Rangers In Korea: The War The World Didn't Want To Remember, Fought By The Men The World Will Never Forget by Robert W. BlackRangers In Korea: The War The World Didn't Want To Remember, Fought By The Men The World Will Never Forget by Robert W. Black

Rangers In Korea: The War The World Didn't Want To Remember, Fought By The Men The World Will Never…

byRobert W. Black

Mass Market Paperback | March 26, 2002

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A generation before Vietnam, the war for Korea raged. It was as rough and dirty a war as has ever been fought—a war small in history, but very large to the men who waged it. . . .

In the Korean War, one group above all others distinguished itself, a small elite band who volunteered for action behind enemy lines. They were the men of the U. S. Army’s legendary Rangers. They succeeded in making the first combat jump in Ranger history, destroying enemy headquarters, and inflicting the first defeat on Communist Chinese forces while suffering a disproportionate number of casualties.

This is their story, told here for the first time—based on military records, interviews with survivors, and the author’s personal experiences as an American Ranger in the Korean War.
Robert W. Black is a retired U. S. Army colonel who served in Vietnam and with the 8th Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) in the Korean War. He is a member and past president of the Airborne Ranger Association of the Korean War and is currently working on his memoir as a Ranger in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He lives in Carlisle,...
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Title:Rangers In Korea: The War The World Didn't Want To Remember, Fought By The Men The World Will Never…Format:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 7 × 4.25 × 0.75 inPublished:March 26, 2002Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804102139

ISBN - 13:9780804102131

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Introduction   When used in its military sense, Ranger is an American word. The Ranger came into being when early settlers in the New World found that in order to survive they had to blend European discipline and weaponry with the knowledge the American Indian had of distance, terrain, and the tactics of the raid. Since the early 1600s the name Ranger has been woven into the fabric of American history.   The Rangers have always been few in number. An all-volunteer force, they specialize in combat behind enemy lines, performing long-range reconnaissance, ambushes, and raids. They have often been used as shock troops or “Spearheaders” to lead assaults.   During the Korean War these men, who for three centuries went into action by land and water, added a new dimension by also going into battle from the air. Eighteen Ranger companies were formed during the Korean War. Seventeen of these companies were parachutists, or “Airborne” in Army parlance. Seven companies fought in Korea, the mix being one 112-man Ranger company to an infantry division of seventeen to twenty thousand men. The Rangers did “out front” work: scouting, patrolling, raids, and spearheads. These men destroyed an enemy division headquarters, made the first combat jump in Ranger history, and participated in the first defeat of Chinese forces during the war. When the U.N. forces in Korea numbered over 500,000 men, less then 700 Rangers were fighting to the front of every American infantry division on line. They were volunteers for the Army, the Airborne, the Rangers, and for combat. It was dangerous work, and the companies suffered from forty to ninety percent casualties. One of the companies was the only all-black Ranger unit the Army has ever had.   This is their history. How they came to be, their organization and training, their performance in training and combat, and the long-lasting effect these men have had on the U.S. Army.     Chapter 1   In the dark early morning hours of Sunday, 25 June 1950, soldiers of the Republic of Korea huddled at their positions near the 38th parallel. The summer monsoon was beginning; the night rains had been heavy, and the men looked forward to the rising of the sun. Many did not live to see it. At 0400 hours flashes on the horizon heralded the arrival of a new and much more devastating storm—a slashing hail of shrapnel followed by the thunder of Soviet-built T-34 tanks.   A highly trained army of 90,000 North Koreans, well equipped by their Soviet backers and supported by armor and air, fell upon a poorly trained South Korean force of 65,000 men, ill equipped by their American sponsors and without armor or air support.   The Korean War had begun.   The ancient land that was destined to become a battlefield was somewhat equivalent in size to Great Britain or the state of Minnesota. The Korean peninsula, which projects southward from Manchuria, is 500 miles long with a width that varies from 125 to 200 miles, bounded on the east by the Sea of Japan, on the west by the Yellow Sea, and on the south by the Korean Strait. At its southern tip Korea is within 120 miles of Japan.   Seasonal reversal of the direction of the prevailing wind gives Korea long, cold winters and hot and humid summers, with a monsoon season that lasts from June until September. The terrain is difficult to traverse, often impassable to wheeled and tracked vehicles. Less than eighteen percent is flatland, space that is primarily used as rice paddies which, when flooded, swallow an infantryman’s boot in deep mud. Most of the rivers flow swiftly. Korea is a rugged, mountainous country whose peaks rise to nine thousand feet, with slopes that are steep and collared with offshooting razorback ridges. To the infantryman, travel in Korea seemed a continuous climb.   From A.D. 935 to 1932 the Koryo Dynasty (which gave the country its western name) ruled, but because of its proximity to China and Japan. Korea suffered frequent invasion. In 1910 Korea was annexed by Japan. In 1945, following the unconditional surrender of the Japanese, Korea was occupied by U.S. forces for six days.   At the close of World War II the mood in the United States was that with the advent of peace, military preparedness was no longer needed. The American military was emasculated. To the men in the Kremlin the end of World War II presented an opportunity to continue the march toward world communism. This goal was furthered when, in 1949, Chinese Communist armies under Mao Tse-Tung crushed the Nationalist Army forces of Chiang Kai-Shek and drove them from the mainland.   While these ominous events were developing to the north, Korea found itself a house divided. Despite agreeing that Korea should be free and independent, Soviet leadership had long since trained the Korean Communist cadre that was to do the bidding of Moscow.   To Americans (anxious to return to civilian pursuits) the major problem regarding Korea seemed to be the determination of a line north of which the Russians would accept Japanese surrender, while U.S. forces took the surrender in the south. The line agreed upon had no relationship to terrain or military position; it was lifted from the surface of a map, a device used by map markers to show degrees of latitude on the earth’s surface. The ancient land and its people were divided by an imaginary line known as the 38th parallel.   Soon, however, this imaginary line became brutal reality. While the north contained the smaller number of people—nine million, as opposed to twenty-one million inhabitants in the south—it also held the industry that was critical to the prosperity of the agricultural south. The Communists began to turn the 38th parallel into a barrier behind which their cadre could develop a military power capable of uniting the Korean peninsula on Communist terms. The seizure of Korea would be a major step in ousting American influence from Japan, and could eventually lead to a Communist Asia.   In the summer of 1948 governments were formed on both sides of the 38th parallel, with Syngman Rhee elected president in the south and Kim II Sung established as premier in the north. Throughout the remainder of 1948 and 1949, tensions between the north and south continued to increase; Communist-inspired uprisings continually flared in the South and border problems were frequent. On 30 June 1949 all major U.S. forces, with the exception of a military advisory group consisting of approximately five hundred men, were withdrawn from South Korea. On 10 June 1950 the North Koreans proposed to the United Nations that unifying elections be held to select a legislature representative of both the north and the south. Fifteen days after that proposal, the North Koreans, claiming they had been attacked, suddenly launched an invasion. Within three days of crossing the 38th parallel, they had seized the South Korean capitol of Seoul. The South Korean Army had no armor and no heavy artillery or air power with which to oppose them.   With the Soviets absent due to a boycott by their delegation, the United Nations was able to take action. On 27 June 1950 the Security Council passed a cease-fire resolution and directed the North Koreans to withdraw. The directive went unheeded by the north. With South Korean forces in a desperate situation, President Harry S. Truman ordered U.S. Naval and Air Forces to support the South Koreans. Early hopes that air and sea power would suffice were quickly dashed. The ferocious North Korean attack was aided by an incredible blunder by the South Korean military. Critical bridges over the Han River were destroyed by the South Koreans, denying their own forces a route of withdrawal. Large numbers of South Korean soldiers and the bulk of their heavy equipment were lost as a result.   On July 1, 406 men of the 24th Infantry Division arrived in Korea from Japan, the vanguard of the American army. On July 5, near Osan, the small force of Americans engaged an enemy force of superior numbers supported by T-34 tanks equipped with 85mm guns. After a brief, valiant fight, the Americans were driven from position. This began a series of delaying actions as newly arriving, ill-equipped and ill-trained American garrison forces from Japan were thrown into the fight.   On July 7 the U.N. agreed to a unified command in Korea to be controlled by the United States, the principal supplier of men and material. Gen. Douglas MacArthur was appointed Supreme Commander.   From the outset the North Koreans proved skilled at infiltration, and took full advantage of agents and guides planted prior to the war or raised from dissident factions. Americans had difficulty identifying friend from foe as refugees flooded the roads. North Korean units, sometimes dressed in civilian garb, would filter around or through American positions, reassemble, then strike from the rear or at objectives farther south.   By July 8 the North Koreans were at the 37th parallel and more American forces were arriving, including the 25th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division from Japan. On July 13 Gen. Walton H. Walker took command of the American Eighth Army, but inexorably, American and South Korean forces were pressed southward and eastward.   Mid-July found the remainder of the 24th Infantry, the 25th Infantry, and 1st Cavalry divisions in Korea employing troops more accustomed to garrison than the field in a desperate bid to stop the North Korean advance. By the end of the month the Americans and South Koreans had been pushed into the Naktong perimeter—a defensive line along the Naktong river—where four ROK and three U.S. divisions faced eleven North Korean divisions. By 1 August 1950 the North Koreans had cleared the eastern half of the peninsula and bathed their feet in the waters at the southern tip of Korea.   While being forced into a shrinking perimeter, the U.N. forces fought off attack after attack, losing territory but using the advantage of interior lines while building up ground, naval, and air forces. It was a race, with the North Koreans trying to drive the United Nations Forces into the sea before the American buildup, pouring men and material into the deep-water port of Pusan on the southeast tip of Korea, that could succeed.