United States in the Korean War
At the conclusion of World War II the Allied nations began the process of disarmament of Axis controlled regions. Japan occupied Korea at this time and had been in control since 1910. In 1945, the decision was made to have American Marines forces oversee Japanese surrender and disarmament south of the 38th parallel and the Soviet Union would facilitate the change of power to the north. At the time there was no political motivation and seemed to be a logical and convenient plan of action. The original agreement and intent was to create a unified and independent Korea out of the post Japanese occupation era. Instead each side of the 38th parallel established its own government under the influence of the occupational country; the United States in South Korea and the Soviet Union in North Korea. Both new Korean governments discredited the other and claimed to be the only legitimate political system. Tensions between the North and South escalated and each side began to petition foreign powers for resources and support. South Korea wanted weapons and supplies from Truman and the United States government while North Korea sought help from Stalin and the Soviet Union. The United States was still war weary from the disruptive World War II campaign and refused South Korea's request for weapons and troops. North Korea convinced the Soviet Union to supply them with the weapons and support they requested. This decision coincided with the United States withdrawing the last remaining combat troops from South Korea. North Korea saw its opportunity and attacked South Korean forces at the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950 and thus initiating the Korean War.
In response to North Korea's invasion into South Korea the United Nations convened to formulate a response. The U.N. demanded North Korea's immediate withdrawal and, when this was not met, United States Army General Douglas MacArthur was appointed supreme commander of U.N. forces. To halt the rapid progress of North Korean forces into the south Task Force Smith was deployed to the Korean front from Japan. Task Force Smith consisted of U.S. Army officers and regiments of the Army's 24th Infantry Division that were stationed in Japan as occupational forces. Unfortunately the 24th were under trained, poorly supplied, and outnumbered. The 24th offered very little resistance against the North Korean advance. American and South Korean troops were pushed south and in late July 1950 Task Force Smith was overrun in the city of Taejon. Troops from the Army's 25th Infantry Division were deployed to Taejon to establish a new line and pullout the decimated 24th I.D. This addition of combat troops did not stop the North Korean advance and both American and South Korean troops were pushed further south.
Battle of Osan
The first battle the Americans entered in the Korean War was the Battle of Osan, where about four hundred strong landed in Pusan airport on the first of July. The American troops were sent off to Taejon the next morning where Major General John H. Church the head of U.S. field headquarters was confident in the US troop's strengths to push back the North Koreans. On July fifth the troops were finally put to the test when North Korean tanks crept towards Osan. The four hundred infantryman of the U.S. also called Task Force Smith opened fire on the North Koreans at 8:16 am. Only four of the North Korean tanks were destroyed and twenty-nine kept moving forward breaking the US line. At the end of the battle only two more North Korean Tanks and two regiments of North Korean infantry were destroyed. The US had lost the battle, revealing that the mere sight of US troops would not reverse the military balance in Korea. By early August, the North Korean troops had pushed back the US and South Korean troops all the way to Naktong River, which is located about thirty miles from Pusan. The two weeks of fighting following this resulted in the most casualties of US troops than any other equivalent period of this war. However, during this time the US pushed supplies and personnel to Korea and by the end of July South Koreans and US troops outnumbered the North Koreans, although the North had pushed back the US and South by an amazing amount the North had suffered over fifty thousand casualties. Also because North Koreas supply lines were so lengthy and with the US in control of the water and air replenishing their losses were slow.
Although MacArthur clearly stated that it was a 5000 to 1 gamble, it was an important military move to make. Incheon is 25 miles from Seoul on the coast and only once during September is the water even deep enough to allow the 29 foot draft of American LSTs. It was a defenders' best place to allow troops into Korea, and to push the invaders back. On September 15 the 1st Marine Division landed at the port city, taking the defending North Koreans completely by surprise, and by the end of the night over a third of Incheon was taken back.
During the mid 1950s, Germany and Japan were both at a desperate state caused by World War II. Germany received a sort of benefit from the U.S as a compensation of war and reconstruction. The Japanese on the other end were devastated by the aftermath. People were suffering, eating out of garbage, and many people starved. Meanwhile, the U.S troops in the Korean War were in great demand of uniforms and other equipment. The American government turned to Japan for the favor, which eventually stimulated the manufacturing factories that were in jeopardy due to damage caused by World War II. Japan accepted the offer and mainly supplied U.S troops in Korea with uniforms and other sorts of clothing. Bases were also erected in Japan for U.S. Air Force planes, such as B-29 Superfortress bombers.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to
United States in the Korean War.
- Korea: The Forgotten War 1950-1953.Timeless Media Group, 2010. DVD.
- Stueck, W. W. (2002). Rethinking the Korean war: A new diplomatic and strategic history. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Stueck, W. W. (1995). The Korean War: An international history. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.