UDT Operations in Korea: Taechon

(reprinted from the Archives of the UDT/SEAL Museum's Fire in the Hole! publication - 1995)

Most of this material was originally compiled by Russ Eoff with assistance from Bill Tobin and John Kelly. The events they write about came from memory, a log and letters written home at the time. This particular operation, a reconnaissance at Taechon, took place forty-five years ago this month.

On the night of 22 September 1950, one of UDT's famous stealth operations took place. This operation was planned to be a reconnaissance on the beach at Taechon. Five rubber boats with six oarsmen, one cox'n, and one swimmer were to row toward the beach, and launch the swimmer who would do a routine combat recon on the enemy-held beach.

In the briefing prior to the launch all crews and swimmers were given the latest intelligence, including all up-to-minute information available. This included the fact that a tourist who had been on the beach in the summer of 1949 had seen no soldiers or guns there. What more could we ask? A piece of cake!

Right on schedule, Horace A. Bass (APD-124) steamed into the area and sounded the general alarm that could be heard for miles; and with a nearly full moon, we didn't have any vision problems finding the beach. A stroke of luck!

Boats launched, they took off for the swimmer launch area (low profile, of course). Within minutes the guns started blazing, tracers everywhere! Boat #1 hit, eight men in the water as the boat sinks. Four swimmers in the water from the other boats. For most of the younger guys, this was their baptism under fire. "They're getting personal now, they're shooting at US!" "So this is what Hell Week was all about."

For what seemed like hours, the LCPR fished around for swimmers in the water. In the search Gunner Lade was taking no chances, blowing his damn whistle over and over. The final three swimmers swam a mile and three-quarters back to the ship.

All swimmers safely recovered, all hands aboard ship. Lessons learned: Don't put too much faith in intelligence reports.

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