Chosin Reservoir - Ray Vallowe Research

Reader Comments


Author's Background | Prologue | Chapt 1 - Budget War | Chapt 2 - Inchon | Chapt 3 - Capture Seoul
Chapt 4 - Inchon to Pusan | Chapt 5 - Fateful Journey into N Korea | Chapt 6 - Inter-service Rivalry-1
Chapt 7 - Inter-service Rivalry-2 | Chapt 8 - Press Corps | Chapt 9 - Secret/Classified Mission
Chapt 10 - Circumstantial Evidence | Chapt 11 - Mission Change | Chapt 12 - The Tank Withdrawal
MIA/KIA East of Chosin | Postscript | Important Maps | Declassified Documents| Reader Comments

 
 

Voice Your Opinion...

Ray Vallowe has an outspoken opinion about the Army's role at the Chosin Reservoir. Even before his research made its public appearance on the Korean War Educator, he knew that his opinions on the subject clashed with existing written accounts of what happened to Army troops during the Chosin Reservoir campaign. Furthermore, he knew that his opinions would likely clash with Marine opinions. Consequently, he requested that this page be established within his research to allow public rebuttals from other historians and veterans of the Korean War.

Ray Vallowe is fully aware that his research might draw comments, both positive and negative, from KWE readers. If you wish to comment on his research, he invites you to do so.

The KWE is more than willing to provide the opportunity for any and all to express their opinions on this controversial subject. However, rebuttals that are personal attacks on Mr. Vallowe for having the opinion that he has will not be posted. To send your response to Ray Vallowe's research, e-mail
lynnita@koreanwar-educator.org or write Lynnita Brown, 111 E. Houghton St., Tuscola, IL 61953.

The opinions expressed by Ray Vallowe and those who disagree with him are not necessarily the opinions of the Korean War Educator.


Gene Dixon, USMC, in response to Ray Vallowe's research:

"For the past couple of days I have been going over Ray Vallowe’s analysis of the history of the Korean War. I am impressed with his detailed account of now unclassified writings of some Army generals and historians. Mr. Vallowe has apparently spent a lot of time and effort to "even the score" with the Marines, including General O. P. Smith. I will not try to dispute his writings and his conclusions since he is using a lot of the histories written by others.

But let me say this in answer to his "long" analysis. In my recollection of my Korean War experiences, I have stayed away from being critical of other United Nations forces, including the U.S. Army. I feel they all had a tough job to do in Korea and most did the best they could under the circumstances of their previous training or lack thereof. When we lost one person due to combat, it did not matter what service he was in, it was felt by all of us who were there. But in defense of my beloved Marine Corps, I must take exception to his comments against our Division Commander General Smith. I am sure that through it all, General Smith did what he thought was the right thing to do. It was his duty to object when he had objections; it was his duty to look out for the safety of his men; it was his duty to fight the battles among the generals--all to make sure that he did not put Marines under his command in preventable bad situations.

I note that Mr. Vallowe apparently served in mostly Field Artillery units, and I don’t know if he serviced with any infantry units. These are normally units that play a different role in combat situations, but in the case of Korea and the Chosin, they would be intermingled and would face the same dangers.

I searched hard to find any complimentary language towards Marines, but I could not find any. I must admit I have not read his complete account, and maybe I overlooked any compliments he may have made.

I would say to Mr. Vallowe, you are entitled to have your opinions about the Marines' participation in combat in Korea. Further, I will mention again that you have access to histories that have been written. But I know that history can be shaped the way a writer wants it to be. On behalf of General O. P. Smith, our division commander, and Cols. Raymond L. Murray, Homer Litzenburg, Chesty Puller, and our infantry regimental commanders (I must point out they were all World War II combat veterans), along with the many officers and enlisted men of the First Marine Division, I take offense at your comments about the Korean War history.

I will stick with my opinions as one who served in Korea for the first year of the war, and I will give praise to the men of the Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy for each in their own way contributing to the freedom of South Korea. I am proud to be an American and a Retired Marine and am proud to have served with the men from all the services. They did what they were ordered to do and made us all thankful to each one of them. I only hope that I don’t ever discount what they did in Korea." - Gene Dixon

[KWE Note: Gene Dixon's memoir about his service in Korea can be found on the KWE at http://www.koreanwareducator.org/memoirs/dixon_gene/index.htm).]

[Posted 11/26/05]


Ray Vallowe in response to Gene Dixon:

"I sincerely admire and commend Gene Dixon for the following: "I have stayed away from being critical of other United Nations forces, including the U.S. Army. I feel they all had a tough job to do in Korea and most did the best they could under the circumstances of their previous training or lack thereof." Well stated.  He is therefore personally exempt from any such direct criticism and should not be offended by it. I salute him for his personal service and sacrifice, months after my own service ended in Korea.

However, I have an opposing view on Gene Dixon's statement: "General Smith did what he thought was the right thing to do. It was his duty to object when he had objections... it was his duty to fight the battles among the generals--all to make sure that he did not put Marines under his command in preventable bad situations."  Here is my difference of opinion. The battles were not between American generals as in our past Civil War. A general in charge of combat troops has an obligation to pursue and engage an enemy as his orders require.  Indeed, that concept extended all the way down through the lowly Army private in the ranks--at least it did in the 1950s.  The division general's personal opinion of the merits of the final order are of no concern. Nor is any officer's high opinion required in regard to his appointed superior as a prerequisite for his command.

This rule of military obedience was highlighted in the relief of General MacArthur by President Truman in early 1951. General MacArthur was removed because he was continually in conflict with orders from the President, his commander in chief. MacArthur's problem was not that he was not trying to win this war. It was in his failure to understand the new concept of a "limited war."  Much has been stated about his responsibilities to carry out orders as given:

"It was MacArthur's privilege, and his duty, to give his views as to the rightness of a contemplated course, and to offer his own recommendations before the decision was rendered. It was neither his privilege nor his duty to take issue with the President's decision after it had been made known to him." (Gen. Ridgway 153)

"The concept of duty, in military service, has been elevated to extreme importance, and obedience to properly constituted authority is primal. No man in uniform, be he private or five-star general, may decide for himself whether an order is consonant with his personal views. While the loyalty he owes his superiors is reciprocated with equal force in the loyalty owed him from above, the authority of his superiors is not open to question." (Gen. Ridgway 234)

General Marshall (JCS) could not condone MacArthur's conduct during senate the hearings in 1951. "You preach loyalty all the time. You are dealing with an organization where a man receives an order from even a captain which leads to his death or wound, and he has to obey that order... [T]hat has to be instinctive. Now, if the example at the top is contrary to that, then you have got a very serious situation."

General Smith of the Marine Corps was continually in conflict with General Almond, his superior. MacArthur was fired. Smith ended his career with four stars instead of two. What was Smith’s magic? He was continually being saved by reactions of inter-service rivalry from World War II. No one would dare relieve a commander from another branch of the service.

Gene Dixon said, “I note that Mr. Vallowe apparently served in mostly Field Artillery units, and I don’t know if he serviced with any infantry units. These are normally units that play a different role in combat situations, but in the case of Korea and the Chosin, they would be intermingled and would face the same dangers.”

Perhaps this official Army record will update my credentials in his matter:

HQ Battery, 7th ID 57th FAB, at Chosin
Vallowe, Raymond C., E-4 Cpl
MOS-4812, Heavy Weapons Infantryman

In the United States Army, members of an infantry combat unit are designated by the color stripe insignia for any PFC and above. The stripes are on a blue background with gold stripes.  All other support units from other technical support from outside that division had the reverse of blue stripes on a gold background. It is my understanding that the Marine Corps maintains that “ALL” Marines are combatants, and no designation separates one from the other.

Thank you for your comments. - Ray Vallowe

[Posted 11/26/05]


Gene Dixon - With regards to Mr. Vallowes’ comments to my comments

I won’t turn this into a running battle of opinions. This will be my last comment on this and I will let others voice their agreements or disagreements. I, as a Marine, am satisfied with General Smith and his actions. Also as a Marine I am more than familiar with "good order and discipline", wherein orders from superiors are obeyed. It was General MacArthur that requested the Marines, and he must have had "good" reason to do so. One of the Marine Corps' main missions is that of amphibious landings, which they have shown their expertise during World War II and the Inchon landing. Marines by their very nature are offensive oriented. At the Chosin, the Marines were put in an "out of ordinary" situation for them. Long supply lines over very narrow roadways, and I am not sure that they received the support from the Army command that the situation demanded. I am sure that this was a "big concern" of General Smith. I end by saying again, "Thanks" to all of those that played a role in making South Korea to be what it is today. And this, of course, includes all of the brave United Nations forces, including the U.S. Army. We would do well to let them and the world know that we appreciate their sacrifices which sometime included giving their lives. My opinions are my own and based only on my own participation in the "Not-Forgotten War" in Korea. - Gene Dixon

[Posted 11/27/05]

 

 

Author's Background | Prologue | Chapt 1 - Budget War | Chapt 2 - Inchon | Chapt 3 - Capture Seoul
Chapt 4 - Inchon to Pusan | Chapt 5 - Fateful Journey into N Korea | Chapt 6 - Inter-service Rivalry-1
Chapt 7 - Inter-service Rivalry-2 | Chapt 8 - Press Corps | Chapt 9 - Secret/Classified Mission
Chapt 10 - Circumstantial Evidence | Chapt 11 - Mission Change | Chapt 12 - The Tank Withdrawal
MIA/KIA East of Chosin | Postscript | Important Maps | Declassified Documents| Reader Comments


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