11 thoughts on “This Week in History, By Kel Varnsen, Contributing Author

    1. Kel Varnsen

      Thanks for reading, Floatinggold. I don’t even want to check the mail when it’s 0 degrees outside, let alone take on the Chinese.

  1. Pingback: Bottomless CoffeeSimple Atmospherics, Core Values and Beliefs, A Place to Speak FreelySteve Part 2, We Talk About the Civil War, Trump and Other Stuff: Podcast Episode 8

    1. bottomlesscoffee007

      I’ve been having nothing but problems concerning visibility with this article.

      Here is is Victoria, I know this is not the preferred method, but this is what I can do now.

      Bottomlesscoffee007 asked me to contribute some things to his blog, and I feel like the best use of my time, and hopefully you as his readers, will be to highlight important or interesting events in history that may not be as well known today. If my writing style feels too textbook just stick with me until I write some more things, I’m out of practice. I’m even a pretty funny guy. I laugh at all of my own jokes!

      My first post will be a short piece about the Korean War, with some reading/viewing suggestions for anyone that wants to dig a little deeper. My intention was to finish this earlier in the week to align with the anniversary, but it is still an important enough event to remind people abouteven if it is a little late. The Korean War is often overlooked by the public and even history enthusiasts, despite it being the first and perhaps hottest of the Cold War conflicts. It was also home to some of the most intense combat United States ground forces have ever encountered.

      The specific event that inspired this post is the Chinese Intervention during the Korean War, which began in earnest on November 25th, 1950, when 300,000 Chinese soldiers that had secretly infiltrated Korea launched coordinated attacks across the United Nations front and drove the mostly American force south.

      The war was only five months old, beginning on June 25th, 1950 when the North Korean army, the In Min Gun, invaded South Korea and scored a series of quick victories against the poorly prepared Republic of Korea. After nearly being driven off the peninsula, the US Army was able to shake off some of its post-WWII malaise and inadequate training to break out of the Pusan Perimeter in September, and in conjunction with the amphibious landings at Inchon the overextended In Min Gun was decimated and many units were cut off, captured, or destroyed. The US Army’s took Pyongyang in October, and by November some advance American units had reached the Chinese border with North Korea at the Yalu River. To many it seemed that the war was nearly over.

      The Chinese People’s Liberation Army had been crossing the Yalu into North Korea for much of fall and had tested American units prior to November. In early October, the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division had been hit in a surprise attack and cut off from neighboring units. Other regiments of the division failed to break through Chinese lines to relieve them, and the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment was destroyed as a fighting formation. Despite this heavy contact American intelligence refused to believe the Chinese were committed to Korea in large numbers. The US 8th Army on the western end of the peninsula and X Corps in the east continued to advance north and extend their lines in an effort to bring the war to a close quickly.

      The Chinese attack on November 25th began the longestretreat in US military history as the 8th Army was pushed south, and casualties would have been far greater if not for the rearguard actions of a handful of units that delayed the Chinese attacks. X Corps had advanced more cautiously yet still did not avoid trouble, and by Nov 27th the US 1stMarine Division along with elements of the US Army’s 7thInfantry Division were encircled by roughly 80,000 Chinese soldiers at the Chosin Reservoir. Perhaps one of the most famous events in the history of the Marine Corps, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir was fought in temperatures as low as -35 Fahrenheit resulting in tens of thousands of frostbite casualties between both sides on top of the thousands of combat casualties. It would be two weeks before the Americans would break out of the reservoir. By the time the Americans dug in and stopped the Chinese advance across the front, it was obvious that the war would not be over any time soon. UN forces would retake territory in the coming months, but the frontlines of the last couple years of the conflict would in large part become the modern day border between the two Koreas.

      The first six months of the Korean War have been described by podcaster Dan Carlin as a bar brawl, which is an apt term. At some point in time each side was on the brink of defeat, while from 1951 until the cease fire in July 1953 the war may have reminded some onlookers of WW1, with fixed trench lines and bunkers along a sprawling frontline, frequent small unit patrols and skirmishes, and the occasional offensive to seize an important terrain feature. American forces remain in Korea to this day, and as any casual observer of the news can tell you North Korea remains a nuisance and a fixture of our foreign policy and strategy.

      For any of you that may want to learn more about this conflict, there are a few books that I can recommend, and each of these provided some piece of the information above. TR Fehrenbach’s This Kind of War and Breakout by Martin Russ are excellent accounts from the perspective of American soldiers and marines. Coldest Winter by David Halberstam and The Korean War by Max Hastings are must reads that provide the perspective of a journalist and a historian. Finally, there is an excellent documentary called Chosin that features wonderful interviews with veterans of the Chosin Reservoir. I can’t recommend the books or documentary enough.
      Thanks for reading, and I hope you find this stuff as interesting as I do.

      Photo credit: Quora.com

      Thank you to Kel Varnsen for contributing his article to the bottomlesscoffee007.com blog.

      If you have any questions or comments that you would like state or ask Kel, please email him @: kelvarnsen59@gmail.com

      1. The forgotten war. I’ve done some reading on the ‘Frozen Chosin’. It was brutal…it’s up there with The Bulge, Iwo Jima & Hamburger Hill. The Marines still talk about it.

        Good post.

        Do you use WordPress Dot Org?

        1. Kel Varnsen

          Hi The Hinoeuma,

          Thanks for taking the time to read my post. The Chosin is definitely one of those battles that has shaped the culture and attitude of the Marine Corps. Marines will still be learning about that battle in 100 years.

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