Last week, this space looked at the beginnings of the Korean War and how it became the "Forgotten War." This week, we look at some of the numbers involved in the war from the United States perspective.
The United States in the Korean War:
Army - 8th Army, 45th Infantry; 1st Cavalry, 3rd Infantry; 7th Infantry; 25th Infantry; 40th Infantry; 5th Combat; 2nd Infantry; 187th Airborne; 24th Infantry
U.S. Navy - Battleships, four; Destroyer escorts, 12; Carriers, 36; Flag ship, 13; Cruisers, 13; Fleet oilers, eight; Destroyers, 120; Frigates, nine; Hospital ships, four; Landing ship dock, six; Landing ship men, two; Mine sweepers, 67; Landing ship men pocket, eight; Patrol escort, three; Landing ship tanks, 31.
Also, Picket ships , four; Repair ships, 16; Submarines,14; Supply ships, five; Tenders, seven; Supply ammo, eight; Tender aviation, one; Transport Attack, 41; Tender sea plane, eight; Ocean tugs, four; Tender submarine, two; Underwater demolition teams, three.
Coast Guard - Two units; 25 men; Elmo, four; Loran Team - long range aim to navigation, nine.
U.S. Air Force - 8th Air Force; 5th Air Force; 13th Air Force. Wings: 8th, 18th, 27th, 35th, 51st, 49th, 90th, 474th, 136th, 116th and 58th. Divisions: 314, 39th, 42nd and 314th. Squadrons: 319th, 111th, 182nd and 154th
U.S. Marine Corps - 1st Provisional Brigade, 1st Marine Division, 5th Marines, Mag 33, Marine Fighter Squadron VMF 214, Marine Fighter Squadron VMF 323 and Marine Helicopter Squadron 161.
Korean War - United States Casualties:
33,741 dead (15 Americans killed each day)
23,615 killed in action
92,134 wounded in action
4,820 missing presumed killed in action
7,245 prisoners of war
As of June 2010, a total of 8,028 servicemen remains still are unaccounted for:
6,184 United States Army Soldiers
910 United States Air Force
278 United States Sailors
656 United States Marines
Operation Glory in July 1954 brought a truce through November, during which both Koreas agreed to a body remains exchange. During the war, the United States had U.S. Marines buried in Hungnam, North Korea. During the exchange, the South exchanged 13,528 North Korean and Chinese remains for 4,167 United States remains in the exchange of 416 bodies could not be identified. Those remains are buried in the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Some local Korean Veteran views on how, why and what happened
After seeing what Adolf Hitler had done taking country after country with nobody stopping him in the beginning, some felt Korean aid was necessary to prevent Korea, China and the Soviet Union from repeating what Germany did.
Our country was so divided, some were worried and scared about Communism spreading.
Some of us were from World War II. We came home and were proud of our country. Most of us joined the reserves, a place where we could meet once a month and talk about the World War II days. Little did we know reserve units were to be used and activated for Korea.
Some of our units sent were reservist; all young, least prepared and most surprised. The majority were 17 years old.
The Chosin Reservoir was a 17-day battle, and most nights the temperature went down to 35 degrees below zero. Patrols went out with 200 men and returned with around 100.
Frostbite was common. Medical cases revealed that when men had been shot,some patients had gone days without knowing it until body temperatures were normal and bleeding started.
World War II ended and many soldiers, sailors, airman and marines had returned to a country that had no jobs and no housing. The country was in bad shape. Many women who had worked to keep us supplied during the war had lost their jobs. The country that was in full gear supplying the war effort had came to a halt. The average wait for a returning veteran from World War II to land a job was 10 months.
The weapons, ammo and food for Korea had been leftovers from World War II. Other than a few old-timers who stayed in the service after the war, most troops were young and inexperienced. The troops had been called back and had been given little or even no training because they were needed quickly for boots on the ground.
After World War II, President Harry Truman signed into Congress an act to have our military units run by officers and non-commissioned officers that were not segregated. We now had black captains leading white combat unit soldiers. We had a Chinese lieutenant named Lee who commanded an all-white machine gun squadron. This was new and different for some white soldiers, especially a white combat veteran from World War II with 10 years experience now taking orders from a black 1st Lieutenant with no combat experience and only one year of service.
Korea brought with its war plan no specific objective to obtain victory and ticket home.
Vietnam had a war plan. The United States policy was to kill as many as we could; the higher the body count will determine the winner.
North Vietnam - kill them all and then they will stop sending them.
Iraq - still in progress.
Afghanistan - still in progress.
Veterans administration records show that we are losing approximately 1,570 veterans a day. Out of that number, 470 are Korean era veterans. As time goes by, these numbers will increase and each day will see more members of this era of veterans leave. As they leave us, we will tell the young children that their Korean veteran family member was in a war called the Korean War. They will not know or understand what the Korean War was, unless we ask dad, grandpa, or great-grandpa, or even mom, grandmother or great-grandmother who had been there to tell us. The only thing for sure that we can tell them is that since the Korean War their family member who served in Korea has not gone through one day in the last 58 years reliving a part of that war at least once a day.
- Submitted by John Fedyszyn, Fredonia