The Korean War
Only months into the new decade, and less than five years removed from World War II triumph, America reaped the whirlwind of its government’s failure to deal with the traitors as well as the well-intentioned “useful idiots” of Communism within its own ranks. After the temporary blockade of West Berlin, the death of freedom and Christianity in Soviet-engulfed Eastern Europe, the U.S.S.R.’s detonation of an atomic bomb that was enabled by stolen/shared American technology, and the fall of China to Communism, a tyrannical menace unmatched in human history directly attacked the United States military.
On Sunday, June 25, 1950, nearly 100,000 Soviet-trained Communist North Korean troops exploded across the 38th Parallel demilitarized zone separating the Soviet puppet North and U.S.-backed South Korea in Far East Asia. The tense Cold War pitting America and its democratic allies against Soviet Russia and its atheistic Communist satellites (OKLAHOMANS 2, Chapters 7, 8, 10, 11, 14, 15) suddenly turned very hot. Control of the Korean peninsula that bounded the northeast border of China, and perhaps much more, hung in the balance.
Thousands of men—as well as women, children, and the aged—fell within days. The hurricane of war ravaged communities across Korea, a benighted nation only recently freed from long and brutal Japanese occupation. It also hurled thousands of Oklahomans into harm’s way, though the state had barely collected itself from the cataclysm of World War II.
American General and World War II legend Douglas MacArthur commanded the armies of South Korea, the undertrained and underequipped U.S., and a sprinkling of troops from other nations. Officially, they comprised a police force of the recently-established United Nations. The latter aimed for cooperation among the nations of the world and peaceful resolution to their conflicts, among other objectives.
Now, however, MacArthur’s troops held only a few square miles on the southeastern extremity of the Korean peninsula. Facing the wholesale destruction of his armies, he instructed his ground commander, Texan Walton Walker, that his men were to “stand and die” if necessary, rather than surrender or depart Korea. They stood.
As they did, “Mac” attempted one of the great military feats in American history. He landed other soldiers and U.S. marines behind (north) of the surging North Koreans on the Yellow Sea port of Inchon, just west of the Communist-occupied South Korean capital of Seoul.
He did it amidst a perilous tidal shore, adjacent to tens of thousands of North Korean troops, and in the thick of enemy territory. The Joint Chiefs of Staff did not believe he could overcome all of these obstacles. But he and his men won a stunning victory.
Then they cut off the Communists’ supply lines and pincered them between the two American-dominated Allied forces. These combined to stop the North Korean advance cold, then rolled north, sweeping and scattering their devastated foe before them while inflicting tens of thousands of casualties.
The rout continued the length of the peninsula, until the American and other U.N. forces had the decimated North Koreans backed against the Yalu River that bordered China to the north. MacArthur prepared to finish them off and end Communist oppression on the peninsula. At the last moment, however, the chickens flocked home to roost from the Truman Administration’s, particularly its State Department’s, incompetent and in some cases treasonous malfeasance that “lost” China to Communism (Chapter 6).
Chinese Communists Attack
In the space of only six months, Mao had transformed the planet’s most populous nation from a trusted ally to a mortal enemy of the United States. Now he unleashed hundreds of thousands of Red Chinese troops against the Americans and their small contingent of allies. The historic counterattack reversed the course of the war for the second time as the United Nations forces retreated south. It also represented a historic American intelligence failure.
The massive Communist army, which included North Korean remnants, pushed MacArthur’s outnumbered army back across the 38th Parallel. Seoul fell to the Reds again. The blood and sacrifice of thousands of American soldiers and marines—including many Oklahomans in the USMC’s First Division—on one of the coldest, harshest mountain battlegrounds in the world shines through the years.
These hungry, shivering cold, exhausted Yanks first slowed the Chinese onslaught. This prevented the utter destruction of the UN forces. Then, after several months of slaughter, they finally halted the Reds and drove them back to the 38th, and in some cases, across it. For the next two years, the two stalemated sides dug in as frustrating peace negotiations took place.
During that time, President Truman fired MacArthur. The general, foreshadowing subsequent American foreign policy debacles, declared: “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” He was determined to attack Chinese sanctuaries and staging grounds north of the Yalu in order to liberate the North as well as South Koreans. Truman feared doing so would trigger world war with the now-nuclear armed Soviets. In 1953, American and Communist representatives signed an armistice that ended the fighting, though not technically the war.
American grit and guts had shocked the Communists, who did not expect the U.S. to fight for the Koreans. It had also wrecked the heart of the Red Chinese army, inflicting upwards of one and a half million casualties on them. It had put the Communist world on mortal notice that Americans would fight to defend the freedom of those it threatened. And it had saved South Korea, where two-thirds of the Korean population resided.
The Korean War also demonstrated the consequences, no matter how well-intentioned, of departing from the foreign policy admonitions of the U.S.A.’s early leaders. The consequences included more than 100,000 American casualties, large capital expenditures, and political tumult at home. The admonitions warned against “permanent alliances” with foreign countries (George Washington), “entangling alliances” and “political connections” (Thomas Jefferson), and “going abroad in search of monsters to destroy” (John Quincy Adams). The Founding Fathers’ Constitutional mandate reinforced their intention that only Congress and not the Executive Branch could commit the nation to war, regardless of the justifications or semantics offered for it.
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Oklahomans Vol 2 :
Statehood - 2020s
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