Remembering the Korean War

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
It was June 25, 1950 and a group of U.S. B-29 bombers stationed at the base in Guam began bombing targets in North Korea.

The action was a direct response to the North Korean People's Army crossing the 38th parallel into democratic South Korea, in an attempt to reunite both halves of the country into a single, communist nation.

"President Harry Truman referred to the operation in Korea as a 'police action," in order to avoid an official declaration of war, which required approval from Congress," said Ryan Warner, 28th Bomb Wing historian. "In 1986 Congress retroactively declared the conflict an official war."

Mr. Warner said although the B-29 strategic bombing of industrial targets wasn't as effective as the leadership at the time had hoped, the use of aircraft to attack other ground targets was vital in destroying the few roads and railroads leading from the north to the south. Their destruction helped to cripple North Korean transportation of reinforcements and supplies.

According to the U.S. Centennial of Flight commission, when the NKPA's 13th Infantry chief of staff was captured in Sept. 1950, he said "half of our personnel had lost the stamina necessary to fight in mountainous terrain."

Not only did the Air Force perform close air support and interdiction raids during the Korean War, but it also matched itself in the air against the North Korean MiG-15 fighter, designed by the Soviet Union.

"The MiG-15, which debuted on Nov. 15, 1950, had an excellent design and performance," said Mr. Warner. "It was quickly matched up in high-speed dogfights against the American f-86 Sabre. The two jets were pretty equal, as far as performance and capability - so the deciding factor in most dogfights came down to pilot skill, which the United States held the advantage in."

The U.S. CoF commission said, "The American pilots were well-trained, mostly World War II veterans. The North Korean and Chinese pilots had received cursory training in the Soviet Union and had no combat experience."

After more than three years of conflict an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 between the United States, North Korea and China - to date there is still no peace treaty.

Several years after the armistice signing, Far East Air Forces commander General Otto Weyland said, "We are pretty sure that the Communists wanted peace, not because of a two-year stalemate on the ground, but to get air power off their back."

However, with no official resolution to the conflict, Korea still remains a divided nation with U.S. servicemembers stationed along its borders.