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Home | Cold War Turns Hot | The Armed Forces Integrate | What the Experts Say

Motivating Styles of Military Leaders

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Hammond: The commander of the 24th, Colonel White is replaced with a Colonel named Champeny who had all the credentials to be a great regimental commander and who had been a great regimental commander in WWII. I think he ended up with three Distinguished Service Crosses, which is incredible. But he is a bigot. At the height of the battle at Chinju, his men are drifting to the rear and he gets them and he stands them up and he insults them. Tells them what a bunch of dogs they are, how inferior they are and how he can't expect anything of them. What a morale boost that was for these people. He ends up getting wounded and is replaced finally by John Corley.

Corely is an Irish Catholic from the Bronx and, if you know anything about the history of the Irish in American, they were treated very much like blacks until well into 20th century. He is acutely aware of the effects of racial stereotyping. He goes in there and he treats these people—we don't know to this day if he was particularly prejudiced man or not, but all indications are that he wasn't. Even if he was, he was so good at hiding it that nobody knew it. There were a few black men around him that would say, oh, he was pretty prejudiced. But most would say and they adored this man, even if he had his prejudices, he was not going to allow them to figure into his life. They always tell this story of Colonel Corley disappearing and they couldn't find him anywhere and they were getting worried and then they saw his jeep over the horizon near a ruined Catholic church and he was in there praying. Terrific story and they loved him for that because black soldiers are religious.

Corley, he got that unit a newspaper, got them retrained, got officers replaced and brought in new men who had great credentials. A lot of the people that came out of that demoralized circumstances that existed in Japan and in the first couple of months in Korea had become casualties. He was able to replace a lot of the men with new men who didn't have the baggage. At that point the 24th Infantry begins to function.

Smith: Really the first couple months.

Hammond: First couple of months that are really—Once they break out of the Pusan Perimeter and begin to move north, they are fighting just as well as anybody else. Not that anybody is fighting all that well, but they are on par. First couple of months, they weren't firing on all cylinders and the enemy knew it. And he was hitting them with everything he had.

Next: Inchon: A Small Victory