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How O.P. Smith saved 1,500 Marines

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  • How O.P. Smith saved 1,500 Marines

    I realize a lot of people are fans of MacArthur. I know his surprise landing in Korea, defied all his protagonists, yet he overstretched his bounds, as we all know, I've read a lot of books on the Korean War, and I encourage all, if they get a chance, watch a youtube video of Thomas Rick's discussion of how Marine General O.P. Smith, a humble, strong , smart man, defied the brass, to keep his guys intact. It's an hour long discussion on of all things, the Berkley Campus! O.P. Smith a 1913 grad! I know from my readings, that his leadership, disregarding MacArthur's " puppet" , Arnold( close to name, sorry), and a useless commander, blamed his prior record on blacks, a racist on top of it. He allowed the brilliant Col. Ray Davis to link up w/ Col. Barber's guys at the pass, and Fight their way down to the 1st w/ Chesty Puller, or as O.P. Smith said, " we are fighting, only in a different direction". I appreciate that some quiet heroes get their due!

  • #2
    Originally posted by BrianBoru2485 View Post
    I realize a lot of people are fans of MacArthur. I know his surprise landing in Korea, defied all his protagonists, yet he overstretched his bounds, as we all know, I've read a lot of books on the Korean War, and I encourage all, if they get a chance, watch a youtube video of Thomas Rick's discussion of how Marine General O.P. Smith, a humble, strong , smart man, defied the brass, to keep his guys intact. It's an hour long discussion on of all things, the Berkley Campus! O.P. Smith a 1913 grad! I know from my readings, that his leadership, disregarding MacArthur's " puppet" , Arnold( close to name, sorry), and a useless commander, blamed his prior record on blacks, a racist on top of it. He allowed the brilliant Col. Ray Davis to link up w/ Col. Barber's guys at the pass, and Fight their way down to the 1st w/ Chesty Puller, or as O.P. Smith said, " we are fighting, only in a different direction". I appreciate that some quiet heroes get their due!
    Mac disregarded much intelligence and factual Chinese troop strength
    he disregarded that UN forces were hit hard--''bloody nose'' in early Nov, but the Marines did well
    weather below 30, very tough, mountainous terrain, supply lines being extended everyday!, 1 main road, etc and he [ and Almond ] thought it would be easy to get to the Yalu
    the newspapers even printed the Chinese quotes that they would not stand for UN troops past the parallel
    the Chinese offensive in late November was one of the most inept intel failures ever..and one of the biggest reverses in US history
    one of the Marine intel officers said a boy scout troop could hold them off in that terrain, weather etc...
    what ''helped'' the Army East of Chosin was Marine Air, or it would've been ''worse''
    I researched this a lot.....East and West of Chosin ..
    you mean Gen Almond?
    Last edited by Moulin; 15 Nov 16, 12:09.

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    • #3
      Calling Lt Gen Almond 'incompetent' is a bit of exaggeration. He was quite competent. He was also very aggresive. If his name had been Patton he'd fit right & be a demi god of war. However as is attributed to another Army officer 'Ned attacked when it was appropriate, and he attacked when it wasn't' appropriate.

      The day before the main Chinese offensive around the resivoir launched Almond flew up to the forward regiment of the 7th Div: TF McLean; and confered with Col McLean. He was told there were multiple regiments of Chinese in the hills on all sides of the TF & McLean recommended digging in. Almond ordered McLean to continue the advance as per the corps>division orders. He had already stopped at the Division HQ where he had been told similar intel & had a recommendation the division consolidate so TF McLean could be supported

      ALmond then flew over to the CP of the Marine Div & was told the same story by Maj Gen Smith. As with the 7th Div Almond dismissed a recommendation to consolidate & dig in. Almond felt aggresive advancing would disrupt the enemy and prempt their plans.

      Maj Gen Smith disobeyed Almonds orders & directed his lead regiments to go over to the defense that evening. There was no effort to advance by the Maries the next day, other than a few small patrols in the early morning. Col McLean attempted to comply. He died the next day trying to lead a counter attack to prevent his command from being cut in half. His XO Lt Col Faith took over & the regiment has been since known as TF Faith.

      Since Maj Gen Smith disobeyed what amounted to a direct order he was liable to relief of command and assorted charges & court martial. For whatever reason lt Gen Almond & his staff never took action on this.

      Previously during the planning for the Incheon operation MacAurther had been nearly alone in his decision to attack near Seoul vs landing much further south. Lt Gen Almond and the others saw the southern landing site as closer to the man enemy army and more likely to trap a portion of the NKPA, and with less risk. Maj Gen Smith was one of the few supporters on the Incheon/Seoul objective & advised Mac that the risk was worth taking.

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      • #4
        General Almond was responsible for the lack of success of the 92nd Infantry Division in World War II. He was from Virginia and graduated from VMI. It would be hard to expect him to have no prejudice against Blacks and Black Troops. He was highly regarded by General Marshall and sent to the Black 93rd Infantry Division as Assistant Division Commander. From there he was sent to the 92nd Infantry Division. He did a lot of staff work between the wars and after the end of WW II. He was identified by MacArthur as a highly competent officer. MacArthur tended to show favoritism to certain officers and Almond was one of them. All Black units between the World Wars faced even worse discrimination than they faced before WW I. When they were spread out in small garrisons in the West, they faced hostile Whites but at least they were able to take out their frustration in combat with the Indian Tribes. The only combat they saw after 1900 was in the Philippines. Senior NCO's quickly learned in the interwar period what the mainly Southern raised officers wanted from them and supplied it. I would not care to have been a Black Enlisted Man stationed at say, the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

        Being a favorite of MacArthur, Almond gave him what he wanted. MacArthur got him his third star. Almond was quoted as saying command of the 92nd Infantry Division in WW II kept him from higher command. He was kept in command of X Corps by General Ridgeway, but considered him to be overly aggressive and needed close supervision. He was rotated back to the US in 1951 where he took over the Army War College. He retired in 1953.

        A quote of his: "No White Man wants to be accused of leaving the Battle Line, but the Negro does not care...people think being from the South, we don't like the Negroes. Not at all, but we know his capabilities. And we don't want to sit at the table with them."

        Pruitt
        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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        • #5
          history shows Almond did not analyze the situation correctly--
          difficult supply and march route--weather and roads terrible
          terrain favors the defender-not attacker...the USMC has base camps behind the front, going the other direction--not forward
          we see Almond's X Corps pushed entirely off the peninsula !
          Army east of Chosin destroyed
          Marines intact, and destroyed numerous Chinese units by disobeying Almond

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          • #6
            '''Almond was slow to recognize the scale of the Chinese attack on X Corps, urging Army and Marine units forward despite the huge Chinese forces arrayed against them. Displaying his usual boldness, he underestimated the strength and skill of the Chinese forces, at one point telling his subordinate officers "The enemy who is delaying you for the moment is nothing more than remnants of Chinese divisions fleeing north. We're still attacking and we're going all the way to the Yalu. Don't let a bunch of Chinese laundrymen stop you." '''

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            • #7
              Bugout Doug screwed the pooch in Korea. Almond would have been a good leader if he had someone over him keeping him on a short leash.
              Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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              • #8
                YT Documentary

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHotyyg0x_E
                O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy. And the Lord did grin. And the people did feast upon the lambs, sloths, carp, anchovies, orangutans, breakfast cereals, fruit bats

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                • #9
                  When General Almond helicoptered into the 7th Div east of the reservoir then over to the Marine's CP....Martin Russ, author of The Last Parallel, told me that Alexander Haig, as an aide, accompanied him.
                  I often think how much easier the world would have been to manage if Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini had been at Oxford. Lord Halifax

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ktnbs View Post
                    When General Almond helicoptered into the 7th Div east of the reservoir then over to the Marine's CP....Martin Russ, author of The Last Parallel, told me that Alexander Haig, as an aide, accompanied him.
                    your point?

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                    • #11
                      No point, other than an aside to a fascinating event.
                      I often think how much easier the world would have been to manage if Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini had been at Oxford. Lord Halifax

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ktnbs View Post
                        No point, other than an aside to a fascinating event.
                        hard to believe Almond thought it would be ''easy'' going....

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                        • #13
                          First time I became aware of any of the details of the"battle" was when I read Eric Hammel's, Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War in early 90's and it blew me away. I was living in a remote Alaska village at the time.

                          I wanted to know more about it....so no internet...no local library but I fondly remembered The Last Parallel by Martin Russ which I had packed along with me since I got it years before, and through directory assistance, I finally connected with him by phone in 95 or so on a cold call.

                          I explained that I loved his book and wanted to pick his brain on that and the Korean war in general - which he expounded on - and then I asked him about Chosin. He told me at that time he was writing his own book on it. (Breakout, came out in 2000) and had many interviews with survivors amongst his research. It was incredible. Too bad I didn't take notes or manage to record him cause he revealed a lot of anecdotes and among them was Haig doing the ride along with Almond. He went on great length about Ed Stamford the Marine FAC (Boyhood14 call sign) and many others.

                          We had two calls over that week each going over an hour and a half. He got me turned on to most of the other books on the war and Chosin and his opinions on what he thought were the better ones and some insights as to why or why not.

                          I checked his obit, (Russ's) and he passed in 2010 at 79. Real kind and patient with me...plus I think it was his favorite topic!
                          I often think how much easier the world would have been to manage if Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini had been at Oxford. Lord Halifax

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ktnbs View Post
                            First time I became aware of any of the details of the"battle" was when I read Eric Hammel's, Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War in early 90's and it blew me away. I was living in a remote Alaska village at the time.

                            I wanted to know more about it....so no internet...no local library but I fondly remembered The Last Parallel by Martin Russ which I had packed along with me since I got it years before, and through directory assistance, I finally connected with him by phone in 95 or so on a cold call.

                            I explained that I loved his book and wanted to pick his brain on that and the Korean war in general - which he expounded on - and then I asked him about Chosin. He told me at that time he was writing his own book on it. (Breakout, came out in 2000) and had many interviews with survivors amongst his research. It was incredible. Too bad I didn't take notes or manage to record him cause he revealed a lot of anecdotes and among them was Haig doing the ride along with Almond. He went on great length about Ed Stamford the Marine FAC (Boyhood14 call sign) and many others.

                            We had two calls over that week each going over an hour and a half. He got me turned on to most of the other books on the war and Chosin and his opinions on what he thought were the better ones and some insights as to why or why not.

                            I checked his obit, (Russ's) and he passed in 2010 at 79. Real kind and patient with me...plus I think it was his favorite topic!
                            Last Parallel is a great book....
                            my dad said he was a little disappointed when he was contacted by Russ for Breakout, and he declined to give an interview...but his best friend is in it...they were reservists, so a lot them were in the same unit
                            I do have Breakout in my collection
                            Parallel is easy to read.....but I do find the pre-1970 books like that......better authors/etc ?
                            Last edited by Moulin; 18 Feb 17, 08:14.

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                            • #15
                              Has the U.S. Navy given any thought of having a ship named in his honor?

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