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

Inchon: A Small Victory

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Ellis: What about Inchon?

Hammond: It's a very small. The veterans like to talk about Inchon being the first American victory in Korea and I guess it is, but it's not a big victory. If you analyze the battles, you'll see the white officers commanding really didn't know what the devil they were doing. The vehicles were caught in ditches and they were up against a group of North Koreans who really were not infantry. They were political troops who would go into a town afterwards—civil affairs officer type people. They got into Inchon essentially because the North Koreans were pulled back and sent into another direction. There was some artillery there, mortars and such, but they didn't have the kind of down and out fight that they otherwise would have had.

Charles Bussey had some kind of engagement either with the enemy or else a lot of civilians and nobody's been able to figure out which to this day. There was some kind of attack, but you listen to some people, they say he killed a lot of civilians. I don't believe that. He was doing the best he could. But the allegation was made that he didn't get the Medal of Honor because of racial prejudice and I don't know, I can't tell. And there's no way to tell at this far remove—there are witnesses who are contradicted by other people and contradicted by documents which may not be valid and how can you tell. And a Medal of Honor has to be pretty well nailed down.

Smith: But the soldiers including Bussey are pretty determined that they got ignored because they were black, that however significant it was, it was the first victory.

Hammond: They did get a lot of hay. They got commended in Congress; it made the New York Times. What can you say? Problem was they weren't there to see it.

Smith: They were getting dumped on everyday.

Hammond: Yeah and well they felt that they were just getting dumped on again. Frankly things were going to the dogs and that little victory disappeared real quick. They pulled back from the Pusan Perimeter after that and they had a couple of months of real hard fighting and they just hung on by the skin-of-their-teeth.

Next: The Focus of Negative Publicity