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Korean War Combat Photos of 1950

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Korean War Photos of 1951
Korean War Photos of 1952
Korean War Photos of 1953


Other Korean War Photos of 1950
Other Korean War Photos 1950-1953
Map and Battles of the MLR


Leadership failure, haphazard disarmament, misguided training objectives, Intelligence failures ... these were root causes of the Korean tragedy.

We face those same dangers today as we stand down from the Middle East. This site offers insights bitterly learned sixty years ago, to help avoid them.

Understanding these photographic insights can be helped by a brief review:
The Korean War, 1950-1953

An American mortar crew fires on the Communist North Korean invaders.

An M2 4.2 inch mortar crew, members of Heavy Weapons Company, 21st Infantry Regiment, fires on the attacking North Korean 4th Division near Chochiwan, 11 July 1950.

The 4th Division had routed our 21st Regiment's 3rd Battalion before noon that day, killing the 3rd's CO and costing it 60 percent of its strength.

With the infantry in retreat, these positions were soon also overrun and these mortarmen escaped as best they could, if they could.


A gun crew checks their equipment just before the Kum River Line disaster. 15 July 1950.

On July 16, The N.K. 3d Division fixed our 19th Infantry by frontal attack while enveloping their flanks, established a roadblock behind them, and decisively won the battle. These tactics characterized NK and Chinese attacks throughout the war.

Our defeat, as so often in 1950, was largely due to our engaged forces lacking a mobile reserve to meet enemy penetrations or flanking movements.

A gun crew checks their equipment near the Kum River
A 105-mm howitzer in action against the Communist-led North Korean invaders, somewhere in Korea.

A 105-mm howitzer in action against the advancing North Korean invaders, who had just taken Taejon.

22 July 1950.


American gunners blasting Yongdok, northeast of Pusan, with their 105-mm howitzer.

23 July 1950.

 
American troops blasting Yongdok with their105-mm howitzer.
Artillery gun crew waits for the signal to fire on the enemy, somewhere in Korea.

SC344383 - Artillery gun crew waits for the signal to fire on the enemy, somewhere in Korea.
25 July 1950. Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #8A/FEC-50-4713 (Breeding)

SC344384 - KOREAN CONFLICT
American artillery firing on Communist-led North Koreans, somewhere in Korea.
25 July 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #8A/FEC-50-4712 (Breeding)

American artillery firing on Communist-led North Koreans, somewhere in Korea.
105-mm howitzer in action against the Communist-led North Korean invaders.

SC344638 - KOREAN CONFLICT
105-mm howitzer in action against the Communist-led North Korean invaders.
26 July 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #8A/FEC-50-4839 (Wayne)


The Pusan Perimeter, 8/1/50 to 9/16/50

After our initial disasters at the Kum River Line and Taejon, 8th Army continued to fall back into a defendible perimeter around the vital port city of Pusan. There, although suffering other defeats and losing ground in the Northern section, the Army was reinforced, the Marine Brigade landed and kept the NK from advancing across the Naktong in the west, and the perimeter was held

On September 15, MacArthur would land the entire 1st Marine Division and X Corps at Inchon, far behind the N.K. lines, and shortly the war would seem over.

Pusan Perimeter Map
Men of Battery B, 61st Field Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division, fire across the Naktong River at postions of the Communist-led North Korean invaders. They are, L. to R., Pvt. Alvin Essary of Tuscalossa, Ala.; Pvt. Miller T. Young of Avonmore, Pa.; Pvt. Harvey L. Lewis of Porterville, Calif.; Pvt. Abel Saunders of Venton, Va.; and Cpl. Lester Mortz of Sheridan, Oregon.

Battery B, 61st Field Artillery, 1st Cavalry Division, fires at North Korean positions across Pusan Perimeter Defenses along the Naktong River.

L. to R., Pvt. Alvin Essary of Tuscalossa, Ala.; Pvt. Miller T. Young of Avonmore, Pa.; Pvt. Harvey L. Lewis of Porterville, Calif.; Pvt. Abel Saunders of Venton, Va.; and Cpl. Lester Mortz of Sheridan, Oregon.

Waegwan, 7 August 1950.


Pfc. Letcher V. Gardner (Montgomery, Iowa), Co D, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, fires on a North Korean emplacement along the Naktong River, near Chingu.

Pusan Perimeter, west of Pusan, 13 August 1950.

Pfc. Letcher V. Gardner (Montgomery, Iowa), Co D, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, fires on an emplacement of the Communist-led North Koreans, along the Naktong River, near Chingu.
A Field Artillery Battery of the 8th F/A, 25th Division fires on a North Korean road block with a 105-mm howitzer.

A Battery of the 8th F/A, 25th Division, fires a 105-mm howitzer on a North Korean road block. 22 August 1950.

Throughout the 7-week battle of the Pusan Perimeter, the North Koreans attacked fiercely. Usually they would attack frontally while circling around us, block our withdrawal, then attack from all sides. However we now had developed reserves to contain these flanking attacks, and artillery to then blast apart the roadblocks.

SC347079 - KOREAN CONFLICT
Men of Battery A, 159th Field Arillery Battalion, fire a 105-mm howitzer in an indirect firing mission on the Korean battle line, near Uirson.
24 August 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #8A/FEC-50-7424 (Pfc. Wayne H. Weidner)

Men of Battery A, 159th Field Arillery Battalion, fire a 105-mm howitzer in an indirect firing mission on the Korean battle line, near Uirson.
Major General Hobart R. Gay, CG, 1st Cavalry Division, congratulates 2nd Lieutenant Raymond A. Whelan of Mossap, Conn., after awarding him the Silver Star for meritorious services.

SC346626 - KOREAN CONFLICT
Major General Hobart R. Gay, CG, 1st Cavalry Division, congratulates 2nd Lieutenant Raymond A. Whelan of Mossap, Conn., after awarding him the Silver Star for meritorious services.
25 August 1950. Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #8A/FEC-50-6908 (Cpl. Hutchinson)

SC346955 - KOREAN CONFLICT
A .50 Cal. Machine gun squad of Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, fires on North Korean patrols along the north bank of the Naktong River, Korea.
26 August 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #8A/FEC-50-7043 (Sfc. Riley)

A .50 Cal. Machine gun squad of Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, fires on North Korean patrols along the north bank of the Naktong River, Korea.
Pfc. Robert Smith of Springfield, Colo., (left) and Pvt. Carl Fisher of Ponca, Okla., 27th Infantry Regiment, dug in and firing at Communist-led North Korean positions.

Pfc. Robert Smith of Springfield, Colo., (left) and Pvt. Carl Fisher of Ponca, Okla., 27th Infantry Regiment, dug in and firing at North Korean positions.

4 September 1950.


While successfully building a fighting perimeter around Pusan to keep the enemy engaged, General MacArthur sent a powerful Naval-Air-Amphibious force around them in a dramatic invasion of the Port City of Inchon. The First Marine Division and an entire Corps was suddenly positioned in the N.K. rear. An ironic and decisive use of their own tactics.

15 September 1950.

Assault on Inchon
Marine Rifle Platoon from E-2-5, 1st Marine Division, 8/50

Marine Rifle Platoon from E-2-5, 1st Marine Division, 8/50

This rifle platoon fought throughout the Pusan Perimeter battles, Inchon, across the Han River to help recapture Seoul, and their survivors went on to fight their way out of the Chosin Reservoir in a series of savage tactical victories in the midst of overwhelming strategic defeat.


Men of the 5th RCT fire a .30 caliber machine gun at N.K. positions across the Naktong River, north of Taegu, as 8th Army prepares to break the Perimeter and drive north.

18 September 1950.

Men of the 5th RCT fire a .30 caliber machine gun at the Communist-led North Koreans across the Naktong River, north of Taegu.
United States Marines fighting on the outskirts of Seoul, the capital of Korea.

After a heavy artillery preparation against Hill 125, menacing Fifth Marines' attack across the Han, I Company began an assault on the Hill at 0645, 20 September. Enemy fire from automatic weapons and small arms caused heavy casualties in I Company, one of their dead in the foreground, but it secured the hill, and the crossing was made.

20 September 1950.

SC351390 - KOREAN CONFLICT
A United States Marine suppresses North Korean sniper fire with the .45 caliber M3A1 in Seoul. September, 1950.
20 September 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #FEC-50-20508 (Strickland and Romanowski)

A member of the United Nations troops fires a submachine gun on Communist-led North Korean forces, during fighting in streets of Seoul.
Sgt. Herbert Ohio of Hilo, T.H., views the battered remains of the Communist defenders of Hill 268, which was taken by men of the 5th RCT, 1st Cavalry Division in their advance on Waegwan, Korea.

SC349306 - KOREAN CONFLICT
Sgt. Herbert Ohio of Hilo, T.H., views the battered remains of the Communist defenders of Hill 268, which was taken by men of the 5th RCT, 1st Cavalry Division in their advance on Waegwan, Korea.
21 September 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #FEC-50-9327 (Chang)


SC349313 - KOREAN CONFLICT
A machine gun crew fires at fleeing Communist-led North Korean targets during heavy street fighting in the captured city of Waegwan. L-r: Pfc. Austin Dela Cruz of Honolulu; Cpl. William Purdy; Pfc. Alexander Domingo of Honolulu; and platoon leader Sgt. Robert I. Muramoto of Honolulu, T.H.
21 September 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #FEC-50-9336 (Chang)

A machine gun crew fires at fleeing Communist-led North Korean targets during heavy street fighting in the captured city of Waegwan. L-r: Pfc. Austin Dela Cruz of Honolulu; Cpl. William Purdy; Pfc. Alexander Domingo of Honolulu; and platoon leader Sgt. Robert I. Muramoto of Honolulu, T.H.
A .30 caliber light machine gun crew of the 5th RCT, 1st Cav. Div., fires on Communist-led North Koreans, as they push toward Taejon, Korea.

SC349347 - KOREAN CONFLICT
A .30 caliber light machine gun crew of the 5th RCT, 1st Cav. Div., fires on Communist-led North Koreans, as they push toward Taejon, Korea.
22 September 1950.  Korea.
Signal Corps Photo #8A/FEC-50-9438 (Chang)

ROK troops had crossed the 38th Parallel on September 30.

Wounded soldiers are evacuated (foreground) as M-4 tanks of the 5th RCT move to the front in the Kumchun area, October 6.

Sanctioned by the United Nations, on October 9 our 1st Cavalry Division led a general assault across 38th Parallel to re-unify all of Korea

Wounded soldiers are evacuated (foreground) as M-4 tanks of the 5th RCT move to the front in the Kumchun area in Korea.
Sfc. Louis F. Walz (left), a member of Co. E, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Divisioin, and Pfc. Raymond M. Szukla, a member of Co. G, 5th Regimental Combat Team, 24th Imfantry Division, recieve medical aid at the 8063rd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, attached to I Corps in Korea. Sfc. Walz is recovering from a head wound, and Pfc. Szukla suffered a wound in the right leg while engaged in action against the Communist-led North Korean forces.

Sfc. Louis F. Walz (left), a member of Co. E, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Divisioin, and Pfc. Raymond M. Szukla, a member of Co. G, 5th Regimental Combat Team, 24th Infantry Division, receive medical aid at the 8063rd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, attached to I Corps in Korea.  Sfc. Walz is recovering from a head wound, and Pfc. Szukla suffered a wound in the right leg while engaged in action against Communist forces.
4 November 1950.

In late November, 1950, hundreds of thousands of China's veteran guerilla Armies, victorious the previous year at Huai-Hai, one of the most decisive battles in history, secretly moved into North Korea to ambush our over-extended forces.

Unaware, a patrol of Co. C, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, fires light machine guns against Chinese scouts in the hills near Haejung, North Korea. 27 November.

Sfc. Forsyth, who photographed the action, was wounded shortly after recording this picture.

A patrol of Co. C, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, fire light machine guns on Chinese Communist troops located in the hills near Haejung, North Korea. Sfc. Forsyth, who photographed the action, was wounded shortly after recording this picture.
A machine gun team of an X Corps military police company goes into action to relieve a convoy pinned down by fire of the Chinese Communists, in Korea.

A machine gun team of an X Corps military police company goes into action to relieve a convoy pinned down by Chinese fire. 6 December 1950.

Using frontal attacks combined with encirclement and entrapment, China's resolute forces were savagely attacking 8th Army in the west, and the Marines and X Corps in the east.

Thus began the Marines' savage fight-out to evacuation at Hungnam on Christmas, 1950, and the longest retreat in the history of the US Army.

The First

On 9/12/50, my ship USS Wantuck, APD 125, stood out from Pusan, South Korea, with I/3/5 to spearhead a mighty Task Force in the brilliant assault at Inchon, and the near total destruction of North Korea's armed forces. UN forward units soon reached the Yalu and Victory appeared total.

At that moment in time, given the Allied destruction of the Axis in WWII, such a result seemed almost something to take for granted.

Wantuck makes course for Inchon Assault

Begor at Hungnam

The Last

On 12/24/50, USS Begor, APD 127, stood off at Hungnam, North Korea, as the last UN forces retreat and Demolition teams ashore blow up supplies and installations.

Two Navy Special Operations Force APD actions thus sandwich one of the saddest periods in American Military History since Gettysburg.


Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation

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