Vice Admiral C. Turner Joy, USN
By Edward J. Marolda
Charles Turner Joy (February 17, 1895-June 13, 1956) was the senior UN delegate to the Korean Armistice Conference at Kaesong and later Panmunjom (July 1951-May 1952), and Commander Naval Forces, Far East (COMNAVFE) (August 1949-June 1952). Joy was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to prosperous middle class parents. He attended private schools in Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania before accepting an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, in 1912.
Following graduation and commissioning as an officer in the U.S. Navy in 1916, Joy served in battleship Pennsylvania, flagship of the Atlantic Fleet. After World War I, he was chosen for postgraduate education in ordnance engineering and in 1923 earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan. For the next nineteen years Joy served with the Navy's Yangtze Patrol in China, with Commander Destroyers, Battle Force, and on board destroyer Pope and battleship California. He took command of destroyer Litchfield in May 1933. Shore duty included ordnance and gunnery-related billets in the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington, D.C., the Naval Mine Depot in Yorktown, Virginia, and the U.S. Naval Academy.
During the first two years of World War II in the Pacific, while serving as a staff officer on board cruiser Indianapolis and then carrier Lexington, Joy helped plan successful naval operations against Japanese forces in the Solomon and Aleutian Islands. He capped that tour with command of cruiser Louisville. After heading the Pacific Plans Division in the Navy's Washington headquarters from August 1943 to May 1944, now Rear Admiral Joy rejoined the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Cruiser and amphibious commands under his leadership performed with skill and valor in the Mariana, Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa campaigns.
Complementing this wartime experience in the Pacific, during the immediate postwar period Joy led U.S. naval forces operating on the Yangtze River and along China's coast. He also oversaw the politically sensitive task of transporting troops of Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-skek from south to north China and Manchuria, then controlled by Mao Tse-tung's Communists. Then followed a three-year tour as commander of the Naval Proving Ground at Dahlgren, Virginia.
In August 1949, Joy was promoted to vice admiral and selected as Commander Naval Forces, Far East. From his headquarters in Tokyo, Vice Admiral Joy organized and directed American and allied naval forces that fought desperately to stop and then turn back the North Korean offensive that swept south into the Republic of Korea during the hot summer of 1950. Surface and air units under his command bombed and shelled advancing enemy troops, road and railway bridges, and supply depots. His combat fleet quickly established its presence in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan to discourage Soviet and Chinese military action and to protect the seagoing reinforcement and resupply of UN forces holding the vital port of Pusan.
Naval Forces, Far East carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and amphibious ships, along with allied warships, carried out the bold amphibious assault at Inchon, which deployed strong American and South Korean ground units ashore in the rear of the North Korean People's Army. Then Joy's naval forces successfully evacuated Marine, Army, and South Korean troops and equipment from the port of Hungnam in December 1950, when Chinese armies swept down from the hills of North Korea and threatened to destroy the UN command. The allied navies under Joy helped stop the Communist springtime offensive of 1951.
Impressed with his obvious leadership qualities, ability to function well under pressure, and understanding of U.S. goals in the Far East, in July 1951 Washington selected Joy as the senior UN delegate to the newly convened Korean Armistice Conference. Many observers noted that during the ceasefire negotiations with his Chinese and North Korean opposites, who seemed unconcerned with the lack of progress, Joy usually exuded self-confidence, firmness, and patience. On a few occasions, however, the admiral publicly criticized the rigid negotiating posture and uncooperative manner of the Communist side. The Chinese and North Korean delegates, however, only carried out the dictates of the political leaders in Moscow, Beijing, and Pyongyang, and thus were not inclined to compromise on key issues. He also bemoaned the periodic changes in the UN's basic policy positions. Exasperated by the lack of progress in the negotiations, the admiral asked to be replaced.
In May 1952, Joy was called home and named superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy. Even though diagnosed with lukemia soon afterward, Joy only retired from active service in July 1954 at the end of his tour. The following year, Macmillan published his How Communists Negotiate, which detailed the exasperations of the Panmunjom negotiations. Vice Admiral Joy died of his cancer at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, on June 13, 1956.
Alexander, Joseph H. Fleet Operations in a Mobile War: September 1950-June 1951. Naval Historical Center, 2001.
Buell, Thomas B. Naval Leadership in Korea: The First Six Months. Naval Historical Center, 2002.
Field, James A. History of United States Naval Operations: Korea. Washington: Naval History Division, 1962.
Goodman, Allan E., ed. Negotiating While Fighting: The Diary of Admiral C. Turner Joy at the Korean Armistice Conference. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1978.
Joy, C. Turner. How Communists Negotiate. New York: Macmillan, 1955.
U.S. Navy Biographical Files, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.
Utz, Curtis A. Assault from the Sea: The Amphibious Landing at Inchon. Naval Historical Center, 1994.
Reproduced with permission from: Tucker, Spencer C.ed. Encyclopedia of the Korean War: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000.