The nature of armies is determined by the nature of the civilization
in which they exist. |
BASIL HENRY LIDDELL HART, The Ghost of Napoleon
Deployment of U.S. Forces in the Far East, June 1950
At the beginning of the Korean War, United States Army ground combat
units comprised 10 divisions, the European Constabulary (equivalent to
1 division), and 9 separate regimental combat teams.  The Army's authorized
strength was 630,000; its actual strength was 592,000. Of the combat units,
four divisions-the 7th, 24th, and 25th Infantry Divisions and the 1st Cavalry
Division (infantry)-were in Japan on occupation duty. Also in the Pacific
were the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Hawaiian Islands and the 29th
Regiment on Okinawa. The divisions, with the exception of the one in Europe,
were under-strength, having only two instead of the normal three battalions
in an infantry regiment, and they had corresponding shortages in the other
combat arms. The artillery battalions, for instance, were reduced in personnel
and weapons, and had only two of the normal three firing batteries. There
was one exception in the organizations in Japan. The 24th Regiment, 25th
Division, had a normal complement of three battalions, and the 159th Field
Artillery Battalion, its support artillery, had its normal complement of
three firing batteries.
The four divisions, widely scattered throughout the islands of Japan,
were under the direct control of Eighth Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Walton
H. Walker. The 7th Division, with headquarters near Sendai on Honshu, occupied
the northernmost island at Hokkaido and the northern third of Honshu. The
1st Cavalry Division held the populous central area of the Kanto Plain
in Honshu, with headquarters at Camp Drake near Tokyo. The 25th Division
was in the southern third of Honshu with headquarters at Osaka. The 24th
Division occupied Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan, with headquarters
at Kokura, across the Tsushima (Korea) Strait from Korea. These divisions
averaged about 70 percent of full war strength, three of them numbering
between 12,000 and 13,000 men and one slightly more than 15,000.  They did not have their full wartime
allowances of 57-mm. and 75-mm. recoilless rifles and 4.2-inch mortars.
The divisional tank units then currently organized had the M24 light tank.
Nearly all American military equipment and transport in the Far East had
seen World War II use and was worn.
In June 1950, slightly more than one-third of the United States naval
operating forces were in the Pacific under the command of Admiral Arthur
W. Radford. Only about one-fifth of this was in Far Eastern waters. Vice
Adm. Charles Turner Joy commanded U.S. Naval Forces, Far East. The naval
strength of the Far East Command when the Korean War started comprised
1 cruiser, the Juneau; 4 destroyers, the Mansfield, Dehaven,
Collett, and Lyman K. Swenson; and a number of amphibious and
cargo-type vessels. Not under MacArthur's command, but also in the Far
East at this time, was the Seventh Fleet commanded by Vice Adm. Arthur
D. Struble. It comprised 1 aircraft carrier, the Valley Forge; 1
heavy cruiser, the Rochester; 8 destroyers, a naval oiler, and 3
submarines. Part of the Seventh Fleet was at Okinawa; the remainder was
in the Philippines. 
The Fleet Marine Force was mostly in the United States. The 1st Marine
Division was at Camp Pendleton, Calif.; the 2d Marine Division at Camp
Lejeune, N.C. One battalion of the 2d Marine Division was in the Mediterranean
with fleet units.
At the beginning of hostilities in Korea, the U.S. Air Force consisted
of forty-eight groups. The largest aggregation of USAF strength outside
continental United States was the Far East Air Forces (FEAF), commanded
by General Stratemeyer. On 25 June, there were 9 groups with about 350
combat-ready planes in FEAF. Of the 18 fighter squadrons, only 4, those
based on Kyushu in southern Japan, were within effective range of the combat
zone in Korea. There were a light bomb wing and a troop carrier wing in
Japan. The only medium bomb wing (B-29's) in the Far East was on Guam.
At the end of May 1950, FEAF controlled a total of 1,172 aircraft, including
those in storage and being salvaged, of the following types: 73 B-26's;
27 B-29's; 47 F-51's; 504 F-80's; 42 F-82's; 179 transports of all types;
48 reconnaissance planes; and 252 miscellaneous aircraft. The Far East
Air Forces, with an authorized personnel strength of 39,975 officers and
men, had 33,625 assigned to it. 
Commanding the United States armed forces in the Far East on 25 June
1950 was General MacArthur. He held three command assignments: (1) as Supreme
Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) he acted as agent for the thirteen
nations of the Far Eastern Commission sitting in Washington directing the occupation of Japan; (2) as
Commander in Chief, Far East (CINCFE), he commanded all U.S. military forces-Army,
Air, and Navy-in the western Pacific of the Far East Command; and (3) as
Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces, Far East, he commanded the U.S. Army
in the Far East. On 10 July, General MacArthur received his fourth command
assignment-Commander in Chief, United Nations Command. The General Headquarters,
Far East Command (GHQ FEC), then became the principal part of General Headquarters,
United Nations Command (GHQ UNC).
Nearly a year before, General MacArthur had established on 20 August
1949 the Joint Strategic Plans and Operations Group (JSPOG), composed of
Army, Navy, and Air Force representatives. This top planning group, under
the general control of General Wright, G-3, Far East Command, served as
the principal planning agency for the U.N. Command in the Korean War.
In the two or three days following the North Korean crossing of the
Parallel, air units moved hurriedly from bases in Japan distant from Korea
to those nearest the peninsula. Most of the fighter and fighter-bomber
squadrons moved to Itazuke and Ashiya Air Bases, which had the most favorable
positions with respect to the Korean battle area. Bombers also moved closer
to the combat zone; twenty B-29's of the 19th Bombardment Group, Twentieth
Air Force, had moved from Guam to Kadena Airfield on Okinawa by 29 June.
The air action which began on 26 June continued during the following
days. One flight of U.S. planes bombed targets in Seoul on the 28th. Enemy
planes destroyed two more American planes at Suwon Airfield during the
Land-based planes of the Far East Air Forces began to strike hard at
the North Koreans by the end of June. On the 28th, the Fifth Air Force
flew 172 combat sorties in support of the ROK Army and comparable support
continued in ensuing days. General Stratemeyer acted quickly to augment
the number of his combat planes by taking approximately 50 F-51's out of
storage. On 30 June he informed Washington that he needed 164 F-80C's,
21 F-82's, 23 B-29's, 21 C-54's, and 64 F-51's. The Air Force informed
him that it could not send the F-80's, but would substitute 150 F-51's
in excellent condition. The F-51 had a greater range than the F-80, used
less fuel, and could operate more easily from the rough Korean airfields.
Of immediate benefit to close ground support were the two tactical air
control parties from the Fifth Air Force that arrived at Taejon on 3 July.
These two TACP were being formed in Japan for an amphibious maneuver when
the war started. They went into action on 5 July and thereafter there was
great improvement in the effectiveness of U.N. air support and fewer mistaken
strikes by friendly planes on ROK forces which, unfortunately, had characterized
the air effort in the last days of June and the first days of July.
Concurrently with the initiation of air action, the naval forces in
the Far East began to assume their part in the conflict. On 28 June the
American cruiser Juneau arrived off the east coast of Korea, and
the next day shelled the Kangnung-Samch'ok area where North Korean amphibious
landings had occurred.  American naval forces from this date forward
took an active part in supporting American and ROK forces in coastal areas
and in carrying out interdiction and bombardment missions in enemy rear
areas. Naval firepower was particularly effective along the east coastal
Acting on instructions he had received from Washington on 1 July to
institute a naval blockade of the Korean coast, General MacArthur took
steps to implement the order. Just after midnight, 3 July, he dispatched
a message to Washington stating that an effective blockade required patrolling
the ports of Najin, Ch'ongjin, and Wonsan on the east coast, Inch'on, Chinnamp'o,
Anju, and Sonch'on on the west coast, and any South Korean ports that might
fall to the North Koreans. In order to keep well clear of the coastal waters
of Manchuria and the USSR, General MacArthur said, however, that he would
not blockade the ports of Najin, Ch'ongjin, and Sonch'on. On the east coast
he planned naval patrols to latitude 41° north and on the west coast
to latitude 38° 30' north. General MacArthur said his naval forces
would be deployed on 4 July to institute the blockade within the limits
of his existing naval forces. 
Admiral Joy received from General MacArthur instructions with respect
to the blockade and instituted it on 4 July. 
Three blockade groups initially executed the blockade plan: (1) an east
coast group under American command, (2) a west coast group under British
command, and (3) a south coast group under ROK Navy command.
Before the organization of these blockade groups, the cruiser U.S.S.
Juneau and 2 British ships at daylight on 2 July sighted 4 North
Korean torpedo boats escorting 10 converted trawlers close inshore making
for Chumunjin-up on the east coast of Korea. The Juneau and the
two British ships turned to engage the North Korean vessels, and the torpedo
boats at the same time headed for them.
The first salvo of the naval guns sank 2 of the torpedo boats, and the
other 2 raced away. Naval gunfire then sank 7 of the 10 ships in the convoy;
3 escaped behind a breakwater. 
The first U.N. carrier-based air strike of the war came on 3 July by
planes from the U.S.S. Valley Forge and the British Triumph,
of Vice Admiral Struble's Seventh Fleet, against the airfields of the
P'yongyang-Chinnamp'o west coast area. 
The River Crossing
While United States air and naval forces were delivering their first
blows of the war, the South Koreans were trying to reassemble their scattered
forces and reorganize them along the south bank of the Han River. (See
Map 1). On the 29th, when General MacArthur and his party visited the
Han River, it seemed to them that elements of only the ROK 1st and 7th
Divisions there might be effective within the limits of the equipment they
had salvaged. Parts of the 5th Division were in the Yongdungp'o area opposite
Seoul, and, farther west, elements of the Capital Division still held Inch'on.
Remnants of the 2d Division were eastward in the vicinity of the confluence
of the Han and Pukhan Rivers; the 6th Division was retreating south of
Ch'unch'on in the center of the peninsula toward Wonju; and, on the east
coast, the 8th Division had started to withdraw inland and south. The 23d
Regiment of the ROK 3d Division had moved from Pusan through Taegu to Ulchin
on the east coast, sixty-five miles above Pohang-dong, to block an anticipated
enemy approach down the coastal road. 
On the last day of the month, American planes dropped pamphlets over
South Korea bearing the stamp of the United Nations urging the ROK soldiers,
"Fight with all your might," and promising, "We shall support
your people as much as we can and clear the aggressor from your country."
Meanwhile, the victorious North Koreans did not stand idle. The same
day that Seoul fell, 28 June, elements of the enemy's 6th Division started
crossing the Han River west of the city in the vicinity of Kimpo Airfield
and occupied the airfield on the 29th.  (Map 1) After
capturing Seoul the North Korean 3d and 4th Divisions spent
a day or two searching the city for South Korean soldiers, police, and
"national traitors," most of whom they shot at once. The North
Koreans at once organized "People's Committees" from South Korean
Communists to assume control of the local population. They also took steps
to evacuate a large part of the population. Within a week after occupying
Seoul, the victors began to mobilize the city's young men for service in
the North Korean Army. 
The N.K. 3d Division, the first into Seoul, was also the
first to carry the attack to the south side of the Han River opposite the
city. It spent only one day in preparation. North Korean artillery fire
which had fallen on the south side of the Han sporadically on 28 and 29
June developed in intensity the night of the 29th. The next morning, 30
June, under cover of artillery and tank fire the 8th Regiment crossed
from Seoul to the south side of the Han in the vicinity of the Sobinggo
ferry. Some of the men crossed in wooden boats capable of carrying a 2
1/2-ton truck or twenty to thirty men. Others crossed the river by wading
and swimming.  These troops drove the South Koreans from the south
bank in some places and began to consolidate positions there. But they did not
penetrate far that first day nor did they occupy Yongdungp'o, the big industrial
suburb of Seoul south of the river and the key to the road and rail net
leading south. General Church directed General Chae to counterattack the
North Koreans at the water's edge, but enemy artillery prevented the ROK
troops from carrying out this order.
The enemy's main crossing effort, aimed at Yongdungp'o, came the next
morning. The 4th Division prepared to make the attack. For the assault
crossing, it committed its 5th Regiment which had been in reserve
all the way from the 38th Parallel to Seoul. The 3d Battalion of
the regiment started crossing the river southwest of Seoul at 0400 1 July,
and upon reaching the south side it immediately began a two-day battle
for Yongdungp'o. The remainder of the 4th Division followed the
lead battalion across the river and joined in the battle. Yongdungp'o fell
to the division about 0800 3 July. ROK troops waged a bitter battle and
North Korean casualties were heavy. The enemy 4th Division lost
227 killed, 1,822, wounded, and 107 missing in action at Yongdungp'o. 
The North Koreans fought the battle for Yongdungp'o without tank support
and this may account in large part for the ROK troops' stubborn defense
and excellent showing there. The first North Korean tanks crossed the Han
River on 3 July after one of the railroad bridges had been repaired and
decked for tank traffic. Four enemy tanks were on the south side by midmorning.
 While the battle for Yongdungp'o was in progress, the remainder of
the N.K. 3d Division crossed the Han on 3 July. As the battle for
Yongdungp'o neared its end, part of the N.K. 6th Division reached
the edge of Inch'on. That night an enemy battalion and six tanks entered
the port city.
By the morning of 4 July two of the best divisions of the North Korean
People's Army stood poised at Yongdungp'o. With tank support at hand they
were ready to resume the drive south along the main rail-highway axis below
the Han River.
ADCOM Abandons Suwon
On the first day of the invasion, President Syngman Rhee, Ambassador
Muccio, and KMAG notified United States authorities of the need for an
immediate flow of military supplies into Korea for the ROK Army.  General
MacArthur with Washington's approval, ordered Eighth Army to ship to Pusan
at once 105,000 rounds of 105-mm. howitzer, 265,000 rounds of 81-mm. mortar,
89,000 rounds of 60-mm. mortar, and 2,480,000 rounds of .30-caliber ball
ammunition. The Sergeant Keathley, a Military Sea Transportation
Service (MSTS) ship, left North Pier, Yokohama, at midnight 27 June bound
for Pusan, Korea, with 1,636 long tons of ammunition and twelve 105-mm.
howitzers on board. Early the next day, 28 June, a second ship, the MSTS
Cardinal O'Connell, feverishly loaded a cargo from the Ikego Ammunition
Depot. Airlift of ammunition began also on the 28th from Tachikawa Air
Base near Tokyo. The first C-54 loaded with 105-mm. howitzer shells took
off at 0600 28 June for Suwon, Korea.  By 1517 in the afternoon, transport
planes had departed Japan with a total of 119 tons of ammunition.
In ground action the situation deteriorated. At noon, 30 June, American
observers at the Han River sent word to General Church that the ROK river
line was disintegrating. About this time, Lt. Gen. Chung Il Kwon of the
South Korean Army arrived from Tokyo to replace General Chae as ROK Army
Chief of Staff.
At 1600 General Church sent a radio message to Tokyo describing the
worsening situation. Three hours later he decided to go to Osan (Osan-ni),
twelve miles south of Suwon, where there was a commercial telephone relay
station, and from there call Tokyo. He reached Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond,
MacArthur's Chief of Staff, who told him that the Far East Command had
received authority to use American ground troops, and that if the Suwon
airstrip could be held the next day two battalions would be flown in to
help the South Koreans. General Church agreed to try to hold the airstrip
until noon the next day, 1 July. 
Back at Suwon, during General Church's absence, affairs at the ADCOM
headquarters took a bad turn. A series of events were contributory. An
American plane radioed a message, entirely erroneous, that a column of
enemy was approaching Suwon from the east. Generals Chae and Chung returned
from the Han River line with gloomy news. About dusk ADCOM and KMAG officers
at the Suwon command post saw a red flare go up on the railroad about 500
yards away. To one observer it looked like an ordinary railroad warning
flare. However, some ADCOM officers queried excitedly, "What's that?
What's that?" Another replied that the enemy were surrounding the
town and said, "We had better get out of here." There was some
discussion as to who should give the order. Colonel Wright and General
Church were both absent from the command post. In a very short time people
were running in and out of the building shouting and loading equipment.
This commotion confused the Korean officers at the headquarters who did
not understand what was happening. One of the ADCOM officers shouted that
the group should assemble at Suwon Airfield and form a perimeter. Thereupon
all the Americans drove pell-mell down the road toward the airfield, about
three miles away. 
When this panic seized the ADCOM group, communications personnel began
destroying their equipment with thermite grenades. In the resultant fire
the schoolhouse command post burnt to the ground. At the airfield, the
group started to establish a small defensive perimeter but before long they decided
instead to go on south to Taejon. ADCOM officers ordered the antiaircraft
detachment at the airfield to disable their equipment and join them. About
2200, the column of ADCOM, KMAG, AAA, and Embassy vehicles assembled and
was ready to start for Taejon. 
At this point, General Church returned from Osan and met the assembled
convoy. He was furious when he learned what had happened, and ordered the
entire group back to Suwon. Arriving at his former headquarters building
General Church found it and much of the signal equipment there had been
destroyed by fire. His first impulse was to hold Suwon Airfield but, on
reflection, he doubted his ability to keep the field free of enemy fire
to permit the landing of troops. So, finally, in a downpour of rain the
little cavalcade drove south to Osan. 
General Church again telephoned General Almond in Tokyo to acquaint
him with the events of the past few hours, and recommended that ADCOM and
other American personnel withdraw to Taejon. Almond concurred. In this
conversation Almond and Church agreed, now that Suwon Airfield had been
abandoned, that the American troops to be airlifted to Korea during 1 July
should come to Pusan instead.  In the monsoon downpour General Church
and the American group then continued on to Taejon where ADCOM established
its new command post the morning of 1 July.
At Suwon everything remained quiet after the ADCOM party departed. Colonels
Wright and Hazlett of the KMAG staff returned to the town near midnight
and, upon learning of ADCOM's departure, drove on south to Choch'iwon where
they stayed until morning, and then continued on to Taejon. The ROK Army
headquarters remained in Suwon. After reaching Taejon on 1 July, Colonel
Wright sent five KMAG officers back to ROK Army headquarters. This headquarters
remained in Suwon until 4 July. 
After securing Yongdungp'o on 3 July, the N.K. 4th Division prepared
to continue the attack south. The next morning, at 0600, it departed on
the Suwon road with the 5th Regiment in the lead. Just before noon
on 4 July, eleven enemy tanks with accompanying infantry were in Anyang-ni,
halfway between Yongdungp'o and Suwon. The road from Suwon through Osan
toward P'yongt'aek was almost solid with ROK Army vehicles and men moving
south the afternoon and evening of 4 July. The 5th Regiment of the ROK
2d Division attempted to delay the enemy column between Anyang-ni and Suwon,
but fourteen T34 tanks penetrated its positions, completely disorganized
the regiment, and inflicted on it heavy casualties. The Australian and U.S.
Air Forces, striving to slow the North Korean advance, did not always hit
enemy targets. On that day, 4 July, friendly planes strafed ROK troops
several times in the vicinity of Osan. The ROK Army headquarters left Suwon
during the day.
At midnight the N.K. 4th Division occupied the town. 
 Memo from Troop Control Br, May 51 OCMH Files.
 EUSAK WD, Prologue, 25 Jun-12 Jul 50, pp. ii, vi. The aggregate
strength of the four divisions in Japan as of 30 June 1950 was as
follows: 24th Infantry Division, 12,197; 25th Infantry Division,
15,018; 1st Cavalry Division, 12,340; 7th Infantry Division, 12,907.
Other troops in Japan included 5,290 of the 40th Antiaircraft Artillery,
and 25,119 others, for a total of 82,871.
 Memo, Navy Dept for OCMH, Jun 51.
 Memo, Off Secy Air Force for OCMH, Jun 50. Other fighter squadrons
were located as follows: 7 in the industrial area of central and
northern Honshu, 4 on Okinawa, and 3 in the Philippines.
 U.S. Air Force Operations in the Korean Conflict 25 Jun-1 Nov 50,
USAF Hist Study 71, 1 Jul 52, pp. 2-4.
 Ibid., p. 14.
 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl Msg File, 28 Jun 50.
 USAF Hist Study 71, p. 16; Hq X Corps, Staff Study, Development of
Tactical Air Support in Korea, 25 Dec 50, p. 7.
 Memo, Navy Dept for OCMH, Jun 51.
 Msg, CINCFE to DA, dispatched Tokyo 030043, received Washington
 Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in Korean War, ch.
III, p. 11.
 Karig, et al., Battle Report: The War In Korea, pp. 58-59.
 USAF Hist Study 71, pp. 9-13; Hq X Corp., Staff Study, Development
of Tactical Air Support in Korea, 25 Dec 50, pp. 7-8; Memo, Navy Dept
for OCMH, Jun 51; Karig, et al., op. cit., pp. 75, 83
 Telecon 3441, FEC, Item 27, 1 Jul 50, Lt Gen M. B. Ridgway and Maj
Gen C. A. Willoughby; Ltr, Lt Col Peter W. Scott to friend, ca. 6-7 Jul
50; Interv, author with Col Emmerich, 5 Dec 51; 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, 1
 ATIS, Enemy Docs, Issue 4, Diary of N.K. soldier (unidentified), 16
Jun-31 Aug 50, entrys for 28-29 Jun, p. 10; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts,
Issue 100 (N.K. 6th Div), p. 33; Gen Paik Sun Yup, MS review comments,
11 Jul 58.
 There are extensive discussions of this subject in many prisoner
interrogations in the ATIS documents.
 Church MS; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 3d Div), p.
 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), pp.
44-45; GHQ FEC, History of the N.K. Army, p. 58. The N.K, 6th Division
claims to have entered Yongdungp'o 1 July, but this could have
been only an approach to the city's edge. Ibid., Issue 100 (N.K.
6th Div), p. 33.
 Ibid., Issue 4 (Enemy Forces), p. 37; ADCOM G-3 Log, 3 Jul 50.
Colonel Green, the ADCOM G-3 from GHQ, made this handwritten log
available to the author in Tokyo in 1951. KMAG G-2 Unit History, 4 Jul
 Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in Korean War, ch. IV,
 EUSAK WD, ,5 Jun-12 Jul 50, G-4 Unit Hist, 25-30 Jun 50, pp. 4-5.
 Church MS.
 Statement, Greenwood for Sawyer, 22 Feb 54; Ltr, Scott to friend,
ca. 6-7 Jul 50; Church MS.
 Statement, Greenwood for Sawyer; Ltr, Scott to friend, ca. 6-7 Jul
50; Det X, 507th AAA AW Bn, Action Rpt, 30 Jun-3 Jul 50; 24th Div WD, G-
2, Jnl, 25 Jun-3 July 50, verbal rpt by Lt Bailey of verbal orders he
received to destroy AAA weapons and equipment at Suwon Airfield.
 Church MS; Interv, Capt Robert K. Sawyer with Lt Col Winfred A.
Ross, 17 Dec 53. Ross was GHQ Signal member of ADCOM and was with
General Church on the trip to Osan and during the night of 30 June.
 Church MS.
 Sawyer, KMAG MS; KMAG G-2 Jnl, 4 Jul 50; ATIS Res Supp Interrog
Rpt, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), p. 45; Ltr, Scott to friend. Colonel Scott
was one of the five officers who returned to Suwon on 1 July.
 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), pp. 44-45;
GHQ FEC, History of N.K. Army, p. 58; EUSAK WD, 20 Jul 50, G-2 Sec, ATIS
Interrog Nr 89, 2d Lt Pak Mal Bang; ADCOM G-3 Log, 4 Jul 50.
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation