dark due to the delay in waiting for the tanks to be refueled.  Here the Marine tank commander junior in rank to Drysdale declined to comply with Drysdale's request to spread the tanks in pairs throughout this column.  Being in the lead, he pushed on to Hagaru. The vehicle column of remaining trucks was then left defenseless on this single road.

There, the Chinese destroyed the middle truck of Drysdale’s column. Their concentration of fire power around that truck stopped the rear trucks and seventeen tanks. The tanks were forced to return to Koto-ri. As Drysdale surmised, the CCF force hitting his column were well-trained in roadblock tactics. Their continual fire against the truck in the center created a man-made road block reminiscent of the same tactic that was taking place against our tanks at Hudong-ni east of Chosin. Here Drysdale’s column was a perfect example of a hastily-formed task force that was not the best choice to head this force.  Being British with a small force of his own, he was unknown to the two attached units--the Marines and Army--mixed together. It was truly a different force in leadership than those set in motion by Army forces. At least the Army units were from the same division and with one common bond.

This is not to imply that Colonel Drysdale was not a capable leader, but this mixture of men created different views of the mission assigned. It stacked the deck against Drysdale and reduced his authority in command. The distribution of the tanks controlled by the Marines were later criticized for being grouped instead of spread throughout the column.  The front tanks stopping to zero in on the enemy thus stopped the column, making it a stationary target for the enemy mortar fire power.  The enemy took full advantage of this situation, as our forces would have done in a like situation. The Marine forward tanks merely moved on to Hagaru, leaving the column of thin-skinned trucks behind them unprotected.

While a Marine officer was discussing surrender terms of his group with the Chinese Commander, twenty-five of the Commandos slipped out of the perimeter.  There is a dispute over the Marine Corp's historical version of this incident.  [Red Flag] "A mistaken report of page 298 of "US Marine Corps Operations in Korea" refers to the 2/7th Marines rescuing 22 Royal Marines during this phase of the withdrawal who had been stranded in CCF dominated territory since the convoy had fought its way through on 29/30 November. This statement cannot be substantiated."

These twenty-two men were among the twenty-five Royal Marines that slipped out of the area   from the trapped forces from Task Force Drysdale column on the reference date. [As stated earlier in their Special Pub No. 8: Royal Marines, Historical Society]  "25 of the Commando HQ personnel were led back to Koto-ri by the Assault Engineer Officer, Capt P J Ovens, after slipping out of the perimeter whilst surrender terms were being negotiated in the early hours of 30 November." Why this misstatement of fact is included within the Marine history is unclear.  Surely the Royal Marine Commandos knew the location of their own smaller force of men. In fact, Army records state that the Royal Marines--41st Commandos--and the 31st RCT Army tanks were employed in the link-up between Hagaru-ri with the 5th, 7th, and 11th Marine Regiments withdrawing from Toktong Pass on  3 December.

Drysdale’s force suffered 321 casualties and lost 75 vehicles. But the 300 men that got to Hagaru were praised for that effort. While General Smith was not in ‘full command’ of all forces at this point in time, the one thing he detested about Almond was that his orders were issued directly to Marine regimental commanders rather than through Smith.  Smith commanding other forces not under his command were not his own concern here. But Smith could have, and should have, delegated complete and absolute command to Lt. Colonel Drysdale over those tanks, giving him full authority to order them into whatever position he wanted them. The 7th Division however, was not Smith’s to command. Their orders were issued by that division. Their mission was to advance to MacLean as a battalion force, yet only one company was attached to Drysdale.

He started with a powerful force containing tanks.  At least, he had them.  But one must consider this force made in haste was due to the weak perimeter at Hagaru and its importance to that perimeter. The weak defense was set within Smith's area of responsibility, not by Almond. He reacted in panic to save it. Drysdale’s force was a creation by Smith’s urgent command, not Almond’s. The Marines created Task Force Drysdale.  Although they named it after the "attached" British Commander under United Nations Command in Korea, it was still created and ordered by the Marines. That cannot be disputed. Included in Drysdale’s losses were 7th Division personnel, adding weight to the 7th Division effort between Koto-ri and Hagaru.

In an interview, General Ridgway said that Smith had "taken every feasible measure to develop and guard the Main Supply  Road." (There was only one.)  He also said, "Smith, as I have explained, despite the pressure from the X Corps, took the time to keep his line of retreat open and secure." His version of this incident is a Myth. If a road is open and 'secure' there is no real enemy opposition to it remaining so. Furthermore, does Ridgway's statement, "despite the pressure from the X Corps, took the time to keep his line  of retreat open and secure," suggest that X Corps opposed keeping that MSR open and secure?

About Task Forces--The difference between wars

In North Korea, as well as later in the south, the Chinese used frontal assaults.  The casualties reflected the savage impact and slaughter of those attacks on both sides. The use of Army task forces made this an entirely different type of warfare.  Here, one must highlight the courage and obedience to the commanders selected for each of these task forces. Each one of the commanders went beyond "considerable risks" in committing their forces. Some went beyond the risks to orders of "at all cost," particularly since that cost was to the force that was out there, not to the commander issuing the order.  At the time, generals no longer lead forces.  They merely sent them into harm's way. Orders were orders, and duty was duty.

One Marine captain posed a question about his own commander's dilemma in moving his forces at Chosin. Should he move (on orders) against something he knew to be wrong? I believe that question was answered with the first Army Task Force Smith, and the Marine-created Task Force Drysdale between Koto-ri and Hagaru. He was   ordered by that Marine commander to break through "at all costs," and Drysdale obeyed that order against his own better judgment. Here was the answer. I believe that his answer also lies within the other 23 Army task force commanders.  Their loyalty was to a higher source.

For a commander to delay his own orders, yet require others to ‘give all,’ is contradictory to his own oath. In the congressional hearings (1951) over General MacArthur's dismissal, General Marshall stated, "You preach loyalty all the time.... If the example at the top is contrary to that, then you have got a very serious situation." The field commander had others over him as well.  He was not a law totally unto himself, for he could be replaced as easy and as fast as any private in the ranks. A general was just as expendable and replaceable as any other rank. Those many task forces used before Christmas Day 1950, highlight also the need for small groups because there were no larger forces ‘available’ for the mission and objective. That their use tapered off as replacements finally came on line and that line stabilized confirms the pressure on corps commanders to create those forces in the early days and months of the war.

General Ridgway was later forced to use these under-strength units until his retrograde movement back into South Korea stabilized, followed by a reverse movement back toward the 38th Parallel. The Marine Division, fully ‘reinforced’ from the start, was not be plagued with the use of these forces (TF Drysdale the exception).  It was strictly an Army problem. Replacements for the six Army divisions were slow to catch-up  [G-1], while the Marine Corps had to be concerned with replacements for one division only.

In the early days of the Korean War, the task of fighting it was parceled out by necessity to the small Task Forces due to the lack of larger forces. Tight discipline could not be maintained because of the nature of the task force. That army commander did not have the luxury of time to correct every infraction of the rules. Some of these temporary forces were mixed together [e.g., MacLean-Faith with a heavy mixture of ROKs] and all thrown into combat with small amounts of training and, more importantly, small amounts of ammo. This fact made them more testy than usual.  One needed ammo to protect himself within the large area that they were assigned in order to cover the density per yard. Still, being a ‘reinforced’ division favored the Marines at Chosin. Our Army tanks were attached to their "reinforced" unit of the 5th Marine Regiment at Chosin. More about that in the Frozen Chosin drama that lies ahead in this narrative.  The history thus far discussed has merely set the stage for that later drama.

At this point, it seems appropriate to comment on the identification of some identical military equipment pieces between services and units. The Army tank force of the 31st Regiment consisted of marked tanks with standard and designated numbers for this regiment. Thus the letters and numbers "07th Div -.31st" were stenciled on the equipment, along with other numbers as well, such as HQ-2, etc. While these units were temporally loaned and assigned to General Smith, who was the commander in charge on 292039 November, the vehicles and tanks did not physically change hands.  In other words, they did not pass to or become the sole property of the Department of the Navy or its lesser Corps--the Marines.

In Korea, the Marines were in (reinforced) divisional strength, as opposed to an amphibious strike unit. In divisional strength they were therefore stronger in manpower and weapons than any single division of the six Army divisions present in Korea at the same time. For the Marine commanding general to even imply that there could be a superior comparison between the Marines and any other division, especially the Seventh Division consisting of one-third ROKs, was a disservice to his division, It would, indeed, have been high praise had the numbers been reversed and he took the same position. But whatever his motive for any comparison, he picked the wrong division for that comparison--in reality, merely elevating our 7th Division higher than our numerical strength dictated. General Smith highlighted the difference between the Army and the Marine Corps.  While this research is not about the Marines as such, it must be stated that the real difference between any of the six Army divisions and that of the one Marine division, the Seventh Division and General Smith’s criticism was against them, any comparison should be between the two divisions.

To compare, state, or imply that the "quality" of a larger force is superior to a smaller force implies that "quality" may be close, but not quite there. However, the comparison didn’t degrade the 7th Division.  We were numerically deficient in American forces (a proven fact) to any other division at that time in Korea. General Smith’s remarks didn’t change our status. He would have better served his division by comparing it to any other Army division, preferably the 2nd Infantry Division coming from the states, at the same time. Once again, his concern for the Army forces (which were not really his concern) was highlighted.  His comments did not solve the problem.  Instead, they just degraded it.

From this larger, 'inferior' American/ROK force evolved two smaller groups designated as task forces --something the Marine Corps itself did not want.  "Whenever I hear the words 'task force', I shudder," said a distinguished Marine veteran.  "In Korea, all too often the phrase became an apology for a makeshift collection of vehicles and men committed to disaster." They were incomplete units, taking, holding, and in rear guard positions, without flank protection, and with small amounts of ammo due to lack of vehicles to bring more supplies up to the combat area.

Yet these forces served a vital function while receiving neither accolades nor praise of any kind for their efforts.  Most of the Missing in Action total came from these forces in the first six months of the war. Some of the units were completely wiped out, and the men in other units were unable to state the name of the man on line with them, simply because they didn’t know that man or his name. These men were assigned a distasteful job--one in which the Marine commander wanted no part. If the reader finds any heroes in this book, they will be of the reader's creation, not mine.  For the men of these task forces were only mortal men.  They had no power beyond that given to any man at birth. So if reader creates one or two heroes, they should be from one of these many task forces.  Unfortunately, they are for the most part unknown and MIA.

General Smith refused to split his forces into smaller groups.  Nevertheless, he got caught in an enemy envelopment situation, and he was required not only to create a task force of his own, but also to order it to continue forward "at all costs" to save Hagaru. Yet in military history, the concept is as old as the services themselves: That first wave to hit the beach, a squad attack, a platoon of men, all equal a task force. But for any commander to order his own force forward "at all costs," then within three days time refer to the survivors of the forward units of Task Force MacLean-Faith as "Army Jokers," proves his lack of compassion for his men on the line. His further feeble attempt to be macho in regard to the dead and equipment priorities also proves his misguided sense of military priorities. War is not a pleasant business.  To be in a situation where one has to rate casualties between the most severe and those one must require to remain, placing them secondary to those killed, is unrealistic for a commanding general just adding to that number "at all costs" to save his command, unless he related "at all costs" to dollars and cents. One may rate vehicles in that manner, but not human life.

Task Force Cooper

The 17th Infantry Regiment was the oldest of the 7th Division. It was commanded by Herbert B. Powell. He was outstanding in that he was the only Army regimental commander  lacking West Point credentials in Korea. He won his commission by competitive exams. He was ordered to spearhead the landing at Iwon when Almond picked that site some 105 miles above Wonsan. It was viewed  on October 26, while the regiment was in port at Pusan, as still in "enemy territory." The 17th Regiment had been pre-administratively loaded to land behind the Marines at Wonsan. That fact  required another change to  combat loading for anticipated enemy assaults at Iwon. His regiment would reach Pungsan on the 31 October. Here they would link with the ROK Capital Division. This latter force  moved east towards the coast line. Here both forces were in combat with the NKPA (North Korean Peoples Army) 71st Regiment, backed by mortars and artillery of the 23rd Coast Guard Regiment. The 1/17 led by Lt. Col. Francis P. Carberry engaged the enemy for four full days, at which time the enemy forces were reported as "almost completely annihilated."

After a delay at the Ungi River above Pungsan, Powell received the go for the Yalu River, "at maximum speed" The temperatures dived downwards to thirty-two degrees below zero on November 14-15. The division had no bridging or amphibious means to cross the Ungi River. The engineering battalion (13th) improvised a footbridge of empty oil drums and planks. On the east side of this crossing, Powell's force met further NKPA fire and the enemy force launched many "suicide attacks", delaying this force an additional two days. On November 21, Powell's 17th Regiment closed on Hyesanjin unopposed, led by Carrol Cooper and his armored element.  It received credit--yet downplayed as to its importance--to reach the Yalu.   It receive credit, yet was downplayed as to the importance of reaching the Yalu. The rather important mission assigned to it was achieved.  Its real estate was not lost, but abandoned on orders. This achievement embarrassed the Marine commander's delay in following his own orders. That pattern of delay had its origin at the landing date for the Inchon Invasion.


[1] The 31st Regiment deactivated after Bataan defeat.

[2] "Superior Enemy," North Korean forces, fully equipped with tanks and artillery, that balance in numbers topped at Inchon. The CCF [Chinese forces] were ‘never’ superior to our forces in firepower and support units, tanks, or artillery, nor -in fact- to our total UN numbers in North Korea.

[3] These are the men of reference in an unsubstantiated dispute over the Marines History "rescuing" 22 of them, on page 298 in Marine history.

[4] Colonel Charles B. Smith

[5] Captain William B. Hopkins, "One Bugle No Drums". p.92

[6] One asinine statement that recycles in a book; Life of "Chesty" Puller of the 1st Marine Regiment, stated he got some of the army vehicles, because "the keys" were left in the ignition. [?] I wonder what army he was referring to.


Author's Background | Prologue | Chapt 1 - Budget War | Chapt 2 - Inchon | Chapt 3 - Capture Seoul
Chapt 4 - Inchon to Pusan | Chapt 5 - Fateful Journey into N Korea | Chapt 6 - Inter-service Rivalry-1
Chapt 7 - Inter-service Rivalry-2 | Chapt 8 - Press Corps | Chapt 9 - Secret/Classified Mission
Chapt 10 - Circumstantial Evidence | Chapt 11 - Mission Change | Chapt 12 - The Tank Withdrawal
MIA/KIA East of Chosin | Postscript | Important Maps | Declassified Documents| Reader Comments

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