Fifties Frogs Magazine

Vol  3

Pg 2 Naval Frogman in Korea...
The Invasion of Inchon, Korea - 1950
by Phil Carrico (click on thumbnail photos to enlarge) 

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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 their backs.

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.


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Harbor approach to Inchon Korea. Late afternoon 9/15/1950. The US had just launched a massive amphibious assault.

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 invading army.

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.

Fortress 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.

32 foot 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 please.
First week of October, we got the word: "Saddle Up!".  Next  mission "Wonson!"

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