A Veteran's History. Part I: "Retreat, Hell"

Blog Note: Hey everyone. Our blog section is getting revamped. Instead of just updates on our helicopter project, we will also include posts about the Korean War. Week by week, our readers will be able to get a better understanding of what happened, and why, during the so-called 'Forgotten War'. Articles are written by Dale McKinnon, veteran of that War and on IOWA.

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. On November 10, 1775 the United States Marine Corps became a military service member. I'm sure the sponsors had any idea how profound their decision would be. Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu and Iwo Jima are battles where the Marine Corps struggled and stamped their name into fame. There is one more struggle the Marines left their stamp on, the "Frozen Chosin" during the Korean War.

Sixty six years ago this month the United States was stunned when communist China crossed the Yalu River in Manchuria and fell on United Nations forces. An army of 300,000 Chinese plus the North Korean Army attacked the forces of the United Nations with great ferocity...  The United Nations forces primarily consisted of American forces divided into two separate units. On the west coast the U.N. 8th Army resided and in the east the U.N. X Corps.

The 1st Marine division (The Old Guard) was in the X Corps. and was located near the Chosin reservoir. On November 17, 120,000 Chinese surrounded the X Corps. The Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving dinner and their victory over the North Koreans…

General Douglas MacArthur had told the troops they would be home by Christmas.

Temperatures fell to a minus 30 degrees and then a minus 50 degrees. The Marine equipment often failed to work in the cold temperatures. Finally, with the aid of Navy and Marine Corsairs the Devil Dogs gained an escape route and headed for Hungnam where the Navy was able to evacuate them. To the credit of the Marines they brought out their wounded and dead a feat considered nearly impossible at the time.

A reporter noted to Marine Major General Oliver P. Smith this was the first time in history the marines retreated.  To that General Smith retorted-

"Retreat, hell, we are just advancing in a different direction"