A Cryptologist Remembers - Terms
Jake Huffaker was a member of 304th Signal Battalion Operations in Korea from December 30, 1952 to February 22,
1954. Following "Methods of Fighting and Places It Was Used in Korea" is an excerpt from his memoirs.
A plan to land at Kojo (peninsula just south of Wonsan) was proposed as end-around landing on Korea’s Eastern
Coast, in the vicinity of Kojo. Once ashore, the troops would drive southwestward to link up with the 8th Army
and thereby cut off the North Korean Army from its source of Chinese supply. Plan was drawn up in 1951 but Omar
Bradley disapproved of the idea.
For over a year, nothing more was said about Kojo until October 1952, when Vice Admiral Briscoe proposed a
feinting amphibious demonstration to draw enemy troops from their underground front line positions. It was never
intended to land any of our troops, but was hoped that the enemy would send his troops in defense of Kojo, and
as they moved the Navy and Air Force was to destroy them.
This operation was set for October 15th. This called for Corps and Regimental landing. October 6th saw
troop-loading operations commenced at Nuroran, Otaru and Hokkaido where the 8th Regimental Combat Team was
located. October 15th found the troops off-shore awaiting a lull in the bombardment that had been going on for
two days. The troops were on-loaded from the troop ship to the assault boat 23,000 yards off shore. Sea was
calm. 5,000 yards from the beach, the wind whipped up to 35 mph to 40 mph. Boats turned back and by the time
they got to the ship the wind was 55 knots. 26 boats had to be picked up during the gale. Four boats were
completely destroyed during the recovery. Transport group departed for Pohang-dong in South Korea to disembark
the 8th Regimental Combat Team. Bombardment of the area continued for another day. Intelligence reports
disclosed that in the three months following the Kojo feint, the enemy relocated both North Korean and Chinese
Communist reserve divisions from interior positions to coastal areas around Wonsan and Kojo.
"The Mayor of Wonsan" -
This was a gilded key made at ship repair facilities in Japan. On one side was the inscription, "Welcome to
Wonsan." On the other side was "The Bay of Eternal Prosperity." This key was passed from one commander to the
other. Being the "Mayor of Wonsan," a person was given the task of covering destroyers and destroyer escorts,
supervising mine-sweepers and working closely with naval personnel, Marines and Koreans on friendly islands.
"Ulcer Gulch" -
This was a strip of water that U.S. mine-sweepers had cleared of mines and had marked with yellow buoys so
siege ships could get closer to the shore of Wonsan. Communist gunners had "zeroed-in" the marker buoys and made
it dangerous for the ships to get close.
An elite fraternity of blockade ships was organized in July, 1952, called the "Train-Busters." To become a
member of this exclusive organization, a ship had to receive confirmation of a train’s destruction by their
"Tin Pan Alley" -
This was an approach to the main Wonsan harbor where the Communists had guns along three sides, also was
dangerous from drifting mines and planted moared mines as well. If the U.S. had swept the "alley" clear of mines
it would take the Reds only a few hours to re-mine the area. They would tie mines to logs and float them down
the Namdae Chon River into the harbor. After they got the time (using binoculars) that it would take a log to
reach the swept area, they would lash contact mines to other logs, using a pelican hook with a soluble washer.
This soluble washer was timed to dissolve and deposit the mine in the swept area.
"T-Bone Hill" -
T-Bone Hill was a mountain in the western part of North Korea about 15 miles above the 38th parallel. It was
named by the GIs who fought and died there. At the ending of the war the Communists erected an arch of tree
limbs and called out for UN troops to "come over and we will walk through the arch as brothers." This area was
defended by the 3rd Infantry Division.
"Shooting Gallery" -
This was a group of hills behind Wonsan City which the Reds had many guns and would zero-in on ships in the
harbor. In February 1953, when I was in Seoul, it was noted there was an increase in fire from that area. There
were several duds dug up in the rice paddies. They were new Russian Naval 107-MM guns.
Shoestring was the way a type of mine-sweeping was carried out in the early part of 1950. There were only two
groups of ships able to mine-sweep and they worked around the clock following each other in the mined areas,
doing clock-sweeping operations.
This was a limited offensive opened up by the 8th Army, in early March, 1951, in the area east of Seoul. This
move was to outflank the enemy and force him to abandon the capital city of Seoul. Despite some enemy
counterattacks, patrols of the ROK 1st Division entered Seoul during the early morning hours of March 15, 1951,
and found it almost empty of enemy troops. Seoul had changed hands four times in the course of nine months.
"Outpost Texas" -
This was a hill that the GI’s called "Outpost Texas" because of its great view of enemy line and troop
movements. In the early part of June 1953, along the central sector, about 40 miles above Seoul, in the 9th
Corps, 2nd ROK Corps sector, the Chinese, after heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire, succeeded in pushing back
the MLR (Main Line of Resistance) and capturing Capital Hill, Finger Ridge, Outpost "Texas" and portions of
"Operation Yo Yo" -
A meeting on Oct. 19, 1950, was held aboard the Missouri, on what to do about the mines that stopped the U.S.
from going ashore and helping the fast-moving 1st ROK Corps coming up the coast. It was decided to let the
convoy move up the Coast and back in time to arrive off the channel entrance by Wonsan on the 21st of October.
Thus began what the Marines called "Operation Yo Yo"—steam northward 12 hours, steam back southward 12 hours. On
October 18th, 1950, the Marines stepped ashore at Wonsan on a non-assault landing, 22,000 strong and moving
northward toward the twin cities of Hamhung and Hungnam.
"Operation Thunderbolt" -
On Feb. 10, 1951, the UN forces engaged in a limited offensive known as "Operation Thunderbolt" which had
outflanked and forced the evacuation of the Inchon area. The Missouri had been pounding the Inchon area for
three days in a fake landing attempt which made the enemy evacuation more urgent and rapid.
"Operation Strangle" -
This was a scheme, proposed at Gen. Ridgeway’s Headquarters, by which a line was drawn behind the Chinese
lines. Portions of it were assigned to various air forces, asking them to destroy every vehicle, every bridge,
and every target in their area. A one-degree strip of latitude across the narrow neck of North Korea—from 38-15N
to 39-15N—just above the battle line was selected. Sections were divided In each zone, at selected defiles and
passes along the important highway routes, certain areas were designated as "strangle areas" or "choke points".
Two weeks later reports told that number of enemy troop trucks moving at night in each direction was
unchanged. Trucks detoured around bombed-out roads using secondary difficult-to-hit roads. Communist resistance
was intensified by more use of anti-aircraft guns on cross-Korea highway west of Wonsan. By late summer it was
apparent that "Operation Strangle" had failed. The reason was simple: a bomb crater on an unpaved road could not
stop a truck. The hole could be filled too quickly or bypassed.
"Operation Roundup" -
On February 5, 1951, "Operation Roundup" was carried out. This was a small offensive opened up in the central
sector of Korea, and for three days (Feb. 5,6,7, 1951) UN troops moved forward without encountering major
resistance. A Chinese counter-attack developed during the night of 11-12 of February, which used both mass
attack and infiltration tactics. Despite some loss of ground, the UN forces had now learned to roll with the
punch. The Main Line of Resistance was not penetrated, and heavy casualties were inflicted upon the attacking
Chinese. By Feb. 19th, the enemy’s advance in the central sector had come to a standstill.
"Operation No-Doze" -
During the Korean war, no night carriers were used, although a plan to do so (Operation "No-Doze") was
formulated and briefly placed in effect during the last few days of the war. One ship was designated for the job
but had to go to Japan for repairs. Upon her return to Korean waters, the final days of the war were under way,
requiring the all-out close air support of all carriers.
"Operation Little Switch" -
This was an exchange of the sick and wounded prisoners of both sides on April 20, 1953, at Panmunjom, Korea.
6,670 Communist personnel and 684 UN prisoners (149 of them US) were exchanged. I was there in the 8th Army
Crypto at Seoul when they had the exchange. I had the chance to go up there to the exchange, but was afraid the
Chinese were baiting a trap. During the last few days of the war the Chinese increased their fight and made
several suicide efforts to penetrate the UN Main Line of Resistance. At one point in the 1st Marine Division
sector, the Communists succeeded in gaining some ground at a fantastic cost to themselves—16,300 killed or
wounded and 81 prisoners taken. It was concluded that by these victories the Chinese would claim that the UN was
signing an armistice in order to keep them from "winning" the war. One GI summarized the conflict in these
bitter words: "The war we can’t win, we can’t lose, we can’t quit."
"Operation Killer" -
On Feb. 21, 1951, the 8th Army launched still another limited offensive known as "Operation Killer." As its
name implied, the objective was to destroy as many enemy forces as possible. Operation Killer proceeded during
the first few days to gain up to 10 miles a day as the enemy’s rear guard was swept aside by the 1st Marine
Division, which seized the high ground overlooking Hoengsong on Feb. 24th. The Communists fell back along the
entire 60-mile front, having suffered serious casualties.
"Operation Kick-Off" -
On July 18, 1951, the battleship New Jersey returned to the Wonsan harbor area after bombardment along the
bomb-line area to initiate an intensified bombardment plan known as "Operation Kick-Off." For days and weeks
hereafter, ships would fire at known and suspected positions of enemy harbor defenses and gun implacements in
the Wonsan harbor area with both delayed burst and air-burst shells.
"Operation Firefly" -
This was flare-dropping missions carried out through most of the Korean War. Flares would be dropped and
planes would attack by the lights of the flares. This was a popular and effective method of killing enemy troops
"Operation Fireball" -
In early April, 1951, a new method was worked out where the 5th Air Force worked with the Navy in bombardment
of enemy positions up and down the east coast of Korea. The LSMR Division fired 12,924 5-inch rockets at Wonsan
from June through Sept. 1951. Their first and biggest day in Wonsan was the night of May 20 and 21 when
"Operation Fireball" was completed. Two LSMR’s fired a total of 4,903 rockets at Wonsan targets in a 35-minute
period. The 5th Air Force dropped flares and Navy shelled the coast-line targets with star shells and 5-inch
"Operation Common Knowledge" -
The imminent invasion of Inchon, in Tokyo, Japan, became known as "Common Knowledge" because even the
newspapers hinted of something afoot. Syngman Rhee said, "We are about ready to go." Gen. Walton Walker, when
asked when UN forces would take the offensive, replied, "In a very short time." MacArthur’s selection of Inchon
for the breaking of the Communist lines was that it would not be strongly defended. The North Koreans, he said,
would consider a landing at Inchon impossible and insane. MacArthur was right, for enemy opposition to the
landing was nominal. On the first two days of the Inchon landing (Sept. 15 and 16, 1951) the 1st Marine Division
had the following battle casualties: 22 KIA (killed in action), 2 DOW (died of wounds), 2 MIA (missing in
action), 196 WIA (wounded in action) making a total of 222. Army leaders objected to the Inchon operation
because in the event that the landing miscarried, no reserve troops could be sent to Korea for at least four
months and also because of the amphibious obstacles of Inchon itself.
"Old Baldy" -
Old Baldy was a mountain in northeast Korea close to the "Iron Triangle" where heavy fighting for this
mountain was fought as the signing of the cease-fire deadline passed. North Korean girls at the end of the war
could be seen singing and dancing, while Red soldiers waved large papier-mâché Picasso Peace Doves as the
hillside microphones blared out an invitation to "come over and talk."
"No-Name" Ridge -
Aug. 16-17, 1950, found the First Provisional Marine Brigade trying to help eliminate an enemy-held bridge in
the Pusan Perimeter near Yongsan. The Communist Main Line of Resistance lay to the west of Yongsan. The ridge
consisted of six knolls. Aug. 18 found the Marines holding two knolls. Enemy infiltrated additional strength
onto the ridge south of the Marines during the night and was getting ready to regain the two last hills. Marines
ran into four machine-gun nests and called on the Air Force to strike. Smoke bombs were shot to show planes
where the enemy was. The nest was only 50 yards in front of the Marines. One plane with a 500-pound bomb was
used and destroyed the entire enemy nest. The shock to the nearby Marines was intense. They then swept on to
gain all the ridge.
Muffler was an approach (channel) to the Wonsan Harbor where check-sweeps were made to determine if the enemy
had laid new mines.
"Moonlight Sonata" -
In early 1952, a night heckling operation against railroads having the lyrical code-name "Moonlight Sonata"
was begun. The purpose of this operation was to take advantage of the winter snowfall and moonlight, at which
the Korean hills, valleys, rail lines stood out in bold relief. These nights were rare because of overcast, fog
and snow, but this operation was partly successful resulting in five locomotives being destroyed or damaged.
"Mighty Mouse" -
During the night fighting campaign, one new type of ordnance was tried in Korea which proved highly
successful: the 2.75-inch folding-fin aircraft rocket, which had the nickname "Mighty Mouse." Developed
initially as an air-target weapon, this small rocket found peculiar but suitable use as a ground target weapon.
The "Mighty Mouse" rockets were carried in packages of seven and six pods or packages were carried on each AD
Sky rider, with flares and 250-or 500-pound bombs on remaining stations. Each package of seven was fired in a
ripple with a split second between each rocket.
"MiG Alley" -
This alley was the Yalu River dividing North Korea and China. UN bombers were not allowed to bomb China--to
do so might plunge the Free World into a global war with China and Russia. Russia has a defense pact with China.
All along the Yalu River were many defense plants, ammo dumps, and many airfields loaded with MiGs that would
attack UN planes in dogfights along the river. The sites—power dams and bridges which brought supplies to North
Korea—were well-guarded by heavy anti-aircraft guns and automatic guns, some of them radar-controlled. The fire
from these guns was intense and accurate.
"Lamp Lighters" -
"Lamp Lighters" were P4Y’s (planes) which dropped flares so the Night Fighters could see their targets to
bomb. They made rendezvous with night-attack planes over the target. When this was done, a search for enemy
truck lights was commenced by the intruder and the flare plane. Upon finding a suitable target, a string of four
or seven flares would be dropped to illuminate the target area. The attacking plane might also ask for the
flares to be dropped on a certain heading and for repeated runs.
"Iron Triangle" -
This was a section on the Central Front in North Korea between Chorwon, Kumhwa and Pyongyang where the
enemy’s main supply and assembling area was located. At the close of the cease-fire I was sent into the Kumhwa
Valley area just below the Iron Triangle to set up a crypto station in the newly organized ROK Corps. I was
there for a little over 50 days.
Special night operation that commenced on May 13, 1952, had one feature which some of the earlier night
missions had lacked. That was that the planes were re-shuffled so that they were over the target area by first
light of the day. The Communists had noted the time pattern of the night aerial patrols and were withholding
train and truck movements until the naval planes were homeward bound. "Insomnia" schedules stopped this.
"Ink Spots" -
These were heavy enemy batteries (155mm) which were on Mo-do Island, guarding the approaches to Wonsan
harbor. They could reach all the harbor islands and were constant irritation to UN mine-sweepers working in that
"Death Valley" -
"Death Valley" was a road between the mountains along the route between Wonsan and Pyongyang where there were
many well-concealed revetments in which a truck could be hidden quickly. Regarding locomotives and boxcars, the
hundreds of tunnels were excellent hideouts, and there was room inside of them for some 8,000 cars—enough room
to accommodate every train and locomotive in North Korea. Flak traps were plentiful along this road. An open
parachute hung on a tree, dummy trains, trucks, tank; even troops were at key points to welcome attack. Steel
cables were stretched across the narrow valleys into which our planes would sometimes fly. Each of the flak
traps were ringed with well-placed and well-concealed guns.
This was an area north of Inchon in the Chinnampo area where the British Forces operated in May, 1951. This
was a sea area where many mines were laid by Reds to keep off landing behind their lines on the road to their
capital. Check-sweeps were made by UN Forces.
"Chicken Stealer" -
One of the tactics used to advantage by the blockading ships was the use of the ship’s whaleboats for the
detection of targets along the coasts or in harbors, as well as for the direction of the ship’s gunfire and the
capture of enemy supply buildup where a destroyer’s gunfire could not reach. This came to be known as "chicken
During air missions behind the bomb line it was noted that UN had many supplies, troop billets, medical
centers, ammo dumps above ground in the open. It was reasoned to believe the way the Chinese were fighting that
they had to have their supplies in the open somewhere. Pictures were taken showing targets back of the artillery
range of UN forces. A lot of supplies were exposed which would make excellent targets for a concentrated,
surprise and pinpointed attack by planes. This was the origin of what came to be known as the "Cherokee
strikes," named in Clark’s honor because of his Cherokee ancestry. This system was used throughout the war. The
first "Cherokee strikes" were flown on Oct. 9, 1952.
"Carlson’s Canyon or Bridge of Toko-Ri" -
This Bridge is found in a canyon near Kilchu, in central North Korea. Planes bombing North Korea found this
high bridge across a river built 60 feet high and 600 feet long. It was discovered that there were tunnels at
both sides of the bridge along with two tracks for traffic both ways. Another bridge was also under construction
between the bridges.
LCDR Harold G. (Swede) Carlson, leading planes, dropped one span of the bridge, damaged a second, and twisted
two others out of horizontal alignment. The bridge span became known as "Carlson’s Canyon." The communists
repaired the damage done, working mostly at night. Using interlocking wooden beams, called "cribbing," temporary
piers were quickly constructed to replace the two missing spans and to support the damaged one. Planes again
bombed the bridge, blasting it into the river. Communists tried to rebuild by night but night-heckling slowed
them down so they finally decided to build a bypass around the canyon on lower ground where it would be easy to
"Package & Derails" -
"Package" was a shoreline target suitable both for ships and airplanes. The "package" targets were also ones
which would be difficult for the enemy to repair. All of them were along the Main East Coast supply route of the
enemy. If these "packages" could be stopped the flow of enemy supplies from the Manchurian sanctuary would be
seriously impeded. "Derail" targets were ones to be kept destroyed solely by naval gunfire. Like the "packages"
the "derail" targets were along the Coast, accessible to naval gunfire and on the Main Chongjin to Hungnam
railroad. At each "derail", patrolling ships would fire a limited number of shells into them during each 24-hour
"Bed-check Charlies" -
The "Bed-check Charlies" were antique aircraft of two types: YAK-18 Soviet-built training planes (a low-wing,
single-engine aircraft with a cruising speed of 100 knots and a cruising radius of approximately 200 miles) and
PO-2’s (a Russian-built wood and fabric bi-plane with a top speed of 110 mph). Each of these aircraft was
capable of carrying one or two small bombs.
At odd intervals on dark nights (usually about 11 or 11:30 p.m. when the lights in troops billets and
town-streets have just been turned off) singles or small groups of YAK-18 or PO-2s aircraft would fly from grass
fields in North Korea to the Seoul area, flying as low through the valleys as possible to reduce radar
detection. They didn’t come down in Seoul area during rainy, foggy nights. Buzzing low over the city in the
darkness, these raids succeeded in arousing the sleepy city. I got out of my bed as high as three times during
one night, put my clothes on and went to the fox holes back of our barracks on a hill. Air raid alarms would
sound off all over town and searchlights would be lit off and play around in the sky trying to spot one of the
planes. Usually the planes would drop a bomb or two. From our foxholes on the hill we had a pretty good view of
the city and could see all the action going on. We had raids almost every night from the middle of March until
the truce terms were signed.
Shortly after midnight, May 26-27th, 1953, a group of Bed-check Charlies (reason for calling them bed-check
Charlies was that at about the time they arrived over the city, troops were just going to bed, CQ was checking
to see if all troops can be accounted; either in their beds or at work) estimated to be six PO-2s succeeded in
dropping four small 100-pound general purpose bombs and eight 50-pound artillery shells on K-14 airfield near
Inchon, puncturing the gasoline pipeline.
On the night of June 8, 1953, I saw a nine-plane raid on Seoul which killed five Koreans and injured ten. The
first bomb hit only 1,000 feet from President Syngman Rhee’s residence, while another hit a school building 400
yards away. This was all within a half mile from where our compound was located. I remember that night very well
as the planes were already over Seoul about 10 o’clock before any of the lights of the city or troops areas were
turned off. Air raid sounded, lights went out everywhere, and we spilled out of the building and headed for the
foxholes. Daylight caught us one night, waiting out an air raid in the fox holes back of the building.
On the night of June 16, 1953, a 15-plane Bedcheck Charlie raid succeeded in bombing a petroleum, oil and
lubrication dump near Inchon, touching off 52,000 gallons of petroleum products. I can distinctly remember that
night as they came over Seoul about 10 o’clock, you could hear them flying around overhead, sounded like washing
machine motors running. The raid continued for two hours, as searchlights and AA fire crisscrossed the skies.
You could see the oil drums going off as the light would get brighter. This was 40 miles away.
Fifth Air Force or the Marine Air Wing’s planes were too fast for the little planes. The Navy heard of their
problem and sent a wing of slow Corsair F4USN Night Fighters to the Seoul area. It took a week to get the Navy
boys familiar to the area and on the night of June 29, 1953, they shot down two bed-check Charlie planes below
Seoul around Suwon area. July 3, 1953, a fifth enemy plane was shot down. After that the enemy night raids on
Seoul ceased and the city was able to sleep once more.
"Battle of the Buzz Saw" -
During the destructive attacks on Reds by UN ships and planes, the enemy suffered heavy losses in the Wonsan
area. On several occasions during this period the enemy’s fire had suddenly picked up as the Communists made
determined efforts to drive the siege ships out of the harbor. Following a heavy attack by UN on July 6, 1951,
the Reds retaliated with an especially heavy bombardment on July 17, 1951. More than 500 splashes were counted
in the water around one ship. In return, the UN’s three siege ships pumped out 2,336 rounds of 5-inch fire, in a
four one half-hour exchange. This exchange was known as the "Battle of the Buzz Saw."
"Arsenal Hill" -
This was a "hill" located close to "Old Baldy" on the east central front. At the end of the Korean
cease-fire, a man’s voice invited the UN soldiers to join him in the song "My Old Kentucky Home." Other Chinese
soldiers danced and sang, banged pans together, and erected huge signs proclaiming the signing of the Armistice.
"Anchor Hill or Anchor Valley" -
Anchor Valley and Anchor Hill were the same position. Navy used one name and the Army another. This area was
in the Eastern sector around Capital Hill and Finger ridge.
"Chinese Horsemen" -
Horses were not the only four-footed animals used by the Communists in Korea. During the Hungnam
redeployment, Naval airmen reported double humped long-haired Bactrian Camels; also sighted were shaggy,
sure-footed Mongolian ponies."