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

Marines believed absolutely that effective CAS reduced friendly infantry
casualties and that lack of effective CAS increased them. The 1MarDiv, in 1951
believed that the most effective use of CAS was, "success[fully] . . . destroying the
enemy with a consequent saving in lives. . . ." In answer to an assessment in an Army
report on CAS that, "the [Marine] ground forces can, if necessary, plan and execute
ground operations without close air support. . . [and that] therefore the requirement for
close air support on the basis of absolute necessity is zero," MajGen Gerald C. Thomas,
CG 1MarDiv, wrote that: "... the same can be stated for any supporting arms
recognizing throughout that fires delivered by supporting arms can serve to make the
task of the infantry easier to reduce casualties. It is considered that the significant
element in this aspect of the evaluation is a determination of what air support may be
estimated as a minimum requirement under conditions where the ground and air
elements involved are properly trained and equipped for the coordinate task." The
Marines felt so strongly that effective CAS saved lives that Thomas even referred to it
as a "matter. . . of life and death to a Marine and we will have to see it through."25
The benefit of CAS to the Marine fight of September, 1951 is further
demonstrated in Thomas's words:
Close air support of our units operating in this terrible terrain and with a paucity of
artillery and supporting ground weapons of a nature to make a Ft. Sill graduate
weep, is an absolute necessity. As a saver of casualties, its effect - if properly
delivered - cannot be overestimated. Since I assumed command of this Division,
it has suffered 504 KIA and 4468 WIA, Marines. At the same time, there were
308 KIA and 1559 WIA in the Korean Marines. [A regiment of ROK Marines (the
only such regiment in existence) was attached to 1MarDiv for much of 1951.] I
25 1MarDiv 'Report of CAS.' "Enclosure 1," page 10; Letter of CG (commanding general) 1MarDiv, Maj.
Gen. Gerald C. Thomas, to CG Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, Lt. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, dated 25
August 1951, page 5; Letter to CG EUSAK (Eighth U. S. Army in Korea) from CG 1MarDiv, Gerald C.
Thomas, dated 30 September 1951, pages 2-3, emphases in original; 1. General Holland M. Smith made
the same arguments about NGF after Iwo Jima.

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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. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed October 23, 2014.