June 25, 1950 - North Korean troops invade South Korea - news alarmed Americans, who did not want another Asian country to fall to communism Truman decided to take military action - sent naval and air support for South Korea, without an act of Congress UN nations boycotted North Korea, 16 nations send 520,000 troops to assist South Korea Troops were 90% US South Korean troops numbered 590,000 General Douglas MacArthur was given command of the combined troops Stage 1: North Korea attacks The Korean War began in the predawn darkness of June 25, 1951 as Kim Il Sung&apos;s heavily armed and well-trained North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel -- the border between the two Koreas at the end of World War II. As MacArthur biographer, D. Clayton James describes it, &quot;North Korean artillery and mortar barrages began hitting South Korean positions along the 150-mile width of the peninsula, shortly followed by invasion forces totaling over 90,000 troops and 150 Soviet-built tanks that struck in smoothly coordinated assaults into South Korea.&quot; By the night of June 28, Seoul had fallen and the South Korean forces were in disarray. The United Nations had just passed a resolution recommending that &quot;the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area.&quot; On July 30, President Truman announced that he had &quot;authorized the United States Air Force to conduct missions on specific military targets in northern Korea [and] a naval blockade of the entire Korean coast,&quot; adding almost as an afterthought, &quot;General MacArthur has been authorized to use certain supporting ground units.&quot; Army Secretary Frank Pace&apos;s assessment was more realistic: &quot;We were into Korea deep.&quot;
Stage 2: Americans pushed to the Pusan Perimeter July 5 saw the first battle between American and North Korean troops, and the Americans did not fare as well as they expected. Unable to slow the enemy advance below Suwon, the Americans and South Koreans fought desperate delaying operations, buying time with blood as more American units were rushed to Korea. By the end of July, the North Koreans had pushed the U.N. forces to the southeast corner of the peninsula, where they dug in around the port of Pusan. On July 27, a &quot;grim-faced and business-like&quot; MacArthur visited Eighth Army commander Walton Walker. A witness said that MacArthur told Walker, &quot;There will be no Dunkirk in this command. To retire to Pusan will be unacceptable.&quot; Gen. Walker gave the &quot;stand or die&quot; order, and over the next six weeks a desperate, bloody struggle ensued as the North Koreans threw everything they had at American and ROK (South Korean) forces in an effort to gain complete control over Korea.
With what is widely considered the crowning example of his military genius, MacArthur completely changed the course of the war overnight by ordering -- over nearly unanimous objections -- an amphibious invasion at the port of Inchon, near Seoul. Evidence has indicated that the Chinese Communists, having studied MacArthur&apos;s tactics in World War II, warned the North Koreans to expect such an attack. Still, they were not prepared. The Americans quickly gained control of Inchon, recaptured Seoul within days, and cut the North Korean supply lines. American and ROK forces broke out of the Pusan Perimeter and chased the retreating enemy north. On September 27, after Washington had consulted with its allies regarding war aims, MacArthur received permission to pursue the enemy into North Korea. ROK forces crossed the 38th parallel on October 1, opening a fateful new chapter in the conflict.
Stage 4: Approaching the Yalu Despite warnings from the Communist Chinese through an Indian diplomat that &quot;American intrusion into North Korea would encounter Chinese resistance,&quot; MacArthur&apos;s forces continued to push north. In their meeting at Wake Island on October 15, both Truman and MacArthur took comfort in the General&apos;s assertion that &quot;We are no longer fearful of their intervention,...if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang there would be the greatest slaughter.&quot; On October 25, however, things turned ominous. The Chinese army, which had been massing north of the Yalu River after secretly slipping into North Korea, struck with considerable force. After suffering setbacks, the U.N. forces stabilized their lines by November 5, only to watch the Chinese withdraw northward as quickly as they had struck. MacArthur was now worried enough to press Washington for greater latitude in taking the fight into China. He nevertheless launched a great offensive toward the end of November, which he optimistically hoped would end the war in Korea and &quot;get the boys home by Christmas.&quot; It proved a terrible miscalculation.
Stage 5: An entirely new war MacArthur&apos;s &quot;all-out offensive&quot; to the Yalu had barely begun when the Chinese struck with awesome force on the night of November 25. Roughly 180,000 Chinese troops shattered the right flank of Walker&apos;s Eighth Army in the west, while 120,000 others threatened to destroy the X Corps near the Chosin Reservoir. On November 28, a shaken MacArthur informed the Joint Chiefs, &quot;We face an entirely new war.&quot; MacArthur&apos;s men fought courageously and skillfully just to avoid annihilation, as they were pushed back down the peninsula. Seoul changed hands yet again on January 5. But under the able and energetic of General Matthew Ridgway, who took over the Eighth Army after the death of Walker, the U.N. retreat ended about 70 miles below Seoul.
Stage 6: Stalemate Beginning January 15, Ridgway led the U.N. in a slow advance northward, in what his troops began to call the &quot;meatgrinder.&quot; Inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese and North Koreans, the U.N. re-recaptured Seoul (the fourth and final time it changed hands!) on March 15, and had patrols crossing the 38th parallel on March 31. In the meantime, General MacArthur had been steadily pushing Washington to remove the restrictions on his forces. Not only did Truman decline for fear of widening the war, but he fired MacArthur, who had been publicly challenging him for months, for insubordination on April 11. Although MacArthur&apos;s dismissal ignited a political firestorm, most historians have agreed that Truman had little choice but to uphold the doctrine of civilian control of the military. But on military grounds, the picture is less clear. Whether or not his proposals would have ended the war -- or started World War III -- they probably would have avoided the stalemate, which lasted for another two years. Not until nearly two million more had died did the Korean War end, when an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.
Armistice On July 27, 1953, the UN, North Korea, and China signed an armistice agreement—South Korea refused to sign—and the fighting ended. The armistice called for a buffer zone 4 km (2.5 mi) wide across the middle of Korea, from which troops and weapons were supposed to be withdrawn. This &quot;demilitarized zone&quot; was in fact heavily fortified; as of the late 1990s, more than 1 million soldiers confronted each other along the zone. With no peace treaty signed, the two Koreas remained technically still at war; only the armistice agreement and demilitarized zone kept a tenuous peace.
General Eisenhower finally helped clear the falderal away by strongly recommending that women become a part of the U.S. military. He was backed by several other senior officers who had worked with women during WWII and had nothing but praise for their efforts. On the 12th of June, then President Harry Truman signed on the dotted line, putting Public Law 625, The Women&apos;s Armed Services Act of 1948 in to effect. A law that today would be laughed out of town, it was so full of loopholes and strange parameters. But it opened the door for dedicated women to serve their country in peace time. One thing it did not do, that is often misinterpreted, is create separate women&apos;s branches, corps or forces. The only unit to retain that distinction was the WAC. The rest of the women in the other branches of service were, for all intents, but not every purpose, fully integrated. Or so the law implied. It just didn&apos;t happen that way.During the Korean era over 120, 000 women were on active duty. In addition to the nurses actually in Korea, many women served at support units nearby, in Japan and other far eastern countries. Yet in researching women in war, and surfing the Internet for more information, it appears that the women who served during this campaign have become as forgotten as the war itself. Many of the web pages highlighting the Korean Conflict fail to mention them. When the Korean War erupted in June 1950, women in the armed services numbered 22,000. Roughly 7,000 of these women were healthcare professionals, the rest served in line assignments in the Women&apos;s Army Corps (WAC); Women in the Air Force (WAF); Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or Navy Women&apos;s Reserve (WAVES); and Women Marines. Although Congress had passed the Women&apos;s Armed Forces Integration Action in 1948 giving women increased prospects for military careers, the Department of Defense&apos;s efforts to recruit more women during the Korean War met with limited success and were discontinued in 1952. Individually, the WAC, WAVES, WAF and Women Marines each increased their strength during the war. However, the overall number of enlisted women in the services during the Korean War declined as a net percentage of Armed Forces personnel. Personnel shortages during the Korean War led military leaders to revert to the World War II solutions of encouraging women to fill the ranks of the armed forces. Although military leaders sought to increase the number of women in the military, overall, expansion efforts failed. Social pressures on women to maintain traditional roles in the home and family and the relative unpopularity of the Korean War hampered the recruitment of women into military service. While some opportunities for service in the theater of operations existed for women during the Korean War, the majority of servicewomen were concentrated in traditionally female administrative positions; the armed services merely duplicated the stereotypical civilian employment patterns of the 1950s.
African-Americans served in all combat and combat service elements during the Korean War and were involved in all major combat operations, including the advance of United Nations Forces to the Chinese border. In June 1950, almost 100,000 African-Americans were on active duty in the U.S. armed forces, equaling about 8 percent of total manpower. By the end of the war, probably more than 600,000 African-Americans had served in the military. Changes in the United States, the growth of black political power and the U.S. Defense Department&apos;s realization that African-Americans were being underutilized because of racial prejudice led to new opportunities for African-Americans serving in the Korean War. In October 1951, the all-black 24th Infantry Regiment, a unit established in 1869, which had served during the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the beginning of the Korean War, was disbanded, essentially ending segregation in the U.S. Army. In the last two years of the Korean War throughout the services, hundreds of blacks held command positions, were posted to elite units such as combat aviation and served in a variety of technical military specialties. Additionally, more blacks than may have done so in a segregated military, chose to stay in the armed forces after the war because of the improved social environment, financial benefits, educational opportunities and promotion potential. Of the more than 600,000 African-Americans who served in the armed forces during the Korean War, it is estimated that more than 5,000 died in combat. Because casualty records compiled by the services in the 1950s did not differentiate by race, the exact number of blacks killed in action cannot be determined. Numerous African-Americans were awarded medals including the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Bronze Star for service during the Korean War. Two African-Americans, Private First Class William Thompson and Sergeant Cornelius Charlton were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Thompson was killed in action on Aug. 2, 1951, at a critical juncture in the 8th Army&apos;s attempt to stop the North Korean Army&apos;s southward movement. Charlton displayed extraordinary heroism in rallying his platoon to continue its assault on a hill near Chipo-ri, just north of the 38th parallel. The Korean War changed the face of the American military. African-Americans served side by side in the same units with service members of all races and were afforded the opportunity to lead in combat.
In 1950, when the United States entered the Korean War, the United Service Organizations (USO) was called upon by Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall and Secretary of the Navy Francis P. Matthews to, once again, provide morale support to the men and women of the armed forces. At the onset of the war, the USO was faced with the challenge of providing support to more than 3.5 million military members who were overseas and stateside. By the end of the war, there were more than 113,000 American USO volunteers working at 294 USO centers home and abroad. As they did during World War II, the USO Camp Shows performed thousands of times for battle-weary troops in Korea and for wounded GIs in the evacuation hospitals in Japan. During 1952 and 1953, not a single day went by without a USO show taking place somewhere in Korea. Stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Jack Benny, Errol Flynn, Danny Kaye, Al Jolson, Robert Merrill, Rory Calhoun, Mickey Rooney, Piper Laurie, Debbie Reynolds, Marilyn Maxwell, Frances Langford and, of course, Bob Hope, were among the many who brought solace and comfort to the troops. The truce in 1953 did not decrease the need for USO services -- more than a million service members remained stationed abroad. At the Department of Defense&apos;s request for continued service for the military overseas, the USO underwent a significant expansion during the 1950s.
POWs - During the Korean War, June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, the U.S. suffered 142,091 casualties including 33,629 deaths and 7,140 captured or interned. USAF losses were comparatively light, 1,841 casualties including 379 killed in action, 11 deaths from wounds, and 821 missing in action and presumed dead. In addition, it had 224 flyers who were captured or interned. North Korea was not a signatory to the Geneva Convention for the humane treatment of prisoners of war and those United Nations personnel who were captured by the enemy were usually treated accordingly. They were poorly housed and underfed and it was not uncommon for them to be treated brutally. Still, USAF personnel survived much better than the overall average for U.S. forces. Only four of its 224 personnel died while in captivity, compared to total U.S. troop statistics of 2,701 men who died of 7,140 captured or interned.
The DMZ (CNN) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton described it as &quot;the scariest place on Earth.&quot; The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas is the most heavily fortified border in the world, bristling with watchtowers, razor wire, landmines, tank-traps and heavy weaponry. On either side of its 151-mile (248 km) length almost two million troops face each other off ready to go to war at a moment&apos;s notice. They have been on a hair trigger for almost 50 years, ever since the last shot was fired in the Korean War and an uneasy truce came into force. Officially that war has not yet ended -- no formal peace deal has ever been signed and the war could start again at any moment. Between North and South is a strip of rugged no man&apos;s land -- the DMZ proper -- averaging two and a half miles (4km) wide. A sense of tension fills the air -- along with, from time to time, the sounds of martial music and propaganda blasted out from giant speakers installed along the North Korean side. Also on the North Korean side is what the Guinness Book of Records lists as the world&apos;s tallest flagpole soaring some 160 meters (525ft) into the air.
Flashpoint Almost two million troops are stationed along the heavily-fortified frontier Monitoring the edgy standoff is a small group of Swiss and Swedish officers who make up the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. For its part North Korea is thought to maintain about one million troops along its side of the frontier. On the southern side, stationed alongside some 600,000 South Korean soldiers are 37,000 U.S. troops, one of the largest single overseas deployments of American forces. If North Korean forces ever crossed the DMZ again the United States is automatically at war -- under a 1954 treaty backed by United Nations resolutions the U.S. is committed to defend South Korea. Although one of the world&apos;s major flashpoints, the DMZ has become a major tourist attraction drawing in hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. Many come to gawp at the rigid North Korean soldiers stationed along the frontline. Others take in visits to one of a number of tunnels dug secretly under the DMZ by the North for use in a possible invasion. Virtually undisturbed for half a century the zone has also become a rugged natural haven for several endangered species including the white-naped and red-crowned cranes as well as nearly extinct Korean subspecies of tiger and leopard.
Geographically, the DMZ is a four-kilometer-wide strip of land that stretches 250km (155 mi.) from the east to the west coast and is divided in half. The zone is supposed to be neutral, but since 1974 UN and South Korean authorities have discovered several tunnels penetrating the southern half, presumably, for the transport of North Korean troops. Visitors can witness with painful clarity the backbreaking, yet futile, toil that must have gone into boring through the solid granite.It is easy to arrange a visit to the DMZ. Tour buses regularly travel along Tongillo (Unification Highway) and cross Freedom Bridge into the village of Panmunjeom, the site of the armistice negotiations that ended the Korean conflict in 1953. But the two sides are technically still at war; they are merely observing an extended cease-fire. Panmunjeom is also the seat of the intermittent dialogue between the Democratic People&apos;s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea).
America&apos;s 1950-1953 involvement in Korea is often referred to as &quot;The Forgotten War,&quot; a nickname that seems a bit baffling at a time when so many books, documentaries, classroom activities, and 50th anniversary commemorative activities serve as constant reminders of the conflict. In the years following World War II, however, Americans were tired of war and the U.S. government sought to diminish public interest in the war by dismissing it as a &quot;conflict&quot; &quot;or &quot;police action.&quot; Whereas Americans could be mobilized for wars of national survival, U.S. leaders like Truman were not confident that American citizens would approve of wealth and lives being spent on a war of policy in a country few of them had even heard of. So, when the veterans of the Korean War began returning home in the early 1950s, many U.S. citizens did not even know their country was fighting in Asia, much less that it was involved in a full-blown war with North Korea, China, and, to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union. And, because no war had been declared, organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars would not even grant membership to those who had fought in Korea, despite the fact that 1.75 million U.S. services members served in the Korean theater and more than 33,000 died there. Also, even though the Korean War was covered in the media, in film, and in literature, it did not affect nearly as many Americans as had World War II, the conflict preceding it, and was not forced into the public consciousness like Vietnam, the war following it. As a result, the Korean War was not covered in nearly as many books, history courses, and other venues as the conflicts before or after and faded into obscurity of the greater American consciousness. Nonetheless, &quot;The Forgotten War&quot; is a somewhat misleading nickname for the Korean War for a number of reasons. One is that it was never really forgotten by anyone. Those who never learned about it never had the chance to forget about, and those who fought in it certainly did not have that option (although many veterans decided to pick up with their lives after the war as if they really had forgotten about their experiences in Korea). Today, although the war is no longer forgotten or ignored and its veterans are receiving belated recognition for their contributions, &quot;The Forgotten War&quot; remains synonymous with the conflict in Korea.
Korea the forgotten war 2014
Korea is a unified peninsula
Japan takes over Korea
Japan surrenders to US and USSR
Korea is divided at 38th parallel - Two nations created
North Korea invades South Korea
UN/US sends troops
SK and US/UN pushed back to the Pusan Perimeter
Inchon and counter offensive push NK over 38th parallel
SK and US/UN moves up to Chinese border
Chinese forces enter war
SK and UN/US back past 38th
Truman fires MacArthur
SK UN/US push back to near 38th
Meat-grinder around the 38th
Armistice agreed – but tension still exists