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Unforgettable: The Korean War

Korean War Timeline

CIA Files Show U.S. Blindsided By Korean War - June 25, 2010 - NPR

Sixty years after it started, the Korean War is not yet officially over, and the story of its origins is still unfolding. A batch of newly declassified CIA documents indicates the United States and the South Korean government were caught unprepared for the conflict, in part because of intelligence failures and mistaken assumptions.

Korean War Map1

The Korean War Begins

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 as the heavily armed and well-trained North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel - the border between the two Koreas at the end of World War II. North Korean artillery and mortar barrages began hitting South Korean positions along the 150-mile width of the peninsula. Then an invasion force of 90,000 troops and 150 Soviet-built tanks carried out coordinated assaults into South Korea.

Forces pushed to Pusan

American Forces Pushed to Pusan.

The first battle between American and North Korean troops, on June 25th did not go well for the Americans. The Americans and South Koreans fought desperate delaying operations as more American units were rushed to Korea. By the end of July, the North Koreans had pushed the U.N. forces to the southeast corner of the peninsula, where they dug in around the port of Pusan.

By the night of June 28, Seoul had fallen and the South Korean forces were in disarray. The United Nations had just passed a resolution recommending that "the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area."

Inchon counter


The course of the war completely changed overnight by the launching of an amphibious invasion at the port of Inchon, near Seoul. American forces gained control of Inchon, recaptured Seoul and cut North Korean supply lines. American and ROK forces broke out of the Pusan Perimeter and chased the retreating enemy north entering a new phase of the war as they pushed across the 38th parallel into North Korean territory.

A New War

A New War

An all out offensive to the Yalu River, marking the Chinese-Korean border, had just started when the Chinese launched 300 thousand troops against the American forces on the night of November 25th. The American forces were pushed back down the Korean peninsula losing Seoul.



On January 15 the U.N. began a slow advance north... inflicting heavy casualties on Chinese and North Korean troops. Seoul was recaptured on March 15 and patrols crossed the 38th parallel two weeks later. General MacArthur wanted restrictions removed from his forces and was fired after challenging President Truman. A stalemate ensued. The war ended on July 27, 1953.

More Information

Easy Company (E-Company), 13th Infantry Battalion, was the first Marine Corps Reserve unit from Tucson, Arizona, activated for the Korean Conflict in July of 1950.

E-Company Marines Remembered is a tribute to the men who could not return from the battlefields from their comrades who did. The surviving members of Easy Company have made it their responsibility to honor their memory by remembering the great sacrifices they made for their country.

About the Program

“Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.”

The words etched on the Korean War Memorial commemorate the service, commitment and sacrifice of the U.S. armed forces members who fought a war against communism half a world away. However, for 60 years the Korean War was referred to as a “police action,” “the Korean conflict” and “the Forgotten War.” Yet, in all senses of the word, it was war. While millions died and many more suffered from the hostilities, the nation collectively “forgot” about or ignored the war and its veterans. Unforgettable: The Korean War uses historical movies and personal photos combined with emotional remembrances to reveal the individual stories, the pride, the patriotism, the gallantry, the sacrifice and heartache behind “the Forgotten War.”

Easy Company

In this homage to Korea’s forgotten fighters, veterans recall some of the searing wartime memories that were etched into their hearts and minds. Some memories are shared, such as the frigid winters, the death of friends and the gripping fear of combat. Other stories are much more personal: a fellow medic stepping on a landmine as he rushed to care for others torn apart by another mine; observing a MiG up close for the first time; dealing with racial tension in the newly integrated units; and racing through heavy fire to save another soldier, just to name a few.

Unforgettable: The Korean War also goes beyond the battle stories to recount the aftermath of the war. When the peace talks finally ended and the fighting stopped, it was a generally thankless nation that greeted the returning troops. All of the veterans’ effort and sacrifice went largely unacknowledged by their fellow citizens. Though fought by an international force assembled by the United Nations, it was as if the war didn’t exist outside of Korea. As veteran Spencer Titley from the United States Army recalls, “I know no great novel written about it. And there is no poetry written. No songs. Nothing on the culture side marks the passage of Korea. It was basically over and done with and forgotten.”

Unforgettable: The Korean War serves as reminder that no war, nor the people involved in it, can or should truly be forgotten. Though the nation may have collectively “forgotten” about the war and its veterans, to those who fought it, the Korean War is unforgettable.