Inch'ŏn Invasion--The X Corps amphibious invasion at Inch'ŏn on Korea's western coast Sept. 15, 1950, ranks as one of the boldest military maneuvers in history.
See Battle of Inch'ŏn
June 25, 1950
Confidence in the ROK Army was further reinforced that day by MacArthur's G2, Charles Willoughby. It was contained in the first telecon between Collins and Ridgway in the Pentagon and Willoughby in Tokyo. When Collins and Ridgway queried Willoughby about the situation in South Korea, Willoughby conceded that it was a major NKPA invasion aimed at conquering South Korea but that the ROK Army was withdrawing with "orderliness," the morale of the South Koreans was "good," and the Rhee government was "standing firm." Nonetheless, Willoughby "said," GHQ was proceeding with a prearranged contingency plan to evacuate American personnel (women and children first) by ship from Sŏul's seaport, Inch'ŏn, with appropriate air and naval protection.[3-14]
This first telecon contained a historically fascinating sidelight. Without consulting Truman, that day both GHQ, Tokyo, and the Pentagon decided independently to respond affirmatively to Muccio's request for a ten-day supply of ammo for the ROK Army. When he received the request, MacArthur ordered his chief of staff, Ned Almond, to load two ships immediately. In the telecon Collins asked Willoughby if he was correct in assuming Tokyo was meeting Muccio's request. Willoughby replied: "We are meeting emergency request for ammunition." The two ships would be escorted by air and naval vessels. Thus the Pentagon and GHQ, Tokyo, had made the decision to project American military power into South Korea without presidential authorization.[3-15]
June 25, 1950
The outbreak of war in Korea caught U.S. military services in the midst of a transition. The establishment of the Department of Defense in 1947 and its reorganization in 1949 required readjustments within the services to which none had become completely acclimated. Successive decreases in the military budget and the prospect of more to come had reduced the size of all services, and a reorganization of operating forces to keep within prescribed limits was in process.
New weapons and equipment had not been completely integrated, and tactical doctrine and new operating techniques for their most effective employment were still being developed. This was particularly apparent in Naval Aviation, where the introduction of jet aircraft had created a composite force in which like units were equipped with either jet or propeller-driven aircraft having wide differences in performance characteristics, maintenance and support requirements, and tactical application.
Combat requirements in Korea were quite different from those of the island-hopping campaign of World War II. Only the landings at Inch'ŏn, two and a half months after the shooting began, followed the familiar pattern. The UN’s intention to confine the battle area to the peninsula resulted in a limitation of air operations in support of troops. This was a normal enough mission for carrier air, but the need to sustain it for extended periods over an extremely large landmass made quite a difference.
Carrier forces also flew deep support missions; attacked enemy supply lines; roamed over enemy territory looking for targets of opportunity; bombed enemy bridges; interdicted highways and railroads; attacked refineries, railroad yards and hydroelectric plants; and escorted land-based bombers on special missions. All were carried out effectively, but were new experiences for units trained to interdict enemy sea-lines of communication and ward off attack by enemy naval forces.
The see-saw action on the ground as the battle line shifted and as action flared up and quieted again required great flexibility of force and demanded the ability to carry out a variety of missions, but after the first six months of the war, the overall air campaign developed into a monotonous, although serious, routine. It was a battle described by Commander Task Force 77 in January 1952 as "a day-to-day routine where stamina replaces glamour and persistence is pitted against oriental perseverance."
Compared to World War II, Korea was a small war. At no time were more than four large carriers in action at the same time. Yet in the three years of war, Navy and Marine aircraft flew 276,000 combat sorties, dropped 177,000 tons of bombs and expended 272,000 rockets. This was within 7,000 sorties of their World War II totals in all theaters and bettered the bomb tonnage by 74,000 tons, and the number of rockets by 60,000. In terms of national air effort, the action sorties flown by Navy and Marine Corps aircraft rose from less than 10 percent in World War II to better than 30 percent in Korea.
There was another and perhaps greater difference between the two wars. Support of forces in Korea required major attention from the planners and of units assigned to logistic supply, but action in Korea was only a part of the total activity of the period. Outside the combat area fleet forces continued their training operations on the same scale as before, and fleet units were continuously maintained on peaceful missions in the eastern Atlantic and in the Mediterranean. Research and development, although accelerated, did not shift to emphasize projects having direct application to the war effort but continued on longer range programs directed toward progressively modernizing fleet forces and their equipment with more effective weapons. New facilities for test and evaluation were opened. Advances in guided missiles reached new highs indicating their early operational status, and ships to employ them were being readied. Firings of research missiles like Lark, Loon and Viking from shore installations and from ships provided both useful data and experience. Terrier, Talos, Sparrow, Sidewinder, and Regulus passed successive stages of development.
Research in high-speed flight, assisted by flights of specially designed aircraft, provided data leading to new advances in aircraft performance. The carrier modernization program continued and was revised to incorporate the steam catapult and the angled deck, together representing the most significant advance in aircraft carrier operating capability since World War II. In a period when Naval Aviation was called upon to demonstrate its continuing usefulness in war and its particular versatility in adapting to new combat requirements, it also moved forward toward new horizons.
June 25, 1950 2200 - 0800 Washington
About 2200, 25 June, Ambassador Muccio authorized the evacuation of the women and children by any means without delay, and an hour later he ordered all American women and children and others who wished to leave to assemble at Camp Sobinggo, the American housing compound in Sŏul, for transportation to Inch'ŏn. [04-13]
June 26, 1950
Two LST's from Inch'ŏn joined one already offshore, and on Monday, 26 June, they evacuated Col. Paik In Yup (17th Regiment, and most of two battalions-in all about 1,750 men. The other battalion was completely lost in the early fighting.
The 14th Regiment, 6th Division, turned over the Ongjin Peninsula area to security forces of the BC 3rd Brigade on the second day and immediately departed by way of Haeju and Kaesŏng to rejoin its division.
East of the Ongjin Peninsula, Kaesŏng, the ancient capital of Korea, lay two miles south of the Parallel on the main Sŏul-P'yŏngyang highway and railroad. Two battalions of the 12th Regiment, ROK 1st Division, held positions just north of the town. The other battalion of the regiment was at Yŏnan, the center of a rich rice-growing area some twenty miles westward.
The 13th Regiment held Korangp'o-ri, fifteen air miles east of Kaesŏng above the Imjin River, and the river crossing below the city. The 11th Regiment, of the 1st Division in reserve, and division headquarters were at Suisak, a small village and cantonment area a few miles north of Sŏul. Lt. Col. Lloyd H. Rockwell, senior adviser to the ROK 1st Division, and its youthful commander, Col. Paik Sun Yup, had decided some time earlier that the only defense line the division could hold in case of attack was south of the Imjin River.
Songak-san (Hill 475), a mountain shaped like a capital T with its stem running east-west, dominated Kaesŏng which lay two miles to the south of it. The 38th Parallel ran almost exactly along the crest of Songak-san, which the North Koreans had long since seized and fortified. In Kaesŏng the northbound main rail line linking Sŏul-P'yŏngyang-Manchuria turned west for six miles and then, short of the Yesŏng River, bent north again across the Parallel.
Despite the stand of the 1st ROK division, the USAF official line still stands that the ROK's were ready to bail.
On 26 June, the second day of hostilities, U. S. forces worked at evacuation while the North Korean attack continued southward. FEAF fighters covered two vessels evacuating personnel from Inch'ŏn, and during the morning two 68th All Weather Fighter Squadron F-82's were attacked over the port area by a pair of North Korean fighters. The F-82 pilots, still a bit uncertain as to whether they should return fire, took evasive action and resumed patrols.
Evacuation progressed smoothly; in the afternoon a Norwegian ship Reinholte left Inch'ŏn carrying 682 civilians. During the day the North Korean Air Force made a substantial number of sorties in support of their ground troops, but offered no concerted air action. Ground fighting on the 26th gave little encouragement to the hope that the ROK army might be able to withstand the North Korean onslaught, and although Ambassador Muccio tried to dissuade him, President Rhee announced his intention to evacuate the ROK government to Taejŏn. The KMAG reported widespread defeatism among ROK troops, and Muccio added that he held no more than "faint confidence that the Koreans may hold out."
June 26, 1950
At 0045 hours on 26 June Brig. Gen. Jarred V. Crabb, the FEAF Director of Operations, awakened General Partridge with a telephone call: General MacArthur had ordered FEAF to provide fighter cover while the freighters loaded and withdrew from Inch'ŏn. The fighters were to remain offshore at all times, but they were to shoot in defense of the freighters.
General Partridge instructed the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing to furnish the freighters with combat air patrols. Within a few minutes, however, Fifth Air Force operations let General Crabb know that Colonel Price anticipated difficulties. This patrol work was a job for long-range conventional aircraft, not for the speedy but fuel-hungry jets. Colonel Price's 68th Fighter All-Weather Squadron had twelve operational F-82's, but he needed more aircraft than this. The Fifth Air Force first asked if it would not be possible to use the RAAF No. 77 Squadron's Mustangs, but General Crabb replied that the British had not yet taken a stand in the Korean war. The Fifth Air Force therefore ordered the 339th Fighter All-Weather Squadron to move its combat-ready F-82's from Yokota to Itazuke. This was still not enough of the long-range fighters, and General Crabb ordered the Twentieth Air Force to send eight of the 4th Squadron's planes up to Itazuke from Okinawa. To clear his ramps to receive these additional fighters, Colonel Price moved the contingent of C-54's from Itazuke to nearby Ashiya.
June 26, 1950
In the early morning of 26 June (Korean time) Ambassador Muccio ordered all dependents of U. S. Government and military personnel evacuated. Two commercial freighters at Inch'ŏn, SS Reinholt and SS Norge, were available, but the Norge was too dirty to be used and nearly 700 passengers were evacuated on the 26th aboard the SS Reinholt, a vessel normally accommodating only twelve passengers.
June 26, 1950
Evacuation operations got under way in
on the morning of 26 June, and, to the dismay of the
F-82 pilots, who orbited in
relays above Inch'ŏn harbor, lasted
all day. In a change of plans the F-82's were allowed to come inland to cover
truck convoys moving from Sŏul to the Army Support Command compound near
Inch'ŏn, but for the most part the flights of four F-82's remained over Inch'ŏn