South Korea — Re-enactment Honors Inchon Landing’s 60th Anniversary

SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 15, 2010 — Inchon, South Korea, took on a movie-set qual­i­ty today as U.S. Marines and their South Kore­an and U.N. coun­ter­parts re-enact­ed the mas­sive amphibi­ous land­ing 60 years ago that ulti­mate­ly turned the tide in the Kore­an War.

Inchon Landing in the Republic of Korea, Sept. 15, 2010
Army Gen. Dou­glas MacArthur, depict­ed by Marine Capt. Michael Bor­neo, right, march­es across the beach amid a flur­ry of con­fet­ti, with fel­low Marines depict­ing his key offi­cers in tow dur­ing reen­act­ment cer­e­monies of the Inchon Land­ing in the Repub­lic of Korea, Sept. 15, 2010.
DoD pho­to by Don­na Miles
Click to enlarge

About 2,500 Kore­an War vet­er­ans, dig­ni­taries and local res­i­dents looked on as explo­sions erupt­ed from the water, “fired” by the USS Den­nis, four South Kore­an and one Aus­tralian ship in the waters off Wol­mi Island. Amphibi­ous land­ing craft buzzed the shore­line, heli­copters and fight­er jets roared over­head, para­troop­ers dropped from the sky and 167 U.S. Marines from Twen­ty­nine Palms, Calif., scaled the sea­wall and stormed the beach. Just as the action appeared to come to a close, Marine Corps Capt. Michael Bor­neo thrilled the crowd as he marched across the beach amid a flur­ry of con­fet­ti, cos­tumed as Army Gen. Dou­glas MacArthur, with fel­low Marines depict­ing his key offi­cers in tow. They demon­strat­ed what Army Gen. Wal­ter L. “Skip” Sharp, com­man­der of Unit­ed Nations Com­mand, Com­bined Forces Com­mand and U.S. Forces Korea, called “one of the bold­est oper­a­tions con­duct­ed in U.S. mil­i­tary his­to­ry” “This his­to­ry-mak­ing oper­a­tion not only helped to turn the tide of the war, but it high­light­ed the kind of coop­er­a­tion between our ser­vices and between the nations that con­tin­ue to help keep the Repub­lic of Korea free today,” Sharp told Kore­an War vet­er­ans attend­ing the 60th anniver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tion. Navy Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, com­man­der of U.S. Pacif­ic Fleet, praised the “undaunt­ing courage” exhib­it­ed dur­ing the oper­a­tion — one that “had been dis­missed as not doable” by many due to extreme tide shifts. “It’s hum­bling,” Walsh said. “We are stand­ing in the shad­ow of giants.” MacArthur, who had pressed for the sur­prise attack to take place while the main North Kore­an fight­ing force had focused its effort on the south­east, final­ly over­came those chal­leng­ing his plan, and “Oper­a­tion Chromite” was launched Sept. 15, 1950. U.S. and South Kore­an Marines, along with their coun­ter­parts from Aus­tralia, Cana­da, France, the Nether­lands, New Zealand and the Unit­ed King­dom, launched the land­ing in three sep­a­rate loca­tions. Lead ele­ments of 10th Corps hit “Green Beach” on the north side of Wol­mi Island. Its land­ing force con­sist­ed of 3rd Bat­tal­ion, 5th Marines, and nine M26 Per­sh­ing tanks from the 1st Tank Bat­tal­ion. Mean­while, Com­bat Team 5, which includ­ed 3rd Bat­tal­ion South Kore­an Marines, scaled the sea­walls along “Red Beach.” After over­pow­er­ing the North Kore­an defens­es, they opened the cause­way that enabled tanks from Green Beach to enter the fight. To the south, the 1st Marine Reg­i­ment arrived at “Blue Beach,” where they encoun­tered lit­tle resis­tance because North Kore­an forces already had sur­ren­dered. The suc­cess­es in Inchon ulti­mate­ly broke the North Kore­an army’s sup­ply lines and paved the way to the lib­er­a­tion of Seoul in late Sep­tem­ber 1950. South Kore­an Lt. j.g. Jun­sung Lee called the sur­prise nature of the attack a key in catch­ing the North Kore­ans off-guard. “The Inchon land­ing oper­a­tion was cru­cial for us to take back the ini­tia­tive,” he said. “It was a key event.” William Cheek, a Marine cor­po­ral assigned to an anti-tank assault unit dur­ing the oper­a­tion, recalled dur­ing today’s cer­e­monies the chal­lenges he and his fel­low Marines encoun­tered. After over­com­ing 30-foot tides in Inchon Har­bor, their amphibi­ous land­ing ves­sel Amtrak got stalled in the sand, forc­ing Cheek to dash about 100 yards across the beach, dodg­ing North Kore­an tank and infantry fire. Ulti­mate­ly, they fought their way to Seoul, sup­port­ed every step of the way by South Kore­an civil­ian vol­un­teers. Stand­ing beneath a giant Fer­ris wheel on the land­ing beach that’s blos­somed as a pop­u­lar tourist attrac­tion, Cheek said he felt proud to see South Korea become “a mod­ern eco­nom­ic mir­a­cle.” “I’m glad some of us were able to help make that pos­si­ble,” he said, “help­ing dri­ve out the ele­ments try­ing to enslave a great nation.” Navy Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, who assumed com­mand of the U.S. 7th Fleet in Japan last week, said the Inchon land­ing pro­vides a clas­sic exam­ple of the Navy-Marine “blue-green team” con­cept. It also under­scores the impor­tance of amphibi­ous land­ing capa­bil­i­ties that remain crit­i­cal today, he added. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Alex Leibfried, led 167 mem­bers of 1st Bat­tal­ion, 7th Marines, who stormed the beach dur­ing today’s reen­act­ment, and he said it felt good to get the oppor­tu­ni­ty to demon­strate those capa­bil­i­ties. “It’s prob­a­bly the No. 1 way we come ashore,” the 18-year vet­er­an said. “It’s good see­ing that the Marine Corps is final­ly get­ting back to its amphibi­ous roots.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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