Category Archives: Korean War

Interviews with Korean War vets

Timeline of the Korean War


After World War II, US occupation troops in Korea were stationed south of the 38th parallel, while Soviets occupied Korea north of that line.


Elections were held in South Korea despite Soviet refusal to allow elections in the North. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was proclaimed south of the 38th parallel, while north of the line became the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. Both sides claimed they were the only legitimate government of Korea.



On June 25, North Koreans equipped with Soviet tanks and fighter planes attacked ROK forces across the 38th parallel. The United Nations Security Council demanded that the Communists withdraw across the 38th Parallel, but the North Koreans continued to advance towards Seoul. Pres. Harry Truman ordered US forces to help defend South Korea as part of the United Nations coalition.


A battalion of the US 24th Division was flown from Japan, and for sixteen days they stubbornly retreated under pressure from the North Korean onslaught. Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker was named commander of the Eighth Army in Korea, while General Douglas MacArthur was named Supreme Commander of UN forces in the Far East.


Eighth Army and South Korean forces retreated into the Pusan perimeter, (an area 75 miles long by 50 miles wide) at the extreme southeast corner of Korea. Gen. Walker shuttled his men from one trouble spot to another throughout the perimeter in a desperate bid to halt the North Korean attacks.


The North Koreans mounted a major offensive against the Pusan perimeter and captured Pohang, but the offensive soon stalled. On September 15 the US Xth Corps, including the 1st Marines, made a surprise landing at Inchon and quickly recaptured Seoul. The Eighth Army broke out of the Pusan perimeter and moved north, linking up with the US forces moving south from Seoul.


UN forces crossed the 38th parallel as the North Koreans retreated beyond Pyongyang. China, which had warned the United Nations troops not to advance beyond the 38th Parallel, began slipping large numbers of Chinese soldiers into Korea.


Gen. MacArthur stated his intention of ending the war by Christmas. United Nation’s forces had just reached the Yalu River when four Chinese armies attacked in overwhelming force and split the Eighth Army from X Corps.


In freezing weather, 20,000 Marines and soldiers of X Corps, along with British Royal Marines and South Korean troops, began a fighting withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir towards the port city of Hungnam, where U.S. Navy ships evacuated more than 205,000 soldiers and Korean civilians. The Eighth Army also fell back under the relentless attacks. Pyongyang was soon abandoned, and the United Nation’s forces retreated to the defenses around Seoul. Matthew Ridgway took over as commander of the Eighth Army after Gen. Walker was killed in a jeep accident.


JANUARY. United Nations forces abandoned Seoul and retreated 25 miles south in the face of an offensive by 500,000 North Koreans and Chinese. The Chinese however, had stretched their supply line to the limit, and their offensive soon ran out of steam.

FEBRUARY. Gen. Ridgway ordered I Corps to begin an attack which drove the Chinese across the Han River. The Chinese mounted several unsuccessful human-wave attacks against X Corps.

MARCH. United Nations forces recaptured Seoul, and the North Koreans were pushed north of the 38th parallel.

APRIL. President Harry Truman dismissed General MacArthur because of MacArthur’s public and repeated criticism of Truman’s war policy. Matthew Ridgway was named Supreme Commander, and General James Van Fleet took over as Eighth Army commander. The Chinese mounted yet another major offensive, but the attack was halted north of Seoul.

MAY. A Chinese corps attacked the Eighth Army and was decimated.

JUNE. The Soviets proposed a cease-fire, and Gen. Ridgway called for a meeting between military leaders to establish a truce.

JULY. Negotiations began at Kaesong, but fighting continued as both sides sought to straighten out their lines and consolidate their positions.

SEPTEMBER. Helicopters were first used in a combat zone to evacuate casualties and ferry assault troops and supplies.

NOVEMBER. Formal peace talks were established at Panmunjom.


JANUARY. Communist negotiators rejected a United Nations proposal that prisoners of war be allowed to decide if they wanted to be exchanged.

MAY. Communist prisoners of war rioted on Koje Island, capturing the American general in charge of the prison camp.

OCTOBER. Talks broke off over the issue of repatriation of prisoners.


MARCH. The Communists accepted a modified UN proposal regarding the exchange of prisoners of war.

APRIL. Talks at Panmunjom resumed, and sick and wounded prisoners were exchanged.

JULY. A finalized armistice agreement called for a 2.5 mile demilitarized zone along the front. All fighting officially ended at 10 PM on July 27, 1953.

If you found this timeline of the Koran War useful, you may also enjoy these interviews with veterans of that conflict.

Fred Raunig

Dennis Tate

Ken Brown

Charlie Israel


Korean War Interviews: Fred Raunig

Originally published in the Missoulian 1997 by Gary Glynn. ©2011.

Fred Raunig of Missoula can still fit into his Marine Corps dress uniform, four decades after it was issued, and he plans to wear it at the dedication of the Montana Korean War Memorial on June 14. “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” he explains.

Like many 19-year-old boys in 1951, Raunig joined the Marine Corps rather than waiting to be drafted. By the time he arrived in Korea in October 1951, United Nations forces had been battling the North Koreans and their Chinese allies for more than a year.

Raunig found himself fighting in a place very similar to his native Montana, with sub-zero temperatures and forbidding mountains. “It was like fighting a war here. The terrain is like the upper Rattlesnake, with the cliffs and the deep valleys coming up to the ridges.” Unlike the Rattlesnake however, the hills of Korea were occupied by hundreds of thousands of enemy soldiers. Raunig spent his nights on patrol, slipping and sliding down the ridges, climbing laboriously back up, always on the lookout for Communist soldiers.

“We were on line all through Thanksgiving and Christmas, with incoming artillery and skirmishes, nearly on a nightly basis. Once in a while one of the sentries would lay down on the job and go to sleep. They [the Chinese] were sneaky, they were silent. They could get over our trip-wires, they could get through the barbed wire. They would just grab somebody by his sleeping bag and drag him down the hill, in his bag. So you always had either a .45 pistol or a carbine in your sleeping bag.”

Although Raunig spent most of his time assigned to a mortar section, he also carried a flame-thrower in attacks against enemy bunkers, caves, and tanks, and once helped repel a Chinese human-wave attack against his position. Although the flame-thrower was an awesome weapon, it left the operator exposed to enemy fire.

“With a flame-thrower you have 27 seconds of fuel. Half a minute, it’s a long time to be holding a flame-thrower out there. One burst, then you’ve got to move because they know where you’re at, and you’ve got to get the heck out of there.”

Raunig speaks matter-of-factly about the hardships of living in soggy sleeping bags, of eating C-rations for weeks at a time, of clothes worn until they rotted away. His unit was finally taken off the front line just after Christmas, 1951 and they were sent to hunt down North Koreans who had infiltrated behind the lines. “On the second or third night out, the first sergeant woke up in the morning in a tizzy. The guards were out, but everybody else was totally buried in the snow. Thirty inches of snow. You couldn’t find anybody.”

It was the terrain, not the enemy, that finally ended Raunig’s combat tour. “I took a tumble and I injured my knee, and I didn’t realize how bad it was, and I continued to walk on it.” Diagnosed with a fractured kneecap, Raunig was eventually sent home, where he looked up a girl he had met before he went overseas.

Juanita Raunig explains how she won the heart of the handsome Marine. “I wanted to do my patriotic duty, so I would bake him cookies, make him candy, and write him letters. I’m surprised he married me because by the time he got the package the cookies were crumbled, and the candy had turned to sugar, and it was a terrible mess. But he knew somebody back here was thinking about him.”

Fred Raunig, who serves on the Montana Korean War Memorial committee, thinks the upcoming memorial dedication in Missoula will bring some past due recognition to Korean War veterans. “We were forgotten, beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

“I have no regrets about going over there. It was an experience. I’m not proud of everything I did over there, but you do what you have to do. You have a job to do, you do your job, you come home, and forget it.”

Korean War Interview – Dennis Tate

Korean War Interview – Charlie Israel

Korean War Interview – Ken Brown

Korean War Timeline