Transcribed portions from letters referring to
the Korean conflict written by 1st Lt Joseph Lloyd Wosser, Jr., USMC VMF-323
Corsair fighter pilot, to his wife, from the time he left for Korea
on the USS Badoeng Strait until he departed Korea.
July 17, 1950
At sea. Our shots have been completed
receiving my last cholera and typhus today. Aug 2 Itami,
We are staying at the Itami Air Base outside Osaka, Japan and it
is very hot here. Had one bounce hop already. Aug 3 Itami,
I had 2 FCLP hops today. We start flying at dawn and quit when it
is too dark to see the LSO. All the men plus 8 pilots are aboard the
carrier which sailed today. We are to fly our 24 planes out to meet the
carrier in the Sea of Japan.
We bounced again today but it was 100 degrees all day and very humid. Aug 4 Itami Japan We went into Osaka
today which is 10 miles from the base and found it a very modern city with
subways. It has a population of 3,000,000. Flew one FCLP and got 8
roger OK passes so am all ready to meet the carrier off Pusan
in the morning. We had combat lectures and briefings. Aug 5 Iwakuni,
On the way to the ship my plane had hydraulic, radio and fuel transfer
failure so I had to land here and get the plane fixed. Worked with some
patrol plane mech's getting the plane ready, most of whom are in the Royal
Australian Air Force and their strong English accent is as hard for me to
understand as Japanese is - which I can't understand at all! This is
near Hiroshima. Aug 6 Iwakuni,
My plane is ready so I called Itami and they notified the ship
which will send a plane in to show me where the ship is. It is hotter
and stickier here and we also have mosquitoes, so I am looking forward to a
clean ship. I see by the papers that the boys are in action today. Aug 7 Iwakuni,
Another day of waiting. I am the only Marine on the base but I'm
being treated royally. BOQ, courtesy USN; meals, courtesy Royal
Australian Air Force; and snacks, courtesy USAF. However, I am having
trouble getting by the Aussie meats. It's terrible what they do to them
- fried pickled beef and mutton sausage. I couldn't describe what I had
for lunch today in a million years! I have to carry 4 different kinds of
money. Aug 8 At sea. Pop Candle finally flew an
extra plane down from Itami so we landed aboard at . Caught up on the
news aboard ship. They are flying 1 and 2 hops a day over the target.
Chet Hall came aboard with no hook and flipped over on his back
when he hit the barriers. He will be out 2 or 3 months. Capt J
Johnson's hook skipped the wires and he jumped all 3 barriers and landed
on top of Capt Ferguson's plane at the tail and chewed the plane right
up to the armor plate behind Fergy and stopped. Fergy was still in the
cockpit and one blade hit him but he is OK. Aug 9 At sea. Had my first combat hop today. Aug 10 At sea. Lt Doyle Cole had engine
failure over the target and had to ditch his plane in the water off the coast.
A helicopter picked him up so so far we have lost 3 planes and no
pilots. Two hops today. It is still very hot, especially at night
when the ship is darkened and all hatches closed. Aug 11 At sea. When I left the States I had 106
carrier landings and now I have 111. Had one strike so far today and may
have another. It is still insufferably hot but the meals remain very
good. Aug 14 Sasebo, Japan We are now in port to re-supply
so I had to check on cleaning all of the guns, testing the rocket launchers
and bomb racks and supervise loading and stowing ammo. We had memorial
services on the flight deck for Capt Moses. Sasebo
is a very dirty town so we didn't mind the short liberty. Aug 15 At sea. I flew 2 strikes this afternoon,
landing with my lights on at 2035 so I was very tired after 6 hours of flying.
We lost another plane when Capt Penn spun in off the catapult.
He got out OK and the destroyer picked him up out of the water. Also
one in the catwalk but we'll get that one fixed. They sure better get us
some more planes out here for replacements. Aug 16 At sea. Today we heard that Monk Taylor
was shot down but he got out OK and is being brought back to his ship. The
(214) and BadoengStrait
are working together so we fly the afternoon strikes and they fly the morning
strikes and visa versa alternating each day. It is really gratifying to
see how well our Close Air Support works with the 1st Marines. If
only the Army would get off it and start moving, we could start taking back a
little of the ground we've lost. It seems like everything we fly over is
enemy territory except the water, of course. Still very hot so if it
weren't for the air conditioned ready rooms we would be very uncomfortable. Aug 18 At sea. Only had one hop today (3 hrs) It
seems that when we aren't operating, all we do is eat, sleep and write. We
spend a lot of time in the ready room first getting briefed before a hop and
getting interrogated after a hop. What did you hit, results, degree and
direction of dive, armament used, etc. Aug 19 At sea. Only one hop today so will tell about
the country we are flying over. Of course I've only flown over the
southern part of the country. It is very mountainous with lots of rivers
and streams and little villages. No large cities to speak of but
thousands of little villages all connected by a very good network of roads
with plenty of modern looking bridges crossing most of the rivers. Most
of the main roads are paved. Every piece of land that isn't a sheer
mountain is a rice paddy with a terrific system of irrigation which makes the
whole country look very green. There are always clouds over the
mountains and a lot of rain in the high country. These mountains and the
connecting ridges are what most of the immediate flying is over. Most of
our targets have been dug-in emplacements in the sides of hills, tanks,
trucks, ammo dumps etc. Actually we see very little of the Commies as
they hide out most of the day and move at night. Today we burned a little
village about 15 miles behind enemy lines and one of the bombs hit an ammo
dump and really set it blazing. Aug 20 At sea. It is raining now which doesn't seem
to make a difference in flying. 4 of my 13 landings so far have been
made in rainstorms. Luckily the weather over the targets has been good.
Boy, I've really got to hand it to those Marine crunchers, they
really know how to fight. They just pushed the Commies back across the NaktongRiver
like it was childs play. Of course our own squadron and 214 helped out.
The crunchers wait until we soften them up and then move - fast. It's
really amazing to fly over them and watch how they work. The timing is
so exact - the whole secret of success. They catch the Commies when
they're reeling back or dug in deep from our bombing and strafing and then
overrun them right on our heels. Sometimes we're strafing only 40 or 50
yards ahead of our own troops and tanks moving up. You really have to be
careful because sometimes the dust and smoke from artillery fire gets so thick
you can hardly see the ground but you can always see the white phosphorus
shells burst - and then in we go - right ahead of them again. It's
working out just like we practiced it so long ago on all the maneuvers we've
been on and all the precision training we've had. It's really nice to be
getting sharp at the flying again. We're putting bombs and rockets
inside 10' or 20' circles now. Can knock out a jeep or truck in one run.
But we must remember the North Koreans. They, with Uncle
Joe's [Stalin's] help pulled off one of the nicest, smoothest attacks ever
staged. They're well trained, their tactics without an air force are
superb and they don't makethe mistake of attacking in inferior numbers like Hitler
did when attacking the Russians. They outnumber our troops 10 to 1 and
pick up another 1000 men in every village they over run and have the equipment
to supply these new men. I call that planning. That's the kind of
people we're fighting, besides the fact that to them life is cheap. Like
I've said so many times, if it weren't for US Air Power, it would be
all over now. Aug 21 At sea. Dick
Peacock came aboard today with a replacement plane so now we have 3 LSOs.
Lost another plane yesterday - pilot OK Aug 23 At sea. On our hop today we worked
down south near Masaw. I thought we had already taken that
territory but guess when the Marines move out the Commies moved back in.
It's very discouraging as they never seem to run out of men and
equipment. We knock out all kinds of positions all day long and then
start all over again the next day and they are as strong as ever. Our
hops are 3 hours 15 minutes normally, never less because the ship isn't ready
to take you aboard before that time because they're launching another strike
and CAP just as we get back. It takes about 30 minutes to fly to the
target +- 10 minutes and the same to get back so that gives us about 2 hours
on station over the target. They have ground controllers (like Norm
& Hoffer) plus Army controllers in planes tell us where to drop our
bombs or shoot our rockets and strafe. We usually take along a
controller of our own too just to make sure there's no mistake. One of
the majors loaded with smoke rockets goes along with us to mark the targets.
They'll pick out a spot on the map and then the air controllers find it
on the ground and tell us what to hit it with. When there's a push on,
we work close to the lines and sometimes the targets are marked by artillery
smoke shells. Then we make our runs and the controllers go down to
assess the damage. If there's no particular push, we work behind enemy
lines anywhere from a couple hundred yards to 40 or 50 miles. Usually on
direction from ground controllers we'll knock out bridges or roads or burn out
villages where there are troop concentrations. Or sometimes they send us
on Search and Attack missions and anything we spot behind a certain line is
fair game. We sent out 2 special hops today so I fly again
tomorrow. I knew this one day off, one day on business would never last.
This was my 11th strike today
plus 4 CAPs. Aug 25 At sea. No flying again today. For the
last 2 days we've steamed back and forth way up north in the Yellow
Sea but no one seems to know why. Aug 26 At sea. Flew the hop because we had a
full schedule with the Sicily
in port. We flew CAS for the Army near Pohang
and had some pretty nice targets. On one rocket run I flew through an AA
void (where an anti-aircraft shell explodes and leaves the air bumpy, all the
fragments already having gone) and I bounced my head off the top of my canopy
so hard I still have a headache. It started 2 oil leaks in the top of my
engine and coated my windshield with oil and made it darn near impossible to
see the LSO when I came aboard. Aug 27 At sea. Flew the early hop this morning and
worked over in the central sector of the front lines again. Our flight
blew up a supply dump, burned out a village, knocked out a truck, strafed
troop concentrations and knocked out 2 tanks with rockets. Those stories
the Air Force put out about rockets bouncing off tanks is a bunch of baloney.
I think they just missed them to start with! Other than that, the
hop was uneventful! Aug 28 At sea. Got all our planes off for Itami
for our rest leave except Capt House who was shot up pretty badly so
had to land at Itayuki. I had the
hop today - very dull. We spent about 2 hours on armed reconnaissance
about 40 miles behind the lines and couldn't find a thing moving so we went
back up near the lines and worked for an Army controller and got us a couple
of camoflaged trucks. I figure those were about the two most destroyed
trucks in all Korea.
We dropped 2-500# bombs, 23-5" rockets and about 2500 rounds of
20mm ammo on them. Made my 125th landing when I came aboard and had a
roger pass too. Aug 29 Itami,
First day of rest leave. After docking 1-1/2 hours late in Sasebo,
had a terrible trip consisting of boat, bus, train, truck, plane,
weapons carrier, and jeep... through Fukuoka,
Asphia and Itami. Aug 30 Kyoto,
This place is very nice with all electric trains. Japan
has more hydro-electric power than any country on earth. The hotel is
really something, similar to the Royal Hawaiian. I was going to room
Scotty but he was killed flying into Itami when they hit bad
weather, so I'll be rooming with Lt Doyle Cole. Sept 2, 1950Ashiya,
This is 20 miles NW of Fukioka on Kyushu and the nearest airfield
which is very little further than we've been operating with the carrier.
Tomorrow we start working with the Marines again so guess they're going
back into the fighting. Sept 3 Ashiya,
Raining so hard with a typhoon moving up that we couldn't see our props
or wing tips. Clouds were right down to the water and up over 30,000'
As we tried everything to get through we could hear the controllers on
the front lines yelling for fighters. The equipment and supplies
situation is very bad. There are only 2 fields in all Japan
where we can get 145 octane fuel and in all of Japan
there is only one 20mm automatic loading (belting) machine. And those
are only a couple of items. Sept 4 Ashiya,
Back to the old grind again. You can certainly get unused to
sitting on that old parachute for 4 hours at a whack. And it is surely
old and rather discouraging to go bomb and strafe ground you watched the
Marines take. Sept 5 At sea. It sure feels good to be back aboard
ship and reunited with all my gear and clean clothes. We landed aboard
at 1230 except for the last 3 planes who had to be sent back because we are
riding out the edge of a typhoon. Right now we are steaming up the west
coast of Korea.
We picked up 5 new pilots while we were in port and some new (to us)
planes so there are 10 of us in a room instead of 6. Sept 6 At sea. We're running interdiction missions
between Pyongyang & Taejon hitting everything we see. Sept 7 At sea. Today we hit assigned targets,
bridges, north of Seoul just south of the 38th parallel with 1000#
bombs and then just roamed around looking for strafing targets between there
and Inchon. Hit a couple of trains on a siding. Still have
not seen any enemy planes. I put my bomb on a great big highway-railroad
bridge and the darn thing blew up after it went through so didn't knock any
spans out, just blew about a 30' hole in it and made it unstable. Sept 8 At sea. Got me another bridge today. Oster
put his bomb on one abutment to the left and I got it on the right so we
knocked out the first span between us. The 4 planes ahead of us missed
due to a strong crosswind and since we were the last 2 we took advantage of
their corrections and got hits.Also destroyed 3 trucks by strafing. We
worked about 40 miles north of the 38th parallel about 70 miles inland from
the west coast. The country up here is a lot more mountainous and not
quite so many paved roads so it's easy to see why the Reds wanted the southern
part of the country. Sept 9 At sea. Today I had another CAP so it was
just another three hours on the parachute. Capt Booker was on SeoulCity
Sue's program today so he must be OK if they are advertising
the fact that he is a POW. Sept 10 At sea. Had morning strike today and made a
napalm strike on a little island off Inchon.
After dinner we started right in on our party which we always have the
night before we go into port. Sept 11 Sasebo,
It is pretty definite we're not going to get off the ship at all as
we'll only be in about 24 hours. Tomorrow morning we're going to receive
air medals. I'm going to get two to cover my first 20 missions. Last war
they got a medal for every 5 missions. Guess we earned them, just making
the 20 carrier landings is worth it in my estimation. Sept 12 Sasebo,
We are restocking and loading ammo like mad so watch the papers for
something big and we will be right in the middle of it. Sept 13 At sea. Sailed right into a typhoon and so
rough had to stay awake to keep from falling out of bed Wish I could
tell you all of what's going on because it's really interesting to see how an
operation of this sort comes off.
14 D minus 1 At sea.
Today is the 1st time we've used US controllers to handle the fire of
British ships. There were 4 of us, each one to control a cruiser sitting
about 4 miles off Inchon.Oster & Jack Kelley to control
he 2 US cruisers and Sid Fisher
and I to control the 2 British cruisers. Took off at 1145 with 2 belly
tanks full of gas. 1st targets I started firing on were 2 AA guns next
to a baseball park right in the city. One of my adjustment rounds
knocked out home plate but once those Britishers got on, they leveled those 2
guns - also got a tank that was hiding under some big trees. Then I
spotted 6 more AA emplacements on top of a hill. Took only 2 adjustments
and they were right on with a broadside of 9 - 6" shells. Altogether
they fired 5 salvos and got all 6 guns. Then we had to move our target
area out of town because another air strike was coming in, so I spotted some
machine gun emplacements and really gave them a pasting. Sept 15 D-Day At sea. I had CAP, but the boys who
went in on the support missions said the troops had no trouble at all on
taking the 1st island. Sure sounds good to hear the Marines are hitting
the beaches and on the move again. It's really a pleasure to work for
them because they know how to take advantage of our CAS. It seems when
we work with the Army they just sit and watch and forget to move up when we
finish. With the Marines it's almost second nature. Sept 16 At sea. Well, our boys are really moving.
They secured Inchon today and are moving out on
the roads to Seoul and Suwon with tank columnsleading the way. I took off at 0945 and reported in to the target
controller who assigned us a road patrol between Inchon & Suwon. Just then I spotted an
enemy jeep doing about 50MPH. I peeled off with my wingman and caught it
dead center with a burst of 20mm. It swerved off the road and stopped
and then my wingman Van Campen caught him solid. Then we returned
to our assigned target in Seouland really had a field day. We put 6 - 500# bombs, one
napalm and 55 rockets into a yard full of truck trailers and fuel supplies.
It was leveled, along with a locomotive and 2 tank cars we attacked
next. Sept 17 At sea. At 1430 dispatch requested all
planes we could supply immediately to hit targets in Seoul. Inside one hour we had
24 planes fully armed, loaded and in the air - some kind of record! The
admiral was very pleased. I hit a railroad yard east of Seoul with napalm, some vehicles on
the road with rockets & 20mm and some more rockets hit some AA guns.
Our troops were just assaulting Kimpo Airfield as we were
returning so I imagine we'll have planes flying off it in a day or two.l
Since we've been aboard I've only had one fly-away launch and 27 Cat
shots. Sept 20 At sea. 212 and 542 moved into Kimpo
with 312 on their way so it shouldn't be too long before they're set up to
take over all the flying up this way. Over 50 of our guns are not firing
- we've come to the conclusion hey're just worn out but how can we get new
parts when we don't even get mail! Sept 21 At sea. Caught a whole bunch of troops out
in the open getting ready to cross the Han River into Seoul. It was awful! They
had no place to go - couldn't hide; and we just made run after run on them.
Napalm, bombs, rockets and 20mm. When we finished, there were so
many dead lying on the beach we couldn't count them. It really makes you
feel funny to be shooting at them when they have no place to hide. Usually
we never see troops, or if we do, just a few because they are always
camouflaged, but that white sand made them really stand out. 2 of our
planes were hit but not seriously. 214 had a plane shot down but they
got the pilot back after a little trouble. He had a broken leg and the
pilot of the helicopter (God bless 'em) got out and was helping his mech get
the pilot out of his plane; leaving his copter running and just as they got
back to it, it took off with no one in it and crashed. They had to send
another copter out to get all 3 of them. Boy, those copters are really
wonderful for rescue - in fact, for just about everything except fighting. Sept 22 At sea. Here's a song which Major
Lund wrote: [#26 in the Death Rattlers "Sing" book,
Death Rattlers (Ghost Riders in the Sky) Sept 23 Inchon, Korea We're anchored in the harbor
SW of Inchon and have been taking on fuel all day. Tomorrow,
ammunition from barges. Sept 26 At sea. Road patrol NE of Seoul and
really had a field day shooting up trucks trying to get out of the city and
back up north. The Marines were in the city this morning and the report
came in this afternoon that it has fallen now. Sept 27 At sea. Hit box cars N of the 38th parallel
between Sariwon & Pyongyang then flew road recon on the way back to
Seoul. Inchon is to be our resupply port
now instead of Sasebo. Sept 28 At sea. Bombed Chunchon 1/2 way
across peninsula at 37-30 North. Sept 30 At sea. Direct hit on a field piece with a
500# bomb today. Oct 1, 1950 At sea.
We worked over a little town 10 miles N of Seoul which had already been bombed
- waste of time. My roommates are:Les Penn, Capt Warren
"Nick" Nichols, 1st Lt Elwood "Jonsey" Jones, Capt
"Buzz" Beswick, Capt Howard "Fergy" Ferguson, 1st Lt Bill Hall, Capt
Ted Yachik, Bill "Razor" Blaydes. Oct 2 At sea. CAS of the Marines pushing up to
the 38th parallel. When we left station they were about 5 miles from
it and still going. When they reach it I don't know what happens then,
whether we go over or not. Oct 3 At sea. On our way to Itami for rest
leave. Oct 12 Sasebo, Japan Well, as you can see,
we are still waiting for word on what to do. There are so many rumors
going around I can't keep up with them but maybe MacArthur's & Truman's
talk will bring developments. Oct 15 Sasebo, Japan We're sailing tomorrow.
Guess it will be back to Korea again. Oct 16 At sea. Had several lectures on terrain etc
of Northern Korea, particularly in the Wonsan area so guess that is where
we are headed. Oct 17 At sea. About 80 miles east ofWonsan and our hops tomorrow are
target CAPs in the Wonsan area and to the north - but
not too far north. We are less than 200 miles from Vladivostok. Last night it turned
cold. We're just below the 40th parallel. Oct 18 At sea. The news from the radio sounds pretty
good and it looks like there will be a battle for Pyongyang and then this thing should be
about wound up.
Oct 20, 1950 At
It will soon be D-day for the 1st Marines at Wonsan but it will just
be an administrative landing since all the surrounding territory is already in
UN hands. Oct 22 At sea. We had a drawing for possible arrival
dates in the USA. I got Nov
17th. We're flying about one hop every 3rd or 4th day which surely isn't
much and none of them are strikes - just circle and circle. Oct 23 At sea. All I did today was to circle over
shoreline up at the 40th parallel. All the rice has been
harvested now and it's amazing how brown and barren things look now. Flew
over Wonsan and Hamhung and they look so nice, not being all bombed out
like the Southern cities. What little fighting there is is out in the
hills and our troops go through the towns with no resistance at all. Oct 24 At sea. Another extremely dull day. Oct 25 At sea. Flew the morning CAP. As you
have probably gathered from some of my letters, I don't have much of a stomach
for all this killing when I can actually see that I'm doing it. The
precision flying - yes - but to actually see my guns & bombs blow people
to bits is very unpleasant to me. Oct 26 At sea. All of the hills behind Wonsan are covered with
snow. Oct 27 At sea. I had the standby all morning and
then was scheduled for the late afternoon TARCAP. Took off at 1430 and
landed at 1440. The engine started cutting out as soon as I got my
wheels up and almost dumped me in the water before I got it smoothed out.
It still wasn't right so I came back to the ship and made an emergency
landing. My 150th carrier landing. Oct 28 At sea. Had a CAP hop this morning and we
worked about 15 miles south of Wonsan on the coast
where they have quite a few reds holed up in a little town named Kojo.
We have an owl aboard which we picked up at Sasebo. He
flies all around, sits on the lookouts heads and zooms over the bridge at
night. He comes to the movies every night and sets up a terrific
screeching right along with the singers. Oct 29 At sea. I've started working on an article
for the Marine Corps Gazette for the recommendation of a new Close Air Support
plane. Oct 30 At sea. "We're here to stay. Home
in May." This is our latest sad song. Flew from 1400 to 1715
on a TARCAP over the landing going on up at Iwon about 80 miles NW of Wonsan. We spent
most of the time looking for floating mines (didn't find any) and covering
roads looking for enemy troops. Oct 31 At sea. Halloween but no one would know it on
this ship. On the stand by all day. Nov 1 At sea. The Intelligence Officer dropped a
bomb shell in our laps so looks like we will be out here for some time to
come. Nov 2 At sea. I had the early morning CAP so flew
from 0620 - 0940 and it was about the most boring hop I've ever had. We
just circled the whole period and didn't get a single vector. At an
awards ceremony I was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross for my first 35
missions. I still haven't received the three Air Medals that preceded
it. Took on aviation gasoline at sea all afternoon. Nov 3 At sea. Flew close air support 10 miles North
of Pungsan. Nov 4 At sea.The Captain and Col Anderson
left by destroyer for Wonsan and further
transportation to new billets. The 7th fleet was supposed to come up
here & relieve us when they finished resupplying at Sasebo but with the
reversals north of Pyongyang, we've heard that
they are going up the West coast so it looks like we are stuck here. Nov 5 At sea. This morning I had the morning recon
hop and we scouted in the vicinity of Kapsan about 25-30 miles south of
the border and wound up shooting some ox carts and a new outpost they were
building. We came back to the ship right on time but they were refueling
so we had to circle for 60 minutes. Checked out winter flight gear. Nov 7 At sea. At 1030 we received a dispatch
requesting more air support so we sent off 3 special strikes and I was on the
second one. We worked 20 miles West of Wonsan where a bunch of
guerrillas are causing trouble. On my last run of the afternoon, a
rocket and strafing attack, a burst of 20 or 40mm AA fire tore a 10-12"
hole in my right elevator and the fabric kept peeling off all the way back to
the ship. Nov 8 At sea. Had the early morning close air
support working north of Pungsan again. Got a very nice hit on a
machine gun nest with a 500# bomb. This was my 52nd mission and
160th carrier landing. Nov 10 At sea. Spent all morning dashing around the
ship on different drills - new captain, you know. Captain Alderman. Nov 11 At sea. Flew the early morning hop over NW
Korea trying to find a forward air controller who had a target to hit.
We contacted 7 of them before we dumped our load on some mortar
positions up by Kapsaw. We had a pilots meeting stressing that we
need to keep our rooms a little tidier but with 10 men in the room, that is
hard. Certainly am getting tired of beans, rice and stew. Nov 12 At sea. The movie which we saw last night was
about a ship riding out a typhoon which is just what we did today. No
flying after the first two hops had to return and we are sailing through snow
and hail now. Nov 13 At sea. It snowed all day so no flying.
The Sicily is to discharge
214 at Wonsan so if we operate
alone our Fighter Squadron will have one Rear Admiral, 2 Navy Captains, 11
full commanders, and dozens of Lt Comrs plus our 2 Majors! Nov 14 At sea. After the big snow yesterday we
sailed into the clear late last night and ran into the big freeze. When
we got up this morning we had 3" of solid ice covering everything
topside. Nov 15 At sea. We are to steam into Sasebo tomorrow which
will end our 31 days at sea. Nov 16 At sea. We are heading into port right now
and should be tied up at the refueling dock in another hour. The harbor
here is a lot like SF Bay except just one end of it. You come through an
entrance quite a bit wider than the Golden Gate and steam up this land locked channel for
several miles to the anchorages. Nov 17 Sasebo, Japan.
Spent all day in town and had a Japanese dinner in the Navy Officers
Club. Nov 19 Sasebo, Japan.
Potatoes for dinner! Rockets, bombs, and ammo are pouring aboard.
Hope they bring enough food aboard to last out the ammunition! Nov 20 Sasebo, Japan.
Getting our new ordnance shop squared away. Went to town and did a
lot of walking around and had dinner at the Army Officer's Club with E.P.
Carey. Nov 21 Sasebo, Japan.
Getting good food aboard now. Nov 23 At sea. We got underway this morning and so
spent Thanksgiving at sea. We were issued winter flying gear which
consists of long underwear, heavy knee length socks, one piece rubber exposure
suit, special gloves and special boots. We are going to relieve Task
Force 77 which consists of 3 Essex Class Carriers with 4 squadrons apiece
aboard. Nov 28 At sea. Finally flew today after 4 snow days
of no flying. We were assigned to support the ROK Capital Division
in their drive up the East coast to the Soviet border. Flew the
early morning CAP and was up for 3.6 hours and then flew a strike this
afternoon for 3.4 hours and practically had to fight our way to the beach, it
was snowing so hard. Our strike was 15 miles north of Chougjin.
We worked over a couple of ridge lines, a road block, a small village
and some dug in emplacements. I was leading the hop and they wanted us
to drop our bombs and rockets 500 yards ahead of them which we did and strafe
200 yards ahead of them as they moved up to take the ridge line. A
Korean interpreter thanked us very profusely. Nov 30 At sea. After a rain day yesterday, flew the first
strike this morning and after getting through the snow it was very clear on
the beach. We worked with the Marines South of the Chosin
Reservoir and they are bottled up with the Chinese Commies moving in
in force. We had a very good strike against dug-in mortar positions and
artillery emplacements. Landed at Wonsan and saw Bob
Meyer. Dec 1 At sea. Our afternoon hop was in support of
the Marines in the Chosin Reservoir. We supported a couple of
battalions which are cut off and trying to fight their way back. The
controller was so frantic, he couldn't talk fast enough or clear enough but it
made little difference because we could drop our bombs, napalm or strafe in
any direction and hit enemy troops. He wanted us to make strafing runs
closer than 50 feet in front of our men because the Commies were pulling the
pins from grenades and rolling them down the hill into our lines. When
we had expended all our ammo, the next flight was not on station so the
controller requested that we make dummy runs anyway. Dec 2 At sea. Worked over the Chosin Reservoir
again and I am happy to report that some of the men we were helping yesterday
broke out of the trap and made it across the ice to comparative safety. Today
our flight burned out a little village about 3 miles South of the air strip
which the reds had taken over. The commies have infiltrated so far South
that they have the entire 1st Marine Division cut off and isolated, except by
air. Dec 3 At
some reinforcements which are trying to battle their way through to the
1st Division in the Reservoir. The weather over the target was
very poor as it has been all week. I have been flying in weather which
normally I wouldn't even walk in. Dec 4 At sea. Watched Leo Ihli bring his
plane in on one wheel. I took off on a CAP and sprung an oil leak so it
was difficult to see the LSO as I was coming aboard. In the 2nd plane,
the heater didn't work and I about froze my hands and face. Dec 5 At sea. Flew a routine hop near the Reservoir.
The Division is going to pull out and establish a new defense line
around Hamhung. Dec 7 At sea.Hugh "Whiskey" Newell,
one of our AP's was killed today. A good pilot and well liked. Dec 9 At sea. Worked about 10 miles South of the Reservoir
where the 1st Marine Division is still trying to fight their way out of the
trap. Passed 200 combat hours. Dec 10 At sea. We were supposed to have been
refueled and replenished at sea but it was too rough and it snowed all day. Dec 11 At sea. The weather was good today so we took
on lots of supplies. In the refueling area were the Battleship
Missouri, the Philippine Sea & the Navy's latest anti-aircraft cruiser USS Juneau. Dec 12 At sea. Took on ammunition today consisting
of 2100 rockets, 90,000 rounds of 20mm ammo, 100 500# bombs and much more. Dec 13 At sea. Flew the last hop and it was a search
and attack mission. The war has turned into a big strategic
withdrawal. The 1st Marine Division is expected to go to Pusan and stand by. Dec 14 At sea. Had the early morning hop and it was
a routine search and attack mission. Dec 15 At sea. We worked with a Marine Battalion 7
miles SW of Hamhung which had a platoon cut off. Dec 17 At sea. No flying today because of bad
weather; it was so cold and windy that no one could walk on the flight deck. Dec 18 At sea. Early morning CAP and it was very
cold. 20 degrees and 40 knots of wind across the deck. Dec 19 At sea. Got off on a standby this morning and
the main controller of the strike sent us out on a search and recon mission
North of Hamhung. We saw quite a few soldiers but they drive the
civilian women and children ahead of them so we don't hit them. Dec 20 At sea. Flew afternoon strike 5 miles NE of Hamhung.
The way ships are pulling out and moving in that place looks like Grand
Central. Dec 21 At sea. We worked 3 miles NE of Hamhung
on some ridges and buildings which the Reds had moved into. At the
pilots meeting we were told about break-ups and rendezvous sectors while
working with carriers Sicily, Bataan and us. Dec 22 At sea. Took off at 1015 this morning and
worked just North of Hungnam, mostly hitting ridges and
emplacements on the side of hills. Dec 23 At sea. On our hop I took a K-20 aerial
camera and got some good shots. We worked in the Chosin Reservoir
area again as the Commies are bringing in supplies by pack mule. Dec 24 At sea. I went to church this morning after
breakfast, flew all afternoon and went to Christmas Eve service tonight. Dec 25 At sea. This has been one of the weirdest
Christmases I have ever spent because we worked all day. We left the
operating area yesterday when the last evacuation ship pulled out of Hungnam and we spent the rest of the
day replenishing. Right now we're steaming for the Yellow Sea and it looks like we'll start
all over on the other side. Today 28 of us turned out 52,000 rounds in
9-1/2 hours. The Navy with 30 men in 12 hours turns out 15,000 rounds.
Received 2 packages and 21 letters. We broke ordnance expenditure
record 81,800 in a week. Dec 26 At sea. We are steaming up the West coast
of Korea now and will be off Inchon in the morning. Dec 28 At sea. Flew the 1st hop this morning 30
miles North of Seoul right at the 38th parallel.
Nice to be flying over flat territory again but discouraging to see the
same land we have already taken. Dec 29 At sea. Today we worked up near Kunchow
and I really got a beautiful hit right in the mouth of a tunnel with a 500#
bomb and blew it all to bits. On board, one of our 20mm guns went
off on deck and only slightly injured one of the ordnance men but the shell
exploded on top of the fuselage and made 39 holes in the plane causing the
loss of one plane. Dec 30 At sea. It was so rough today that we were
taking water over the flight deck, not just spray, so of course no flying. Dec 31 At sea. I took the camera on our early
morning search and recon hop to photograph all airfields and towns we covered
for intelligence. This finishes 1950 flying with 75 missions, 240 hours
since I left home, 184 total carrier landings and 1855 total flight hours.
EP Carey made the 12,000 landing today which puts the squadron
close to 3,000. At present, the Badoeng and Sicily are flying almost as much as
Task Force 77 which consists of 5 Essex Class carriers. Jan 2 Yellow Sea.
Had the 2nd hop this morning and worked up at Kaesong, 30 miles NW of Seoul, and
the last hop said that the Commies were on the outskirts of Seoul when they left. Jan 3 Yellow Sea.
Have the duty now so no flying. Pop Candle flew a CAP 2-1/2
weeks after an appendectomy. Jan 4 Yellow Sea.
Had the morning strike and we worked over the outskirts of Seoul catching lots of troops
moving in. Jan 5 Yellow Sea.
Working on special ordnance reports. Admiral Morehouse,
Chief of Staff to Commander Naval Forces, Far East, talked to the department
heads and told us a little of the background of this war and said we were
doing a good job. Jan 6 Yellow Sea.
Up bright and early for a dawn TARCAP. We have been at sea 45 days
this time. Jan 7 Yellow Sea.
Finished 2 ordnance reports. Going into Sasebo tomorrow night and await
further orders. Jan 8 Tsushima Straits. No confirmation on any of
the many rumors so we'll have to wait as usual. Jan 9 Sasebo, Japan.
All three ships came into port together, the BadoengStrait with VMF 323, the Sicily with 214, and the Bataan with 212,
which of course warranted a party. Jan 10 Sasebo, Japan. Played basketball on
the hangar deck. Jan 12 Sasebo, Japan.
No word on what's going on but we certainly are taking on a lot of new
ordnance supplies (guns, rocket launchers.) Jan 14 Sasebo, Japan.
If we are to leave the "Bing Ding" tomorrow as reported, it
will be our last day aboard this carrier and I guess we have to admit that it
has been a good cruise and one we can look back on with pride. We broke
all kinds of records, had a wonderful place to stay, made lots of friends (and
lost 3) and altogether learned a lot, fought a lot, played a lot, and I hope,
brought a little more credit to the Marine Corps. Jan 15 At sea. Packing and leaving the ordnance shop
the way we found it. Jan 16 Itami, Japan. At 0900 we had a big
awards ceremony at which I received 2 air medals. The Captain gave us a
farewell message. We got all 24 planes off at 1300, buzzed the ship and
landed here at 1430. This turned into quite a reunion time with Bob
Meyer, Walt Klimek, Norm Vining, and many other former El Toreans. Jan 17 Itami, Japan.
7 of us are living in a house in town. Have been seeing many
friends and listening to all the rumors. Jan 19 Tokyo, Japan.Tracy Johnson & I caught an R5D out of Itami to come here
this afternoon. We stayed in a Japanese hotel with beds 3" off the
floor and hard as rocks. We had a nice tour of the town. Jan 20 Itami, Japan.
Spent most of the day looking around Tokyo and saw Bob Roussalot who is chief pilot in
Chennault's Air Transport. Flew back here because it was so cold at Tokyo. Jan 22 Itami, Japan.
We move to Bofu, 60 miles SW of Hiroshima on the 26th and start flying
missions on the 27th. As soon as they finish the second field at Pusan, we'll move there. Jan 25 Bofu, Japan.
Took off from Itami at 0950 this morning and landed here at 1100
after an uneventful trip. This base was pretty well bombed out in 1945
when it was a Jap field and it hasn't been used since. We are living in
an old Jap barracks. Major Lund was transferred to a Wing job and
starting tomorrow our new CO will be Major Nickolay. Jan 26 Bofu, Japan.
It is very cold here and we have to sleep in our sleeping bags. We
have lots of work to do here such as building chairs, tables, etc. Jan 27 Bofu, Japan.
Took off at 0715 for a hop this morning which proved rather useless.
We are just too far away from everything here to accomplish much good in
Korea. The ordnance set up is
coming along well. Jan 28 Bofu, Japan.
This fresh air is giving me a good appetite and I sleep well now. I
made a writing desk and chair for the room and have been getting permission to
use some special anti-tank rockets for evaluation purposes. The
squadron line is about 2 miles from the BOQ and we walk it both ways. Jan 29 Bofu, Japan. Our hop today was 4.0
hours long and very unexciting. 2 hours up to Seoul, 5 minutes hitting a village 10 miles NE and 1 hour 55
minutes coming back. Jan 31 Bofu, Japan.
Flew another hop and didn't get to drop our bomb load because there was
no target. Feb 2 Bofu, Japan. Roughed a report on
the ATAR's and the boys are really starting to hit with them now. Major
Clark came to replace Major Johnson. Feb 3 Bofu, Japan.
We took off at 0730 and had to battle our way through snow storms all
the way across the channel. We worked for the 1st Marine Division
North of Pohang where they are cleaning out
some guerillas. Feb 5 Bofu, Japan.
We flew from 0850 to 1320 - 4.4 hours - 15 miles straight North of Wonjn
where we worked with an Army controller. We had good targets and
encountered some of the heaviest AA we've seen in a long time. At
the Sqd. party I pitched softball & our Ordnance volleyball team won both
games. Feb 6 Bofu, Japan.
We had a lecture on VT fuzes by 2 Ordnance experts. Feb 7 Bofu, Japan.
Spent all morning preparing the Ordnance department for the move to Pusan. Took off on the 1315
hop and worked 10 miles SE of Seouland were on target so long we had to refuel at K-1, our
new base at Pusan. Feb 8 CampBesero, Pusan, Korea.
We took off on a 0940 strike today and worked on the East coast just
South of Wonsan. Landed here
afterwards. We are living in a tent 16' x 32' (6 or 7 to a tent.) Again,
we start from scratch in furnishings and Ordnance set up. Feb 9 Pusan, Korea.
It has rained most of the day so no flying. I have spent the whole
time building. We are eating C rations which are pretty good except for
breakfast. Feb 10 Pusan, Korea.
Both 214 and 312 arrived today adding to the confusion. Requisitioned
about 16 Korean laborers to help us fill in ground, building walkways, etc.
This afternoon I flew one of the shortest strikes
I've ever been on out here - 2 hours and 35 minutes. We worked 12 miles
West of Pohang with the 1st Marines battling guerillas. Feb 11 Pusan, Korea.HOME!! Our Squadron gets 12 pilots and 45 enlisted men as
replacements so we had a drawing and I was #5. We'll fly to Itami
to get our final orders and mode of transportation. Feb 12, 1951. Pusan, Korea.
I flew this morning - armed recon Chang-Chow-ri -- and very
possibly this was my last hop - my 87th.
Feb 12 was his final Korean War reference in his letters. Next entry in
Flight Log Book is May 4, 1951.