- To: Sherman w Pratt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: RE: Clarification & Thanks
- From: "Altman, Mary A. LTC" <AltmanM@usfk.korea.army.mil>
- Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2000 17:20:06 +0900
- Cc: Sarah.Perry@Hqda.army.mil, CoonKoreanExpow@aol.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, TAVINS@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, DJones9021@aol.com, Nzehr@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Markley@aol.com, email@example.com, E5thRCT@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Return-Receipt-To: "Altman, Mary A. LTC" <AltmanM@usfk.korea.army.mil>
I understand your concerns about commemorating the CCF intervention in
the West during the early winter of 1950. I regret that we did not have
adequate time to cover all the work that our committee is doing concerning
the Korean War, but my main focus at the meeting was to outline the
commemoration events. I would like to address some of the other work that
this committee is doing that relates to this issue.
USFK COMMEMORATIVE ITEMS THAT ADDRESS THE CCF INTERVENTION IN THE WEST
DURING THE FALL/WINTER OF 1950:
1. USFK "This Day in the Korean War." The USFK History Office has been
working on a "This Day in the Korean War" chronology, which includes the CCF
intervention in the west during the fall/winter of 1950. After the
chronology is complete, it will be posted to the National Committee's web
site. Meanwhile, this office has been including the chronology in our
monthly electronic newsletter.
2. USFK Heritage Center. This office, in coordination with the USFK and
EUSA History Offices, will be establishing a Heritage Center this spring.
The Heritage Center will concentrate on providing customer service for
veterans who are returning to Korea and have questions about the Korean War.
The Heritage Center will also have various displays and a "Hall of Heroes"
to honor all of the Medal of Honor recipients of the Korean War, as well as
displays to provide overviews of the major phases of the War. It will
include material about the CCF intervention in the West during the
fall/winter of 1950.
3. 11 November 2000 Commemorative Event. We have expanded the focus of
this event to include more of the campaigns that took place north of the
38th parallel. We are also modifying our web page for this event to reflect
that expansion. For example, the page at
www.korea.army.mil/50anniv/events_files/chosin/chosin.htm currently includes
maps of the Eight US Army area, including the Eight US Army withdrawal of
December 1950. It will take time and some expense to modify all of our
commemorative materials to make them more inclusive, so the changes will not
be evident overnight. It also takes a while to complete the modification of
our web site, as the person who does our web pages is a Reserve Captain who
volunteers his free time to do this.
As mentioned at the Fort Belvoir meeting, we do not have the resources
to add another event to our schedule. The primary mission of the military
personnel stationed in Korea today is to deter North Korean aggression. We
remember the sacrifices and heroism of those who participated in the Korean
War on a daily basis, and the results of those sacrifices are very evident
in Korea today. We owe the Korean War veterans more than words and
commemorative activities can adequately express; however, we are attempting
to do as much as we possibly can to honor the veterans within the resources
that we have available.
Thank you for your dedicated service and heroism in the Korean War, and
your continuing efforts to ensure remembrance and recognition of all those
Mary A. Altman
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army
50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemorations Committee
"FREEDOM IS NOT FREE"
From: Sherman w Pratt [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, February 18, 2000 4:16 AM
Cc: Sarah.Perry@Hqda.army.mil; CoonKoreanExpow@aol.com;
firstname.lastname@example.org; TAVINS@aol.com; email@example.com;
firstname.lastname@example.org; DJones9021@aol.com; Nzehr@aol.com; email@example.com;
Markley@aol.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; E5thRCT@aol.com;
Subject: Clarification & Thanks
For Lt Col Mary Altman - Korea
This message is from the fellow who rose in indignation at the Ft Belvoir
meeting on Jan 28 at which you outlined the program of events in Korea
for the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War. I stood in protest when
learning from you, and the materials you distributed, that the wartime
events occurring in 1950 that were to be commemorated this year of 2000,
included the Pusan breakout, the landings at Inchon and the Chosin
Reservoir operations, but excluded any mention of the engagements in the
northwest upon the intervention of the Chinese forces.
I pointed out then to you and others in the room that in the early winter
period of 1950 the bulk of the American and UN forces in Korea were not
in the Chosin area in the east, but rather on the west coast in the
Chong'chon valley area and around the town of Kunu-ri north of Pyongyang.
It was also there that most of the Chinese were concentrated and where
by far the heaviest casualties occurred. The records will show that the
fighting there is also the source of most of the nearly 8,000 MIAs still
unaccounted for in the Korean War.
But by far more important is the critical and decisive nature of the
fighting in the northwest. If our forces there had been cut off and
surrounded there can be little doubt that the Korean conflict would have
ended then and there. Of course they were not cut off, mainly because
one division, the 2nd Infantry, was left behind to fight a rearguard
action, at staggering cost, that delayed the Chinese advance for a few
precious hours. That delay allowed the bulk of the Eighth Army to
escape to the south. By that successful withdrawal complete and final
evacuation from the Korean peninsula, although seriously considered, was
avoided. Thus the importance of the engagements in the northwest cannot
possibably be over emphasized as to their strategic, tactical and
decisive impacts on the overall outcome of the wqr.
The pain, suffering and gallantry of the Marines and the Army 3rd and 7th
Divisions in the Chosin area need not be downplayed, but to dwell on
that element of the struggle almost exclusively and to the subordination
and even omission of the far more decisive fighting in the nothwest is
not only a gross and shameful distortion of history but it is insulting
and detrimental to those who were involved in the west coast fighting.
This omission of the northwest fighting in the late 1950 period is by no
means peculiar only to your schedule commemorations. It has also existed
in almost every TV or other documentary on the Korean War that we
veterans have witnessed. It existed in a nationally shown PBS
documentary on the Korean was and was continued in the recently aired
History Channel "Fire and Ice" four part documentary of the Korean War in
which the third segment was devoted almost exclusively to the Marines at
Chosin with barely a mention of the west coast fighting. For these
errors to be made by the civilian community that may be quite ignorant on
the details of the Korean War history of the period may be
understandable. But it boggles the mind how the mistakes can be made by
the Eighth Army, or Korean Army Command, that surely must have adequate
access to extensive and reliable official combat reports and historical
If you are not familiar with the magnitude and criticality of the west
coast operations in late 1950, you may want to refer to "The Forgotten
War - America in Korea 1950-1953" by the late Clay Blair, pages 429-505
(Disaster and Retreat), or "The River and the Gauntlet" by the late
S.L.A. Marshall, or "Decisive Battles of the Korean War" by the not yet
late Sherman Pratt, pages 13 -120, Chapters 2-7, (TheChinese Strike, The
Escape from North Korea, et seq.) I lsent a copy of my book to the
Eighth Army Historian Robert Ryan. If no longer locateable, let me know
and I will send a replacement.
My purpose in sending this message is three fold. First I want to insure
that you have written documentation of the reasons I was so upset at the
Ft Belvoir meeting so that you can take this deficiency into full
consideration in your further planning of ceremonies and observances in
Korea later this year. I hope and pray that my message gets through to
you and your team.
Secondly, or perhaps primarily, I want to let you know that I do not feel
very comfortable with myself when I reflect on the manner in which I
expressed my misgivings. Apparently I came on too strong. I think I may
have been unnecessarily confrontational and if so I want to extend my
apoligies if I offended you or appeared to be unappreciative of your
efforts. . One of your colleagues also scolded me later and said I had
not chosen the best time or place to bring up my complaints so publicly
in a room filled with so many people, active army and others, whose aim
was to diligently organize commemoration events to honor the Korean War
I do not agree with your colleague that my comments were in the wrong
place and time. I think it was precisely the correct time and place to
call attention to a fundamental, important but, I gather, quite
unintentional error in commemorative planning at an early stage before
mistakes are crystalized and uncorrectable. I will concede, however,
that I could have been more tactful, but will hope that you can
understand the cause of my strong feelings on the omission of west coast
fighting from your plans.
Above all, I do not want you to think that your efforts are not
appreciated by us veterans of the Korean War. As reflected from your
presentation with view graph projections and printed hand outs it is
obvous that you and your team have labored hard in the vinyards to
organize commemorative events that will be appropriate and adequate to
honor the veterans of the Korean War. For that you are to be highly
commended. I solicit your undeerstanding of my deep feelings on this
matter and look forward to working further with you in the coming months.
I am sending a courtesy copy of this message to Col Sarah Perry at the
Arlington office of the Commemorative Committee since she was at the Ft
Belvoir meeting and familiar with my protestations there.
Sherman Pratt, Lt Col US Army (Ret)
Company B, 23rd Inf., 2 Div 1950-51