Korean War

The Korean War, June 25th, 1950 to July 27th, 1953, was a war between North and South Korea, in which a United Nations force led by the United States fought for the South, and China fought for the North, which was also assisted by the Soviet Union.  Korea was ruled by Japan from 1910 until the closing days of World War II. In August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, as a result of an agreement with the United States, and liberated Korea north of the 38th parallel.

The war arose from the division of Korea at the end of World War II.  By 1948, Korea was split into two regions, with separate governments and U.S. forces subsequently moved into the south.  Both governments claimed to be the legitimate government of Korea, and neither side accepted the border as permanent. The conflict escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces, supported by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea on June 25th, 1950 with the front line close to the 38th parallel. On 27 June, the United Nations Security Council authorized the formation and dispatch of UN forces to Korea to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion.  Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing 88% of the UN’s military personnel.

On November 27th, 1950, the Chinese 9th Army surprised the US X Corps (U.S. Army Reserve Unit of World War II) at the at the “Changjin” Reservoir, better known by the Japanese pronunciation “Chosin”.  A brutal 17-day battle ensued between November 27th, and December 13th, in some of the roughest terrain and the harshest weather conditions of the Korean War.  On November 14th, the temperature plunged to as low as −35 °F.  Considerable danger of frostbite casualties, icy roads, and weapon malfunctions ensued.  Medical supplies such as morphine injections had to be defrosted in a medic’s mouth before they could be administered, frozen blood plasma proved to be useless and cutting off clothing to deal with a wound risked gangrene and frostbite.  The 30,000 troops that fought at the Chosin Reservoir would later be nicknamed “The Chosin Few”.  Seventeen Medals of Honor were awarded covering 3 different branches of the military for their actions during the 17-day battle.

Jet fighters confronted each other in air-to-air combat for the first time in history, and Soviet pilots covertly flew in defense of their Communist allies. The war in the air was never a stalemate as North Korea was subject to a massive bombing campaign. The United States supplied 150 F-86 Sabre Jets, and had the B 0 26 Night Intruder which dropped bombs on supply lines in “Operation Strangle” in 1951-52.  A majority of the dogfights happened in “M16 Alley”, between the Yalu River & Pyongyang. The Bell 47 helicopter was designated the H-13 Sioux by the U.S. Army and it served a variety of roles including reconnaissance, scouting, search & rescue & medevac.

The Battle of Pork Chop Hill, October 1951 to July 1953, was comprised of several related infantry battles.  The 300 meters (980 foot)-high hill was so-named because its topographic shape vaguely resembled a pork chop.  Initially seized by the U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment in October 1951, it was lost and regained in May 1952 by Item Company of the U.S. 180th Infantry Regiment.  It was again defended again by the 21st Thai Regiment of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division of the U.S. on November 29th, 1952.  The fighting ended on July 27th, 1953, when an armistice was signed less than three weeks after the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. The agreement created the Korean Demilitarized Zone, an area 160 miles long, and 2.5 miles wide between North and South Korea, running across the peninsula roughly following the 38th parallel.  The Demilitarized Zone was created to separate North and South Korea and allow the return of prisoners,  No peace treaty has been signed, and the two Korea’s are technically still at war.

A total of 33,651 service members died in battle during the Korean War and 7,140 service members became prisoners of war.