Friday, August 25, 2000

Korea - 50 years ago this week, Aug. 24-30

Fifty years ago, a clash between President Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur over Formosa policy dominated the news.

The U.S. government's official position on the island was delivered to the United Nations where Russia echoed red Chinese charges that the U.S. had turned the island into a base. The statement says that the status of the island is still to be determined, but the 7th Fleet was deployed to guard against a Chinese invasion and to protect U.S. forces in Korea.

Meanwhile MacArthur sends a statement to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In it he says Formosa is a key part of what he envisions as a perimeter of Pacific islands used to protect the U.S. mainland from Chinese attack.

When Truman learns of the position paper, he orders MacArthur to recall it. The VFW cooperates but U.S. News & World Report has printed it in its Aug. 28 edition. Reacting to a Republican outcry, Truman sends a message to MacArthur praising his leadership. The message also contains a copy of the policy delivered to the UN. That is interpreted as a warning to MacArthur to clear policy statements with the White House.

Republicans say Formosa and the "gagging of MacArthur" will be issues in this year's congressional races.

House Speaker Sam Rayburn, (D, Texas), says that MacArthur is doing a good job as long as "he stays in his own field and doesn't try to run the foreign policy of the U.S."

Aug. 24, 1950 -- The U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division and 5th Regimental Combat Team fight off heavy North Korean attacks west of Masan.

-- The Army orders 47,000 enlisted unorganized reserve members to active duty, bringing the total of unorganized reservists recalled for the war to 109,000.

-- UN headquarters in Tokyo reports that GIs in the 1st Cavalry Division and 25th ID have praised the actions of ROK units assigned to the two U.S. outfits.

Aug. 25 -- The UN command in Tokyo says that at least a dozen political commissars attached to North Korean units have surrendered after becoming disillusioned with the reds' chances of winning the war.

-- The U.S. Army says that two Chinese armies have gathered at the border of North Korea and Manchuria. The statement also says that 120 new Russian heavy tanks have been delivered to North Korea via Manchuria.

-- Two railroad workers unions agree to arbitration after Truman orders the Army to seize and operate the nation's railroads if the unions struck on their Aug. 26 deadline.

Aug. 25-30 -- The Army reveals for the first time that the 2nd Infantry Division is fighting in Korea. Lead elements of the division arrived in South Korea Aug. 1. Its soldiers have been repelling daily attacks by North Koreans trying to establish a crossing over the Naktong River southwest of Taegu. The 2nd ID is said to be the heaviest armed of all American units and a fourth of its soldiers are WWII veterans.

Aug. 26 -- Eight Nazis imprisoned in West Germany for war crimes in WWII are released for good behavior after serving five years of seven-year sentences.

Aug. 27 -- "Seoul City Sue," the reds' propagandist broadcasting from Seoul, is identified as American-born Mrs. Anna Wallace Suhr, wife of a Korean newsman, by the Methodist Missionary Organization. The group says that Suhr, in her mid-40s, is a former missionary schoolteacher in Korea, and had tutored American diplomats' children in Seoul. Methodists also claim the dull tone of her broadcasts is proof that she is being forced to do them. GIs have given her the nickname.

Aug. 28 -- President Truman signs a law that extends social security benefits to 10 million people, including residents of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Aug. 29 -- Two British units -- First Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment and First Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highland Light Infantry, come ashore at Pusan from a British aircraft carrier.