U.S. Army in Action Series
The contributions of combat service support soldiers to the success of
American armies have often been overlooked by both historians and the public.
Thus, it is altogether fitting that this first volume in the Army in Action
Series should be John G. Westover's compilation of short, but instructive,
pieces on service and support activities during the Korean War. The Center of
Military History has received many requests for a reprint of this work, which
was first published by the Combat Forces Press in 1955; it is a useful
companion volume to Russell A. Gugeler's Combat Actions in Korea, which was
reprinted in 1984 as part of the Army Historical Series.
Both Westover's subject and technique are worthy of study and comment.
While the details of combat actions in America's wars have been studied
extensively, comparatively little has been done to enlighten the soldier of
today regarding how logistical operations were conducted at the small unit
level. This book will serve to repair that omission. Westover compiled this
book primarily from a series of interviews conducted with men actually
involved in the events "at ground level." The oral history technique, which
Army historians did much to develop in World War II and later, is now an
accepted historical method. The value of oral history as a means of getting to
the details is amply demonstrated here.
The Center of Military History is pleased to be able to initiate the Army
in Action Series with the first CMH edition of John G. Westover's Combat
Support in Korea. This is the first volume in what we hope will be a series
interesting to, and useful for, today's soldiers and leaders at every
WASHINGTON, D.C. William A. Stofft Brigadier General, U.S. Army Chief of
This book is a collection of interviews with members of all the arms and
services of the United States Army, except Infantry, Artillery, and Armor. The
interviews were collected from several hundred officers and enlisted men who
were serving, or had served, in the Korean conflict.
As I talked with these officers and men I could not help feeling their
aggressive spirit. Each realized that his service was essential to combat and
that he was moving the operation ahead. But it was more than just doing a
necessary job. It was "do it better," "do it more quickly," and, above all,
"get the service as close to the combat soldier as possible." These officers
and men told of hot meals, daily laundering of the infantryman's socks,
helicopter evacuation, ordnance mechanics working among the infantry, and
airdrop of flame throwers at the point of use. I have made their surging
spirit the theme of this study.
COMBAT SUPPORT IN KOREA grew from the conviction of Maj.Gen. Orlando Ward,
Chief of Military History (1949-1952), that the United States Army needs a
record of its service operations on the small-unit level. Interviews are
sometimes better than high-level histories. They can widen the novice leader's
experience before he goes into the field. They supply illustrations for
instructors, and they refresh officers who have not recently been in the
field. They present vividly the problems of the other services with which we
are not acquainted.
The interview also lets us see how often the service troops experience the
hazards of combat. No man in combat gets enough recognition, but some men have
been denied honors justly earned because the word "Quartermaster" or
"Chemical" was included in their unit designation. It won't dim the glory of
the rifleman to give credit to other members of the team.
A year of interviewing has gone into this book. Some of the interviews were
conducted in Korea by Eighth Army historians, but much more of the
interviewing was done in the United States with returnees. In addition, some
of the stories have been condensed from speeches, letters, and magazine
articles. Much time and patience have been put into these interviews by the
men who have served, and who believe that their knowledge will help the
Interviews are not history. They are personal accounts. An interview can be
no more accurate than the observation of the teller, no more truth ful than he
is candid. Different units had different operating procedures. I cannot say
that the operations related here are typical of all operations in Korea, or
that they are better or poorer. These are simply stories related by earnest
Most interviews were oral. Notes were filled in by historians and returned
to the interviewee for comment. Every effort has been made to recount the
incidents as they were originally related, with editorial work limited to
keeping the story moving. Most of the stories returned from Korea resulted
from group interviews and are, therefore, in the third person. The amount of
space devoted to each service is influenced more by the stories obtained than
by any evaluation of the relative importance of sister services.
While a majority of the interviews testify to the correctness of Army
doctrine, some are critical of doctrine and individuals. I have usually
removed the names of the individuals criticized because the criticisms are not
substantiated and may be unjust, but there has been no change of unit
designation and no whitewashing. The reputation of the United States Army is
too great to be diminished by honest criticism of some of its doctrines or a
few of its members. In this study the historian does not point out violation
of doctrines or decide between the contradictory accounts. This is a factual,
not a generalizing, study.
I cannot credit all of the persons who have contributed to this volume. The
names of more than a hundred are recorded in the table of contents. Special
credit, though, is due these historians of Eighth Army: Captains Pierce W.
Briscoe, William J. Fox, B. C. Mossman, and Edward C. Williamson, and
Lieutenants Bevan R. Alexander, Martin Blumenson, and John Mewha. Their
contributions are labeled as they appear. Mr. John E. Lee has had the trying
job of typing interviews and drafts. Miss Mary Ann Bacon has made many
editorial suggestions, while my wife has been the chief custodian of the blue
pencil and dictionary. Lt.Col. Joseph Rockis has given endless encouragement
throughout the months when progress seemed slow. To these, and many more, I
give my thanks.
JOHN G. WESTOVER Captain, lnfantry
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation