Author: Phil Carrico
U.S. Naval Underwater
Demolition Teams 1 and 3 (U. S Navy Frogmen Units) had always
operated in the deep shadows. The units, to this point, had been
kept under wraps and had protected their MO from the prying eyes of
all the media. This high priority on secrecy had saved our butts and
permitted the units to weigh unrelenting havoc on communist supply
lines. Like mystic phantoms or slick water creatures, they would
crawl from the sea in the depth of night and hit the unsuspecting
communists in the most vital spot.
The communist armies were in their glory and were all-victorious as
they plunged down the narrow neck of the Korean Peninsula. The
scattered occupation forces of the U.S. Army and the ill-equipped ROK
(Republic of Korea) forces had been easily brushed aside. The only
worry, the thing that slowed their advance the most, was those
finned devils from the sea and their way with heavy explosives.
I'm quite convinced that each night with the fall of
darkness-terror spread like wildfire in the communist hearts all
along that corridor. Not knowing from where the attack
would come, not knowing which approaches to guard-but realizing with
certainty that an attack would be made-was the monkey that rode
What convinced us that our raids were really paying dividends was
the rumor that, the notorious, Seoul City .Sue came over on the
wireless and reported how many Frogmen they had killed the previous
night. Over a period of about two weeks in 1950 goes the rumor she
reported that over a thousand Frogmen had been killed. Since ours
was the only active team in the Korean Theater at the time and since
we had something less than 100 men in each team-her arithmetic was
just a little faulty.
Today we, Team 3, were standing on the deck of an old WWII LST. The
sun was warming our bare backs in the noonday breeze and the fleece
clouds were retreating up the peninsula just like the communist
hordes. The full might of the United States military machine had
finally jumped off. We stood watching as an unending stream of
American men and machines poured north out of Inchon.
Macarthur had taken the initiative in a surprising maneuver. The
South Korean port of Inchon sat on mud flats and entertained tide
changes of, an astounding 32 feet. The most hazardous amphibious
operation in Naval history had succeeded beyond expectations and
now, at last, the communist were being knocked back on their tails.
Our part in the operation was some small recons but mostly
patrolling in our VP boats and assisting landing vehicles which
had run aground or had some other difficulty. Of course
once the city was secured we spent our time with harbor clean up
and assisting the Harbormaster.
Harbor approach to Inchon
Korea. Late afternoon 9/15/1950. The US had just launched a massive
The most memorable thing to me was our LST easing into the
harbor on the dark morning of Sept 15th and enduring that
silent, ghostly, wait until our bombardment commenced just
before dawn In that wait, you could actually hear voices and
laughter. All the sounds of the city seemed to funnel right to
our ears. We could imagine the shrill laughter of the "B"
girls, the guttural commands as the night patrols passed by,
even the harangue of the fish mongers as they profited from the
Notice the incredible low tide
The things one remembers looking back on an incident that took
place over 50 years ago is surprising. The thing that comes to
mind about that night most vividly are not only the sounds, but
the smells. To describe the smell, I don't know what to say, the
word "foreign" keeps popping into my mind and I guess that word
describes it as well as any. We were witnessing, first hand,
the boastfulness and swagger of a victorious army who was
completely unsuspecting and unprepared for the big stick that
was about to fall on them.
On the island of Wooimi-Do, which sat like a fortress in the
mouth of the harbor, we could hear sporadic gunfire. This
activity was coming from a few trapped South Korean soldiers who
were holding out there from foxholes.
Island of Wimi-Do sits in the mouth of the harbor
After the bombardment the troops landed and started pushing
inland through the city. About mid-morning the tide started
going out and every one present was astonished. We all knew abut
the 32 foot tide change, but no one realized that we would
suddenly be sitting high and dry on mud flats. Where we had 32
foot of water under us just an hour ago, now we are sitting on
the mud flats that extend 300 yards from the beach. The Navy
must have had 300 motor craft sitting in the mud. where they
would stay until the next high tide. Thank God our troops had
already secured the area before the tide.
Our team stayed in the city for several weeks. We were working
with the Beachmaster and on the gates of the giant dry-dock.
When the gates worked, a large ship could steam in at high tide,
they would close the gates and the trapped water would float the
vessel. At next high tide it could steam out as pretty as you
First week of October, we got the word: "Saddle Up!". Next