In September of 1950, 66 years ago this week, UN and South Korean forces undertook one of the largest amphibious invasions in history, and possibly one of the largest UN military operations of all time. More than 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels all under the command of General Douglas MacArthur worked together to pull off what was known as Operation Chromite. Today, we remember it as the Battle of Inchon.
The ultimate goal of the mission was to get more troops on the ground in a key part of Korea to turn the tide of the Korean War. The North Koreans had won a decisive series of victories in the previous months, and this was the opportunity for UN and South Korean forces to put a stop to it. The landings at Inchon were so successful that not only were UN and South Korean forces able to quickly capture the city of Inchon, but Seoul itself was retaken within 2 weeks of the initial landings. Retaking Seoul severed North Korean supply lines, and was a huge morale victory for the UN troops.
In the month leading up to the invasion aggressive Communist tactics forced UN forces into defensive mode around what was known as the Pusan Perimeter. At the Pusan Perimeter a UN force of 140,000 was holding out in defensive positions against nearly 98,000 communist troops. Something had to be done to change the direction that the war was moving. The landings at Inchon, which was far from Pusan, were devised as a way to quickly get a massive amount of UN troops fighting on another part of the Korean peninsula. In large part Inchon was chosen, not only because of its relative closeness to Seoul, but because it meant that the North Koreans would be forced to shift attention away from Pusan. This also allowed for troops that were dug into defensive positions around Pusan to push out and go on the offensive.
The decisive victory for MacArthur and his troops at Inchon put the North Koreans on the defensive and is hailed as one of the most important battles of the war. The Battle of Inchon is also regarded as one of the most decisive and important US Military Operations of the modern era, and is considered one of the finest moments of General MacArthur’s Career. This important moment in the war cannot be forgotten, nor can the more than 1,000 UN and South Korean casualties that were a result of the battle.
The events of the Korean War are almost forgotten when talking about important US battles of the 20th century. World War 2, Vietnam, and even the Gulf War often get more attention even from history buffs. What happened 66 years ago this week at Inchon is only a small piece of the War for Korea. We invite you to keep up with this blog to learn more about the important actions taken and sacrifices made in the fight for Korea.
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