Korea 1950-53: The Navy in the Forgotten War

Korea 1950-53: The Navy in the Forgotten War explores the compelling history of the Korean War. The exhibition begins by grounding the visitor in the heated political atmosphere that led to United States and United Nations involvement in the war. The exhibit then tells the story of the US Navy's role in Korea from 1950-53 through various themes, including amphibious operations, naval aviation, minesweeping, medical support, and armistice negotiations. A large collection of photographs held by the Naval Historical Center augments the exhibit's rich textual framework, while videos on amphibious operations, Navy medicine, and naval aviation provide moving images of the war.

Exhibit overview (left : Inchon Seawall piece)

Interesting artifacts in the Korea War exhibit include:

  • Scale models of USS Washburn, USS Worcester and Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer
  • Soviet arms sold to the Koreans including OTT-33 7.62mm Semiautomatic Pistol and PPSh M1941 7.62 Submachine gun
  • American and North Korean cold weather uniforms and an American Anti-G(ravity) suit - Camera (click here for picture)

At the start of the Korean War, the Navy faced a crisis due to mass demobilization following World War II. A force of 6,700 ships and 3.5 million Sailors in 1945, was reduced to 634 active ships and just over a half a million Sailors by 1950. Despite lacking resources and a trained force, the Navy made do by recalling thousands of reservists, recommissioning ships, modernizing aircraft carriers, and developing better planes. Reinvigorating the Navy was necessary because Korea is located on a peninsula, so control of the air and seas was essential for a victory on land. The Navy played a large role in two major battles early in the war, Inchon, and Chosin, and was involved in numerous skirmishes that occurred throughout the duration of the conflict.