"The threat of war breaking out in the Korean Peninsula is very much there," says Hyun Haeng Son, retired Republic of Korea Marine. Today while North Korea still threatens the world with possible war and nuclear attack, back in 1950 the Korean War began with a flurry.
Communism began to spread across the globe behind the tyrannical Stalin and China's Mao Tse-Tung. The Soviet Union's backing of North Korea allowed Kim Il Sung to easily rise to power. Stalin and Mao both wanted to bleed America dry of their resources by embroiling them in a war. So therefore they offered up guns, tanks, ammunition and a million Chinese soldiers in order for Kim Il Sung to unite all of Korea under the hammer and sickle.
On June 25, 1950, with their sights set on Seoul, 135,000 North Korean troops, 240 tanks and 180 aircraft invaded South Korea. The U.S. had promised to help repel communist aggression, so in America, the Marines were assembling and getting ready to ship out to Korea.
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"My commanding officer was Chesty Puller," remembers Marine Frank Farkas. Chesty Puller, the gruff legendary fighter, was leading Frank and the rest of the 1st Marine Regiment overseas. "Chesty Puller gave a speech… what we were going to do to the North Koreans when we got over there. And, uh, I think the, the cleanest thing I could say was we were gonna castrate 'em."
As the Marines were shipping out, the U.N. forces including the South Koreans and the American 8th Army was desperately trying to hold the perimeter at Pusan.
A plan was devised by one of the military's bigger than life personalities, General Douglas MacArthur. It was to be a treacherous amphibious assault behind enemy lines at Inchon Harbor, one of the most perilous places on earth to attack from the sea.
Major Gen. Duane Thiessen recalls, "He comes up with a plan. We are not gonna only fight our way out of this Pusan Perimeter. What we're going to do is a strategic maneuver. We are gonna go around 'em and we are gonna cut 'em off."
No one but MacArthur believed it could be done.
Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig — then a lieutenant — was there when MacArthur laid out his plan: "I sat outside the door with it cracked just a slight bit and the first response come from Lawton Collins saying it was a cockamamie plan."
Haig recalls MacArthur standing up and saying, "Gentlemen, I will be landing at Inchon the 15th of September or you will have a new commander." Then MacArthur "put his pipe in the ashtray and walked out of the room and they all collapsed."
The first amphibious assault since World War II was called Operation Chromite and was launched on September 15, 1950. It consisted of men such as Frank Farkas of the 1st Marine Regiment joined by Ray Murray's 5th Marines.
Farkas remembers that day, "We went over cargo nets, off the transports, into the Higgins boats. From there, we sailed to the shore. We were getting overhead fire." As Farkas' Higgins boat sailed towards the shore, someone yelled his name. He turned around someone snapped his photo: "I don't know who took the picture, to be truthful with you. And I don't know who yelled 'Hey Farkas.' Somebody knew me… so I turned around to see who, who was calling me… and that's when that picture was taken."
By that night, 20 Marines were killed and 174 were wounded, but the enemy was taken completely by surprise. MacArthur declared, "The Navy and Marines have never shone more brightly."
Col. Warren Weidhahn of the 5th Marines declared, "MacArthur was right. We had caught them with their socks down. We all thought that he was a genius, to conceive of the operational Inchon landing, and cut them off, and it was successful."
Operation Chromite would be known as MacArthur's masterstroke.
— Kelly Guernica is a producer for "War Stories With Oliver North"