Part 1. The Strategic Problem
Part 2. Troops and Supplies
Part 3. Fighting Ships
Part 4. Naval Logistics
Part 5: The Marine Brigade
Part 6: Air Transport and Air Reinforcement
Part 1: The Strategic Problem
On both sides of the Pacific the invasion of South Korea was followed by a period of violent activity. Along its western rim the forces of the Far East Command, so suddenly committed, were bending every effort to evacuate friendly nationals, to support the Republic of Korea, to check the North Korean invaders, and to guard the flanks. Far to the eastward the government of the United States, hastily gathering reinforcements and preparing to move them across the world's largest ocean to the scene of action, girded itself for an effort to influence history by sea power.
For this effort, however unexpected, there was no lack of precedent: if less all-embracing than some of its disciples have thought, the influence of sea power has still been one of profound importance. Seven-tenths of the earth's surface is wet, and the capability of moving goods and services, including armies, across this surface, and of restricting such movements on the part of others, is a very considerable one. Since most civilized activities involve the movement of goods, the history of civilization is in large degree the history of transport routes, and of those who have controlled them. Through their private Mediterranean and their unmatched roads the Romans controlled the ancient world; through their domination of medieval trade routes the castle barons placed their impress upon their times; in recent centuries much history has revolved around the story of the oceans.
With the development of sailing ship technology the states of western Europe entered upon a great age of competitive expansion, which by the 18th century saw the nations of the Atlantic littoral locked in struggle for control of overseas wealth. The upshot of these wars was the dominance of Great Britain, an island nation difficult to invade, located to windward across the western approaches to the continent, and with bases scattered at the narrow places of the extra-European world. So situated, the British could withstand all comers, and could bring down mighty enemies through policies of alliance and subsidy, assisted by the freedom of action conferred by sea control which made possible descent at will along the European coastline. It is a commonplace that the peaceful world order of the 19th century rested in large measure upon the Royal Navy.
But the influence of history upon sea power has also been profound, and even as this classic period was celebrated by its historian the foundations were shifting. With the improvement of land communications the inner regions of Europe developed rapidly in population, wealth, and power. Effective and economical movement of goods was no longer a maritime monopoly, and land transport increasingly approximated that in a fluid medium. In Europe there followed an inward displacement of the disturber of the peace, from Napoleon to the Kaiser, from Hitler to Stalin, while across the oceans new power centers, arose with the new industrialization of the United States and of Japan. These developments led to the new strategic formulations of the 20th century, while at the same time the developments of the new technology powerfully modified the nature and conduct of war.
In place of the world of the sailing ship there developed a world based on the possibilities of coal and oil. In place of overseas empire internal development was emphasized. In place of the single European power center there now existed three, and in warfare there developed a third dimension. Faced in these changing circumstances by threatening new rivals, and struggling to maintain the world they knew, the maritime powers of Europe now looked overseas for essential supplies and reinforcements, and to the New World to redress the balance of the Old. Off the coast of Asia the adaptable, prolific, and xenophobic Japanese gazed southward toward the resources of the Indies. If the changes of the industrial age had downgraded the oceans as the source of commercial wealth and had produced new inland concentrations of power, they gave added emphasis to ocean high ways as sources of salvation construed in mundane terms of money, men, and oil. As defense of the rimlands against the interior superseded the struggle for distant colonies, the unique importance of the battle fleet was modified, the set-piece battle declined in importance, and the far shore replaced the enemy fleet as the focus of operations. But the continuing struggle for the control of ocean routes remained the most important of all. It became also one of the costliest: between 1939 and 1945 more than 72,000 lives were lost in the Battle of the Atlantic.
To the western powers, therefore, the two wars with Germany fell in the same strategic mold: initial resistance to the prepared aggressor while strength was mustered in the rear and preparation made to fight things through. The time required for this evolution had, of necessity, to be bought by those on the line: by Britain's contemptible little army and the taxis of the Marne, by the RAF and the Royal Navy, and in both wars, be it said, by mighty Russian formations on the eastern front. In some senses the war against Japan was different, yet this last great struggle for overseas empire followed the same sequence of expansion, containment, and return. For the nations of the west, for those who liked the world as it was and resisted violent change, this pattern clearly posed three requirements. The line had to be held against disaster; control of the seas had to be gained and maintained; these things having been done, it was necessary to mobilize and move in the reserve. Failure in one of these requirements meant failure in all.
There was thus imposed upon the west a maritime strategy in which final victory on land resulted from the exploitation of the seas. Even in the second war this remained true. Hitler's advance stopped at the Channel; Rommel's African operations were a function of the struggle for the central Mediterranean. Control of the seas gave access to the resources which sustained and the reinforcements which strengthened Great Britain. British and American maritime power kept Russia in the war, forced the Germans to disperse their defenses, and delivered a concentrated and irresistible assault. Naval force severed the Japanese from their essential resources, brought the bombers to Saipan, and prepared the invasion it made unnecessary.
The end of the second war found the United States the dominant maritime power of the world. In many respects its position approximated that of Great Britain in the 19th century. It possessed the world's largest navy; it maintained bases and forces in being at various points about the globe. If the American flag merchant marine was not, like that of Britain at an earlier date, the world's greatest, Americans controlled a very large tonnage sailing under foreign flags and had access for emergency use to most of the world's shipping. Along with these trappings of power the United States had also inherited the responsibilities, together with such lessons concerning the conduct of these affairs as history seemed to teach.
Chief of these lessons, it seemed, was that of the chronic unpreparedness of the western powers. Minimum forces in the line, inadequate naval strength, and unmobilized reserves had twice brought them close to catastrophe. The appearance of a new aggressor, therefore, had been followed by the deployment to the Mediterranean of the Sixth Fleet, reinforcement of the Strategic Air Command, and the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On one side of the world, at least, and within the limits of presumed budgetary capabilities, it seemed the lessons had been learned. So far as the peninsula of Europe was concerned the defenses were going up.
Then, shockingly, the same strategic problem was presented on a smaller and more distant peninsula. Once again the race was on to manipulate the variables of space, time, and movement capacity so as to check the invader and turn defeat into victory. Once again, after the first few days of optimism, the outcome of the race seemed unpredictable. The North Koreans had tanks and aircraft, the South Koreans did not. The North Koreans, their armies loaded with veterans of the Chinese Civil War and with even a few who had fought at Stalingrad, had experienced combat leadership; the South Koreans did not. The Communist powers of Asia had military stockpiles far exceeding those available to the government of Syngman Rhee . Yet even these stockpiles were not limitless: the industrial base of Communist aggression lay far to the west in European Russia, and the capacity of the trans-Siberian railway was only some 17,000 tons a day, less than that of the port of Pusan, much less than that of Pacific Ocean shipping.
Having taken up the challenge of the 25th of June, the maritime world for the third time in a century faced excruciating problems of time and distance. From the 38th parallel north of Seoul, where the main invading force came down across the border, the airline distance to Pusan is some 225 miles. From Pusan to San Francisco by the great circle route is 4,914 miles, and by way of Pearl Harbor a thousand more. The task which faced the United States in mid-summer 1950 was that of equalizing these distances.
It was on this mission of equalization that Task Force Smith flew to Pusan and entrained for the north. It was not an impressive force: two companies of infantry, one company of field artillery, two mortar platoons and one of recoilless rifles, six rocket launching teams. The emergency which brought it to Korea was one for which it had neither planned nor trained. Others, however, had gone before it on a similar errand. Like the British Expeditionary Force of another generation at Mons, like the RAF in the September sky ten years before, like the Americans and Filipinos at Bataan, the navies in the Java Sea, and the carrier pilots at Midway, Task Force Smith and those who followed were put in to hold the line. Whether this commitment would be justified depended on the speed with which help came. To come, it had to cross the seas.
Part 2. Troops and Supplies
The troops and supplies, so urgently needed in Korea, could come in the first instance only from within the Far Eastern theater. In the first days of war ammunition had been sent in on the O'Connell and Keathley, and Admiral Doyle's Amphibious Group had been ordered down to Sasebo. On 1 July, as Task Force Smith was flown to Pusan, the rest of the 24th Division had begun a hurried embarkation, at Sasebo and Inland Sea ports, in vessels belonging to the Shipping Control Administration, Japan. Escort for the priceless cargo carried by these Scajap ships was provided by the fleet tug Arikara, a somewhat limited screening force to represent the greatest naval power on earth.
The Scajap fleet, Japanese manned and Japanese supported but operating under occupation force control, held the designation of Task Group 96-3 in the organization of Naval Forces Japan. In the emergency of 1950 its 12 freighters and 39 LSTs were to prove a priceless asset, and beginning with the movement of the 24th Division the Scajap ships would be used to the limit in intra-area lift. But the principal responsibility for over-water transportation, both by statute and by order of CincFE, fell upon the Military Sea Transportation Service.
The Military Sea Transportation Service is a unified logistic organization, established within the Navy Department to provide, under a single authority, the necessary sea transport for Defense Department cargo and personnel, save only that handled by the fleet itself. As such it had absorbed the old Naval Transportation Service and the ships and seagoing functions of the Army Transportation Corps. Headed by a vice admiral responsible to the Chief of Naval Operations and administered through a naval command structure, but staffed largely by civil service personnel, the Service was designed to function both as a scheduling and as an operating agency. In the first capacity MSTS chartered from commercial operators the space required for the greater portion of Defense Department sea lift. In the second, in addition to its commissioned and Navy-manned (USS) and civil service-manned (USNS) transports and cargo ships, MSTS came to own and control a tanker fleet operated under contract by private companies for the Military Petroleum Supply Agency, the unified petroleum procurement agency of the Department of Defense. In emergencies for which space charter and the MSTS fleet were together inadequate, the Service could resort to time charter of merchant shipping.
MSTS had been created in October 1949 by directive of the Secretary of Defense, pursuant to the National Security Act of 1947. In the following months it developed into a world-wide operating agency, with major area commands in London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo. The first Deputy Commander for the Western Pacific reached Tokyo in January 1950 to organize his command, activation of which was scheduled for 1 July. On that date, in accordance with plan, Captain Alexander F. Junker assumed his responsibilities as DepComMSTS WestPac to find himself faced by an emergency of wholly unexpected dimensions.
The first problem was to find the shipping for an immediate large scale lift of troops and supplies. That under Captain Junker's own control the MSTS "owned" shipping in the area-was initially limited to 25 intra-area support ships inherited from the Army. Not all of these were of types useful to the task, but there were ten 175-foot, 500-ton capacity cargo ships (AKL)of Army design, the two 340-foot coastal transports(T-APc) Sergeant Keathley and Sergeant Muller each normally carrying 100 troops, and six LSTs. Three LSTs and two AKLs had been inactivated, but work on them was quickly put in hand, and the LSTs were operating by the 8th.
A second source of shipping was, of course, to be found in the Scajap fleet, which was immediately made available and which continued to be employed in close connection with MSTS. A third expedient it was to retain and employ MSTS transports and cargo ships which, like the aircraft transport Cardinal O’Connell, had reached the Far Eastern theater on normal transPacific runs. Finally, most fortunately and most importantly, there was the possibility of charter of Japanese merchant ships.
By 10 July the MSTS-controlled fleet in or en route to the Western Pacific had risen from 25 to 70 vessels, not counting the 50-odd ships belonging to Scajap. But not all had reached the Far East and some, for reasons of size or type or availability, were unsuited to the work at hand: of the total of 70 vessels, 52 were available for emergency movements to Korea. Of these, Japanese vessels on charter on 10 July accounted for 29 bottoms and 74,000 measurement tons; five days later this number would have increased to 40. In addition to the Marus and to the ships inherited from the Army, Captain Junker had two AKAs and three T-APs which had reached Japan and which had been retained to lift men and material to Pusan.
The 24th Infantry Division had completed its movement to Korea by 6 July. Hard on its heels the 25th Division began to move, its first elements loading at Moji on Shimonoseki Strait on the 8th, and subsequent echelons at Inland Sea ports and at Sasebo; for this movement Japanese time-chartered ships were extensively used. The third major Army unit to be lifted from Japan was the 1st Cavalry Division, and this, since handling facilities at Pusan were clogging from overload, was put in over the beaches. This movement was accomplished by Admiral Doyle’s Amphibious Group, temporarily augmented by the loan from MSTS of two AKAs, three T-APs, one ocean tug, five LSTs, and four time-chartered Japanese Marus. Late in July the final intra-theater movement of the initial phase brought in two battalions of the 29th Infantry Regiment from Okinawa. On the 16th MSTS assigned two Japanese passenger vessels and a cargo ship to this lift, and on the 24th these troops were landed at Pusan.
Thus the job was done. By mid-July all Army forces in the Far East had been committed or were scheduled for commitment, with the single exception of the 7th Division, held back to provide a skeleton garrison for Japan. And while the emergency movements within the Far Eastern theater were going on, others were in preparation elsewhere. In Hawaii the Mid-Pacific branch of MSTS was assembling shipping to lift the 5th Regimental Combat Team west. On the west coast planning for the movement of the 2nd Division was in progress, and urgent efforts to project supplies forward across the ocean highways were underway.
In the United States the logistic agencies of all three services were struggling with a flood of emergency requisitions for medical and hospital supplies, for equipment in general, and above all for ammunition. All along the west coast naval ammunition facilities which had been operating in reduced or maintenance status were expanded. In June, Port Chicago in San Francisco Bay had a normal weekly handling capacity of 1,250 tons of naval ammunition. On the 28th CincPacFleet called for operations on a three-shift basis, extra personnel was laid on, and within a month Port Chicago was outloading more than 9,000 tons a week for both Navy and Army. On 8 July activation of facilities at Fallbrook and Seal Beach, California, was begun, and Bangor Annex, at Keyport in Puget Sound, was made available for the outloading of Army and Air Force ammunition.
For all services requirements skyrocketed. The planned overseas movement of Army ammunition alone was to rise from zero to 77,000 tons for the month of August, a growth paralleled by increased calls for general stores, refrigerated provisions, and for personnel. The Military Sea Transportation Service had prepared for a predicted movement of 66,000 tons of cargo to the Far East in July; in fact it ended up moving 312,000 tons and 30,000 passengers. More tonnage was urgently required and was being hastily assembled by Captain William R. Thayer, Deputy Commander MSTS Pacific; by the third week in July the transports under his control had increased from 20 to 31, and 12 commercial vessels had been taken on under time charter.
Part 3 . Fighting Ships
Like all conflicts, that in Korea had its strange and unpredictable characteristics. One of these was the fact that, so far as control of the seas was concerned, the war started with the exploitation phase. It was never necessary to fight the convoys through. But of this no one could at first be sure, and with men and supplies in very large quantity committed to the ocean highways, and with the extent of opposition doubtful, insurance was necessary. To maintain sea control, should new enemy forces choose to dispute it, further combatant strength was needed .
Yet almost all the fighting ships west of the continental United States had already been committed. Statistically speaking, the division of the Pacific Fleet in June between ships operating in home waters and those to the westward was roughly an even one. One hundred and twenty-five naval vessels of all types were based on the west coast while another 128 were scattered between Alaska, the Hawaiian Islands, the trust territories, and the Western Pacific. But the statistics are deceptive, including as they do auxiliaries, small craft, and local forces, and the distribution of major combatant types was very different. Of 86 active units, three-quarters were based on the west coast of the United States.
Of the three large aircraft carriers in the Pacific Fleet , one was with Task Force 77 and two were in the San Diego area, where the Fleet's two escort carriers also based. The Fleet contained no active battleship . Two cruisers were already at work in Far Eastern waters and the remaining four were on the west coast. Of a total of 57 destroyer types and 30 submarines, 12 and 6 respectively were operating outside of continental waters, 12 and 4 were operating under ComNavFE . Quite clearly any naval reinforcement had to come a long way.
The first forward movement concerned the long-range patrol planes. On 26 June the seaplane tender Gardiner' s Bay, which had completed fitting out for a tour in the Western Pacific, sailed from San Diego for Yokosuka, where she arrived on 12 July. On 28 June Patrol Squadron 6, a medium landplane squadron operating nine [Lockheed] P2V-5 Neptunes, was deployed forward from Barber's Point, Oahu . By the 7th the squadron had reached Japan where, in the absence of any suitable naval air station, it operated out of Johnson Air Force Base at Tachikawa .
The two heavy Baltimore-class cruisers of Cruiser Division 3 , moored in Long Beach when the Korean War broke out, had arrived only two weeks before from an eight-month cruise in the Western Pacific. These ships, Helena and Toledo, completed in 1945 , had a standard displacement of 13,600 tons, a speed Of 33 knots, a main battery of nine 8-inch guns and a secondary battery of twelve dual-purpose 5-inch. Alas, the delights of civilization were to be but briefly tasted, and the expected period of rest, recreation, and upkeep was to be brutally cut short. On 29 June the division commander, Rear Admiral Charles C. Hartman, received orders to prepare to head back west again with a departure date a week away. All leaves were at once cancelled by telegram, emergency repairs were hastened, and supplies quickly loaded aboard.
At San Diego there were two Essex-class aircraft carriers: Boxer, Captain Cameron Briggs, back from her tour in the Western Pacific, was waiting to enter a navy yard for repairs; Philippine Sea, Captain Willard K. G oodney , had just arrived from the Atlantic Fleet and was preparing for an October departure for the Far East as relief for Valley Forge. The air group designated for this deployment, Carrier Air Group11, Commander Raymond W. Vogel, was similar in composition to Air Group 5, being composed of two F9F jet fighter squadrons, two squadrons of F4Us , one of ADs , and a mixed bag of specially configurated Corsairs and Skyraiders . Its training, liowever, was considerably less advanced than that of the Valley Forge group. The jet squadrons had been handicapped by shortage of aircraft and the pilot situation was highly unstable: many of the younger officers had received orders for separation on 30 June, and many of their replacements were not yet up to fleet standards. Difficult as the situation was, it would have been much worse had the North Koreans appreciated the strategic importance of accounting periods and delayed their attack until the end of the fiscal year. As it was, emergency action by the Bureau of Naval Personnel made it possible to avoid forced separations from the service and to minimize dislocation.
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea all plans and schedules were scrapped. Loading for the Western Pacific was put on a high speed basis, considerable gear was transferred from Boxer to her sister carrier, and the air group was embarked under emergency orders. On 6 July Philippine Sea got underway from San Diego for Pearl Harbor, where she arrived on the 14th to commence a ten-day period of accelerated training exercises.
The remaining carrier strength of the Pacific Fleet, Carrier Division 15, consisted of the escort carriers Sicily, another recent immigrant from the Atlantic, and Badoeng Strait. These were ships of the postwar CVE 105 type, modelled on the old Sangamon class of converted tankers which had seen so much service in the war against Japan. Based at San Diego and normally assigned to antisubmarine warfare duty, the ships of Cardiv 15 were also from time to time employed to give carrier refresher training to Marine fighter squadrons from El Toro. The outbreak of war found Badoeng Strait en route to Pearl Harbor on a summer training cruise, with a Marine fighter squadron, 223 reserve midshipmen, and five visiting professors of disciplines ranging from economics to forestry on board.
All this was quickly changed and the division disassembled to solve some urgent problems. Badoeng Strait landed her professors at Pearl and returned hastily to San Diego, where she disgorged the trainees and began loading more Marine aircraft and aircrews on a 24-hour basis. Sicily, alerted on 2 July, was sailed on the 4th for Pearl Harbor and Guam, to strengthen the antisubmarine capabilities of Western Pacific forces. The division commander, Rear Admiral Richard W. Ruble, was ordered forward with his staff by air to help handle the rapid build-up of naval air strength in Japan. On 10 July admiral and staff reached Tokyo, and two days later Ruble took over command of Task Group 96.2, Naval Air Japan.
The three Canadian destroyers, earlier alerted, sailed from the west coast on 5 July. On the 6th, in accordance with his orders of a week before, Rear Admiral Hartman sortied his cruisers from Long Beach, joined up with four fleet oilers, six destroyers, and five submarines, and headed for Pearl Harbor. This westward deployment of submarines had been ordered by CincPacFleet as a precautionary measure, in view of the possible commitment of Russian naval units to the Korean conflict. But this fear was to prove groundless, none of these boats was moved west of the islands, and submarine strength in the Western Pacific was increased only by the submarine transport Perch, requested by the Marines for special raiding purposes.
Admiral Hartman’s force was only a day out of Long Beach when Toledo was ordered forward at best speed, and two days later Helena and Destroyer Division 111 were detached from the task group with orders to hurry onward. Thus scattered by the need for haste the ships steamed west: Toledo reached Pearl Harbor on the 9th and left on the 11th; the Helena group arrived on the 11th and left on the 13th; the tankers, the submarines, and the two remaining destroyers pressed on behind. For destroyers en route to the Far East the distances west of Pearl posed problems of fuel consumption: steaming at 24 knots would save a day in transit, as compared to steaming at economical speed, but would also necessitate refuelling. But the oilers with which they had left the coast were far behind, none was available at Pearl for forward deployment, and the facilities at Midway Island, on the direct route westward, had been deactivated in May on instructions from the Department of Defense.
The budgetary ceiling had thus affected not only the strength of the Pacific Fleet but also its mobility in time of crisis. Reactivation of Midway was clearly in the cards, but for the moment extemporization was necessary. Two chief petty officers, recent graduates of the Service Force Petroleum School, were rounded up and embarked on the first destroyer as it was leaving Pearl Harbor. On arrival at Midway the chiefs activated the fuelling system and replenished two of the destroyers from the oil which remained in the tanks, while Helena refueled the others.
With the war still in its second week very considerable reinforcements were on their way. Three days after American troops first entered action, naval fighting strength equal to the original Western Pacific deployment had set sail from the continental United States. But the departure of these units from the west coast found the Pacific Fleet approaching the bottom of the barrel. On 8 July, in order to provide some slight reserve for new contingencies, the Chief of Naval Operations authorized the activation of certain units of the mothball fleet.
Part 4 . Naval Logistics
The westward movement of so large an increment of naval strength posed urgent problems of logistic support. The naval population of the Western Pacific, which on 25 June approached 11,000, was to more than triple in the space of five weeks. To plan and organize in one month's time for the support of such a force 6,000 miles from home is no mean problem, the more so when, in addition to food and clothing, these individuals are busily consuming fuel, ammunition, equipment, and spare parts at an accelerated rate.
Overseas stocks of the countless items needed to support a modern fighting force were limited. At Pearl Harbor a supply officer could find everything, or almost everything, but to the westward the situation was spotty. At Yokosuka, by good fortune, there were fairly sizable supplies of general materials and nucleus stocks of technical spares. But Guam, which had supported very large naval forces during the war against Japan, had nothing: the island's mission of fleet support had been cancelled in 1947 . At Subic Bay in the Philippines there were small quantities of various items, but Subic, originally planned as a major fleet base, had been reduced to partial maintenance status in January. All this had been done in the name of economy; it had been rationalized by the stated intention of providing mobile support for any forces west of Pearl Harbor; such support was now called for with a vengeance.
The concept of mobile support for the fighting ships of the U.S. Navy has a long history. In its origins it dates back to the War with Tripoli when the frigate John Adams, with reduced armament, was assigned to shuttle service between the Chesapeake and the Mediterranean carrying drafts of men and shipments of supplies for Commodore Preble’s squadron. But provision of the spare spars and cordage, the pease and salt meat, which the Adams brought out, was simplicity itself compared to the problem of supporting a modern navy. Long before the electronic age the progress of technology had threatened to restrict the radius of fleet action, in the first instance in the fundamental question of fuel.
The fuel problem and the other logistic complications which came with mechanization first faced the United States in connection with the Civil War blockade of Gulf coast ports. They arose again following the War with Spain, as the immense distances of the Pacific came to be realized, and were emphasized over the years by increasing possibilities of trouble with Japan. As early as 1904 Civil Engineer Andrew C. Cunningham had put forward the idea of a floating base; efforts at mobile support of naval forces in Europe had been made during the First World War; and by the middle twenties the concept of the mobile base had become the accepted one for support of the fleet at sea. Following Pearl Harbor performance caught up with precept, and in the later stages of the Pacific War great fleets of tenders, repair ships, and floating drydocks moved westward from atoll to atoll in attendance on the striking forces.
The concept of mobile support had abundantly proved itself as both economically sound and strategically effective. But its wartime embodiment, the vast collection of men and material which made up Service Squadron 10, was no more. The total roster of Service Force ships assigned to the Western Pacific on 25 June consisted of one destroyer tender, one reefer, a fleet oiler on shuttle duty for the Seventh Fleet, a fleet tug, and an LST on loan to Task Force 90 for training purposes. There had been no prior planning for a minor war, or indeed for anything short of full mobilization. In the sphere of fleet logistics, as elsewhere, the response to the North Korean invasion was to be an exercise in extemporization.
Responsibility for the logistic support of the Pacific Fleet and of other Pacific naval activities lay with the Service Force Pacific Fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral Francis C. Denebrink, whose headquarters were at Pearl Harbor. Like everyone else the Service Force had felt the impact of the fiscal year just ending. Not only in the Western Pacific had mobile support been reduced to a bare minimum: the only hospital ship and the only fleet stores issue ship in the Pacific Fleet had been decommissioned, and the lone dock landing ship in Admiral Denebrink’s command had escaped this fate only as a result of the requirements of Operation Greenhouse, the atomic test series then pending at Eniwetok.
The total strength of the Pacific Fleet Service Force, as of the end of June, came to 91 auxiliaries of various types. The largest share of these mobile support units, 47 ships, was organized in Service Squadron 1, Captain Bernard L. Austin. This command was responsible for the logistic support of fleet units in the Eastern Pacific, including Alaska; most of its units were located in west coast ports. At Pearl Harbor, under the direct control of ComServPac, were the 26 auxiliaries of the Logistic Support Group, whose area of responsibility included fleet units and bases in the Western, Central, and South Pacific. The 18 remaining units were assigned to Service Division 51, a subordinate echelon of the Logistic Support Group, located at Guam and charged with the administration of Service Force responsibilities in the Marianas and Carolines.
In the first days of hostilities uncertainty as to the identity of the enemy and the extent of the underwater threat had led ComNavFE to call for additional small craft for offshore patrol. In response to this request Admiral Denebrink recommended to CincPacFleet the reactivation of the three mine-sweepers in caretaker status at Yokosuka, and of five subchasers and three fleet tugs. At the same time the Service Force staff turned its attention to the urgent problems of logistic support for the forces going into action in the Far East.
Ammunition came first. At Yokosuka, under the control of Commander Fleet Activities Japan, there was a small stock of some two or three thousand tons of various types, but with one surprising deficiency: there was no antisubmarine ordnance in Japan. Ammunition in the Philippines was negligible; at Guam there were some 6,000 tons. Necessarily, therefore, the supply of items lacking at Yokosuka and Guam, and the replacement of expenditures from these stocks, had to be made from the Hawaiian Islands, more than 3,000 miles away, where there were wartime leftovers in massive quantities. To lift ammunition to the forward area, ComServPac had available a single ammunition ship, Mount Katmai, at Port Chicago, and an assortment of cargo types which, with special sheathing of the holds, could be made to do.
Lacking word from Admiral Joy as to the pattern of anticipated needs, and lacking also a subordinate Service Force commander in the forward area to coordinate requirements, the staff at Pearl Harbor undertook at once, by deduction and by intuition, an estimate of what was required. This work was expeditiously done. The estimate was ready by the night of 26-27 June in the form of a revised loading plan for Mount Katmai, and was at once promulgated by dispatch for comment. Within two days the views of the operational commanders concerned had been received and integrated and a detailed loading list was on its way by air to the west coast.
But Mount Katmai’s arrival was weeks away, and in the next few days, as special requests came in from ComNavFE, ammunition was moved forward from Guam by cargo ship. In the absence of underwater ordnance in Japan, and with the submarine problem still unclarified, depth charges were given priority: on 13 July a shipload reached Yokosuka, followed on the next day by another of 5-inch and 40-millimeter ammunition. By this time also a load of 8-inch cruiser ammunition was at sea en route from Guam to Sasebo, and another ship had been sailed for Buckner Bay with aircraft ordnance for Task Force 77.
The second problem of immediate and overriding importance was that of fuel. In the Pacific the responsibility for petroleum supply was a divided one: Commander Service Force, as logistic agent for CincPac, was responsible for the Pacific Area outside of General MacArthur’s command, while the Area Petroleum Office at CincFE’s headquarters was charged with procurement for the forces of the Far East Command. Throughout the Pacific POL inventories were low, in consequence of directives based on budgetary restrictions; this situation was potentially most dangerous in aviation gasoline, production of which is inelastic and not susceptible to rapid expansion. Anticipating a rapid increase in consumption, ComServPac’s Petroleum Office made early requests for larger allocations, and fortunately so. The timely arrival of these from the continental United States would provide adequate stocks for the trans-Pacific pipeline, and make it possible to help out the Far East Command, where serious shortages developed owing to lack of similar foresight.
The need for aviation gasoline was matched by that for black oil for the naval forces moving westward. Of the ten fleet oilers assigned to the Service Force, two were on shuttle duty serving the Seventh Fleet and the mid-Pacific, eight were in west coast ports. Four of these—Cimarron, Cacapon, Caliente, and Platte—were immediately ordered forward and sailed in company with Admiral Haritman’s cruisers and destroyers. Three were routed onward from Pearl to Okinawa and Japan, while Caliente, on 24 July, discharged 65,000 barrels of fuel oil at Midway Island to keep that newly reactivated base in business.
The emphasis on floating support for fleet units, made necessary by the limited base facilities in the Western Pacific, was desirable for other reasons as well. A prime virtue of naval power is its mobility; if the bases can also move this virtue is increased. For reasons of economy, and to obviate the need for an extensive shore establishment in Japan which would itself be logistically costly and complicating, mobile support was also desirable. But complete floating support for the fleet was well beyond the capabilities of the Service Force as then constituted, or indeed under any circumstances short of pretty complete mobilization. Again it is worth emphasizing how fortunate it was for this campaign that the resources and productive facilities of the Japanese base were close to hand. In the Second World War almost complete support for forces overseas had been provided from the continental United States. But now at midcentury the effort was made to live off the land, and the foraging party reappeared, not in the form of the sergeant with his squad, but in that of the supply officer armed with contract and fountain pen.
Yet however helpful, the Japanese economy could not support the war alone, and two questions called for immediate answers from Admiral Denebrink and his staff. What Service Force units would be required in the operating areas to support the fleet? What shipping would be necessary, over and above that provided by MSTS, to keep the 6,000-mile Pacific pipeline full? A study of anticipated needs led to requests on 5 and 8 July for the activation of two gasoline tankers and the assignment of another ammunition ship, and then on the 9th the full bill was presented in a memorandum to CincPacFleet which called for the activation of 58 auxiliaries in 16 categories ranging from destroyer tenders down to tugs.
By this time the redeployment of Service Force units was well underway. Seven auxiliaries were headed north from the Marianas and the Carolines, six were on their way from Pearl Harbor, and another seven from the west coast of the United States. This very considerable movement into the forward area consisted of two destroyer tenders, two reefers , three cargo ship types, three fleet oilers, two gasoline tankers, two repair ships, five fleet tugs, and a dock landing ship. So much activity required a coordinating authority and so, at ComServPac's request, the Chief of Naval Operations on 10 July established Service Squadron 3 as the Navy's principal logistic agent in the Western Pacific. Captain Austin was transferred from Service Squadron 1 to take command of this new force, which was gathering at Buckner Bay.
Part 5. The Marine Brigade
The first few days of combat had made it evident that the North Korean People's Army was not going to be frightened home again either by United Nations resolves or by the intervention of token American forces. Shortly it seemed doubtful whether the commitment of all available Far Eastern strength would stop the invaders. Further reinforcements became increasingly urgent, and these, necessarily, had to come from outside the theater. Although foreign help had been promised, its arrival was some time off. But in Hawaii the Army was preparing a regimental combat team for sailing, on the west coast a division had been alerted, and MSTS was assembling the shipping for these lifts. And the Marines, too, were on their way.
In addition to the ten Army combat divisions in existence in 1950 the United States could also call on the two divisions of the Fleet Marine Force.
Total Fleet Marine Force strength at this time was about 28,000 men, of whom 12,000 were in FMF Pacific, in the 1st Marine Division and its attached 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, and the balance of almost 16,000 in FMF Atlantic, the 2nd Marine Division and MAW 2. Headquarters of the Fleet Marine Force Pacific were at Pearl Harbor; the 1st Marine Division was at Camp Pendleton, California; Marine Air Wing 1 was at nearby El Toro. Like all branches of the armed forces the Marines had suffered from austerity: all units were understrength, and the 1st Marine Division was operating with two platoons to a company and two companies to a battalion.
The United States Marines have landed on many foreign shores since Lieutenant O’Bannon and his immortal six set out from Alexandria to march on Tripoli. But in the middle of the 20th century their special claim to fame, and the basis of their mission as defined in the National Security Act, rested on their development of the techniques of amphibious warfare. The success of the Corps in developing workable techniques for assault from the sea against defended objectives, considered by some the most far-reaching tactical innovation of the Second World War, was achieved in the face of overwhelming expert opinion that such attacks were no longer possible. Contemplating the sad spectacle of Gallipoli, a distinguished naval historian of the interwar period had commented that while Great Britain might perhaps survive another war, she could never survive another Churchill. In fact, however, she did both, while the Navy and Marines destroyed the presumed basis for this judgment by spearheading the amphibious advance from Guadalcanal to Okinawa, an advance in which they suffered no single check.
The United States now found itself confronted with difficulties in Korea, a peninsula with a long shoreline and located on the far side of an ocean. A priori, one would assume this a made to order theater for the Marines, and the responsible Commander in Chief had already shown his interest: early in 1950, in connection with his mission of defending Japan, General MacArthur had requested instructors to train his occupation forces in amphibious warfare. Navy and Marine training specialists had consequently been provided, along with Admiral Doyle’s Amphibious Group, and had just begun to hold school in Japan when the invasion broke.
Yet amphibious warfare, in 1950, was out of favor with many due to strategic preconceptions, and the Marines with others for other reasons. In the congressional hearings on the unification troubles the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had described the amphibious landing as a thing of the past, and had observed that anyhow he had taken part in the two greatest amphibious operations of history and the Marines had not. The prediction awaited the test of time; the statement, certainly correct, might well have been amplified to point out that the Army troops which stormed the beaches of Europe did so in accordance with doctrine developed by the Marine Corps and the Navy. Even in war the pen and the guiding brain are at times as significant as the sword.
Quite apart from their amphibious specialty, there were other advantages to be derived from the commitment of the Marines to Korea. What was needed was needed fast; the Corps lives with its bags packed. While the requirement to go anywhere at short notice had made the Marines mobile, the requirements of the assault from the sea had led to the development of an extremely powerful package of strength. Man for man there was probably no more powerful force in cxistence anywhere. The ground elements made up a heavily armed and highly professional outfit in which every individual could handle a rifle. The air-ground team, long hoped for but delayed by World War II requirements, had by the end of that war become a fact, and the Marines had no need to wheedle their necessities in the upper regions out of a separate force with separate preoccupations. All their pilots had had infantry training; all were carrier qualified, and could operate from decks offshore until airstrips became available. With these capabilities, and with this understanding of the requirements on the surface of the earth, they commanded and deserved the confidence of the riflemen below.
Again, the Fleet Marine Force was well trained. As a small organization , the Marines had found it possible to maintain recruiting without recourse to trade and travel propaganda; since their withdrawal from North China they had been able to attend to business without the distractions of occupation duty. Between December and June the units of FMF Pacific had gone through two field exercises of regimental size or larger, an amphibious demonstration, and various lesser drills involving submarines, helicopters, and the seizure of San Nicholas Island by an airlifted battalion.
A further factor of importance, and one again suggestive of the realism of the Corps, was its readiness for movement. Naval movement plans, it is true, are almost automatic, but for other forces preparations are necessary, and the Marines appear to have been the only people in the armed services with concrete arrangements for anything less than that Armageddon euphemistically known as a "general emergency." In I948 plans had been worked out for the rapid movement of a regimental combat team and a Marine air group from the west coast to any point in the Pacific, and the materiel bureaus of the Navy Department were on ten-day notice to provide the necessary mounting-out equipment.
Finally, Marines are volunteers both in fact and by temperament. Their inbred highly competitive attitude had been strengthened by the post-war atmosphere within the Pentagon, with its repeated rumors of plans for the abolition of the Corps or for its limitation to guard duty. At Corps headquarters, where there hangs a painting of the Korean landing of 1871, there was little question as to involvement in this war, and on 28 June the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Clifton B. Cates, USMC, recommended to the Chief of Naval Operations employment of the Fleet Marine Force in Korea. Three days later Admiral Sherman queried CincPacFleet as to the time necessary to move out a battalion landing team or a regimental combat team. Admiral Radford’s reply, received on Sunday the 2nd, stated that a BLT could be loaded in four days and sailed in six, and an RCT loaded in six and sailed in ten. CNO at once advised Admiral Joy by dispatch that a Marine regimental combat team could be made available to CincFE if desired, and this offer, relayed to General MacArthur by ComNavFE in person, was accepted with enthusiasm. Before this busy Sunday was over the 1st Marine Division had been alerted and Admiral Sherman, with JCS approval, had ordered CincPacFleet to move an RCT with appropriate attached air strength to the Far East for employment by CincFE.
Three days after these orders to Admiral Radford, Fleet Marine Force Pacific issued its operation plan. This prescribed the task organization of the force, designated the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade (Reinforced), which was to be built around the 5th Marines from Camp Pendleton and Marine Aircraft Group 33 from El Toro. Command of the brigade was assigned Brigadier General Edward A. Craig, USMC, assistant commander of the 1st Marine Division, while Brigadier General Thomas J. Cushman, USMC, deputy commander of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, became both deputy brigade commander and commanding general of the wing’s forward echelon. In an age of specialization this flexibility, which could be matched by no other ground force in any country, is worth remark: the routine step of making the aviator the second in command of the brigade was another promise of close teamwork between ground and air.
From the time of the warning order, division and wing staffs had been hard at work on the problems of mounting out the brigade. The task of bringing the various components up to authorized war strength was complicated by the fact that the summer period of leave and transfer had begun, and by a directive of 3 July from the Commandant of the Corps which required that all sergeants and below whose enlistments would expire before March be transferred and left behind. But leaves were cancelled and transfers rescinded, and not all of the enlisted personnel were willing to accept this high-handed treatment by headquarters.
By 7 July, when the brigade was formally activated, shortages were being filled by personnel from the Marine Barracks at Camp Pendleton and from west coast stations. Supplies and gear were moving from Pendleton and from the storage center at Barstow in the California desert to the staging areas. The time from receipt of the alert had been well employed, but the speed with which the brigade moved out owed much to earlier planning, and to the ten-day readiness stocks of material which had been maintained for both ground forces and the air group. By the 9th, when the first ships became available, embarkation plans had been completed and loading could be begun.
The brigade had been built around the infantry strength of the 5th Marines, with 132 officers and 2,452 enlisted men. The next largest ground component, the artillery, was provided by the 1st Battalion of the 11th Marines, 44 officers and 474 enlisted men. To these were added motor transport, medical, shore party, engineer, tank, and amphibious tractor companies; detachments of signal, ordnance, service, reconnaissance, and military police units; an amphibious truck platoon; and the organic observation squadron, VMO 6, with eight OY observation planes and four H03S-1 Sikorsky helicopters. The air strength of the brigade, the forward echelon of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, was made up of MAG 33’s two day fighter squadrons, totaling 48 F4U-4B aircraft, and one night fighter squadron of F4U-5Ns.
The responsibility for producing the shipping to lift the Marine Brigade fell upon Rear Admiral Francis X. Mclnerney, acting commander of the Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet. To provide this lift a supply expedition which was preparing to sail for Point Barrow, Alaska, was hastily modified, and its commanding officer, Captain Louis D. Sharp, Jr., was designated Commander, Provisional Transport Group. All available ships were incorporated in the Transport Group, and the capacity thus made available was almost enough. Except for some motor transport everything was taken along, but this deficiency would be remedied on the far shore, by capture from the enemy or the Army.
Ground forces of the brigade embarked at San Diego in the three attack transports of Captain Sharp’s Task Group 53.7, George Clymer, Henrico, and Pickaway; in the attack cargo ships Whiteside and Alshain; and in the LSDs Gunston Hall and Fort Marion. Air group personnel and equipment boarded the transport General A. E. Anderson and the attack cargo ship Achernar at Terminal Island; aircraft and airicrews were embarked on Badoeng Strait. On 12 July, exactly ten days after the receipt of the warning order, the LSDs sailed from San Diego with the tanks and the amphibious tractor companies, and two days later the rest of the convoy followed.
General Craig and General Cushman had remained behind to tidy up administrative detail. On the 15th they departed by air from El Toro to Japan, where they arrived on 19 July. Another Marine, however, had preceded them to Tokyo. The Commanding General of the Fleet Marine Force Pacific, Lieutenant General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., USMC, had flown west on the 7th, and on the 10th conferred with General MacArthur. On the same day, as a result of this discussion, CincFE asked the Joint Chiefs for the entire 1st Marine Division.
Part 6. Air Transport and Air Reinforcement
No aspect of armed force has received more emphasis in our time than the military employment of the airplane. First conceived of as a means by which the commander could tell what was going on on the other side of the hill, aircraft have had their principal impact in two other areas: as long-range gun, extending the distance at which blows may be aimed and delivered, and as flying vehicle, capable of the rapid movement of goods regardless of obstacles on the surface of the earth. With ground and surface reinforcements headed westward, it remains to consider the air aspect of the transoceanic deployment in support of the Korean campaign.
This, it need hardly be said, was no independent phenomenon. The use of the air is intimately connected with the course of affairs below. In reconnaissance as in transport, whether of explosives, troops, or supplies, the mission of the airplane is defined by the course of events on land and sea. And while in all these functions the airplane has developed tremendous capabilities, in all it depends on surface logistic support. If, as has so often been said, communications dominate war, the aerial capability has both solved old requirements and imposed new ones in this controlling field.
Command of the air, so essential to western-style war, depends in a transoceanic theater on command of the seas. Like the Army, the Air Force is projected, supported, and sustained by surface shipping. In some sense this fact has been neglected as the result of what may be described as optical illusion. Aircraft in flight, indeed, resemble air theorists on paper in their apparent independence of logistic problems. But although the flexibility of the airplane is extraordinary, within its limits of range and performance, it is equally true that the logistic requirements of a modern air force are immense. Where bases do not exist they must be constructed; where they do exist they must be supported; the appetite for fuel and ammunition, spare parts, shops and tools, runway surfacing, buildings and personnel, which is evinced by any considerable deployment of air strength is a very impressive one. The plane in the air on its mission is the end product of an elaborate, costly, and highly developed organization.
Yet given the base facilities and the aircraft, it is possible to deliver across great distances not only ammunition to the ultimate consumer but much else besides. In the Second World War the possibilities of airborne operations were dramatically demonstrated by the German conquests of Norway and Crete, and by the Allied airdrop into Normandy in 1944. Equally if not more important were the logistic feats accomplished through air supply: in Burma the British planned a whole campaign around this capability; in France, although insufficient air tanker capacity halted Patton’s tanks in 1944, the final advance into Germany saw the airlift bringing up half a million gallons of gasoline a day. Nothing so colossal was to supervene in Korea, although air supply would prove a priceless asset, but from the beginning air transport was called on to assist the overseas deployment.
Since air transport offered the quickest method of alleviating critical shortages, the call for help was urgent. From all services requests came flooding in for vitally needed gear and personnel. For Naval Forces Far East, communicators to handle the dispatch load, boat crews for undermanned amphibious shipping, individuals of all ranks and rates were hurried west to build up personnel to something approaching wartime complement, to staff the expanding base facilities, and perhaps most urgent of all, to staff the staffs. The result of this overwhelming demand was to force an extremely rapid expansion upon the air transport facilities of the armed services, the Military Air Transport Service and the Fleet Logistic Air Wing.
The Military Air Transport Service, operated by the Air Force, is the aerial counterpart of MSTS. Established as a unified logistic organization pursuant to the National Security Act, MATS operates what is in effect a scheduled airline between major traffic generating points around the world. To supplement this schedule by providing feeder service to dispersed naval activities, the flexibility of non-scheduled operations, and something to fall back on in a general emergency when MATS would be pretty well mortgaged to other activities, the Navy had set up its Fleet Logistic Support Wings. Of these there had originally been two, one on each coast, but the passion for centralizing which had afflicted the Defense Department had led to their merger, despite objections from the fleet commanders, into a single Fleet Logistic Air Wing, responsible to the Chief of Naval Operations and with headquarters at Patuxent River, Maryland.
At the outbreak of hostilities three Navy air transport squadrons were employed in the Pacific to supplement the regular MATS schedule. One, under the operational control of CincPacFleet, was operating six R5Ds from Barber’s Point, Oahu; the second was flying four JRM Martin Mars flying boats out of Alameda; the third, with five R5Ds and two R6Os was at Moffett Field. This capacity was speedily to prove inadequate.
On 28 June CincPacFleet asked the Chief of Naval Operations for operational control of the west coast squadrons, and two days later the request was granted. On 1 July, in his capacity as CincPac, Admiral Radford requested the commander of the Pacific Division of MATS to double his lift within ten days. On the 4th, as CincPacFleet, he ordered the Commander 14th Naval District to establish facilities for transport aircraft at Midway, and called upon Patuxent River for an additional increment of planes. Three more R5Ds were at once assigned the Moffet Field squadron, but backlogs were piling up on the west coast, more were urgently needed, and on the 7th the Fleet Marine Force Pacific was asked to contribute ten more transport aircraft.
All this was little enough. Air transport is not always the economical way of moving men and goods, but its expediency in time of crisis creates irresistible pressures. Despite the transfer of additional equipment to the Pacific run, and despite creation of a west coast coordinating office to make some sense out of priorities inflated beyond all meaning, the jam increased. By mid-July personnel awaiting transportation totalled nine times FLAW’s maximum weekly lift, the cargo backload was seven times maximum, and MATS, in a similar situation, was chartering commercial planes. Nor had the theoretical virtues of centralization held up in the emergency: Patuxent River was too far away, and before the month was out CNO had established the Fleet Logistic Air Wing Pacific under the control of CincPacFleet.
By the end of July all available Navy and Marine R5Ds in the continental United States had been appropriated, some had been taken off the Port Lyautey run, and the number flying the Pacific had increased from 11 to 56. This build-up, while speeding vital cargoes, brought its own problems of surface logistics in the need for fuel, parts, and administrative personnel along the route westward through Oahu, Johnston, Kwajalein, and Guam, and in the requirement for the reactivation of facilities at Midway.
In Korea, in the meantime, the air war had begun. Like the war at sea, it began in the exploitation phase. But while command of the air was not seriously contested, there were still logistic and operational problems to solve. To ensure uninterrupted maintenance, both of air transport and air action against the enemy, ComServPac had already requested increased allocations of aviation fuel. To keep the Air Force bombers supplied with ammunition the west coast loading facilities had been reactivated. Happily, there was no need to construct bomber fields in the Far East. The capacity of Air Force bases in Japan and Okinawa exceeded the forces available, and shortly after the commencement of hostilities two B-29 bombardment groups were flown out from the United States to make up, with the 19th Group already there, the Bomber Command of the Far East Air Forces.
Unfortunately the Superforts, so rapidly deployed, were not the weapons best suited to repel the North Korean invasion. Major General Emmet O’Donnell, USAF, who headed up the Bomber Command, wanted to "go to work on burning five major cities in North Korea to the ground, and to destroy completely every one of about 18 major strategic targets." Here once again was the ancient belief, so often disproven and so often reaffirmed, that the flattening of cities will speedily end a war. But the burning process, vetoed in Washington, was somewhat inconsistent with the early concept of police action, and only a confirmed North Korean booster could have discovered 18 major strategic targets in that country. In this war the supplies came from over the border, while the target of priority was the invading army.
Yet if the B-29 was not the ideal weapon to provide what was required, the jet fighters assigned to the defense of Japan were, in the first instance, hardly better. The cycle of strategic planning and weapons design, predicated upon the big war, had all but priced the Air Force out of the kind of operations which were now so urgently needed. Emphasis on the Sunday punch, natural enough under budgetary restrictions which meant that something had to go, had largely eliminated the workaday measures of limited war. But once again, under pressure of emergency, the Air Force demonstrated its notable ability to act with vigor in time of crisis against all its peacetime preachment. In the first week of July the crucial needs of the ground forces brought the decision to reconvert back again, and to abandon the jets for the F-51 Mustang with its superior endurance, lifting capacity, and ability to operate from rudimentary Korean airstrips. The next step was to get more planes.
The obvious imminence of increased aircraft attrition had led the Chief of Naval Operations to include, in his orders of 8 July to the Reserve Fleet, instructions to activate two transport aircraft carriers. But to get these moving would take time, and while there were a few Mustangs in Japan, FEAF’s need for more was urgent. Boxer, recently returned from the Western Pacific and awaiting overhaul, had the capacity and the speed, and was ordered into the breach. After emergency repairs at San Diego, she sailed for Alameda, where on the 8th she began to load. The Air Force got the planes to the docks and on the 14th, carrying 145 F-51s and six L-5s for the Air Force, 19 Navy planes, a Marine GCA unit, and a capacity load of fuel, ammunition, and personnel, Boxer steamed out the Golden Gate and headed west.
By mid-July the waters of the Pacific and the air above them were again bearing westward a great burden of military traffic. Fighting ships and their numerous auxiliaries, Army troops and the Marine Brigade, planes for the Air Force, food, fuel, and ammunition for all were converging upon the Far Eastern theater. Hour by hour the 6,000-mile distance was decreasing. If a line could be held into August a wholly new order of force would be available to stem the Communist aggression. But distances in Korea were decreasing too. By 15 July North Korean forces had covered half of the 225-mile journey to Pusan. The foothold was not yet secure. Whether it could be held depended on the course of events in the Korean hills, in the Korean air, and along the Korean coasts.