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Striking Back

Combat in Korea, March-April 1951

William Bowers

Publication Year: 2010

Striking Back: Combat in Korea, March-April 1951 is the second book in a three-volume series about the Korean War, examining the fighting that occurred during the late winter and early spring of the war’s first year. By the beginning of March, UN forces shifted strategic focus from defense to offense. In April, the combination of stabilized fronts and the enemy’s failed attacks made conditions ideal for launching combat offensives. The brutal nature and strategic significance of these campaigns is described in the book, which includes analysis of their profound influence on the remainder of the war. William T. Bowers provides detailed battle narratives based on eyewitness accounts recorded by Army historians within days of the operations. Through his use of personal accounts, official records, war diaries, and combat reports, Bowers sheds new light on the conflict in Korea, making this volume a must-read for military historians.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Battles and Campaigns

Front cover

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A Note on the Text

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Colonel William T. (Tom) Bowers died September 18, 2008, at Bethesda Naval Medical Center at the age of sixty-two. Tom was a combat decorated soldier, scholar, and family man with an impressive military and educational background. As head of the Histories Division of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, he oversaw the writing of official histories of Vietnam and Korea, and mentored

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pp. ix-xii

Much can be learned about war from studying the thirty-eight months of fighting in Korea from June 1950 to July 1953. Military operations ranged from rapid advances and withdrawals and amphibious landings and evacuations, all reminiscent of World War II, to static operations interrupted by set-piece battles and vicious raids ...

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Note on Maps

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pp. xiii-xv

A number of the maps used in this work were rough sketches drawn by soldiers as they recounted their experiences during the Korean War. As such, the maps employ a variety of symbols for terrain and military operations. To ensure clarity, notations have been added to some sketches. Whenever possible, the standard military and topographical ...


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pp. xvi-xviii

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1. Korea and the Cold War World

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pp. 1-20

March 1951 opened with UN forces on the move across the Korean peninsula. Two months earlier the situation was much different. The success of the Inch’on landing in September 1950 and the subsequent destruction of much of the North Korean army and its equipment had turned to stunning failure for UN forces with the ...

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2. Grenade Hill: 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment, 14–16 March 1951

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pp. 21-37

After reaching Line Albany (see map on page 19) on 13 March, the advance of Operation Ripper continued almost without pause to the north. In the 7th Infantry Division sector on the right flank of X Corps, the terrain to the north was mountainous with few roads. Securing the roads and passes was critical to keeping the advancing forces supplied. The 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry, drew the mission ...

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3. Breaking the Hongch'on Defense Line: 3d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 13–18 March 1951

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pp. 38-73

When the second phase of Operation Ripper began on 14 March 1951, the enemy initially fell back before the UN advance, except for small rearguard forces. These groups of Chinese and North Koreans sought to delay the progress of the UN troops to buy time to strengthen their main defensive positions on high ground north of the Hongch’on River and to evacuate supplies stockpiled at their ...

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4. Supporting the Attack: 3d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 13–18 March 1951

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pp. 74-88

Effective logistical support was one of the key factors in the success of the 3d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, during its March advance in Operation Ripper. The battalion operations—the movement over extremely rugged terrain to the Hongch’on River, the successful attack on the main enemy defense line, and the sustained advance through ...

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5. Operation Tomahawk: 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 23–24 March 1951

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pp. 89-130

One tool available to General Ridgway that could be used to trap and destroy part of the enemy forces was the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (RCT). From its arrival in Korea in the fall of though the results of its airborne operations, through no fault of the regiment, had been less than expected. The drop north of the North ...

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6. Task Force Growdon: 21–24 March 1951

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pp. 131-150

The other part of Operation Tomahawk was an armor-infantry task force assembled in Seoul to advance ahead of the I Corps troops and achieve a linkup with the 187th Airborne Regiment at Munsanni. The task force was built around the 6th Medium Tank Battalion from the 24th Infantry Division of IX Corps and was called Task Force Growdon after the tank battalion commander, ...

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7. The Advance East: 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 24–25 March 1951

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pp. 151-177

Operation Courageous, begun on 22 March, was the continuation in the U.S. I Corps area of the Operation Ripper advance that was taking place farther east. The Courageous plan was to sweep north almost to the 38th parallel, with the objective of destroying major North Korean and Chinese units. However, after two days it appeared that the operation was another failure. The airborne drop ...

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8. Cutting the Uijongbu Road: 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 26–28 March 1951

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pp. 178-219

The plan to quickly move the 187th Airborne RCT fifteen miles to the east to block the retreat of the Chinese facing the U.S. 3d Infantry Division near Uijongbu was frustrated by rain and poor roads, which slowed the advance. By the end of 25 March enemy resistance in front of the 187th had stiffened. The airborne soldiers were still almost three miles from the Uijongbu road, but there remained ...

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9. Operation Swing--The Push to the East: 23d Infantry Regiment, 4–8 April 1951

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pp. 220-230

Before Operation Courageous ended, General Ridgway ordered a further advance. Intelligence reports indicated the enemy was preparing for a general offensive but was not yet ready to attack. Ridgway decided that a continuation of the movement forward to Line Kansas, a phase line north of the 38th parallel that ran generally ...

Photo insert

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pp. 232-262

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10. Operation Swing--The Thrust North and the "Swing": 23d Infantry Regiment, 4–14 April 1951

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pp. 263-311

While the 3d Battalion pushed east along the road paralleling the Soyang River and the 1st Battalion guarded the rear and right flank, the French Battalion on the left and the 2d Battalion in the center moved north toward the Hwach’on Reservoir. The thrust to the north initially met some opposition, but it soon appeared to promise ...

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11. Hwach'on Dam--Attacks in the West: 1st Cavalry Division, 9–10 April 1951

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pp. 312-340

In early April, as the 23d Infantry Regiment of the 2d Division (X Corps) engaged in Operation Swing to clear the enemy from the southeastern end of the Hwach’on Reservoir, the 1st Cavalry Division (IX Corps) closed on Line Kansas at the western edge of the reservoir. The 7th Cavalry Regiment was the division’s attacking force. ...

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12. Hwach'on Dam--The Amphibious Assault: 1st Cavalry Division, 10–12 April 1951

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pp. 341-379

While supply officers and engineers worked to obtain support, detailed planning and preparations for the amphibious operation proceeded. Captain Anderson explains the activity of the 4th Ranger Company. ...

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13. The Hant'an River Crossing: 24th Infantry Regiment, 10–12 April 1951

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pp. 380-407

In the west, Operation Rugged saw the I Corps drive forward to the Hant’an River while the IX and X Corps pushed north to the Hwach’on Reservoir area in the east. After reaching Phase Line Kansas, the I Corps’ 25th Infantry Division prepared to continue the advance when Operation Dauntless was launched. The 25th ...

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pp. 408-411

UN forces continued to push north as Operation Dauntless unfolded. In the 25th Infantry Division sector, the 24th Infantry Regiment, flanked by the Turkish Brigade on the left and the 27th Infantry Regiment on the right, gained the Pogae-san high ground south of Ch’orwan after crossing the Hant’an River. To their east, the 24th ...


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pp. 412-433

Bibliographical Essay

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pp. 434-438


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pp. 439-450

E-ISBN-13: 9780813173603
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813125640

Page Count: 504
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Battles and Campaigns

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Subject Headings

  • Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Participation, American.
  • Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • United States. Army -- History -- Korean War, 1950-1953.
  • Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Campaigns.
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