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Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War

The Korean War has been called "the forgotten war." Of this forgotten war, some
periods are more forgotten than others. Among those least studied is anything (besides
the peace talks and the POW riots) that took place after the Truman-MacArthur
controversy, in other words, from mid 1951 through the end of the war. One portion of
this phase in particular has received scant attention, the Fall Offensive of 1951, which
included a noteworthy engagement that is all but unknown despite the fierce intensity of
the combat involved. That engagement was the battle of the 1st Marine Division (1st Mar
Div) for the ridges north of the Punchbowl in late August through mid September 1951,
sometimes called the "Punchbowl Offensive" by the Navy /Marine Corps. The
"Punchbowl" is a bowl-shaped, extinct volcano ringed by mountains of the Taebaek
range in Korea (see map # 2).1
This study is an operational and tactical study of a Marine Corps battle in the
fourth phase of the Korean War, which was part of the Fall Offensive, a series of battles
and campaigns that facilitated the Eighth Army's strategic objective of preserving South
Korea by establishing a defensive line across the peninsula (see maps # 3 and 4). This
line was to be on defensible enough terrain that UNC forces could repulse any
Communist attacks and maintain their positions until a negotiated settlement to end the
war could be reached. The decision to end the war through negotiations rather than
military force had already been made months before by Washington under the Truman
Clay Blair, The Forgotten War (New York: Times Books, 1987); U. S. Pacific Fleet, "Third Interim
Evaluation Report, May-December, 1951" (National Archives, RG 127, Records of the United States
Marine Corps): 9-14.

Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. Accessed January 20, 2017.