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

system was only being propped up by AF partisanship and the belief that CAS was a
waste of airplanes compared to interdiction -- never mind the effectiveness, or lack
thereof, of sending fighter-bombers, especially single-prop aircraft such as the F4U
Corsair, to do the work of bombers and jets hundreds of miles behind enemy lines and
even as far north as the Yalu River.52
(There were eight fighter-bomber air wings besides the 1 MAW in the Korean
theatre and four corps in EUSAK- there were many more air wings for fighter-
interception, fighter-escort, and other tasks. CAS was only required when a division was
actively engaged in combat. A division in reserve did not need CAS. So estimating that
there were about three divisions per corps, the number of divisions in Korea numbered
approximately twelve in 1951. The number of aircraft in theatre capable of providing the
52 Ibid., Letter to CG Fleet Marine Force Pacific, Lt. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, from CG 1MarDiv, Maj.
Gen. Gerald C. Thomas, 4 Oct. 1951, page 2. Thomas wrote: "I feel we are strong in our position and that
the Army will give us full support [this was before Ridgway's letter of 15 October] - right up to Ridgway
himself. They want to confront the Air Force with a working system and we offer them the opportunity to
do it." (Emphasis added). As for AF partisanship: "It will be remembered that Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt
Vandenberg had been unalterably opposed to sending any Marine aviation to Korea ('. . . from a sensitive
feeling here at the Pentagon,' David Lawrence noted in the Herald-Tribune, 'that the Marines should not
have their own aviation')." -- Robert Heinl, Victory at High Tide, 22. And with the threat to Marine aviation
and even the very existence of the Marine Corps only recently (and temporarily) defeated in the
Unification Crisis (see: Keiser, U. S. Marine Corps and Defense Unification and the opening chapters of
Robert Heinl, Victory at High Tide, as well as Robert Heinl, Soldiers of the Sea, 527), it is understandable
why the Marines should suspect the decision to split up the air-ground team as having less to do with the
reasons stated by Ridgway and officers in the AF, and more to do with the extension of AF control over
Marine aviation. Besides, it was understood when the Marines were initially requested by MacArthur that
the Marine air-ground team was not to be broken up. MacArthur himself said as much, but, "this view was
anything but accepted in Washington." -- Robert Heinl, Victory at High Tide, 22. U. S. Pacific Fleet, "Third
Interim Evaluation Report," 15-63, "FMF Staff Memo No. 73-51 ," 6 June 1951, "Reporting on a visit to the
Far East by CG FMFPAC and members of his staff." The Fleet Marine Force elements appear initially in
the amphibious forces of the naval components [of an amphibious landing]. In the land and air battle
phases, which might follow an amphibious invasion, the Marine ground units have historically been
shifted to the Air Force's joint air operations control. This loss of close and direct command control over
their task force air elements in joint operations is a matter of continued concern to Marine organizational
planners. Under the principles of unified command of air forces, including concentration and economy of
air effort at the objective area, Marine tactical support aircraft are susceptible to consolidation under the
joint air component command. . . . Maintaining the organizational integrity of this unique task grouping in
future joint operations under unified commands poses problems to Marine planners. . . . -James
Donovan, U. S. Marine Corps, 106-07.

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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 December 25, 2014.