June 25th, 1950


Today marks the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.  Most of us here know that the war itself has not ended, that the DPRK and the ROK remain in a state of war, temporarily becalmed by an armistice signed in July of 1953.

The war was fought by Veterans of World War II, as well as their little brothers.  There were more than 36,000 US killed in action among the more than 130,000 American casualties in that war, many times the order of magnitude of Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  In just over three years.   There are lessons aplenty from that war regarding preparedness, combat training, leadership, and budget-driven assumptions.

There are several superlative works on the Korean War, fiction and non-fiction.  Here are some I recommend highly:

T. R. Fehrenbach’s This Kind of War

James Brady’s The Coldest War

Two Martin Russ works, The Last Parallel, and Breakout.

S. L. A. Marshall’s The River and the Gauntlet

Pat Frank’s magnificent novel Hold Back the Night

P. K. O’Donnell’s Give me Tomorrow

Clay Blair’s The Forgotten War

There are many, many others, including some incredibly good Army monographs, but those are among my favorites.  I lent out Marshall’s book some years ago (you know who you are!!) and never got it back.  So that may be my next purchase.

Anyway, the first test of the Strategy of Containment began in the early hours, sixty-five years ago this morning.

9 thoughts on “June 25th, 1950”

  1. To the list of recommended reading, I would add David Hackworth’s About Face. Hackworth was a deeply flawed but sympathetic individual, and the first part of his autobiography is a compelling and readable grunt’s eye view of infantry combat in Korea.

  2. Bit by the “brotherhood of book borrowers.” That’s what Jerry Pournelle calls them and I love the term. I lent “Washing Of The Spears” to a friend and never got it back. He’s dead now, alas, so I wrote it off. That was back in ’92 and was the last book I lent I didn’t get back.

  3. My neighbor was a character – a Marine veteran of the South Pacific. The stories he told…..He was called back to Korea and was at the Chosin Reservoir – liked to constantly remind me that it was finally a Marine general who got them all out.

    As you probably know Marine veterans are pretty clannish – but I was invited to one of his Chosin reunions and Army veterans of that place and time are welcome, too.

    I suppose I could even ascribe my birthday to the Korean War – my father was called back up – had to report to Ft Lewis WA and my mother was so upset I apparently arrived a month premature.

    Been in a hurry ever since 🙂

    1. I knew an Army vet of Chosin. he had a bumper sticker for the “Frozen Chosin” and we talked some about it on the project we were both working on at the time. An uncle was with the 1st Marines at Chosin and killed there. His body didn’t make it home until shortly before I was born in ’54.

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