Joe Wosser’s Korean
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
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
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 4:30. 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 Fergyand
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
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
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
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 Sicily (214)
and Badoeng Strait 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
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 noon 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
Aug 26 At sea. Flew the noon hop because we had a full schedule
with the Sicily in port. We flew CAS for the Army near
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 noon 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
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 with Scotty but he
was killed flying into Itami when they hit bad weather, so I'll be
rooming with Lt Doyle Cole.
Sept 2, 1950 Ashiya, Japan.
This is 20 miles NW of Fukioka on Kyushu and the nearest airfield to
Korea 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 and Korea 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
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
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
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
Sept 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
the 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
Sept 16 At sea. Well, our boys are really moving. They secured
today and are moving out on the roads to Seoul and Suwon with tank
columns leading 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
and 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
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
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 they're just worn out but how can we get new parts when we don't even
Sept 21 At sea. Caught a whole bunch of troops out in the open
getting ready to cross the
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
Sept 23 Inchon, Korea We're anchored in the harbor SW of
Inchon and have been taking on fuel all day. Tomorrow, ammunition from
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
is to be our resupply port now instead of
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
Oct 1, 1950
At sea. We
worked over a little town 10 miles N of
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
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,
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
area so guess that is where we are headed.
Oct 17 At sea. About 80 miles east of
and our hops tomorrow are target CAPs in the
area and to the north - but not too far north. We are less than 200 miles from
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
and then this thing should be about wound up.
Oct 20, 1950 At sea.
It will soon be D-day for the 1st Marines at
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
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
Oct 26 At sea. All of the hills behind
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
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
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
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
Nov 4 At sea. The Captain and Col Anderson left by
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
we've heard that they are going up the West coast so it looks like we are
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
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
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
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,
Spent all day in town and had a Japanese dinner in the Navy Officers Club.
Nov 19 Sasebo,
Potatoes for dinner! Rockets, bombs, and ammo are pouring aboard. Hope they
bring enough food aboard to last out the ammunition!
Nov 20 Sasebo,
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,
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
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 sea.
Supported 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
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
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
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 noon 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
and we spent the rest of the day replenishing. Right now we're steaming for the
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
now and will be off
Inchon in the
Dec 28 At sea. Flew the 1st hop this morning 30 miles North of
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
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
Jan 4 Yellow Sea.
Had the morning strike and we worked over the outskirts of
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
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
Strait with VMF 323, the Sicily with 214, and the Bataan with 212,
which of course warranted a party.
Jan 10 Sasebo,
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
Jan 15 At sea. Packing and leaving the ordnance shop the way we
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,
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,
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
Jan 22 Itami,
Japan. We move
to Bofu, 60 miles SW of
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
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,
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,
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,
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
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
Took off on the 1315 hop and worked 10 miles SE of
and were on target so long we had to refuel at K-1, our
new base at Pusan.
Feb 8 Camp
Besero, Pusan, Korea.
We took off on a 0940 strike today and worked on the East coast just South of
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,
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,
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 his
Flight Log Book is May 4, 1951.