and seize the Kansas Line (about fifteen miles north of the 38th Parallel), because
peace talks were possible, and hold the UN gains at that level.13 (See Map # 12)
General Thomas described the first plan for an amphibious hook in 1951,
Operation Wrangler, as follows:
Interviewer: An amphibious operation to be executed by 1st Mar Div was
planned for 6 June 1951. The objective was to have been Tongchon, followed by
a drive southwest toward Kumwha to link up with IX Corps elements driving
northeast and cut off the escape of thousands of retiring CCF. Why was this plan
Thomas: Owing to Inchon and Wonsan, Almond was pretty amphibious
minded, but this plan was "frowned" on by timid souls in Washington who were
always disapproving plans giving as their reason - "The Russians might come
in." . . . The plan was to embark at Kansong, land at Tongchon, drive southwest,
and occupy the high ground around Hwachon-ni (about 15 miles south west of
Tongchon). An armored task force (187th Airborne plus some tanks) had been
ordered on 25 May to push up the Inje corridor and seize Kansong on the coast.
It got, however, only about four kilometers east of Inje. Later UN lines moved
forward to include Kansong.14
The 1st Mar Div needed time to regroup before another advance, but X Corps's
aggressive commander, MajGen Almond, ordered one anyway. Here, General Thomas
of the 1st Mar Div mimicked his predecessor, MajGen O. P. Smith, by not pressing his
regimental commanders to advance as fast as Almond wanted, until security and
planning for new attacks were more mature.15
Jagged mountains jutted harsh against the sky to the division's north in as rugged
and forbidding a piece of terrain as any in Korea. An extinct volcano also lay to the
north, and the sharp peaks around it caused a big depression like a punchbowl, and
gave it its name. High in the Taebaek mountains northeast of the Hwachon Reservoir,
roads here were scarce and tactical difficulties many. The Rocky heights and steep
13 Ibid., 19-37.
14 Interview with Gerald C. Thomas by Col C. W. Harrison, 3-4.
15 Allan R. Millett, Drive North, 18-37.
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 10, 2016.