Battle of Inchon
Overview
 
The Battle of Inchon was an amphibious invasion
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 and battle of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 that resulted in a decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN). The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels, and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 two weeks later.

The battle began on September 15, 1950, and ended September 19. Through a surprise amphibious assault far from the Pusan Perimeter
Battle of Pusan Perimeter
The Battle of Pusan Perimeter was a large-scale battle between United Nations and North Korean forces lasting from August 4 – September 18, 1950. It was one of the first major engagements of the Korean War...

 that UN and South Korean forces were desperately defending, the largely undefended city of Incheon
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

 was secured after being bombed by UN forces.
Encyclopedia
The Battle of Inchon was an amphibious invasion
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 and battle of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 that resulted in a decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN). The operation involved some 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels, and led to the recapture of the South Korean capital Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 two weeks later.

The battle began on September 15, 1950, and ended September 19. Through a surprise amphibious assault far from the Pusan Perimeter
Battle of Pusan Perimeter
The Battle of Pusan Perimeter was a large-scale battle between United Nations and North Korean forces lasting from August 4 – September 18, 1950. It was one of the first major engagements of the Korean War...

 that UN and South Korean forces were desperately defending, the largely undefended city of Incheon
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

 was secured after being bombed by UN forces. The battle ended a string of victories by the invading North Korean People's Army
Korean People's Army
The Korean People's Army , also known as the Inmin Gun, are the military forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Kim Jong-il is the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army and Chairman of the National Defence Commission...

 (NKPA). The subsequent UN recapture of Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 partially severed NKPA's supply lines in South Korea.

The majority of United Nations ground forces involved were U.S. Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, commanded by General of the Army
General of the Army (United States)
General of the Army is a five-star general officer and is the second highest possible rank in the United States Army. A special rank of General of the Armies, which ranks above General of the Army, does exist but has only been conferred twice in the history of the Army...

 Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

. MacArthur was the driving force behind the operation, overcoming the strong misgivings of more cautious generals to a risky assault over extremely unfavorable terrain.

Planning

The idea to land UN forces at Incheon was suggested by MacArthur after he visited the Korean battlefield on June 29, 1950, four days after the war began. MacArthur thought that the North Korean army would push the South Korean army
Republic of Korea Army
The Republic of Korea Army is the largest of the military branches of the South Korean armed forces with 520,000 members as of 2010...

 back far past Seoul. He decided that the battered, demoralized, and under-equipped South Koreans, many of whom did not support the SK government put in power by the US, could not hold off the NKPA, who also defeated the American reinforcements. MacArthur felt that he could turn the tide if he made a decisive troop movement behind enemy lines. He hoped that a landing near Incheon would allow him to cut off the NKPA and destroy that army as a useful fighting force, thus winning the war.

In order to accomplish such a large amphibious operation, MacArthur requested the use of United States Marine Corps expeditionary forces, having become familiar with their ability to integrate amphibious operations in the Pacific
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. However, the Marines at that point were still recovering from a series of severe program cutbacks instituted by the Truman administration
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and Secretary of Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

 Louis A. Johnson
Louis A. Johnson
Louis Arthur Johnson was the second United States Secretary of Defense, serving in the cabinet of President Harry S. Truman from March 28, 1949 to September 19, 1950....

. Indeed, Johnson had tried to eliminate the Marines entirely and slashed Marine expeditionary forces from a World War II peak of 300,000 men to just over 27,000. Much of the Marines' landing craft and amphibious carriers had been sold off, scrapped, or transferred to the exclusive use of the U.S. Army.

After hastily re-equipping Marine forces with aging World War II landing craft, withdrawing Marine units from the Pusan perimeter, and stripping recruitment depots bare of men, Marine commanders were just able to mount a force capable of undertaking offensive operations against the small North Korean forces.

MacArthur decided to use the Joint Strategic and Operations Group
Joint Strategic and Operations Group
The Joint Strategic and Operations Group, also known as the Joint Strategic Plans and Operations Group , was a committee that was instituted during the Korean War to facilitate communication and interaction between the various United States armed forces....

 (JSPOG) of his Far East Command (FECOM). The initial plan was met with skepticism by the other generals because Incheon's natural and artificial defenses were formidable. The approaches to Incheon were two restricted passages, Flying Fish and Eastern channels, which could be easily blocked by mines
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

.

The current of the channels was also dangerously quick—three to eight knots. Finally, the anchorage was small and the harbor was surrounded by tall seawall
Seawall
A seawall is a form of coastal defence constructed where the sea, and associated coastal processes, impact directly upon the landforms of the coast. The purpose of a seawall is to protect areas of human habitation, conservation and leisure activities from the action of tides and waves...

s. Commander Arlie G. Capps noted "We drew up a list of every natural and geographic handicap—and Incheon had 'em all." MacArthur cancelled an initial plan, Operations Bluehearts, which called for an attack on Incheon on July 22, because of the difficulties of a complicated amphibious assault and a lack of sufficient training for troops.

An important briefing on Incheon took place on August 23 at MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo. Army Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

 Joseph Lawton (Joe) Collins
J. Lawton Collins
Joseph "Lightning Joe" Lawton Collins was a General in the United States Army. During World War II, he served in both the Pacific and European Theaters of Operations. His elder brother, James Lawton Collins, was also in the army as a Major General...

, Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
The Chief of Naval Operations is a statutory office held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy...

 Forrest Sherman
Forrest Sherman
Forrest Percival Sherman was an admiral in the United States Navy and the youngest man to serve as Chief of Naval Operations until Admiral Elmo Zumwalt became Chief of Naval Operations in 1970....

, and Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General (United States)
In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

 Idwal H. Edward, the Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 operations deputy, all flew from Washington to Japan to take part in the briefing; Air Force Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
The Chief of Staff of the Air Force is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Air Force, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Air Force, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the...

 Hoyt Vandenberg
Hoyt Vandenberg
Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg was a U.S. Air Force general, its second Chief of Staff, and second Director of Central Intelligence....

 did not attend, possibly because he "did not want to legitimize an operation that essentially belong to the Navy and the Marines." The Marine Corps staff, who were to be responsible for leading the landing at Incheon, were not invited, which became a contentious issue. During the briefing nine members of the staff of Admiral
Admiral (United States)
In the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, admiral is a four-star flag officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. Admiral ranks above vice admiral and below Fleet Admiral in the Navy; the Coast Guard and the Public Health...

 James Henry Doyle spoke for nearly 90 minutes on every technical and military aspect of the landing; after his staff spoke, Doyle stood up and said, "General, I have not been asked, and I have not volunteered my opinion about this landing. If I were asked, however, the best I can say is that Inchon is not impossible," and then sat down.

Collins suggested that alternatives sites to the south of Incheon such as Gunsan
Gunsan
Gunsan is a city in North Jeolla Province, South Korea. It is located on the south bank of the Geum River just upstream from its exit into the Yellow Sea. Gunsan is served by frequent railway service on the Gunsan Line from Iksan. It is also connected to the Seohaean Expressway.Kunsan Air Base...

 or Posung-Myon some 20 miles south of Incheon be considered instead, a suggestion that MacArthur had expected. MacArthur, however, was determined to win approval for an assault on Incheon, and he aimed to convince Sherman of the necessity of an Incheon landing. Drawing an analogy to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
Battle of the Plains of Abraham
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, also known as the Battle of Quebec, was a pivotal battle in the Seven Years' War...

 at Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 in 1759, in which British troops under James Wolfe
James Wolfe
Major General James P. Wolfe was a British Army officer, known for his training reforms but remembered chiefly for his victory over the French in Canada...

 had caught French troops under the Marquis de Montcalm
Louis-Joseph de Montcalm
Louis-Joseph de Montcalm-Gozon, Marquis de Saint-Veran was a French soldier best known as the commander of the forces in North America during the Seven Years' War .Montcalm was born near Nîmes in France to a noble family, and entered military service...

 by surprise, MacArthur argued that the difficulties presented by an Incheon landing could be surpassed, and that the North Koreans would be caught unprepared, reasoning that "no one would be so brash to make such an attempt."

MacArthur told the officers that though a Gunsan landing would bring a relatively easy linkup with the Eighth Army, a landing there "would be an attempted envelopment
Envelopment
Envelopment is the military tactic of surrounding an enemy in the field so that they are isolated in a pocket. The friendly forces can choose to attack the pocket or invest it and wait for a beleaguered enemy to surrender.To achieve an envelopment several different tactics can be employed:* A...

 that would not envelop" and would place more troops in a vulnerable pocket of the Pusan Perimeter. McArthur won over Sherman by speaking of his affection for the Navy and relating the story of how the Navy carried him out of Corregidor
Corregidor
Corregidor Island, locally called Isla ng Corregidor, is a lofty island located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon Island in the Philippines. Due to this location, Corregidor was fortified with several coastal artillery and ammunition magazines to defend the entrance of...

 to safety during the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

. Sherman agreed to support the Incheon operation, leaving Doyle furious.

Despite these obstacles, in September MacArthur issued a revised plan of assault on Incheon: Plan 100-B, codenamed Operation Chromite. MacArthur spent 45 minutes after the briefing explaining his reasons for choosing Incheon.

He said that because it was so heavily defended, the enemy would not expect an attack there, that victory at Incheon would avoid a brutal winter campaign, and that, by invading a northern strong point, the UN forces could cut off North Korean lines of supply and communication. Incheon was also chosen because of its proximity to Seoul. Admiral Forrest P. Sherman and General J. Lawton Collins
J. Lawton Collins
Joseph "Lightning Joe" Lawton Collins was a General in the United States Army. During World War II, he served in both the Pacific and European Theaters of Operations. His elder brother, James Lawton Collins, was also in the army as a Major General...

 returned to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, and had the invasion approved.

The landing at Incheon was not the first large-scale amphibious operation since World War II. That distinction belonged to the July 18, 1950, landing at Pohang
Pohang
Pohang is a city in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, and a main seaport in the Daegu-Gyeongbuk region. The built-up area of Pohang is located on the alluvium of the mouth of the Hyeongsan River...

. However, that operation was not made in enemy-held territory and was unopposed.

Prelude

Before the main land battle, U.N. forces landed spies in Incheon and bombarded the city's defenses via air and sea.

Incheon Infiltration

Fourteen days before the main attack on Incheon, a joint Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 reconnaissance effort, codenamed Trudy Jackson, placed a team in Incheon. The group, led by Navy Lieutenant Eugene F. Clark, landed at Yonghung-do, an island in the mouth of the harbor. From there, they relayed intelligence back to U.S. forces.

With the help of locals, Lt. Clark, Korean Navy Lt. Youn Joung and former Korean counterintelligence officer Colonel Ke In-Ju gathered information about tide
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

s, beach composition, mudflat
Mudflat
Mudflats or mud flats, also known as tidal flats, are coastal wetlands that form when mud is deposited by tides or rivers. They are found in sheltered areas such as bays, bayous, lagoons, and estuaries. Mudflats may be viewed geologically as exposed layers of bay mud, resulting from deposition of...

s and seawalls. They reported detailed North Korean artillery positions and enemy fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s at Wolmi-do, Inchon and nearby islands. Critical to future success of the invasion, Clark reported that the channels were not mined.

When the North Koreans discovered that the agents had entered the islands near Inchon, they made multiple attacks, including an attempted raid on Yonghung-do with 6 junks. Clark mounted a machine gun on a sampan and sank the attack boats. In response, the North Koreans killed up to 50 civilians for helping Clark.

The mission's most important position taken was the lighthouse on Palmi-do, which was restarted hours before the invasion fleet arrived.

The mission is detailed in its entirety in the first-hand account by Commander Eugene F. Clark in The Secrets of Inchon: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Covert Mission of the Korean War.

Bombardments of Wolmi-do Fortress and Inchon

A series of drills and tests and raids were conducted elsewhere on the coast of Korea, where conditions were similar to Inchon, before the actual invasion. These drills were used to perfect the timing and performance of the landing craft and to confuse the North Koreans on the location of the invasion.

On September 10, 1950, five days before the Inchon landing, 43 American warplanes flew over Wolmi-do island, dropping 93 napalm canisters to “burn out” its eastern slope in an attempt to clear the way for American troops.

As the landing groups neared, cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s and destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 shelled the fortified Wolmi-do Island and checked for mines in Flying Fish Channel. The first Canadian forces entered the Korean War when HMCS Cayuga
HMCS Cayuga (R04)
HMCS Cayuga R04/218 was a Tribal class destroyer built in the Halifax Shipyards, Halifax, Nova Scotia and served in the Royal Canadian Navy.-History:...

, HMCS Athabaskan
HMCS Athabaskan (R79)
HMCS Athabaskan was the second destroyer of the Royal Canadian Navy to bear the name Athabaskan, after the many tribes throughout western Canada that speak Athabaskan family languages. Its pennant was later changed to DDE219...

 and HMCS Sioux
HMCS Sioux (R64)
HMCS Sioux was a V class destroyer of the Royal Canadian Navy that saw service in World War II.She was launched as HMS Vixen for the British Royal Navy...

 bombarded the coast. The Fast Carrier Force flew fighter cover, interdiction
Air interdiction
Air interdiction is the use of aircraft to attack tactical ground targets that are not in close proximity to friendly ground forces. It differs from close air support because it does not directly support ground operations and is not closely coordinated with ground units...

, and ground attack missions. Hundreds of Korean civilians were killed in these attacks on the lightly defended port.

At 07:00 on September 13, Destroyer Squadron Nine, headed by the USS Mansfield
USS Mansfield (DD-728)
USS Mansfield , an , is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Sergeant Duncan Mansfield, a Marine who, in 1804, during the First Barbary War sailed with Lieutenant Stephen Decatur aboard the on a covert mission to destroy the recently captured .The name Mansfield was canceled for...

, sailed up Eastern Channel and into Inchon Harbor, where it fired upon enemy gun emplacements at Wolmi-do. The attacks tipped off the North Koreans that a landing might be imminent. The North Korean officer at Wolmi-do assured his superiors that he would throw the enemy back into the sea.

Throughout the naval bombardment, one U.S. sailor was killed and six U.S. others were wounded. The one dead, David H. Swenson from USS Lyman K. Swenson
USS Lyman K. Swenson (DD-729)
USS Lyman K. Swenson , an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, was laid down 11 September 1943 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine; launched 12 February 1944; sponsored by Miss Cecelia A. Swenson, daughter of Captain Swenson; and commissioned at Boston Navy Yard 2 May 1944, Commander Francis T. Williamson...

, was later reported by the world media as being the nephew of Captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 Lyman Knute Swenson
Lyman Knute Swenson
Lyman Knute Swenson , was an American naval officer. Swenson was born in Pleasant Grove, Utah and graduated from the Naval Academy on June 2, 1916. After service on board Vermont and , he prepared for submarine duty...

, USS Swensons namesake, but this was later found to be false. Significant damage was inflicted on three of the attacking warships.
USS Collett
USS Collett (DD-730)
USS Collett was a World War II-era Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer in the service of the U.S. Navy, named after Lieutenant Commander John A. Collett , a Naval Aviator and commanding officer of Torpedo Squadron TEN, who was killed during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October 1942...

 received the most damage; she took nine 75-millimeter shells hit, which wounded five men. USS Gurke sustained three shells hit resulting in light damage and no casualties. Over a thousand 5-inch shells were fired by the Canadian-American destroyer force, after inflicting severe damage on Wolmi-do's fortifications for an hour. Canadian casualties are unknown, if any.

The destroyers withdrew and allied cruisers proceeded to bombard the North Korean batteries for the next three hours from the south of the island. Lt. Clark and his Korean squad watched from hills south of Inchon, plotting locations where machine guns were firing at the U.S. ships. This information was relayed to the invasion force via Japan in the afternoon.

That night, Admiral Struble
Arthur Dewey Struble
Arthur Dewey Struble was a United States admiral who served in World War II.-Biography:Struble was born in Portland, Oregon. Following graduation from high school in Portland, he entered the United States Naval Academy in 1911 and was commissioned with the rank of Ensign in June 1915...

 decided on another day of bombardment, and the destroyers moved back up the channel off Wolmi-do.

On September 14 the destroyers and cruisers bombarded the island again and planes from the carrier task force bombed and strafed.

On the morning of September 15, the attack group of ships followed the destroyers, entered Flying Fish Channel, and the Marines got ready to make the landings on Wolmi-do.

Battle

The flotilla of ships that landed during the battle was commanded by VADM Arthur Dewey Struble
Arthur Dewey Struble
Arthur Dewey Struble was a United States admiral who served in World War II.-Biography:Struble was born in Portland, Oregon. Following graduation from high school in Portland, he entered the United States Naval Academy in 1911 and was commissioned with the rank of Ensign in June 1915...

, an expert in amphibious warfare. Struble had participated in amphibious operations in World War II, including the Battle of Leyte
Battle of Leyte
The Battle of Leyte in the Pacific campaign of World War II was the invasion and conquest of the island of Leyte in the Philippines by American and Filipino guerrilla forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, who fought against the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines led by...

 and the Battle of Normandy
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

. Vice Admiral Struble's flagship, the cruiser USS Rochester
USS Rochester (CA-124)
The third USS Rochester , an , was laid down 29 May 1944 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; launched 28 August 1945; sponsored by Mrs. M. Herbert Eisenhart, wife of the president of Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N.Y.; and commissioned 20 December 1946 at the Boston Navy Yard, Capt...

, sailed on September 12, 1950 to Inchon.

At 12:50 am on September 15, 1950, the lighthouse at Palmi-do was activated by Lt. Eugene Clark and his Korean squad.

Green Beach

At 06:30 on September 15, 1950, the lead elements of X Corps hit "Green Beach" on the northern side of Wolmi-do island. The landing force
Landing operation
A landing operation is a military action aimed at a bringing the landing force usually via landing craft to a shore or to land with the purpose of power projection ashore by forces coming usually from ships and also aircraft and able to fight....

 consisted of the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines
3rd Battalion 5th Marines
3rd Battalion 5th Marines is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps. The battalion, nicknamed "Dark Horse", is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and consists of approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors...

 and nine M26 Pershing
M26 Pershing
The Heavy Tank M26 Pershing was an American heavy tank briefly used in World War II and in the Korean War. It was named after General John Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Force in Europe in World War I....

 tanks from the 1st Tank Battalion
1st Tank Battalion
The 1st Tank Battalion is an armor battalion of the United States Marine Corps which is based out of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California...

. One tank was equipped with a flamethrower
Flamethrower
A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and...

 (flame tank
Flame tank
A flame tank is a type of tank equipped with a flamethrower, most commonly used to supplement combined arms attacks against fortifications, confined spaces, or other obstacles...

) and two others had bulldozer blades. The battle group landed in LSTs designed and built during World War II. The entire island was captured by noon at the cost of just 14 casualties.

The North Korean forces were outnumbered by more than six to one by the U.N. troops. North Korean casualties included over 200 killed and 136 captured, primarily from the 918th Artillery Regiment and the 226th Independent Marine Regiment. The forces on Green Beach had to wait until 19:50 for the tide to rise, allowing another group to land. During this time, extensive shelling and bombing, along with anti-tank
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

 mines placed on the only bridge, kept the small North Korean force from launching a significant counterattack. The second wave came ashore at "Red Beach" and "Blue Beach."

The North Korean army had not been expecting an invasion at Incheon. After the storming of Green Beach, the NKPA assumed (probably because of deliberate American disinformation
Disinformation
Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth...

) that the main invasion would happen at Gunsan
Gunsan
Gunsan is a city in North Jeolla Province, South Korea. It is located on the south bank of the Geum River just upstream from its exit into the Yellow Sea. Gunsan is served by frequent railway service on the Gunsan Line from Iksan. It is also connected to the Seohaean Expressway.Kunsan Air Base...

. As a result, only a small force was diverted to Incheon. Even those forces were too late, and they arrived after the UN forces had taken Blue Beach and Red Beach. The troops already stationed at Incheon had been weakened by Clark's guerrillas, and napalm
Napalm
Napalm is a thickening/gelling agent generally mixed with gasoline or a similar fuel for use in an incendiary device, primarily as an anti-personnel weapon...

 bombing runs had destroyed key ammunition dumps. In total, 261 ships took part.

For Red Beach and Blue Beach, Vice Admiral James H. Doyle, Commander of an Amphibious ready group
Amphibious Ready Group
An Amphibious Readiness Group of the United States Navy consists of a Navy element—a group of warships known as an amphibious task force —and a landing force of United States Marines , in total about 5,000 people. Together, these elements and supporting units are trained, organized, and equipped...

, announced that H-Hour, time of landing, would be 17:30.

Red Beach

The Red Beach forces, made up of the Regimental Combat Team 5, which included the 3rd Battalion of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps
Republic of Korea Marine Corps
The Republic of Korea Marine Corps is the marine corps of the Republic of Korea...

 (ROKMC), used ladders to scale the sea walls. Major General Raymond L. Murray's, served as Commanding Officer of the 5th Marines, mission was to seize an area three thousand yards long and a thousand yards deep, extending from Cemetery Hill (northern) at the top down to the Inner Tidal Basin(near Tidal Basin at the bottom) and including the promontory
Promontory
Promontory may refer to:*Promontory, a prominent mass of land which overlooks lower lying land or a body of water*Promontory, Utah, the location where the United States first Transcontinental Railroad was completed...

 in the middle called Observatory Hill. (See Map) The 1st Battalion
1st Battalion 5th Marines
1st Battalion, 5th Marines is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California consisting of approximately 800 Marines and sailors. Nicknamed Geronimo, it falls under the command of the 5th Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division...

 would be on the left, against Cemetery Hill and northern half of Observatory Hill. The 2nd Battalion
2nd Battalion 5th Marines
2nd Battalion 5th Marines is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps consisting of approximately 800 Marines and Sailors. They are based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and fall under the command of the 5th Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division...

 would take the southern half of Observatory Hill and Inner Basin.

Late that afternoon of September 15, the LSTs closed Red Beach and as the lead ships they came under heavy mortar and machine gun fire from North Korean defenders on Cemetery Hill. Despite the concentrated fire, they debarked assault troops and unloaded vital support equipment. In addition their guns wiped out enemy batteries on the right flank of Red Beach. Three (LST 857
USS King County (LST-857)
USS King County was an built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named after counties in Texas and Washington, she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name....

, LST 859
USS Lafayette County (LST-859)
USS Lafayette County was an built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named after counties in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wisconsin, and a parish in Louisiana, she was the only U.S...

 and LST 973 ) of the eight LSTs took some hits from mortar and machine gun fire, which killed a sailor and injured a few others. The LSTs completed unloading and cleared the beach at high tide early on 16 September.

After neutralizing North Korean defenses at Inchon on the night of September 15, they opened the causeway to Wolmi-do, allowing the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines and the tanks from Green Beach to enter the battle at Inchon. Early morning on September 16, the 5th Marines (Red and Green Beaches forces) would march through the city in Inchon, taking it by the afternoon.

Red Beach forces suffered eight dead and 28 wounded.

Blue Beach

Under the command of then-Colonel Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller
Chesty Puller
Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller was an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Puller is the most decorated U.S...

, the 1st Marine Regiment landing at Blue Beach was significantly south of the other two beaches and reached shore last. The mission of Colonel Puller's 1st Marines in this landing was to take the beachhead
Beachhead
Beachhead is a military term used to describe the line created when a unit reaches a beach, and begins to defend that area of beach, while other reinforcements help out, until a unit large enough to begin advancing has arrived. It is sometimes used interchangeably with Bridgehead and Lodgement...

, and the road to Yongdungpo and Seoul. The 2nd Battalion would land on the left at Blue Beach One (see Map) and 3rd Battalion would land on Blue Beach Two. A little cove around the corner south of Blue Beach Two was called Blue Beach Three. As they approached the coast, the combined fire from several NKPA gun emplacements sank one LST. Destroyer fire and bombing runs silenced the North Korean defenses. When they finally arrived, the North Korean forces at Incheon had already surrendered, so the Blue Beach forces suffered few casualties and met little opposition. The 1st Marine Regiment spent much of its time strengthening the beachhead
Beachhead
Beachhead is a military term used to describe the line created when a unit reaches a beach, and begins to defend that area of beach, while other reinforcements help out, until a unit large enough to begin advancing has arrived. It is sometimes used interchangeably with Bridgehead and Lodgement...

 and preparing for the inland invasion.

Attack on USS Rochester

Just before daylight at 0550 on September 17, a North Korean Yak-9 and an II-2
Ilyushin Il-2
The Ilyushin Il-2 was a ground-attack aircraft in the Second World War, produced by the Soviet Union in very large numbers...

 made an attack run on the cruiser USS Rochester
USS Rochester (CA-124)
The third USS Rochester , an , was laid down 29 May 1944 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; launched 28 August 1945; sponsored by Mrs. M. Herbert Eisenhart, wife of the president of Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Rochester, N.Y.; and commissioned 20 December 1946 at the Boston Navy Yard, Capt...

, anchored off Wolmi-do. Initially the aircraft were thought to be friendly until they dropped four bombs over the American ship. All but one missed and the one that did hit dented the Rochesters crane and failed to detonate. There were no American casualties in the skirmish and they painted a Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

 on the crane as a reminder of how close the ship came to being heavily damaged. After the bombing of the Rochester, she and the nearby cruiser HMS Jamaica opened fire with naval guns. The North Korean II-2 then strafed the British cruiser, resulting in one sailor killed and two wounded. At about the same time, shots from the Jamaica hit the II-2 and it crashed into the water. It became the first and only shootdown of an attacking plane with naval gunfire. The Yak-9 fled after losing its partner.

Beachhead

Immediately after North Korean resistance was extinguished in Incheon, the supply and reinforcement process began. Seabee
Seabee
Seabees are members of the United States Navy construction battalions. The word Seabee is a proper noun that comes from the initials of Construction Battalion, of the United States Navy...

s and Underwater Demolition Team
Underwater Demolition Team
The Underwater Demolition Teams were an elite special-purpose force established by the United States Navy during World War II. They also served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War...

s (UDTs) that had arrived with the U.S. Marines constructed a pontoon dock on Green Beach and cleared debris from the water. The dock was then used to unload the remainder of the LSTs.

Documents written by Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

 and recovered by UN troops soon after the landing said, "The original plan was to end the war in a month, we could not stamp out four American divisions... We were taken by surprise when United Nations troops and the American Air Force and Navy moved in."

Early that morning of September 16, Colonel Murray and Colonel Puller had their operational orders from General Oliver P. Smith. The 1st Marines and 5th Marines began moving along the Inchon-Seoul road.

On September 16, the North Koreans, realizing their blunder, sent six columns of T-34
T-34
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II...

 tanks to the beachhead. They were quite alone, without infantry support. They were spotted by a strike force of F4U Corsair
F4U Corsair
The Vought F4U Corsair was a carrier-capable fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Demand for the aircraft soon overwhelmed Vought's manufacturing capability, resulting in production by Goodyear and Brewster: Goodyear-built Corsairs were designated FG and...

 at the village of Kansong-ni, east of Inchon.
In response, two flights of F4U Corsair from marine squadron VMF-214 bombed the attackers. The armored columns suffered extensive damage and the US forces lost one airplane. A quick counter-attack by M26 Pershing
M26 Pershing
The Heavy Tank M26 Pershing was an American heavy tank briefly used in World War II and in the Korean War. It was named after General John Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Force in Europe in World War I....

 tanks destroyed the remainder of the North Korean armored division and cleared the way for the capture of Incheon.

Capture of Kimpo airfield

The Kimpo airfield was the largest and most important in Korea.

On September 17, General MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 was extremely urgent in his request for early capture of Kimpo airfield for it was the largest air base in all of Korea. Once it was secured, the Fifth Air Force
Fifth Air Force
The Fifth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces . It is headquartered at Yokota Air Base, Japan....

 could bring fighters and bombers up from Japan to operate more easily against North Korea. The attack on Kimpo airfield was carried out by 2nd Battalion 5th Marines
2nd Battalion 5th Marines
2nd Battalion 5th Marines is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps consisting of approximately 800 Marines and Sailors. They are based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and fall under the command of the 5th Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division...

. That night at Kimpo, the North Koreans were organizing their defense of the airfield. Kimpo was under the command of Brigadier General Wan Yong. General Wan's troops were a conglomeration of half-trained fighting men and service forces. Several North Korean troops had already fled across the Han River
Han River (Korea)
The Han River is a major river in South Korea and the fourth longest river on the Korean peninsula after the Amnok, Duman, and Nakdong rivers. It is formed by the confluence of the Namhan River , which originates in Mount Daedeok, and the Bukhan River , which originates on the slopes of Mount...

 toward Seoul to escape the fight. The North Korean's defense was almost as bad as the morale of the men who realized that they were not going to get any help from the North Korean officials in Seoul.

By morning the enemy were all gone, and Kimpo airfield was securely in the hands of the marines. Kimpo airfield was in excellent shape; the enemy had not had time to do any major demolition. In fact, several enemy planes were still on the field. So Kimpo now could become the center of Allied land-based air operations.

On September 19, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 repaired the local railroad up to eight miles (13 km) inland. After captured of Kimpo airfield, transport planes began flying in gasoline and ordnance for the aircraft stationed there. The Marines continued unloading supplies and reinforcements. By September 22, they had unloaded 6,629 vehicles and 53,882 troops, along with 25,512 ton
Short ton
The short ton is a unit of mass equal to . In the United States it is often called simply ton without distinguishing it from the metric ton or the long ton ; rather, the other two are specifically noted. There are, however, some U.S...

s (23,000 tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s) of supplies.

Battle of Seoul

In contrast to the quick victory at Incheon, the advance on Seoul was slow and bloody. The NKPA launched another T-34 attack, which was trapped and destroyed, and a Yak bombing run in Incheon harbor, which did little damage. The NKPA attempted to stall the UN offensive to allow time to reinforce Seoul and withdraw troops from the south. Though warned that the process of taking Seoul would allow remaining NKPA forces in the south to escape, MacArthur felt that he was bound to honor promises given to the South Korean government to retake the capital as soon as possible.

On the second day, vessels carrying the U.S. Army's 7th Infantry Division arrived in Incheon Harbor. General Almond was eager to get the division into position to block a possible enemy movement from the south of Seoul. On the morning of September 18, the division's 2nd Battalion of the 32nd Infantry Regiment
32d Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 32nd Infantry Regiment is a formation of the United States Army.-History:The 32nd Regiment was first organized on 7 August 1916, on Oahu, Hawaii, Hawaii from elements of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments...

 landed at Incheon and the remainder of the regiment went ashore later in the day. The next morning, the 2nd Battalion moved up to relieve an U.S. Marine battalion occupying positions on the right flank south of Seoul. Meanwhile, the 7th Division's 31st Regiment came ashore at Incheon. Responsibility for the zone south of Seoul highway passed to 7th Division at 18:00 on September 19. The 7th Infantry Division then engaged in heavy fighting with North Korean soldiers on the outskirts of Seoul.

Before the battle, North Korea had just one understrength division in the city, with the majority of its forces south of the capital. MacArthur personally oversaw the 1st Marine Regiment as it fought through North Korean positions on the road to Seoul. Control of Operation Chromite was then given to Major General Edward Almond
Edward Almond
Edward Mallory "Ned" Almond was a controversial United States Army general best known as the commander of the Army's X Corps during the Korean War.-Early Biography:...

, the X Corps commander. General Almond was in an enormous hurry to capture Seoul by September 25, exactly three months of the North Korean assault across the 38th parallel. On September 22, the Marines entered Seoul to find it fortified. Casualties mounted as the forces engaged in house-to-house fighting. On September 26, the Hotel Bando (which had served as the US Embassy) was cleared by Easy Company of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. During this fight about 12 North Korean P.O.W.s were killed (apparently while naked and unarmed) in the building's basement.

General Almond declared the city liberated on September 25 even though Marines were still engaged in house-to-house combat.

Pusan Perimeter breakout

Meanwhile, 5th Marines came ashore at Inchon. The last North Korean troops in South Korea still fighting were defeated when Walton H. Walker's 8th Army
U.S. Eighth Army
The Eighth United States Army – often unofficially abbreviated EUSA – is the commanding formation of all US Army troops in South Korea.-World War II:...

 broke out of the Pusan Perimeter, joining the Army's X Corps in a coordinated attack on NKPA forces. Of the 70,000 NKPA troops around Pusan, in the aftermath of the Pusan Perimeter battle, North Korean casualties from September 1 to September 15 could range from roughly 41,000 to 36,000 killed and captured, with an unknown total number of wounded. However, because UN forces had concentrated on taking Seoul rather than cutting off the NKPA's withdrawal north, the remaining 30,000 North Korean soldiers escaped to the north across the Yalu River, where they were soon reconstituted as a cadre for the formation of new NKPA divisions hastily re-equipped by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. The allied assault continued north to the Yalu River until the intervention of the People's Republic of China in the war.

Analysis

Most military scholars consider the battle one of the most decisive military operations in modern warfare. However, Russell Stolfi argues that the landing itself was a strategical masterpiece but it was followed by an advance to Seoul in ground battle so slow and measured that it constituted an operational disaster, largely negating the successful landing. He contrasts the US style of war fighting with that of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 by examining the US military's 1950 Incheon-Seoul operation and the German offensive in the Baltic in 1941. American forces achieved a strategic masterpiece in the Incheon landing in September 1950 and then largely negated it by a slow, tentative, 11-day advance on Seoul, only twenty miles away. By contrast in the Baltic region in 1941 the German forces achieved strategic surprise in the first day of their offensive and then, exhibiting a breakthrough mentality, pushed forward rapidly, seizing key positions and advancing almost two hundred miles in four days. The American advance was characterized by cautious, restrictive orders, concerns about phase lines, limited reconnaissance, and command posts well in the rear, while the Germans positioned their leaders as far forward as possible, relied on oral or short written orders, reorganized combat groups to meet immediate circumstances, and engaged in vigorous reconnaissance.

Popular culture

The Battle of Incheon was the subject of the 1982 film
1982 in film
-Events:* March 26 = I Ought to Be in Pictures, starring Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret and Dinah Manoff is released. Manoff would not appear in another movie until 1987's Backfire.* June = PG-rated film E.T...

 Inchon
Inchon (film)
Inchon is a 1982 war film about the Battle of Inchon, considered to be the turning point of the Korean War. The film was directed by Terence Young and financed by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon. It stars Laurence Olivier as General Douglas MacArthur, who led the United States surprise...

, which did poorly at the box office amid controversy over its being partially financed by the leader of the Unification Church Sun Myung Moon
Sun Myung Moon
Sun Myung Moon is the Korean founder and leader of the worldwide Unification Church. He is also the founder of many other organizations and projects...

. Previously, the Battle of Incheon was featured in Joseph H. Lewis's 1952 film for Milton Sperling
Milton Sperling
Milton Sperling was an American film producer and screenwriter for 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. where he had his own independent production unit United States Pictures.-Biography:...

 and Warner Brothers Retreat, Hell!
Retreat, Hell!
Retreat, Hell! is a 1952 American film about the 1st Marine Division in the Korean War directed by Joseph H. Lewis.-Plot:The film is the story of the putting together of a Marine Battalion sent to Korea who are gathered from various sources...

.

The concert band work "Incheon" by Robert W. Smith
Robert W. Smith
Robert W. Smith is an American composer, arranger, and teacher.-Biography:Smith was born in the small town of Daleville, Alabama on October 24 1958. He attended high school in Dadeville, after which he left for Troy State University, where he played lead trumpet in the Sound of the South Marching...

 is about the battle. It begins with a flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 solo, and slowly brings in percussion sound effects, such as machine gun and artillery fire and helicopter noise. It also has references to Variations on a Korean Folk Song
Variations on a Korean Folk Song
Variations on a Korean Folk Song is a major musical piece written for concert band by John Barnes Chance in 1965. As the name implies, Variations consists of a set of variations on the Korean folk song Arirang, which the composer heard while in Korea with the U.S. Army in the late 1950s...

(measures 61, 62, 65, and 66).

The W. E. B. Griffin
W. E. B. Griffin
W. E. B. Griffin is a writer of military and detective fiction with 38 novels in six series published under that name. He has also published under several pseudonyms....

novel Under Fire is a fictionalized account of the political and personal maneuvering that occurred during MacArthur's development of the Incheon invasion plan.

External links

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