UDT Operations in Korea: Wonsan

(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 operation was conducted off Wonsan.

7 October, 1950, departed Sasebo, Japan, in Diachenko (APD-123) en route Wonsan, Korea. Intelligence says Wonsan is one big minefield and UDT will help minesweepers where possible. 12 October, 1950 commenced UDT operations.

Minesweepers sweeping, suddenly a line of mines was engaged by Pirate and Pledge, with mines surfacing everywhere it would seem. In a moment Pirate struck a mine, seconds later Pledge, just astern, also struck a mine. UDT, returning to Diachenko immediately commenced rescue operations pulling men from the water and from their sinking ships, ever on the lookout for mines.

While survivors were being taken to other minesweepers for medical care, Pirate was sinking by the stern, Pledge was going down by the bow. UDT was rushed into the destruction of loose surface mines.

In addition to ships firing 40mm at the mines, UDT men were placed in whale boats, given M-1 rifles with armor-piercing shells, and the go ahead to sink or detonate the mines. What a zoo! In rolling, pitching seas, here were the gunners on a bobbing cork taking aim on another bobbing cork. A long haul, but one hit here, one hit there, the floating mines were either sunk or detonated. Another new mission for UDT? What the hell? We're flexible!

It wasn't over yet. Wonsan, always the mines. What a nightmare - cruising around with our 4-foot draft LCPLs or LCPRs was no picnic, even with the mine watch on the bow.

On 17 October another minesweeper sank, and another on 18 October, both of which had Korean crews to be rescued.

The damn place was getting pretty nerve-wracking! A nightmare indeed! Tempers were pretty short for a while. Only our theme song "I'm Movin' On" with Hank Snow gave us momentary pleasure, whether we liked it or not (at peak volume throughout the ship).

For this day's adventure, 15 Bronze Stars were earned by the hard-working frogs.

After this time in Hell, Japan looked like Heaven; let's go back to Sasebo. But no, we still had some minesweeping to do in a place up the coast called Hungnam.

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