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The U.S. Air Force's First War: Korea 1950-1953 Significant Events

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June 1950

Communist North Korea unexpectedly invaded the Republic of Korea (ROK) across the line of demarcation, the 38th parallel, using superior numbers of tanks and troops to force South Korean defenders southward. The United Nations (UN) Security Council condemned the North Korean invasion, authorized UN members to aid the ROK, and requested that the U.S. government establish a United Nations Command under an U.S. officer. Despite USAF attacks, the invaders quickly captured South Korea's capital, Seoul, overran the port of Inchon, seized the airfield at Kimpo, and threatened the city of Suwon. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, USA, Commander, the U.S. Far East Command, ordered weapons and ammunition shipped to South Korea and prepared to move U.S. ground troops from Japan to Korea. At the same time, U.S. naval units approached the peninsula to enforce a blockade of North Korea, as ordered by U.S. President Harry S Truman.

June 25: Simultaneously with the invasion of South Korea, North Korean troops made an amphibious landing at Kangnung on the east coast just south of the 38th parallel. Meanwhile, North Korean fighter aircraft attacked Seoul and Kimpo airfields, destroying one USAF C-54 on the ground at Kimpo. John J. Muccio, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, relayed to President Truman an ROK request for U.S. air assistance and ammunition. The UN Security Council unanimously called for a cease fire and withdrawal of the North Korean Army (NKA) to north of the 38th parallel. The resolution asked all UN members to support the withdrawal of the NKA and to render no assistance to North Korea.

Maj. Gen. Earle E. Partridge, USAF, Commander, Fifth Air Force, ordered wing commanders to prepare for air evacuation of U.S. citizens from South Korea. He also increased aerial surveillance of Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan. The Twentieth Air Force placed two squadrons of 51 Fighter Interceptor Wing (FIW) on air defense alert in Japan.

June 26: The North Koreans captured Chunchon, Pochon, and Tongduchon, South Korea. The U.S. Seventh Fleet sailed north from the Philippines. The ROK requested ten F-51s from the U.S. Air Force to supplement the South Korean Air Force's AT-6s and liaison-type airplanes. In continued preparation for air evacuation of U.S. citizens from Korea, Far East Air Forces (FEAF) traded C-54s for C-47s from all over the Far East, because the latter could land on smaller airfields.

USAF SB-17 aircraft provided rescue cover for the initial evacuation by sea of U.S. citizens from Seoul. Beginning in the early morning, 682 people boarded the Norwegian merchant ship Reinholte, which finally left Inchon Harbor at 4:30 p.m., bound for Sasebo, Japan. F-82G Twin Mustang fighters of the 68th Fighter All Weather Squadron (FAWS) provided air cover for freighters, including the Reinholte, sailing from Inchon, South Korea, to Japan. The Fifth Air Force also flew escort and surveillance sorties, some over the straits between Japan and Korea, and some over the Seoul area.

June 27: The UN Security Council called on all UN members to aid South Korea. President Truman directed U.S. air and sea forces to assist the Republic of Korea, and General MacArthur ordered Far East Air Forces to attack North Korean units south of the 38th parallel. Lt. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, USAF, Commander, Far East Air Force, who was in the United States when the war broke out, returned to Japan. Far East Air Forces used Kimpo Airfield near Seoul and Suwon Airfield some twenty miles south of the capital for emergency air evacuation of 748 persons to Japan on C-54s, C-47s,and C-46s. Cargo aircraft assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Wing (TCW) and FEAF headquarters accomplished the airlift, escorted by F-82s, F-80 jet fighters, and B-26 light bombers.

Fifth Air Force embarked on a mission to establish air superiority over South Korea, partially to prevent the North Korean air force from attacking ROK forces and to protect evacuation forces. When North Korean aircraft appeared over Kimpo and Suwon Airfields, the USAF aircraft flying air cover engaged the enemy in the first air battle of the war. Major James W. Little, USAF, Commander, 339th FAWS, fired the first shot. Lt. William G. Hudson, 68th FAWS, flying an F-82, with Lieutenant Carl Fraser as his radar observer, scored the first aerial victory. In all, six pilots shot down over Kimpo seven North Korean propeller-driven fighters, the highest number of USAF aerial victories in one day for all of 1950.

Fifth Air Force B-26s, flying from Ashiya AB, Japan, attacked enemy targets in South Korea in the evening, but bad weather made the raids ineffective. Fifth Air Force established an advance headquarters at Itazuke and moved B-26s to Ashiya and RF-80s to Itazuke AB, Japan, for missions in Korea. The 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing (FBW) organized a composite unit of USAF and South Korean airmen at Taegu Airfield, South Korea, to fly F-51D Mustangs.

June 28: North Koreans captured Seoul, forcing the ROK government to move to Taejon. Enemy forces also occupied nearby Kimpo Airfield and, on the east coast, Mukho Naval Base below Kangnung. North Korean Yaks strafed Suwon Airfield, destroying one B-26 and one F-82.

In the first USAF air strikes of the Korean War, more than twenty B-26s of the 3d Bombardment Group (BG) attacked Munsan railroad yards near the 38th parallel and rail and road traffic between Seoul and the North Korean border. One, heavily damaged by enemy antiaircraft fire, crashed on its return to Ashiya, killing all aboard. Flying from Kadena Air Base (AB), Okinawa, the 19th Bombardment Group, in the first B-29 medium bomber strikes of the Korean War, attacked a railroad bridge and targets of opportunity such as tanks, trucks, and supply columns along North Korean invasion routes. Bad weather over Japan limited Fifth Air Force sorties, but eighteen fighters flew close air support and interdiction missions. More than thirty F-80s from Itazuke escorted C-54s and B-26s flying between Japan and Suwon. 1 Lt. Bryce Poe II, in an RF-80A, flew the USAF's first jet combat reconnaissance mission, photographing the NKA advance elements and reporting clearing weather over the front in Korea. C-54s and C-47s flew out the last of 851 U.S. citizens evacuated by air from South Korea. FEAF transports airlifted 150 tons of ammunition from Tachikawa AB, Japan, to Suwon, about twenty miles south of Seoul.

June 29: North Korean forces captured Kapyong and massed on the north shore of the Han River. Heavy fighting raged in the Kimpo area. North Korean aircraft bombed and strafed Suwon airfield, destroying a C-54 on the ground. The 21st Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS) moved from Clark AFB in the Philippines to Tachikawa AB, Japan.

General MacArthur directed General Stratemeyer to concentrate air attacks on the Han River bridges and North Korean troops massing north of the river. B-26s attacked the bridges, and Fifth Air Force F-80s patrolled the Han River area. F-82s from the 86th FAWS, using jettisonable fuel tanks, attacked with napalm for the first time in the war. Pilots of the 35th and 80th Fighter Bomber Squadrons (FBS) shot down five North Korean airplanes that were attacking Suwon Airfield. Eight B-29s of the 19th BG attacked enemy-held Kimpo Airfield and the Seoul railroad station, reportedly killing a large number of enemy troops. As the medium bombers turned toward Kadena, Okinawa, enemy aircraft attacked the formation, enabling B-29 gunners to shoot down for the first time in the war one of the opponent's airplanes.

General MacArthur authorized FEAF attacks on airfields in North Korea. In the first USAF attack on North Korea, eighteen B-26s of the 3d BG attacked Heijo airfield near Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, claiming up to twenty-five enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground. The 8th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) began photographic reconnaissance of North Korean airfields. Using RB-29 aircraft, the 31st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (Photographic) also started operations over Korea from Yokota, Japan.

June 30: President Truman ordered the use of U.S. ground troops in Korea and a naval blockade of North Korea. The 77th Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Squadron arrived in Korea to support the Fifth Air Force, to which it was subsequently attached. North Korean forces reached Samchock on the east coast and in the west crossed the Han River, threatening Suwon Airfield. Far East Air Forces began evacuation of the airfield and authorized improvement of Kumhae Airfield, eleven miles north-west of Pusan, to compensate for the loss of Kimpo and Suwon. The first Fifth Air Force tactical air control parties arrived at Suwon. B-26s from the 3d BG strafed, bombed, and rocketed enemy troops and traffic in the Seoul area. One flight hit a stalled enemy column. Fifteen B-29s attacked railroad bridges, tanks, trucks, and troop concentrations on the north bank of the Han River in the Seoul area.

July 1950

NKA forces advanced relentlessly into South Korea despite the application of U.S. air and naval power north and south of the 38th parallel. The piecemeal introduction of inadequately prepared U.S. ground forces failed to stop them. By the end of July, the enemy had conquered the entire Korean peninsula except the area southeast of Hamch'ang and bordered by the Nakton River.

The USAF moved two additional B-29 groups to the Far East to join the one already there. Meantime, Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, USAF, Chief of Staff, met in Tokyo with General MacArthur, now Commander of UN forces in the theater, to discuss the most efficient use of the B-29. MacArthur allowed General Stratemeyer to employ some Superfortresses in a campaign against strategic and deep interdiction targets, such as chemical plants, oil refineries, marshalling yards, docks, and key bridges in North Korea. The medium bombers also continued to hit enemy targets in South Korea, including Seoul's bridges over the Han River. In fact, General MacArthur insisted that the bulk of U.S. air power be employed tactically against the advancing enemy troops.

Far East Air Forces tasked Fifth Air Force to establish and maintain air superiority, provide UN ground forces with close air support, and interdict NKA supplies and reinforcements, thus isolating enemy forces on the front lines. The Fifth Air Force moved two fighter groups from the Philippines and Japan to South Korea and began replacing jet-powered F-80s with more fuel-efficient propeller-driven F-51 Mustangs. Compared to the F-80s, the Mustangs could loiter far longer in a target area and better endure the primitive conditions of South Korean air bases. By the end of the month, the World-War II era fighters were flying from Taegu and Pohang Dong, while C-47 transports used the Pusan Airfield. Fifth Air Force reserved a fourth South Korean airfield, Shachon, for emergency landings. B-26s of the 3d BG, based in Japan, often attacked bridges at night in enemy-occupied South Korea. Although the North Koreans shot down a few USAF airplanes, Far East Air Forces soon achieved air superiority over Korea.

July 1: North Korean forces occupied Suwon, denying Far East Air Forces use of its airstrip. The 374th TCW began airlifting the U.S. Army (USA) 24th Infantry Division, the first U.S. troops to enter Korea since the war began, from Itazuke AB to Pusan. Fifth Air Force gained operational control of the 77th RAAF Fighter Squadron.

July 3: Far East Air Forces continued to airlift U.S. Army troops to Korea but substituted smaller C-46s and C-47s for C-54s, which damaged the Pusan runways. Pilots of four F-80s on the first mission with external rockets reported excessive drag that shortened their range.

July 5: A Joint Operations Center opened at Taejon to provide better close air support for U.S. ground forces, which near Osan battled for the first time North Korean troops.

July 6: In the first strategic air attacks of the war, nine B-29s bombed the Rising Sun oil refinery at Wonsan and a chemical plant at Hungnam in North Korea. B-26s hitting advancing enemy armored columns reported six to ten tanks destroyed.

July 7: General Partridge resumed command of the Fifth Air Force. The UN Security Council established the UN Command, designated the United States as executive agent for prosecuting the Korean War, and requested that the U.S. President appoint a UN Commander. The 77th Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Fighter Squadron, representing Australia's contribution to airpower in the theater, was attached to Far East Air Forces.

July 8: President Truman designated General MacArthur as commander of UN forces in the Korean Theater. Far East Air Forces organized a provisional bomber command at Yokota, with Maj. Gen. Emmett O'Donnell, Jr., USAF, as commander. Lt. Oliver Duerksen and Lt. Frank Chermak, USAF, , provided from radio-equipped jeeps the first forward air control to direct air to ground attacks in the Korean War.

July 9: Forward air controllers began using L-5G and L-17 liaison airplanes to direct F-80 air strikes in support of ground forces.

July 10: Carefully timing air strikes to coincide with the departure of USAF counter-air patrols for refueling, four enemy Yaks bombed and strafed the USA 19th Infantry Regiment at Chongju. The Fifth Air Force began using T-6 trainer aircraft for forward air control missions, because liaison airplanes were not fast enough to elude enemy fire. F-80s caught an enemy convoy stopped at a bombed-out bridge near Pyongtaek. Along with B-26s and F-82s, they attacked the convoy and claimed destruction of 117 trucks, thirty-eight tanks, and seven halftracks.

July 12: Four Military Air Transport Service airplanes arrived in Japan from the United States carrying fifty-eight large 3.5-inch rocket launchers (bazookas) and shaped charges desperately needed to destroy North Korean tanks. Enemy fighters shot down one B-29, one B-26, and one L-4, the first North Korean aerial victories. In its first mission, the 92d BG, flying from its base at Yokota, Japan, bombed the Seoul marshalling yards.

July 13: Forty-nine FEAF Bomber Command B-29s from the 22d BG and the 92d BG bombed marshalling yards and an oil refinery at Wonsan, North Korea. 3d Air Rescue Squadron (ARS) began flying SB-17 aircraft off the Korean coast to drop rescue boats to downed B-29 crews. Advancing enemy troops forced the airborne control function to move southeastward from Taejon to Taegu. Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, USA, Commander, Eighth U.S. Army in Korea, assumed command of all U.S. ground forces in Korea.

July 14: The 35th Fighter Interceptor Group (FIG), moving from Japan to a new airfield (K-3) at Pohang, became the first USAF fighter group to be based in South Korea during the war. The 6132d Tactical Air Control Squadron, the first tactical air control unit in the war, activated at Taegu under Col. Joseph D. Lee, USAF. It provided forward, ground-based air control for aircraft providing close air support of UN forces. A Fifth Air Force-Eighth Army Joint Operations Center began to function at Taegu, and Fifth Air Force organized an advance headquarters at Itazuke AB, Japan.

July 15: Carrier aircraft on missions over Korea began to report to the Joint Operations Center at Taegu. The 51st Fighter Squadron (Provisional) at Taegu flew the first F-51 Mustang combat missions in Korea. A Fifth Air Force operation order assigned "Mosquito" call signs to airborne controllers in T-6 airplanes, and the name became the identifier for the aircraft.

July 17: Three B-29s accidentally bombed friendly civilians in Andong, South Korea, illustrating the dangers of using B-29s on close air support missions.

July 18: The 19th BG modified some B-29s for the use of radio-guided bombs (Razon) to enable them to bomb bridges more accurately.

July 19: In a dogfight near Taejon, Fifth Air Force F-80s shot down three enemy Yaks, the highest daily number of aerial victories this month. In the campaign to establish air superiority in the theater, seven F-80s of the 8th Fighter-Bomber Group (FBG), led by Lt. Col. William T. Samways, destroyed fifteen enemy airplanes on the ground near Pyongyang.

July 20: Despite FEAF close air support, the North Korean Army took Taejon, forcing the remnants of the USA 24th Infantry Division to withdraw to the southeast. U.S. ground forces defending Taejon had suffered in seven days almost thirty percent casualties. Maj. Gen. Otto P. Weyland, USAF, arrived in the Far East to assume the position of FEAF Vice Commander for Operations. Fifth Air Force pilots in F-80s shot down two more enemy aircraft, the last aerial victories until November. Enemy air opposition by this time had virtually disappeared, a sign of UN air superiority.

July 22: The U.S. Navy (USN) aircraft carrier USS Boxer arrived in Japan with 145 USAF F-51s aboard. The 3d ARS deployed the first H-5 helicopter in Korea to Taegu.

July 23: The 6132d Tactical Air Control Group (Provisional) established a Tactical Air Control Center adjacent to the Joint Operations Center at Taegu, South Korea.

July 24: Fifth Air Force moved its advanced headquarters from Japan to Taegu, South Korea, locating it next to the Eighth U.S. Army Headquarters in Korea for ease of communication and coordination. Far East Air Forces established the advanced headquarters as Fifth Air Force in Korea. The UN Command was formally established in Tokyo, Japan, commanded by General MacArthur, who assigned responsibility for ground action in Korea to Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, USA, Commander, Eighth U.S. Army; naval action to Vice Adm. C. Turner Joy, Commander, Naval Forces, Far East; and air action to General Stratemeyer, Commander, Far East Air Forces.

July 28: The first amphibious SA-16 Albatross aircraft arrived in Japan for air rescue service off the Korean coast.

July 30: Forty-seven B-29s bombed the Chosen Nitrogen Explosives Factory at Hungnam on the east coast of North Korea.

July 31: As North Korean troops continued to advance, General Walker ordered UN forces to withdraw to a new defensive line along the Naktong River.

August 1950

The North Koreans continued their offensive into South Korea, advancing on the UN's perimeter around Pusan from three directions: toward Masan from the west, toward Taegu from the northwest, and toward Pohang from the north. The communists even established bridgeheads over the Naktong River, along which UN forces held a defensive line. The United States launched its first ground offensive of the war, advancing from Masan westward toward Chinju to stabilize the southwestern end of the Pusan perimeter. The approach of enemy troops forced USAF units to evacuate Taegu and Pohang, where they had only recently arrived.

The USAF moved two additional B-29 groups from the United States to the Far East, making a total of five in the theater. During August, the Superfortresses bombed marshalling yards, industrial targets, and port facilities in North Korea, marshalling yards in Seoul, and bridges in both North and South Korea, especially in the Seoul area. They also conducted one major carpet-bombing raid near the front.

The Fifth Air Force continued to raid enemy lines of communication, airfields, and close air support targets in South Korea. Fifth Air Force B-26s and F-82s conducted night raids south of the 38th parallel. The H-5 helicopters based at Taegu evacuated 124 casualties from the battlefields of South Korea.

During August, General MacArthur and his staff drafted plans for the invasion of Inchon, near Seoul, which would take place in September. In support of the planned UN offensive, Far East Air Forces devoted most air resources to the interdiction campaign. By mid-month, each North Korean division was receiving less than twenty-two tons of food, fuel, and ammunition, a mere trickle of what was needed to maintain enemy positions against a UN attack. To coordinate the growing airlift between Japan and Korea and to prepare for the coming invasion, Far East Air Forces organized a provisional Combat Cargo Command. General Stratemeyer failed to persuade MacArthur to give Far East Air Forces sole responsibility for all air raids over North Korea.

August 1: The 6147th Tactical Control Squadron, Airborne, was established at Taegu for forward air control operations with T-6 aircraft. Forty-six B-29s of the 22d and 92d Bombardment Groups bombed the Chosen Nitrogen Fertilizer Factory at Hungnam, the largest chemical plant in the Far East.

August 2-3: In response to an Eighth Army request, the 374 Troop Carrier Group (TCG) airlifted 300,000 pounds of equipment and supplies from Ashiya AB, Japan, to Korea in twenty-four hours, a new airlift record for the war.

August 3: The 18th FBG headquarters moved from Japan to Taegu, South Korea, for expanded F-51 operations. SA-16 amphibious rescue aircraft began flying sorties along the Korean coast to retrieve U.S. pilots forced down during operations.

August 4: B-29 attacks against key bridges north of the 38th parallel initiated FEAF "Interdiction Campaign No. 1."

August 5: Maj. Louis J. Sebille, USAF, Commander, 67th FBS, dived his damaged F-51 into an enemy position. For this action he posthumously received the first Medal of Honor awarded to a USAF member. In the first SA-16 rescue operation of the war, Captain Charles E. Shroder led a crew in saving a Navy pilot who had crashed into the sea off the Korean coast.

August 6: Far East Air Forces began nightly visual reconnaissance of enemy supply routes.

August 7: The 98th BG flew its first mission in the Korean War shortly after twenty of its B-29s landed at Yokota, Japan. The 822d Engineer Aviation Battalion completed the first phase of new runway construction, which allowed expanded USAF operations at Taegu.

August 8: The enemy threat to Taegu forced the 18th FBG to evacuate to Ashiya, Japan. The 307th BG, newly based in Okinawa, flew its first mission.

August 10: The U.S. Air Force called up two Reserve units, the 437th TCW and the 452d Bombardment Wing (BW), for Korean War service. Forty-six B-29s of the 22d, 92d, and 98th BGs hit an oil refinery and railroad shops at Wonsan, North Korea.

August 11: C-119 Flying Boxcars began airlifting trucks from Tachikawa AB in Japan to Taegu, South Korea.

August 12: USN Task Force 77 stopped close air support and interdiction strikes in South Korea and moved up Korea's west coast to attack interdiction targets in North Korea, leaving all air attacks in South Korea to Far East Air Forces. More than forty B-29s attacked the port of Rashin in northeastern Korea, near the border of the Soviet Union.

August 13: Endangered by the NKA advance to Pohang, two squadrons of F-51s in the 35th FIG moved from nearby Yonil AB, South Korea, to Tsuiki AB, Japan.

August 16: Because of the enemy threat to Taegu, the advanced Fifth Air Force headquarters moved to Pusan. Ninety-eight B-29s carpet-bombed suspected enemy troop concentrations in a twenty-seven-square-mile area near Waegwan northwest of Taegu. The Superfortresses dropped more than 800 tons of 500-pound bombs in the largest employment of airpower in direct support of ground forces since the Normandy invasion of World War II. Subsequent reconnaissance showed little destruction of enemy troops or equipment, because they had already left the area.

August 19: U.S. troops, aided by air strikes, drove North Korean forces in the Yongsan bridgehead back across the Naktong River, ending the Battle of the Naktong Bulge. Sixty-three B-29s attacked the industrial and port area of Chongjin in northeastern Korea. Nine Superfortresses of the 19th BG dropped fifty-four tons of one thousand-pound bombs on the west railway bridge at Seoul, called the "elastic bridge" because repeated air attacks had failed to bring it down. Thirty-seven USN dive bombers from two aircraft carriers followed up the USAF attack. Aerial reconnaissance the next day revealed that two spans had collapsed.

August 19-20: General Partridge moved the Joint Operations Center from Taegu to Pusan because of enemy advances.

August 22: Antiaircraft gunners fired from across the Yalu River at RB-29s reconnoitering the border, the first hostile Chinese action against UN aircraft.

August 23: General MacArthur set September 15 as the date to invade Inchon. The 19th BG flew the first Razon mission, but with the exception of one bomb that hit the railroad bridge west of Pyongyang, the World War II-era control equipment failed to guide the bombs to the target.

August 25: Far East Air Forces directed Fifth Air Force to maintain constant armed surveillance of enemy airfields to prevent enemy build-up of air strength before the Inchon invasion.

August 26: Fifth Air Force organized the 47th and 48th Troop Carrier Squadrons (Provisional) at Tachikawa with C-46s from all over the Far East theater to augment FEAF airlift resources for UN offensives planned for September. At Ashiya, Japan, Far East Air Forces organized the 1st Troop Carrier Task Force (Provisional) as the nucleus of the new Combat Cargo Command (Provisional). Maj. Gen. William H. Tunner, USAF, architect of the "Hump" airlift of World War II and the Berlin airlift , 1948-1949, assumed command of Combat Cargo Command.

August 27: Two USAF Mustang pilots accidentally strayed into China and strafed an airstrip near Antung, mistaking it for a North Korean airstrip at Sinuiju. The Chinese exploited the incident to the fullest for propaganda and diplomatic purposes. The 92th BG sent twenty-four B-29s to Kyomipo to bomb the largest iron and steel plant in Korea. Far East Air Forces experimented with delayed action bombs to discourage enemy repairs on bridges.

August 30: Before dawn an experimental B-29 flare mission illuminated the Han River in the Seoul area for a B-26 strike on an elusive enemy pontoon bridge, but it could not be found. B-26s attacked the permanent bridge.

August 31: After a ten-day lull in the ground fighting, North Korean forces launched a coordinated offensive against the entire Pusan perimeter. Fifth Air Force provided close air support for the defending UN troops. Seventy-four B-29s bombed mining facilities, metal industries, and marshalling yards at Chinnampo in the largest strategic bombing mission of the month. Among the targets were aluminum and magnesium plants.

September 1950

September witnessed the first major turning point in the Korean War. At the beginning of the month, North Korean forces were at the threshold of total victory, but by its end they were in full retreat across the 38th parallel.

A final desperate week-long communist offensive along the Pusan perimeter failed to drive UN and ROK forces out of Korea. Relentless air attacks exacted a terrible price on enemy forces, and by mid-September, with the Eighth Army prepared to go on the offensive, UN forces confronted a starving enemy who was short of ammunition and other essential supplies. At the same time, General MacArthur launched an amphibious invasion at Inchon, just west of Seoul and more than 150 miles northwest of the front lines. While U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft covered the invasion area, the USAF cut enemy lines of communication and patrolled enemy-held airfields to keep them out of action. The Inchon invaders drove a wedge between the North Korean Army in the south and its main supply routes in the north, threatening to cut it off and squeeze it against advancing Eighth Army forces from the southeast. Hoping to escape the trap, the North Koreans retreated rapidly northward. By the end of September, U.S. forces from Inchon and Pusan had linked up near Osan. UN forces captured over 125,000 prisoners of war (POW). UN troops marched into Seoul and restored the ROK government there.

FEAF activities in Korea rose to a crescendo during September. Bomber Command pursued a major B-29 strategic bombing campaign to its conclusion, attacking North Korean industrial facilities and troop training centers in such cities as Wonsan, Hungnam, Hamhung, Pyongyang, Songjin, and Chonjin. Superfortresses also raided marshalling yards and railroad junctions in North Korea and flew interdiction and close air support missions in South Korea for the Eighth Army offensive. The Fifth Air Force moved fighter squadrons from Japan back to Korea and began basing jet fighters there. Fifth Air Force F-51s, F-80s, and B-26s destroyed large numbers of tanks and enemy troop concentrations, allowing UN and ROK forces to move northward to the 38th parallel. Combat Cargo Command, using newly recaptured airfields at Kimpo and Suwon, airlifted ammunition, rations, and other supplies to the fast-moving UN forces. Seventy C-119 flights airlifted a pontoon bridge from Japan to the Seoul area to span the Han River for UN troops. Flying Boxcars also dropped paratroops and supplies at the front, while C-54s, having delivered supplies to bases near Seoul, returned to Japan with casualties who had been airlifted from the battle area by H-5 helicopters.

September 1: Fifth Air Force strafed and dropped napalm and bombs on NKA troops and armored columns attacking along the Naktong River front. Carrier-based aircraft from USN Task Force 77 also provided close air support to the perimeter defenders. The 21st TCS dropped rations and ammunition to U.S. troops temporarily cut off by the enemy thrusts. General MacArthur directed General Stratemeyer to use all available FEAF airpower, including B-29s, to help the Eighth Army hold the "Pusan Perimeter," the southeast corner of the Korean peninsula that South Korea still controlled.

September 3: Task Force 77 withdrew its aircraft carriers from the Pusan area for replenishment at sea and movement north to strike communications targets, leaving all close air support responsibility with Far East Air Forces.

September 4: In the first H-5 helicopter rescue of a downed U.S. pilot from behind enemy lines in Korea, at Hanggan-dong Lt. Paul W. Van Boven saved Capt. Robert E. Wayne. Three squadrons of C-119 Flying Boxcars arrived at Ashiya AB in Japan for use in the Korean War.

September 6: As North Korean forces approached Taegu, Eighth Army headquarters withdrew to Pusan. Col. Aaron Tyler, airfield commander at Taegu, began moving the remaining aircraft, including the T-6 "Mosquitoes" of the 6147th Tactical Control Squadron, southward to Pusan.

September 7: FEAF Bomber Command attacked the iron works at Chongjin in the extreme northeast of North Korea, employing 24 B-29s of the 22d BG.

September 8: The 18th F BG, which had departed Korea a month earlier, returned from Japan, settling at Pusan East (Tongnae).

September 9: North Korean forces attacking southeast of Hajang reached a point only eight miles from Taegu, their farthest penetration on the western front. FEAF Bomber Command began a rail interdiction campaign north of Seoul to slow enemy reinforcements , which might counter the UN Inchon landing. In this campaign, the medium bombers combined attacks on marshalling yards with raids to cut rails at multiple points along key routes.

September 10: As a result of the USN Task Force 77's unexpected withdrawal from close air support of the Eighth Army on September 3, General Stratemeyer persuaded General MacArther to direct that all close air support requests must be routed through the Fifth Air Force. If Fifth Air Force lacked resources to meet the requests, they were to be forwarded to FEAF headquarters for coordination with the Commander, Naval Forces, Far East.

September 13: Typhoon Kezia hit southern Japan, hampering FEAF operations and forcing some aircraft to move temporarily to Pusan and Taegu.

September 15: U.S. Marines invaded Wolmi-do in Inchon Harbor at dawn, occupying the island in less than an hour. The main U.S. X Corps landings at Inchon occurred at high tide, in the afternoon, after a forty-five-minute naval and air bombardment. USN and United States Marine Corps (USMC) aircraft from carriers provided air cover during the amphibious assault. At the same time, FEAF air raids in South Korea prepared the way for the planned Eighth Army advance from the Pusan perimeter.

September 16: U.S. forces secured Inchon and began moving toward Seoul. From the vicinity of Taegu, the U.S. Eighth Army launched its long-awaited offensive.

September 17: U.S. Marines captured Kimpo Airfield near Seoul. To support the Eighth Army offensive, Fifth Air Force F-51s and F-80s flew napalm attacks, reportedly killing over 1,200 enemy soldiers in Tabu-dong, Yongchon, and other strongholds near the Naktong River. Far East Air Forces began a week of dropping four million psychological warfare leaflets.

September 18: Forty-two B-29s of the 92d and 98th Bombardment Groups carpet-bombed two 500x5000-yard areas near Waegwan. The 1,600 bombs effectively destroyed enemy troop concentrations blocking the Eighth Army offensive.

September 19: FEAF Combat Cargo Command began an airlift to Kimpo, located near Seoul.. Thirty-two C-54s landed with equipment and supplies for ground troops. Supported by Fifth Air Force close air support missions, the 24th Infantry Division began crossing the Naktong River near Waegwan, and the 1st Cavalry Division broke through communist lines.

September 20: FEAF Combat Cargo Command expanded its airlift into Kimpo into an around-the-clock operation by using night lighting equipment it had transported the previous day. U.S. Marines entered the outskirts of Seoul. To destroy enemy reinforcements, B-29s attacked three separate barracks areas in and near Pyongyang, North Korea.

September 21: USAF forward air controllers in T-6 Mosquitoes equipped with air to ground radios spotted about thirty enemy tanks preparing to ambush the advancing 24th Infantry Division. They called USAF aircraft and USA ground artillery, which destroyed fourteen enemy tanks and forced the rest to flee. FEAF Combat Cargo Command C-54s began airlifting supplies, including sixty-five tons of rations and ammunition to newly captured Suwon airfield south of Seoul. C-119s initiated airdrops of food and ammunition to front-line UN troops.

September 22: North Korean resistance crumbled all along the Pusan perimeter. Lt. George W. Nelson, a USAF pilot in a Mosquito aircraft, dropped a note to 200 enemy troops northeast of Kunsan demanding their surrender. They complied, moving to a designated hill to be captured by nearby UN ground troops. B-29s dropped flares over rail lines, al
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This Day in History
1544: Francis, the king of France, and Charles V of Austria signed a peace treaty in Crespy, France, ending a 20-year war.

1777: American forces under Gen. Horatio Gates meet British troops led by Gen. John Burgoyne at Saratoga Springs, NY.

1862: Union troops under General William Rosecrans defeat a Confederate force commanded by General Sterling Price at Iuka in northern Mississippi.

1863: Union General William Rosecrans and Confederate General Braxton Bragg begin a major battle at Chickamauga, Georgia. The following day, the Confederates routed the Yankees and sent them in retreat to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

1864: Union General Philip Sheridan routs a Confederate force under General Jubal Early in Virginias Shenandoah Valley. This battle was part of Sheridans pacification of the valley.

1912: Marines participated in the Battle of Masaya during the Nicaraguan Campaign.

1918: American troops of the Allied North Russia Expeditionary Force battle Soviet forces near the town of Seltso.

1944: The three month battle at Huertgen Forest on the Belgian-German border began.

1948: Moscow announces it will withdrawal soldiers from Korea by the end of the year.

1950: The 1,496-man Filipino 10th Infantry Battalion Combat Team, with attached tanks and artillery, arrived in Korea.