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The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

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Their drive to the 38th Parallel stalled temporarily, men of the 3rd Division Reconnaissance Company dig in for the night on the east central front, Korea. 28 May 1951.

Notice the 60mm mortar pit position in flat open ground, just enoughprotection to provide some cover from enemy skirmishers to their front. Recon is clearlyon the attack and confident that no raiding enemy patrols can reach their positions during the night. The mortar is the infantryman's artillery, withone 60mm and crew normally assigned to each infantry platoon. Deployed as here, the expectation would be that a skirmisher line to the right would detect any enemy approach, at which time the mortar would be manned and fire illuminating rounds or fragmentation rounds as needed to expose the enemypositions and break up any attempt at assault.

For Korea, 1950 was a year of brutal aggression, bloody counter-attack, entrapment and ended in disarray and tragedy.

Before daylight on Sunday, June 25, 1950, the North Korea People's Army attacked south across the 38th parallel. North Korean Premier Kim Il Sung's eight combat-ready divisions, mostly veterans of WWII and China's Civil War, led by 120 Soviet T34 medium tanks and extensive mobile artillery, crushed the ill-equipped and greatly outnumbered ROK forces.

The United States and United Nations quickly came to South Korea's aid. We stopped North Korea at the Pusan Perimeter, cut them off with General MacArthur's brilliant amphibious assault at Inchon, and drove the enemy back to the Yalu, almost winning the war at a single stroke.

But, in November, China entered the war in force. Our armies were ambushed, routed, and driven back into South Korea.

In early 1951, both sides had savage reverses, the year ending with Talks which dragged on for two years to an inconclusive Cease Fire.

Our major adversary, the Chinese army, was experienced at fluid warfare, opportunistic, disciplined, and very brave. American troops were also brave, but during the first 10 months or so of the war we were not well led at the company and field grade levels, or above.

But we learned.

We re-defined and re-established the leadership requirements of our officer corps. Our combat units again developed into teams, as we had in WWII. We fought the Chinese to a standstill, and then drove them back to about the original national boundaries.

South Korea is free today, because of the valor of men like those in these photos.

As many another young man, I really went to war for the excitement and to test myself. Yet now, as I grow old, I remember with great pride that I was once their comrade in arms.

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

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