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Buttoning Up the Offensive

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Buttoning up the Offensive
The Marines in Operation Killer

By Lynn Montross
Historical Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps
Reprinted from February 1952 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette
Reprinted with permission to The Korean War Educator

A testimonial from the enemy is always gratifying, even though it be given grudgingly. And after ending a month’s anti-guerrilla operation on 15 February 1951, the 1st Mar Div captured a North Korean courier two days later with a communication paying a reluctant tribute to the Leathernecks.

The intercepted message had been sent by the Chief of Staff of the II Corps of the North Korean People’s Army. It was intended for MajGen Lee Ban Nam, CG of the NK 10th Div—the guerrilla force which the Marines had been hunting in the Pohang-Andong area—and the G-2 translation read in part as follows:

"Get all of your troops out of the enemy encirclement and withdraw to the north of Pyonghang without delay. In case it is impossible to get your troops out of the trap, you may stay in the rear of the enemy and attack their rear positions." But this possibility could not have gleamed very brightly, for the message ended on a dubious note, "Do your best to get out of the enemy line."

Unhappily for North Korean purposes, there was not much left of the NK 10th Div to be salvaged. About 60 percent of the original 6,000 to 8,000 troops had been destroyed, according to a Marine estimate. During the process the 1st Mar Div had chopped the remnants into small groups driven into hiding by day and flight by night. So hard-pressed was the enemy that a dozen minor roadblocks were the main achievements of a month’s guerrilla operations behind the United Nations lines. [1]

The wreck of the NK 10th Div retained some nuisance value, of course, as long as the half-starved survivors were skulking in remote mountain areas. But the enemy had few other capabilities left to him, and it was believed that an understrength ROK division could handle the situation after relieving the Marines.

On 16 February, in accordance with Eighth Army orders, the 1st Mar Div began its move to the Chunju sector in the center of the UN line. At this time the division was made a part of IX Corps, commanded by MajGen Bryant E. Moore.

The Chungju move was a turning point for the Marines in more ways than one. In such past operations as Inchon-Seoul and the Reservoir, the division had been the best trained and most experienced major unit of X Corps. Naturally it had taken part as the landing force of amphibious assaults and spearhead of offensives. Even in the Pohang guerrilla chase, the division had been in effect a self-sufficient little army, carrying out its own special mission.

All this was changed now. Henceforward the 1st Mar Div would be a unit of one of the largest and most cosmopolitan armies in which Leathernecks have ever served.

The United Nations establishment of February included units from 12 countries—Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Most of these contingents, ranging from company to battalion strength, consisted of picked men who gave a good account of themselves in action. It might also have been noted that the Eighth U.S. Army itself had undergone a transformation since the late summer of 1950, when the Marines had the fireman’s role in the Pusan perimeter.

At the outset the Communist aggression in Korea found the democratic world unprepared. The first U.S. Army troops were sent straight from occupation duty in Japan to the firing line. Many of these men were soft physically and lacking in combat training. No soldiers of American history, in fact, ever drew a much more rugged assignment than the Army outfits thrown into action piecemeal during the early weeks.

Even during the two great Eighth army withdrawals, there was little room for censure at the platoon level. A well-known military critic, making a first-hand survey of the U.S. 2d Inf Div retreat of November 1951, found "countless examples of extraordinary initiative and high individual courage… but none of utter dereliction or miscreancy." [2]

Of 16 infantry company actions examined in detail during this survey, only a single platoon appeared to have yielded ground for any cause less serious than exhaustion of ammunition. And in the exceptional case, only 11 men were left unhurt in a routed platoon which brought off its own wounded.

Barely five weeks after the November retreat, the Eighth army was hit by another CCF counteroffensive launched on the last night of 1950. Again the attackers smashed through a sector held by weary and thinned ROK divisions, so that the other major units had to withdraw to avoid envelopment.

Inchon and Seoul were abandoned by the enemy by UN forces which had fallen back around 200 miles from 1 December to 10 January. Such a record would not seem to offer stimulating food for morale, yet the Eighth was by no means a beaten or disheartened army. It was, on the contrary, a confident and aggressive army made up of combat-wise troops who had met the test of adversity.

The proof came when the new commander, LtGen Matthew B. Ridgway, began a rapid-fire series of Eighth Army offensives only a few days after the retreat ended. At this time the UN Forces held a line extending from the vicinity of Ansong on the west coast through Chechin and Marung-ni to the east coast. The Eighth army was disposed with I Corps on the left, IX Corps in the left center, X Corps in the right center and on the right the battleworn ROK Army.

The first offensive operation began on 15 January. A I Corps task force, spearheaded by a U.S. infantry regiment, drove nearly to Suwon without meeting serious opposition.

This reconnaissance-in-force ended on the 17th. Five days later a IX Corps task force, probing northward in that sector, also encountered few enemy troops.

The Eighth army command lost no time at exploiting the CCF reluctance to engage. A new operation began on 25 January as another reconnaissance-in-force, but this time I and IX Corps employed a division each. The advance was in multiple columns "for the purpose of seeking out the enemy and inflicting the greatest possible damage."

Suwon and its airport were captured the next day. The pace was slow and methodical, with all units keeping close lateral contact and mopping up pockets of resistance before proceeding. More and more troops were committed until the operation could no longer be called a reconnaissance-in-force. It had turned into a full-scale offensive for the purpose of gaining and holding ground as well as destroying enemy forces.

Each day until the end of the month saw limited gains made and an estimated several thousand enemy killed. Thus on 1 February the UN front lines ran from the vicinity of Ansan on the west coast through Kumpojang and Wonju before dipping in a southeasterly direction to the east coast.

Not only was the advance continued in the I and IX Corps sectors, but a new limited offensive was planned for 5 February in the zones of the U.S. X Corps and III ROK Corps. This meant that the entire Eighth Army would be committed along a 70-mile front, with the I, IX, and X Corps in line from west to east. Still farther to the east were the three understrength corps of the ROK Army.

The 1st Mar Div was in Eighth Army reserve along with the Philippine 10th RCT and the Belgian and Canadian battalions. By this time the Leathernecks had pinned down the largest body of Communist troops to infiltrate into UN rear areas after the January retreat. During the operation the 1st Mar Div managed to train 3,387 replacements who arrived in January and the first week of February to relieve the hundreds of veterans selected for departure in accordance with rotation policies. These new men were given combat instruction by being sent on self-sufficient patrols which ranged far into the remove mountain areas to track down groups of NK guerrillas.

So much progress was shown during the first two weeks of the Pohang-Andong guerrilla hunt that CG Eighth Army inquired when the Marines could conclude the operation. MajGen Oliver P. Smith, CG 1st Mar Div, replied on 5 February that he could be ready when a relieving force was assigned the responsibility for the area.

The question of a new sector for the division had already been discussed late in January, when Gen Ridgway asked Gen Smith to confer with him at Suwon. The Eighth Army commander had considered using the 1st Mar Div north of Wonju on the central front or along the east coast in place of I ROK Corps. Gen. Smith was asked to submit recommendations, and after consulting with his staff he replied on 2 February that various factors favored the employment of the Marines on the east coast.

Most of these factors derived from the capabilities of the division as the single major unit of Eighth Army which was fully trained and equipped for amphibious warfare. If such an operation were to be desired at some future date, the Marines could mount out from the east coast with a minimum of logical friction. With their organic ANGLICO (Shore Fire Control Parties and Tactical Air Control Parties), they could be supplied from the sea; and their Shore Party specialists would be able to develop port facilities for the support of the division.

After receiving Gen Smith’s message, CG Eighth Army directed his staff to plan for employing the 1st Mar Div on the east coast. Nearly two weeks later, however, he summoned the Marine general to Taegu on 12 February to discuss the possibility of using the division on the central front.

The date is significant. For it was within the last 24 hours that the enemy had reacted to Eighth army pressure with a large-scale counterattack which threatened to wipe out UN gains on the central front.

This was the first serious block thrown at the UN forces rolling steadily northward as one limited offensive followed another. In the X Corps sector, it is true, the new drive of 5 February had found hard going after the early spurts. But I and IX Corps continued to advance, and on the 10th resistance seemed to collapse west and south of Seoul. The U.s. 25th Inf Div, pushing ahead 11,000 yards that day, secured the port of Inchon and Kimpo Airfield. Months of rebuilding would be required, however, before the air base could be made operational or the destroyed harbor facilities even partially restored.

On the morning of the 11th, Seoul was within sight of UN forces occupying the south bank of the Han. But that sub-zero night dated the violent counterattack launched by elements of the CCF 40th and 66th corps and NK V Corps in the Hoengsong area of the U.S. IX Corps front. The enemy effort followed a familiar pattern. Two ROK divisions were overwhelmed by the first CCF blows, and their retreat made it necessary for other UN units to withdraw. As a consequence Hoengsong had to be abandoned on the 12th to the Communists hammering out a salient in the direction of Wonju.

Reports of UN reverses were coming in that day as Gen Ridgway conferred with Gen Smith about the next mission of the 1st Mar Div. The Eighth Army commander recognized the advantages of committing the division to the east coast, where it would be in readiness for amphibious operations. But he considered the Seoul-Yoju corridor the logical avenue of a major CCF offensive; and he wished to have the Marines, as "the most powerful division in Korea," relieve the 24th Inf Div in the Yoju area of the X Corps sector.

Gen smith, upon his return from the conference, put the logistical problems up to his staff. But there was to be no Yoju mission. Further UN losses of ground occurred south of Hoengsong the next day, and Eighth Army plans were changed again. On 13 February the 1st Mar Div received a warning order to be prepared to move on 48 hours’ notice either up the east coast or to Chungju. The latter seemed the more likely destination, since it was a road junction of the corridor on the central front which CCF forces might use for a great offensive.

Chungju it was. An Eighth Army operation order of the 15th directed the 1st Mar Div to occupy positions in that area, prepared either to defend or to conduct further operations under operational control of IX Corps. The 2d ROK Div relieved the Marines, and the move by road and rail to Chungju commenced.

A shortage of organic transport added to the complications. Although the 1st Mar Div had taken pride in bringing its equipment out from the Reservoir, the reward of virtue was a collection of old and worn vehicles. As a further irony, other outfits which had lost their trucks were able to requisition new ones.

While the Marines were making their move, the CCF counteroffensive continued full blast along the central front. Units of the U.S. 2d Inf Div, surrounded in the Chipyong area, put up a stout three-day fight until an armored column cut through to the rescue. The UN forces were not guided by any unrealistic concept of holding ground to the last ditch. They sold it dearly, however, by defending favorable terrain or even counter-attacking with the support of napalm air strikes. Nevertheless, the enemy had penetrated east of Wonju by the 17th, and another CCF column drove within seven miles of Chechon. These advances seemed to be for the purpose of relieving UN pressure on the Seoul area, but Eighth Army staff officers did not discount the possibility of an all-out CCF offensive on the central front to divide UN forces and sever vital supply lines.

As it proved, personnel losses and depleted supplies gradually brought the CCF attack to a standstill after it had driven a bulge into the central front. Gen Moore reported to Gen Ridgway on the 18th that one of his regiments had probed forward without meeting opposition. This intelligence was passed on to X Corps, farther east, and patrols in that sector also found evidences of a CCF withdrawal.

Gen Ridgway made a practice of giving the enemy no time for rest and recuperation. That very evening, therefore, he planned Operation Killer—the fourth successive attack to be launched by Eight Army units since their January retreat. (Map 1)

This new limited objective offensive, like its forerunners, was designed to inflict maximum damage rather than to gain ground. Nevertheless, Gen Ridgway had determined to recover full possession of the hill mass north of Chungju. It was for this purpose, he informed Gen Moore on 15 February, that the 1st Mar Div had been employed. "The force which holds Chungju," said Gen Ridgway, "has the situation in hand."

The overall scheme of maneuver called for the 1st Mar Div, as spearhead of the IX Corps advance, to relieve the 2d Inf Div and attack in a northeasterly direction through the Wonju basin from a line of departure north of Wonju. The object was to cut off enemy forces which had penetrated south and east of Hoengsong, and to recover control of the roads running eastward by seizing the high ground just south of the town.

Wednesday, 21 February, was set as D-day. The northwest flank of the 1st Mar Div was to be protected by the 1st Cav div and 27th British Brig, including the Australian and Canadian battalions. And in the X Corps zone, on the east flank of the Marines, the 7th Inf Div was to make a simultaneous northerly advance up the Yong-wol-Pyongchang road.

All these movements, in Leatherneck parlance, were to be coordinated in a tightly "buttoned up" offensive, with the forces keeping close lateral contact and maintaining the integrity of units. Patrol observation and reconnaissance were to be stressed, and even lack of opposition would not justify a unit in advancing ahead of schedule or by-passing hidden pockets of resistance.

The terrain of the Wonju Basin did not favor the attack. Rock heights, abounding in precipices, glowered down upon a region of narrow valleys and swift streams. The river Som, largest of all, ran from northeast to southwest through a defile cutting across the western part of the division area. Bordering this twisting stream was the main road, the Wonju-Hoengsong "highway"—a poor dirt trail even by Korean mountain standards. The only other road, crossing the eastern part of the area, was a narrow track scarcely fit for vehicular traffic.

It is believed that the enemy would make a strong stand at Hoengsong because of its value as the hub of roads in all four directions. The town served the enemy as a supply center; and a CCF division, the 196th of the 66th Corps, was reported to be dug in along the ridge to the south.

Gen Ridgway was on hand for the jump-off of the 1st Mar Div at 0800 on 21 February. On several previous occasions he had reiterated his basic directive to the Eighth army. "We are fighting a numerically superior enemy," he was quoted as saying at a high-level conference of 16 February. "We must make up for it by good footwork, by maximum use of movement, combined with firepower."

These words might have been used to describe previous Marine operations in Korea. Although the Leathernecks were better known for their amphibious capabilities, they had demonstrated at Naktong Ridge, Seoul, and the Reservoir an unusual mastery of small unit operations, both offensive and defensive. The terrain in Korea and the techniques employed by the enemy made it primarily a small-unit war. At any time a battalion, a company, a platoon, or even a fire team might be compelled to become temporarily self-sufficient; and in these fights for survival, Marine maneuver and firepower paid big tactical dividends.

Operation Killer dated the first occasion in Korea when the 1st Mar Div took part as a unit of a large army making an advance in line on a wide front. But Marine doctrine did not stress self-sufficiency at the expense of coordination; and the "buttoned up" attack had been no novelty in 1st Mar Div actions. Thus the division scheme of maneuver of 21 February envisioned an advance by two regiments in line, keeping close contact with each other and with the Army units on either side. (Map 2)

RCT-1, on the left of RCT-5, passed through elements of the 2d Inf Div and 187th Airborne RCT and attacked from a Wonju line of departure toward the high ground east of Hoengsong. Little opposition was encountered by RCT-1, with the 1st Bn leading, in an advance of four miles along the Wonju-Hoengsong road. The forward battalion dug in at dusk on high ground about three miles from the objective, and the 2d Bn moved up on the right. The night was uneventful except for the dispersing of two small enemy groups in the 1/1/ area with mortar and artillery fire. RCT-5 had meanwhile pushed its 1st Bn abreast of this position without contacting any enemy.

The same formation was used the next morning when that regiment again moved forward without meeting any resistance. It was a different story in the zone of RCT-1, where the 1st Bn was topped by heavy automatic and small arms fire from Hill 166, the western knob of a ridge overlooking the Wonju-Hoengsong road. The men tied in for the night with the 2d Bn in readiness for a joint assault. And in the morning, after a brisk artillery preparation, the two battalions launched a frontal attack.

By 0900 the 2d Bn had gained a foothold on the center and right of the ridge which permitted observation on Hill 166, the objective of the 1st Bn. Two effective air strikes were called on the position, which the 1st Bn secured at 1015.

That afternoon both battalions jumped off to attack the next ridge line. They met a stubborn resistance from CCF troops defending log bunkers with mortar, automatic, and small arms fire. The fight was hot and heavy for a few minutes, but elements of the 2d Bn decided it by seizing portion of the ridge just to the left of the enemy bunkers. From this point they swept down the ridge line, overran the CCF mortar positions, and put the enemy remnants to flight. That night RCT-1 dug in on the high ground overlooking Hoengsong from the south.

RCT-5 pulled up abreast on the right to occupy three hills south of the town on the road leading east. The next morning that regiment met its first resistance when the 1st Bn stormed Hill 212 as the 2d Bn secured the high ground on the right flank. Meanwhile, in the zone of RCT-1, Marine tanks led a 1/1 combat patrol into Hoengsong itself.

Although the enemy had abandoned the demolished town, the two battalions of RCT-1 came under CCF mortar and artillery fire from the ridge to the north. Both CPs were shelled until counterbattery work by the 2d Bn of the 11th Marines silenced the enemy.

Thus the first phase of the Marine participation in Operation Killer ended with the assault regiments organizing their positions on the Corps objective and sending out patrols. RCT-7, in division reserve since D-day, had been patrolling the Wonju area and receiving the daily air-drops of supplies which were necessary to relieve a critical gasoline shortage.

From the beginning the logistical situation had given more trouble than the enemy. Heavy traffic had almost literally broken the back of the MSR, so that immediate and extensive repairs were required. Violent rains compounded the problem by turning rear area roads into quagmires, and streams into torrents. Marine engineers being needed for bridging in the forward areas, Division requested that IX Corps engineers be assigned to the maintenance of the MSR. It was also urged that indigenous labor be employed to assist in moving supplies.

Otherwise the first phase of Operation Killer had ended satisfactorily. Eighth Army units on either side of the 1st Mar Div had made gains, and the Marine capture of Hoengsong on the 24th nearly wiped out the salient left by the recent CCF counteroffensive. That same day brought bad news, however, with the announcement of Gen Moore’s death from a heart attack after an accident in which his helicopter crashed into the Han River.

Gen Smith was appointed to temporary command of IX Corps, and BrigGen Lewis B. Puller, his ADC, assumed command of the 1st Mar Div. [3] When announcing this decision, CG Eighth army said, "General Smith is to be taken into their hearts in IX Corps, and, by definite action, made to feel that he belongs there."

The next few days were devoted to planning and preparations to resume the attack on an enemy reported to be withdrawing northward. This intelligence led to Eighth Army changes in corps and division boundaries with a view to shifting the direction of attack from northeast to north. In the zone of the 1st Mar Div these amendments meant that RCT-5 on the right would be pinched out by the 3d ROK Div of x Corps. On the left, the zone was extended by bringing RCT-7 into reserve. (Map 1)

The 1st Mar Div was directed by IX Corps order to continue the advance on 1 March and secure the high east-west ridge about one and a half miles north of Hoengsong. The town occupied a valley at the confluence of two rain-swollen streams, so that a triangular area of low, flat ground lay between the abrupt hills on all sides. From the high ground of their first objective line, the Leathernecks could look across this soggy plain which stretched past Hoengsong to the ridge which much be taken in the second phase of Operation Killer. (Map 3)

Marine air support was on a new basis. In February the units of MAW-1 had returned to Korea, after a reconditioning period in Japan dating back to the Hungnam evacuation. Upon their return to combat, the various squadrons came under direct Air Force control. This meant that Marine air would no longer be at the call of Marine ground troops according to Marine precepts. Instead, it would be directed by the Fifth Air Force through a central agency by the support of other Eighth Army units as well as the 1st Mar Div.

On 1 March there were six squadrons of MAW-1 in Korea. MAG-12 was represented by VMF-312 and VMF (N)-513, both based at Pusan. MAG-33 consisted of VMF-214 and VMF-323 (Pusan), VMF-312 (carrier-based), and VMF-311 (Pohang).

The 1st Mar Div scheme of maneuver for the new attack was conditioned by the terrain. For the ridge north of Hoengsong was separated by a bisecting road and stream into three distinct masses. The boundary between the two assault regiments passed through the central mass, so that RCT-7 had Hills 536 and 333 as objectives, and RCT-1 had Hills 321, 335, and 201.

It was apparent that RCT-7 had the harder task, since its zone contained the more rugged terrain in greater depth. It would be necessary for this regiment to take its first objectives, moreover, before RCT-1 could advance on the right without being held up by flanking fires from those heights.

Thus on 1 March, with the resumption of Operation Killer, the 1st Mar Div had probably the most difficult assignment in the Eighth Army. In the zone of I Corps the enemy grip south of the Han had been broken, and patrols found no signs that Seoul was being held in force. Enemy withdrawals were also indicated in the sector of X Corps, so that the UN front now stretched in a relatively straight and unbroken line from Inchon through Punwon-ni and Hoengsong to the east coast in the vicinity of Samchok.

Again the 1st Mar Div was breaking ground for a new Eighth army advance as the 2d and 3d Bns of RCT-7 attacked to seize the first hills west of Hoengsong. Little opposition was met at first from an enemy resisting briefly on each ridge before falling back to the next one. Both battalions pushed ahead about 1,000 yards before the 2d encountered heavy automatic and mortar fire. The CCF forces held an elaborate system of long bunkers along reverse slopes, but by nightfall the battalion had slugged its way to the forward slopes of the objective. Gains of about 1,500 yards were made in the zone of 3/7, where the enemy also put up a fierce resistance in prepared positions.

The day’s encounters were a foretaste of those to come in the zone of RCT-7, where the terrain was too rugged in places for vehicles. Supporting arms never played a more important part. Marine tanks found lucrative targets among CCF strong points; Marine artillery fired 54 missions on 24 target areas; and Marine air flew 30 sorties.

On 2 March the other Marine assault regiment had its turn. Although the boundary lines had not been changed, the regimental commanders agreed upon a maneuver in which 3/1 was to cross over into the 3/7 zone for a combined assault on the high ground along the west bank of the river Som. Gains in this quarter would permit RCT-1 to move across the Hoengsong plain against the hills in its zone.

Both battalions jumped off at 0800 and met astonishingly little opposition from an enemy who appeared to be using tactics of withdrawing at night to defend new ridge lines. Thus the two battalions secured their objective by 0945 and finished mopping up at 1220.l The 3d Bn of RCT-1 returned to its own zone for an assault on Hill 303, which fell to George Co at 1315 after another light resistance, though it took until 1600 to destroy CCF remnants dug in on the reverse slope.

The securing of the high ground west of Hoengsong enabled the 2d Bn of RCT-1 to cross the river behind tanks. After an intense rocket and artillery preparation, the column drove through the town and advanced northeast to seize Hill 208. The two assault battalions of RCT-7 were meanwhile advancing from a half to three-fourths of a mile in their zone.

On 3 March the assault troops of RCT-1 took their IX Corps objectives against light to moderate resistance. The enemy made a determined stand on 2d Bn objectives, Hills 201 and 335, but an air strike was called to evict the defenders while the 3d Bn advanced north to take Hill 321. Late that afternoon both battalions had reached the mopping-up stage when the 23d ROK Regt reported that one of its companies had been driven back, exposing the right flank of RCT-1. Able Co of the 1st Bn was brought up to hold Hill 335 while the 2d Bn moved over to protect the regimental right flank.

It was in the zone of RCT-7 that the enemy showed an almost suicidal resistance. The 1st Bn was summoned from reserve to attack Hill 536 and cover the regimental left flank while the 3d Bn continued its advance toward Hill 333. The 2d Bn, in the center, had the mission of assisting the other two with supporting fires.

Not only were the two hills natural fortresses, but both bristled with log bunkers and camouflaged mortar emplacements. It was a day of hard slugging for RCT-7, which lost most of the 14 killed and 104 wounded reported by the 1st Mar Div. By nightfall the 3d Bn had reached the ridge just south of Hill 333, but the 1st Bn met stiff resistance and dug in about one and one-quarter miles short of Hill 536.

A tactical anticlimax is seldom disappointing to the assault troops, and the two battalions of RCT-7 which jumped off the next morning were pleasantly surprised to meet little initial resistance. Most of the Chinese had apparently withdrawn under cover of darkness, and the rest offered only delaying actions before abandoning Hills 333 and 536 in their retreat northward.

This was the final chapter of Operation Killer. It did not mean, however, that the fighting had ended on the central front. As usual, Gen Ridgway and his staff had been planning a new offensive before the old one ended. Late in February it was decided to kept he enemy off balance by continuing the advance of IX and X Corps toward the 38th parallel. Another object was to outflank the Seoul area from the east, and the new plan would be known as Operation Ripper.

The Seoul corridor and the central corridor by way of Hoengsong, Wonju, and Chungju were still considered the most probably routes for an all-out CCF offensive. By securing the hills north of Hoengsong, therefore, the Leathernecks of Operation Killer had placed the Eighth army in much better position either for defense or the resumption of the offensive.

Marine losses had not been heavy in view of this outcome. The total of 393 battle casualties included 48 killed, 345 wounded, and two men missing in action. The enemy, it was estimated by division G-2, had 1,868 casualties—1,255 killed, 570 wounded, and 43 taken as prisoners.

On 5 March, the day after Operation Killer ended, MajGen William H. Hoge, U.S. Army, arrived to take command of X Corps. Gen Smith, released from his temporary duty, resumed the command of the 1st Mar Div just as orders were received for Operation Ripper to begin on 7 March. Again the central front was to be the scene of the main line-bucking effort, and again the Marines were to carry the ball.-


[1] An article in last month’s Marine Corps Gazette was devoted to the Pohang guerrilla hunt. Previous Marine operations in Korea have been described in Gazette articles appearing in consecutive issues from June to December, 1951.

[2] S.L.A. Marshall: "CCF in the Attack,"

[3] MajGen Edward A. Craig, until recently the ADC, had departed for CONLUS duty and was succeeded on 2 February by Gen Puller, formerly CO of RCT-1.


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