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Re: QUESTIONS FOR ARMY AND MARINE CORPS INFANTRY AND ARTILLERY VETERANS
Chief, answering your questions:
Name- Lee N. Mead
Enlisted in Marine Corps Sept. 1949
Units: D-2-11 Ist Mar. Div. attached to F-2-5, I-3-1, and B-1-7
Ranks- from PFC to S/Sgt
Mos: 0846- Artillery Forward Observer Scout Sgt.
Feelings upon being told"- was never told. just sent.
"Told prior to leaving for Korea"- nothing-they don't make that info available to PFC's.
Training'_ Scouting and Patrolling school-Camp Lejeune, NC. Scouting and Recon School, Camp Ritchie, Md.
"How long to be in Korea?" Never told. After Seoul, the scuttlebutt was that we would be home for Christmas.
"Major engagements?" Inchon, Seoul, Chosin, Punchbowl. In 53' in the trenches, Carson, Vegas, etc.
Adequately equipped?" No, in first year, we had insufficient cold weather clothing-snow pacs, parkas, sleeping bags were not designed for 20-40 below zero temps. Vehicles and weapons froze.
"Training given in Korea?"- None-we were there to fight, training was already completed.
"Training we received" was more than adequate. We were well prepared.
"Info about Korea" The only briefing we received prior to the Inchon landing was that there were over 100,000 Chinese massed on the Manchurian border, but we did not know their intention. It has always puzzled me that MacArthur was surprised when the Chinese intervened in November of 1950.
"Did I know about the 'Containment policy?' Chief, some of your questions suggest a certain amount of naivete, enlisted personnel were never made privy to strategy or tactics, "Ours was to do or die..."
MY views regarding leadership." This, as most of your questions, are too broad in scope. You will get opposing views from Marines and from the soldiers. Just as the views are different, the time periods are different. Each year of the war was different from the previous years. Marines had outstanding leadership, from NCO to Division Commanders. The Army leadership (at least in the first year) was extremely poor-at times nonexistent.
"Americans as good as North Koreans and Chinese?" Again-are we talking about the Army or the Marines? I say this w/o prejudice-the Marines were (are) the finest fighting organization that has ever existed. The North Korean were just plain dumb, At Yongdongpo. they sent a tank column and a battalion of infantry into to our lines w/o knowing were the front lines were-they were wiped out to a man. The Chinese were brave, but were poorly equipped, had terrible communications. They relied mainly on overpowering with shear numbers. Despite the deficiencies, the Chinese (during November of 1950) Routed the numerically superior US Army divisions (the Eighth Army on the West coast), and put the GI's in a retreat that lasted for 150 miles-the longest retreated in American history. During this fighting-small numbers of soldiers fought valiantly, but most threw down their weapons and ran. IN later years, this would not be the case-the Army would make a good account of themselves.
"Fighting ability of newly arrived troops?" Chief, another naive question. Marines are always trained, they always follow orders quickly and fully.
"US won or lost?" To paraphrase Sun Tzu." When a country enters into a war, it will set objectives for fighting that war. If it accomplishes those objectives, then they have won the war, if not they have lost."
Our objective in Korea was to prevent a Communist overthrow of South Korea. Since we accomplished that objective-we were victorious.
"Looking back fifty years." Not only do I think we won the war-but we prevented a Communist takeover of Western Europe. Korea was a test of American resolve. If we had not stood up to the Communists in Korea, Stalin would have invaded Free Europe. The war in Korea was also the first crack in the communist armor, it was the beginning of the end of Communism.
"Truman relieving MacArthur?" Truman was right. MacArthur overstepped his authority. I believe Mac wished to expand the war to China, and then to Russia. As has been suggested, he envisioned himself as the Modern Caesar, The great conqueror. He was an egomaniac. Everything he did was intended to enhance the MacArthur image-in the Philippines, he said,'I' Shall return". Not We, or America, but 'I'. At the Chosin, he blatantly chose to ignore all intelligence indicating that the Chinese had intervened in great numbers-We were sending him Chinese prisoners as early as the beginning of October. Nevertheless, he insisted on speeding our forces on to the Yalu, which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Americans.
I hope my answers have been of some help. If I can be of further assistance, just let me know. Lee