70th Anniversary of Korean War: The Guns They Carried
By Chris Eger
Marines South of Hagaru-ri, Korea, December 6, 1950 while “Marine and naval air are working over enemy positions with napalm.” (Photo: USMC Archives)
Some 70 years ago this month, the first U.S. combat troops were rushed to the aid of embattled South Korea, beginning what is often referred to as the “Forgotten War.”
The Soviet- and Communist Chinese-allied North Korean forces invaded their neighbor to the south on what that dictatorship deemed the “Fatherland Liberation War” on June 25, 1950, crossing the 38th Parallel. By July 2, the initial U.S. troops, that of the ill-fated Task Force Smith, had landed in South Korea, flown in from nearby Japan. Within days they were involved in the Battle of Osan and for the next three years fought a see-saw campaign with, first the North Korean Army, and then upwards of 3 million Chinese “volunteers” who were supported by Soviet aid.
In all, more than 1.7 million U.S. troops would fight to keep South Korea free, with over 50,000 paying the highest price.
“Cover Fire” by Hugh Cabot, depicting small unit combat in the Korean countryside (Photo: U.S. Navy)
As the Korean War began a half-decade after the end of World War II, it is easy to just