The predawn quiet of a rainy, peaceful Sunday morning, June 25, 1950,
was abruptly shattered by the crash of cannons and the snarl of
automatic weapons as soldiers of North Korea marched southward. The
invading hordes breached the 38th parallel and rolled back the
lightly-armed Republic of Korea Army constabulary forces toward their
capital of Seoul.
Two days later, the United Nations called on the countries of the world
to unite and assist in driving the invader from the ROK. In its
resolution, the UN Security Council named the United States as executive
agent to implement the resolution and direct UN military operations in
President Harry S. Truman, armed with the UN resolution and recognizing
a threat to the free world, determined the U.S. could no longer remain
neutral while communist powers trampled the free nations of the world.
General of the Army.
Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief, Far East Command, was ordered to
provide whatever assistance was needed to repel this invasion. General
MacArthur committed U.S. air and naval forces and on July 24, in Tokyo,
established General Headquarters, United Nations Command.
UNITED NATIONS APPEAL
By then, the UN had issued a further appeal to all member nations to
provide what military and other aid they could to assist the ROK
Government in repelling the invaders. The first ground troops to enter
battle on the side of the ROK were advance elements of the U.S. 21st
Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Units were airlifted from
occupation duties in Japan to form "Task Force Smith." The unit was
committed on July 5th a few miles north of Osan.
In the face of overpowering enemy strength, the UNC fought delaying
actions as ROK and U.S. units withdrew down the peninsula. Outnumbered
and out-gunned, they traded space for time as they waited for the
pledged assistance from other countries of the UN.
On August 29, 1950, the British Commonwealth's 27th Brigade arrived at
Pusan to join the UNC, which until then included only ROK and U.S.
forces. The 27th Brigade moved into the Naktong River line west of
Troop units from other countries of the UN followed in rapid
succession; Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France,
Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines,
Thailand and Turkey. The Union of South Africa provided air units which
fought alongside the air forces of other member nations. Denmark, India,
Norway, and Sweden provided medical units. Italy provided a hospital,
even though it was not a UN member.
KEEP THE FREE WORLD FREE
During the three years of the Korean War, military forces of these
nations fought and died together as members of the UNC. They fought for
the freedom of the Korean people and to demonstrate UN resolve to stop
Through the freezing winters and the sweltering heat of the Korean
summers, men from Britain, Ethiopia, the Republic of Korea, Thailand,
Turkey, United States, and other contributing countries demonstrated
individual and collective heroism in facing human waves of north Korean
and Chinese aggressors. Few battles in the history of modern warfare
have wrought the heartbreak and the frustration of this struggle.
Bloody Ridge, Chosin Reservoir, Hamhung, Heartbreak Ridge, Hwachan
Reservoir, Iron Triangle, Punch Bowl and Pusan Perimeter -- all were
mileposts in the seesaw battle for Korea's freedom. The dust of Old
Baldy was crimsoned with blood of valiant members of the UNC; the Han
and Imjin Rivers ran red with blood of UN fighting men.
On July 27,1953, the shooting ended. An armistice was signed at
Panmunjom which provided for the end of the fighting and eventual
political settlement of the war. The shooting ended, but the troops
remained, each side pulling back 2,000 meters from the last line of
military contact to insure peace, to watch the Demilitarized Zone, and
to guard against any resumption of hostilities.
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM
In a green field at Tanggok, located near the port of Pusan, stand
myriad reminders of the Korean War. Simple white crosses, standing near
the sign of the "Crescent and the Star" and the "Star of David" are
bleak, symbolic representatives of the 33,629 Americans, numberless
Koreans, 717 Turkish soldiers, and 1,109 soldiers of the United Kingdom
who gave their lives during the struggle. Also sharing this place of
honor are the symbols for the dead of the 12 other nations whose
fighting men died to keep Korea free.
With the coming of the armistice, UNC members turned their attention to
the tremendous task of assisting in rebuilding a war-torn economy.
Assisting the people of the ROK in restoring and reconstructing a nation
almost completely devastated by a war that leveled cities and destroyed
farmlands was a gigantic project that was years in the accomplishment.
Peak strength for the UNC was 932,964 on July 27, 1953 -- the day the Armistice Agreement was signed: