On November 18, 1952, Williams was flying the F9F Panther – the US Navy’s first jet fighter – on a mission during the Korean War.
He took off from the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, which was operating with three other carriers in a task force in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, 100 miles off the coast of North Korea.
Williams, then age 27, and three other fighter pilots were ordered on a combat air patrol over the most northern part of the Korean Peninsula, near the Yalu River, which separates North Korea from China. To the northeast is Russia, then part of the Soviet Union, which supported North Korea in the conflict.
As the four US Navy jets flew their patrol, the group’s leader suffered mechanical problems and with his wingman, headed back to the task force off the coast.
That left Williams and his wingman alone on the mission.
Then, to their surprise, seven Soviet MiG-15 fighter jets were identified heading toward the US task force.
“They just didn’t come out of Russia and engage us in any way before,” Williams said in a 2021 interview with the American Veterans Center.
Wary commanders in the task force ordered the two US Navy jets to put themselves between the MiGs and the US warships.
While doing this, four of the Soviet MiGs turned toward Williams and opened fire, he recalled.
He said he fired on the tail MiG, which then dropped out of the four-plane Soviet formation, with Williams’ wingman following the Soviet jet down.
At that point, US commanders on the carrier ordered him not to engage the Soviets, he said.
“I said, ‘I am engaged,’” Williams recalled in the interview.
Williams said he also knew that because the Soviet jets were faster than his, if he tried to break off they’d catch and kill him. Read the rest of this entry »
David Douglas Duncan, Captain Francis “Ike” Fenton Jr., commander of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment near the Naktong River, 1950, Nelson Gallery, Kansas City.
In hilly terrain near Pusan, South Korea, Capt. F. I. “Ike” Fenton of the U.S. Marines hears more bad news. It is August 1950, and his company has been fighting all night. More than half of his 190 men are wounded or killed. They are out of ammunition. He has lost radio contact with his superiors. His radioman’s batteries have just expired, and that his much needed resupply was not coming. And now, he is told, his first sergeant is mortally wounded.
David Douglas Duncan takes Fenton’s picture. Duncan, a former marine, is on assignment for Life magazine. He gets as close to the action as possible, trying to show, he says, “what a man endures when his country decides to go to war.” Duncan’s photographs are among the best known of the war, and a few, including that of Fenton, are ranked among the top American combat photographs ever.
Captain Francis “Ike” Fenton Jr., was the son of Colonel Francis Fenton Sr., a Marine Corps chaplain who was famously photographed on Iwo Jima giving funeral rites to his other son Pfc. Michael Fenton in 1945. Ike Fenton also served in the Second World War, and was a veteran marine by the outbreak of the Korean War.
At the outbreak of war, the 195 men and officers of Baker Company found themselves in combat on the frontlines of the Pusan perimeter, holding off an onslaught of North Korean attacks. Desperately short of food, ammunition, and supplies, he petitioned battalion headquarters for relief. He was told something along the lines of “hold the line, at all costs.” He assured his commanding officer that Baker Company would not retreat. “The only Marines coming off that hill are dead Marines.” he promised.
The photograph is taken in that cold September in 1950 shortly after that request for supplies and Fenton’s grim expression is evident. Without communications, ammunition, and at half strength, Baker Company continued to hold the line. The fighting had been so vicious that many men were down to their last few rounds of ammunition, and the close quarters fighting had left many men with broken or missing bayonets. Baker Company would continue to hold its ground at the Pusan perimeter for several more days, borrowing hand grenades and bayonets from sister companies. The Incheon Landing on 15 September caught the North Koreans off guard allowing Baker Company to be finally pulled off the line.
Of the 195 officers and men, only 88 enlisted men and Captain Fenton were able to walk off the line, evacuating back to the United States in 2 November 1950.
Fenton continued to serve in the Marine Corps, commanding a battalion during the Vietnam War before finally retiring at the rank of Colonel. He died in 1997 and is buried at Arlington.
“On February 3, 1953, he reported to [Pohang Airport], where he was assigned to VMF-311, one of the two Marine fighter squadrons there, as its operations officer. VMF-311 was equipped with the F9F Panther jet fighter-bomber, and was assigned a variety of missions. Glenn flew his first, a reconnaissance flight, on February 26, 1953.
He flew 63 combat missions in Korea with VMF-311, gaining the nickname “magnet ass” from his alleged ability to attract enemy flak, an occupational hazard of low-level close air support missions. On two occasions, he returned to his base with over 250 holes in his aircraft.”
North Korea resumed war against South Korea, the United States, and the United Nations earlier this month when it declared the 1953 armistice that ended Korean War hostilities nullified.
The outbreak of war has attracted little notice in the United States, and North Korea’s efforts at genuine military action have been so far non-existent. North Korean belligerence is, however, expressing itself quite vigorously in propaganda.
in the four-minute video below, loaded by North Korea on to YouTube, ballistic missile carriers are seen, along with artillery firing shells, and “Stalin-organ” Katyusha rocket-launchers pour out endless volleys, all evidently raining “fire storms” upon the “headquarters of war,” i.e. us.
We see crosshairs lining up the White House, but the projectile fired appears actually to blow a large hole in the dome of the US Capitol. That’ll show us!
Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie â€œBattle on Shangganling Mountain.â€
The film depicts a group of â€œPeopleâ€™s Volunteer Armyâ€ soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military â€œjackals.â€
The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the â€œmovement to resist America and help [North] Korea.â€ The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemyâ€”in fighting in the Korean War the United Statesâ€™ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.
The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, â€œWhen friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.â€ The â€œjackalâ€ in the song is the United States.
I know, I know, this morning I was fretting about nuclear war. But after reading this, I think it’s time to just flatten China completely. …
Just flatten the whole Middle Kingdom. What do you say? So it would be the end of the world. At least we’d go down with honor.
Well, maybe Claire is being just a little extreme. But I do think a responsible American administration would make a point of teaching China a lesson by sinking the next Chinese naval vessel that decides to play war games with the US Navy, by swatting down hard immediately one of China’s naughty little surrogates in the Axis of Evil, by arranging to supply Taiwan with some extra special kind of advanced weaponry that China really really wouldn’t like, by hosting the Dalai Lama at the White House as soon as possible, and by making a seriously punitive change in the American economic relationship with China.
Donald Kirk, in Asia Times, delivers a guide to the likely flashpoints on land and sea.
In the duel between North and South Korea, the question now is who will pull the trigger first? The answer may be neither, but don’t count on it. The dueling now focuses on two quite different flashpoints.
The first is the West or Yellow Sea, where North Korea has vowed to open fire against any South Korean vessel intruding in its waters.
One issue there is how to define which waters are North Korean. The North refuses to recognize the Northern Limit Line, set by the United Nations Command after the Korean War (1950-1953) and challenged by North Korea in bloody gun battles in June 1999 and June 2002. A North Korean boat was sunk in the former incident, killing at least 40 sailors on board. Six sailors died on a South Korean patrol boat in the second battle.
It’s almost June again, the height of the crabbing season in the fish-rich seas and the month when the North is most likely to threaten South Korea’s defense of the line, including islands wrested from North Korean troops in the Korean War. …
If the Yellow Sea is an obvious battleground, however, almost anywhere along the 248-kilometer-long demilitarized zone that’s divided the Korean peninsula since the end of the Korean War could erupt in gunfire. That’s possible quite soon if South Korea makes good on its notion of switching on mega-loudspeakers capable of spewing forth propaganda for the benefit of tens of thousands of North Korean soldiers within shooting distance.
North Korea has said it will respond to the verbal volleys with live fire targeting the loudspeakers. The North Koreans presumably know where they are since they used to shout out the propaganda until both sides agreed to stop the shouting six years ago. That was at the height of the decade of the “Sunshine” policy of North-South reconciliation initiated by the late president, Kim Dae-jung, in 1998.
South Korea’s conservative president, Lee Myung-bak, has turned the clock back on Sunshine since his inauguration a decade later, in 2008. This week he suspended North-South trade, cut off most humanitarian aid, barred South Koreans from visiting the North and opened a global diplomatic offensive in which he’s trying to get the rest of the world, notably China, to go along with condemnation of North Korea and strengthened sanctions.
The diplomatic campaign won’t upset the North Koreans nearly as much, however, as propaganda falling on the ears of their own troops. Lee faces a serious test of nerve. Will he dare order the loudspeakers to blast away knowing the North Koreans may take potshots at them?
And if the North Koreans do fire, will South Korean gunners fire back at the North Korean positions? There’s no telling when the shooting would stop, or whether North Korean troops would try to challenge the South Koreans on the ground.
For Virgil Richardson’s 79th birthday, his son Jim searched Internet gun offerings and successfully located, via a dealer in Kentucky, the M1 Garand his father had carried during the Korean War, reuniting the aged rifleman with his rifle.