Korean War veterans and present day servicemembers and dignitaries will mark the 50th anniversary of the epic Chosin Reservoir Campaign with two national commemorative ceremonies, on Dec. 7 at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and on Dec. 12 in Washington, D.C.
The Camp Pendleton ceremony will honor veterans of all U.S. military Services who fought during the campaign, including the U.S. Army's Third Infantry Division and elements of the Army's X Corps, and the Far East Air Force, which provided aerial re-supply and medical evacuation. The long-time home to 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton was the last Marine Corps base many of the Chosin veterans passed through en route to combat in Korea.
The event, hosted by Gen. James L. Jones, 32nd commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, will feature a demonstration of present day amphibious capabilities, a flyover of vintage aircraft and performances by the Royal Marine Band of Dartmouth and the 1st Marine Division Band. Speakers include retired Marine Gen. Raymond G. Davis, a Medal of Honor recipient; Gen. John W. Handy, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force; Maj. Gen. Fulton, commandant general of the Royal Marines; James Brady of Parade magazine and a Marine veteran of the Chosin campaign; and retired Army Col. Edward McGill.
The master of ceremonies is retired Marine LtCol. Jerry Coleman, a former N.Y. Yankee baseball player and now broadcaster for the San Diego Padres. The commemorative ceremony, which is open to the public, begins at 1:30 p.m. PST at the base's main parade deck.
The Dec. 12 commemorative ceremony in Washington, D.C. features remarks by the Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig; Medal of Honor recipient and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Thomas Hudner; and Dr. Bong Hak Hyun, a translator during the Korean War and Chosin Campaign. The event also includes performances by the U.S. Navy Band, the "President's Own" U.S. Marine Band, and the Royal Marine Band of Dartmouth. The ceremony will be held at the Navy Memorial, 7th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. and will be followed by a historical symposium examining the epic Chosin Reservoir Campaign and the withdrawl, by sea, from the port of Hungnam, North Korea. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. EST and the symposium is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. Both events are open to the public and free of charge. The symposium requires pre-registration.
The fighting withdrawal of 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea, along a harrowing mountainous route in sub-arctic conditions, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9, 1950, is considered one of the greatest moments in the history of the Navy, the Marine Corps and the British Royal Marines.
Isolated and surrounded, the 1st Marine Division managed to decimate 10 Chinese infantry divisions in its fighting withdrawal eastward to the North Korean port of Hungnam. Along the way, the Marines received critical close-air support launched from the carriers of Task Force 77. At Hungnam, the Navy and Merchant Marine successfully re-deployed more than 100,000 Marines and soldiers of the X Corps and evacuated more than 100,000 North Korean refugees.
Chosin-Hungnam stands as one of the greatest stories of Americans succeeding against all odds in both combat and humanitarian operations. Fourteen Marines and two sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for their gallantry during the campaign.
Information on the Camp Pendleton ceremony is available at http://www.cpp.usmc.mil or by calling (760) 725-5569. For information on the Washington, D.C. event, call Navy Capt. J. Walter Buchanan at (202) 433-3085. To pre-register for the Washington symposium, contact David Winkler at the Naval Historical Foundation at (202) 678-4333.