Pomeroy, Charles, AL1

Aviation Electronics Mate/Airborne Radioman
 
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Current Service Status
USN Veteran
Current/Last Rank
Petty Officer First Class
Current/Last Primary NEC
AL-0000-Aviation Electronics Mate/Airborne Radioman
Current/Last Rating/NEC Group
Aviation Electronics Mate/Airborne Radioman
Primary Unit
1950-1953, AL-0000, VP-6 Blue Sharks
Previously Held NEC
AN-0000-Airman
AT-0000-Aviation Electronics Technician
Service Years
1947 - 1956
Foreign Language(s)
Japanese
Voice Edition
AL-Aviation Electronics Mate/Airborne Radioman
Two Hash Marks

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 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
A former translator (Japanese into English) and journalist who covered the health care industry in Japan for some 40 years, I now write books. The most recent is Tsunami Reflections, which can be found on Amazon. My author profile appears on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4022593.Charles_A_Pomeroy .
   
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Korean War/UN Defensive (1950)
Start Year
1950
End Year
1950

Description
Communist efforts to divide the South Koreans against themselves having failed, the North Koreans decided to attempt their subjugation by military force. At 0400, Sunday, 25 June 1950 (Korean Time), North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel into the Republic and launched their main effort toward the South Korean capital city of Seoul, down the P'och'on-Uijongbu and Yonch'on-Uijongbu corridors. Strong attacks were also directed through Kaesong toward Munsan on the right, and toward Ch'unch'on on the left. On the west coast the Ongjin Peninsula was quickly captured. On the east coast a land column and a small seaborne detachment met near Kangnung.

By 28 June Seoul had fallen, the North Koreans had closed up along the Han River to a point about 20 miles east of Seoul, and had advanced as far as Samchok on the meat coast. By 4 July enemy forces were along the line Suwon-Wonju-Samchok. In withdrawing, the Republic of Korea ("ROK") forces had suffered such serious losses that their attempts to regroup and retain order were almost futile.

On 25 June 1950 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling "for immediate cessation of hostilities" and "upon the authorities of North Korea to withdraw forthwith their armed forces to the thirty-eighth parallel." When the North Koreans failed to accede to these demands, the Security Council passed a second resolution recommending "that the Members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and restore the international peace and security in the area."

President Truman announced on 27 June 1950 the t he had ordered American air and naval forces to give cover and support to the South Korean troops (UN Defensive-27 June to 15 September 1950). On the 28th he authorized the Commander in Chief Far East to use certain supporting ground units in Korea, and authorized the U.S. Air Force to conduct missions on specific targets in North Korea. On the 30th the President further authorized the C. in C. Far East to use all forces available to him to repel the invasion, and ordered a naval blockade of the entire coast of Korea.

A Security Council resolution of 7 July 1950 recommended the establishment of a unified command in Korea and requested the United States to designate a commander of these forces. On 8 July President Truman announced the appointment of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur as Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (CINCUNC). On 14 July President Rhee placed all ROK security forces under the United Nations commander, an act which consolidated the anti-Communist forces under the United Nations Commend for the purpose of repelling the Communist aggression.

The U.S. forces at MacArthur's disposal included the four divisions in Japan-the 1st Cavalry Division and the 7th, 24th, and 25th Infantry Divisions-and the 29th Regimental Combat Team in Okinawa. The divisions were lacking a third of their infantry and artillery units and almost all their armor units. Existing units were far under strength. Weapons and equipment were war-worn relics of World War II, and ammunition reserves amounted to only a 45-day supply. None of the divisions had reached full combat efficiency, since intensive training had been largely neglected because of occupation duties.

Initial U.S. strategy, dictated by the speed of the North Korean drive and the state of American unpreparedness, was one of trading space for time. On 2 July 1950 Task Force Smith, composed of two rifle companies and a few supporting units of the 24th Division, was flown from Japan to Pusan and moved by train and truck to defensive positions near Osan, 30 miles south of Seoul. Its mission was to fight a delaying action to gain time for the movement of more troops from Japan. On 5 July this small force was attacked by a North Korean division supported by 30 tanks and compelled to withdraw, after a stubborn defense, with heavy losses of men and equipment.

By this time the remaining elements of the 24th Division had reached Korea and were in defensive positions along the Kum River, north of Taejon and 60 miles south of Osan. ROK elements held positions to the east, some 50 miles above Taegu. By 15 July the 25th Division had arrived in Korea and was positioned east of the 24th Division. The 1st Cavalry Division arrived and closed in the P'chang-dong area on 18-19 July. Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker, Commander of the U.S. Eighth Army, had been placed in command of all U.S. ground troops in Korea on 13 July, and, at the request of President Rhee, of the South Korean Army as well. As the ground troops of other U.N. members reached Korea, they also were placed under Walker's command.

North Korean forces crossed the Kum River and captured Taejon, an important communications center, on 20 July. U.S. and ROK troops continued to withdraw steadily to the southeast under constant North Korean pressure. During the withdrawal our Army's 3.5-inch rocket launcher was used (for the first time on a battlefield) with highly successful results against North Korean tanks. It was in this period that the 24th Division commander, Maj. Gen. William F. Dean, was reported missing when North Korean tanks broke through the forward unite of his division. It was learned later that he had been captured about 35 miles south of Taejon on 25 August.

The final days of July 1950 witnessed a series of hard-fought battles all along the 200-mile front of the United Nations perimeter. The northern front, a line running inland from Yongdok through Andong, Yech'on, Hamch'ong, and Hwanggan to Kumch'on, was defended at critical points by ROK troops and the U.S. 25th Division. The 1st Cavalry Division was battling on the west flank to keep the Yongdong-Kumch'on-Taegu rail line open. To block the southwestern approaches to Pusan, which the enemy was threatening, the 29th RCT advanced to Chinju, but was ambushed by a North Korean division and suffered heavy losses. Enemy pressure continued from Yosu and Chinju in the southwest to Kwan-ni on the Taejon-Taegu railroad, thence northeast through Yech'on to Yongdok on the Sea of Japan.

By the beginning of August the U.S. and ROK forces had withdrawn behind the Naktong River, a position which the U.N. Command was determined to hold. The area held in southeastern Korea resembled a rectangle, the southwestern side of which was guarded by the 24th and 25th Divisions to prevent a breakthrough to Masan. The 1st Cavalry Division was deployed on the western front to guard the Taegu railroad approaches. The northern front was defended by ROK divisions from a point south of Hamch'ang to a point just south of Yongdok on the east coast.

Early in August General Walker declared the strategy of trading space for time to be at an end, and ordered a final stand along this 140-mile perimeter around the port of Pusan, which had become a well-stocked Eighth Army supply base and the hub of a rail and road net leading to the battle front. By now the enemy's lengthened supply lines were under constant air attack, enemy naval opposition had been wiped out, and the blockade of the Korean coast had been clamped tight.

During the next month and a half, fourteen North Korean divisions dissipated their strength in piecemeal attacks against the Pusan perimeter. Walker, by rapidly shuttling his forces to meet the greatest threats, inflicted heavy casualties on the North Koreans and prevented serious penetrations. The enemy, determined to annihilate the Eighth Army and take Taegu and Pusan, massed for a two-pronged attack across the Naktong, one prong from the west and the other from the southwest. The principal actions were fought along the river from Waegwan south through Song-dong and Ch'irhyon-ni to the junction of the Naktong and Nam Rivers, and southwest toward Haman and Chinju.

While U.S. troops were fighting along the banks of the Naktong, other battles took place in the southwest. A veteran North Korean division, which had been concentrated for an assault upon Susan and Pusan, was hit by Task Force Kean. Named for the 25th Division Commander, the Task Force was composed of the 5th RCT, the 35th RCT of the 25th Division, the 1st Marine Brigade, and a ROK battalion. It opened a strong counteroffensive on 7 August 1950 to secure the left funk of the perimeter and prevent the enemy from driving on Pusan. Overcoming initial heavy resistance, it defeated the North Koreans and by 11 August commanded the high ground to the east of Chinju.

On the eastern flank of the perimeter the town of Yongdok was lost by ROK units, some of which then had to be evacuated by sea. On 12 August the port of P'chang-dong was attacked by enemy forces led by tanks which mounted screaming sirens. This force poured through a break in the R0K lines and linked up with North Korean advance agents in the port. These agents, disguised as innocent-looking refugees, carried mortars, machineguns, and other weapons in oxcarts, on A-frames and on their persons. While a force of North Koreans took P'chang-dong, the adjoining airstrip, of great importance to the U.N. forces as a base for tactical aircraft. On 13 August the danger was so pressing that all aircraft were evacuated. Within the next five days, however, ROK troops and a small U.S. task force recaptured P'chang-dong and returned it to U.N. control.

During this time a much larger force of North Koreans breached the U.N. positions at some paints in the Naktong River sector, but failed in their attempt to capture the rail junctions at Taegu. To hold a line near the river, Walker rearranged the defensive positions of the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the 1st Marine Brigade, deploying them in a manner which assigned combat zones of 15-30 miles to each division.

The enemy, continuing his efforts to crack the perimeter, massed several divisions above Waegwan to assault Taegu from the north. Despite a bombing raid in which U.N. air forces dropped 850 tons of bombs on the suspected enemy concentration area, the North Koreans launched a powerful attack which carried through the ROK positions and threatened Taegu. Stalwart defense and swift countermeasures in this area on 19 August saved Taegu from almost certain capture, parried the enemy 's three-pronged thrust at the city, and stopped the momentum of the North Korean offensive.

Shortly before midnight on 31 August enemy forces again attacked the Naktong River Line, this time in tremendous force. Disregarding very heavy casualties from U.N. air force bombing and strafing, they mounted a strong offensive against the entire Pusan beachhead from Haman in the south to P'chang-dong in the northern sector. The port of P'chang-dong was captured on 6 September, but again the Communists failed to capture the airfield. Waegwan and the "walled city" of Kasan were lost as the U.N. defenders fell back for a last ditch stand at Taegu. Between 4 and 11 September the enemy made important gains along the Naktong in some of the heaviest fighting of the war; but U.N. forces blunted the drive on Taegu and began to show slow progress of their own against very strong enemy resistance.

On the southern front the North Korean offensive, which opened with a massive artillery barrage near Haman, struck the 25th Division with tanks and waves of infantry, imperiling its forward positions. However, although the enemy had made impressive gains along the U.N. perimeter and General Walker still had to shuttle his units from one critical area to another, a strong beachhead remained in the hands of the U.N. Command.

By mid-August the offensive capability of the Eighth Army had been augmented by the arrival of the U.S. 2d Division, the 1st Marine Brigade, four battalions of medium tanks from the United States, and the 5th RCT from Hawaii. Before the month was out, five ROK divisions were restored to some semblance of order, and Great Britain committed the 27th Brigade from Hong Kong. With the arrival of these reinforcements an attempt could now be made to end the U.N. withdrawal and to begin a U.N. offensive in southeastern Korea.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1950
To Year
1950
 
Last Updated:
Oct 14, 2016
   
Personal Memories

People You Remember
Night Illumination of Chinnampo & Kunsan

The exact date has fallen through cracks in my memory as I write this in August of 2003. After all, some 53 years have passed. The night itself?moonless with stars providing the only illumination--remains clear in my memory, however. It was in late July or early August of 1950, the desperate Pusan Perimeter days as I recall, although I have no exact date (lost my old log book decades ago). The squadron commanding officer, Cdr. Art Farwell, took over as PPC of Crew 7 and our P2V-3W for a night illumination mission of two targets: Chinnampo and Kunsan on the west coast of Korea. We were accompanied by a P2V-3, although, like the date, I?ve forgotten the number and the crew who flew her. Perhaps someone who was also on that joint mission will read this and provide further details.

During the flight up the west coast of the Korean peninsula, with blackout curtains secured to the windows and the interior limited to red-light illumination, we were cruising around 9,000 feet or so followed by our wing man a few miles aft, off the port side. Chief W.E. Margerum, ATC, was glued to the APS-20 radar. As low man on the Radio totem pole, I was on the circuit aft of the wing beam while my mentor, Jack Remington, ALC, was up in the nose working with the ECM gear. C. Walter Diem, AT3, who was teamed with Margerum (and technically should have been on the ECM gear), was stuck in the tail turret as a lookout. P.R. Foster, AD1, our Plane Captain, was in his usual position in the cockpit doorway, while the 2nd Mech, whose name escapes me, was in the top turret, although my memory is hazy in this regard. (It could have been Jack Lively--both he and Foster were lost in the November ?51 shootdown near Vladivostok.) C.V. Miller, AO1, was in the afterstation preparing to load flares into the retrolaunchers in preparation for the forthcoming drop.

About half way or more to Chinnampo, our first target, after crossing the ?combat? line, Margerum picked up a bogey at 6 o?clock, 20-some miles and closing. Leaning back and looking forward over the wing beam, I could see the navigator, barely visible in our black-out conditions, checking the scope over Margerum?s shoulder. Diem in the tail turret reported that he could see nothing. In the meantime, the navigator had returned to his position and began clocking in the target. Margerum continued to call out the range: 18?15?12?10?8?and on in until he lost the bogey in the sea return at a little under three miles.

Nav picked up from that point, counting down the bogey?s approach and calling out the timed ranges: a mile and a half?then a mile?a half mile. At the half-mile mark, Farwell chopped the throttles and pushed the nose over--weightlessness and pressure against my seat belt set my heart into overdrive. We dropped like a rock for the proverbial eternity, starting to pull out somewhere under 5,000 feet as Foster told me later, and leveled off about 1,000 feet or so. Then, within minutes, we saw tracers aft and high on the port side. The Skipper broke radio silence to check the status of our wingman. His response: they were test-firing their guns. Farwell informed him of a night fighter in the area and suggested he come down and join us.

This incident, however, was just a warm-up for the evening. The strategy for the illumination was simplicity itself. The lead plane would fly in at 4,000 feet on one side of the harbor and drop its flares?those ten (two?) million candle power babies?which were set to go off at 2,000 feet., while the other plane would come in at 2,000 feet on the opposite side of the harbor to do the recon. Worked fine at Chinnampo. We were the lead plane and the North Koreans were firing wildly into the night sky?not even close. Night turned into day when the flares went off?allowing more than enough time to have a good look at the harbor, where among other shipping we saw a tanker sitting in the channel. Sinking it would have blocked the waterway for a long time, but we lacked the ordnance to do the job even if orders had allowed it.

Unscathed, we then proceeded to Kunsan, where our roles were reversed. Our wingman went in first at 4,000 feet and dropped his flares, set, again, to go off at 2,000 feet. We came in behind at 2,000 feet on the other side of the harbor?or so we thought. But much to our consternation the flares illuminated our plane as well as the harbor. Yes, the radar operator had failed to line up on the target accurately, making us a visible target. C.V. Miller, our ordnanceman, told me later that he thought the North Koreans had us in a searchlight for a while, which may have accounted for it seeming so bright.

Needless to say, the flak was more accurate. I had earlier pulled down the blackout curtain in front of me and could now see tracers coming up, seeming to flow up and over just off the starboard wing right in front of my eyes. Looked like glowing golf balls, but we knew these represented only a third or a fifth of what was coming up. Evasive action was immediate as the Skipper turned and dove toward a mountain top just behind the harbor. How do I know it was a mountain top? As he wheeled around in a hard port turn, I looked out the window on the port side and clearly could see flashes from small-arms fire almost at eye level. That?s how close we were. Farwell then swooped down through the middle of the harbor and out to sea. Hair raising.

Not being privy to the higher levels of information, I heard no follow-up information on the provenance of the night fighter. Miller suggested that it was probably flown by a Soviet pilot, since the North Korean air force had been pretty much wiped out by then. And I never heard who screwed up at Kunsan?in fact, didn?t really want to know because we were all aware of the difficulty involved. More importantly, we all got home safely with the mission accomplished.

As an aside, it was also during this time-frame that we used our ECM gear to triangulate a radar target, a site that planes from Task Force 77 took out the following day, I learned later. However, I?m uncertain now whether this was on our night illumination or a subsequent mission, although they both seem to meld in mind as one. The events themselves are clear in my mind, although the dates are less so. Whether or not that radar site had anything to do with the night fighter remains unclear.

Clarifications or comments from anyone with clearer memories or log books are welcome.

Charles Pomeroy
VP-6, 1950-1953
charlesp@coffee.ocn.ne.jp


Memories
On reading NEPTUNE, the definitive book on the P2V by Wayne Mutza, I came across his bare bones description of an incident in which aircraft of our squadron,VP-6, was involved. In the interest of accuracy, however, I would like to make a minor correction on the location and perhaps add a little more detail to the incident described by Mutza on page 59 (Chapter 5: Korea). In the last paragraph on that page, his placing of the downing of a P2V-3 at Chinnampo (the harbor for Pyongyang) is not quite correct. Although in the general Chinnampo area, the incident occurred at an inlet south of that port. (We had done Chinnampo a week or so earlier in a two-plane night illumination recon led by Cdr. Art Farwell, first there and then at Kunsan, farther south, in which we encountered a night fighter as well as flak in both target areas.)

There were two P2V-3s from VP-6 flying coastal interdict missions on the west coast of Korea that day in August, 1950, the 16th. This was still Pusan perimeter time and the order of the day was to stop any movement south. Both planes were armed with sixteen 5-inch rockets and several 500-lb. bombs as well as six 20 mm cannon in the nose, two in the tail turret, and the two 50 cal. machine guns in the upper deck turret. Flying in the lead plane was Crew 7, piloted by our PPC, Lt. Cdr. Wiley Hunt. The co-pilot was Lt. Bo Doster and the pilot/navigator, Lt.jg. Fred ?Snide? Etherton. Our plane captain was P. R. Foster, AD1 (later lost on the shootdown by the Soviets of VP-6 plane near Vladivostok on Nov. 6, 1951). Jack Remington, ALC, my mentor, was in the radar position just aft of the wing beam. I manned the radio position, just behind the cockpit, which allowed me a view of the action by looking out between the pilots. C.V. Miller, our ordnanceman, and the 2nd Mech, whose name I can?t recall, manned the two gun turrets.

Our second aircraft, BE-5, broke off from our flight to hit a target, a weir holding rice-paddy water, with the intent of washing out the north-south road on which it faced. We had proceeded on and south of Chinnampo came across a North Korean PC boat in a small inlet. Following the usual procedure, we climbed to around 1,800 feet and pushed over into a rocket run. We soon started taking fire from the PC boat (I remember clearly hearing the co-pilot shouting at Hunt to ?hit the 20s?), and also from the shoreline where it seemed several other camouflaged PC boats were positioned. After breaking off from this attack, we tried to contact BE-5 on VHF, but the low altitudes at which were working in mountainous terrain made contact impossible. Hunt called for a try on CW, but just as I reached for the key we received an SOS from BE-5. They had flown into exactly the same situation and started a similar rocket attack on a target that was alert and ready. BE-5 was hit in the starboard engine, which caught fire, and they ditched about 12 miles or so off the coast.

We immediately returned to the scene and spotted the two rafts in the water, which we marked. We also saw the PC boats headed out with the obvious intent of capturing the downed crew. Hunt held them at bay, flicking a rocket in their direction whenever they came too close (Hunt, by the way, was a POW in WWII, captured by the Japanese after his PBY was downed, and wanted no one to suffer a similar fate.) Fortunately, we were able to raise the nearest ship, the H.M.S Kenya, a British light cruiser, which came on full speed.

In the meantime, faced with the prospect of a long stay ?on station? and a potential fuel problem, we dumped all unnecessary weight overboard, including bombs, ammo from the upper deck and tail turrets, and everything loose in the afterstation. The pilots conserved fuel as best as possible, but it was questionable whether the Kenya would arrive before we would be forced to leave the area. When she came into view (what a beautiful sight!) and we knew it would reach the rafts before the PC boats, we headed for Iwakuni. And just barely made it, ?sucking fumes? was the expression Foster used. In fact, the port engine stopped turning over as we taxied in.

The crew of BE-5 was transferred two days later to a Canadian destroyer, the Cockade, and finally returned to Tachikawa a month later, except for Dick Colley (AL3), who had received burns while in the radar position just aft of the wing on the starboard side when the plane was hit. Dick was sent to the hospital at Yokosuka, where I later visited him (we both made AL2 within weeks of that event). Bill Goodman, then an Ensign, was the PPC and Sullivan was the co-pilot (Sullivan was my PPC during our second tour in ?51-?52). The navigator /pilot, Robert ?Bob? Greenkorn, also an ensign, had a midshipman navigator/pilot ?trainee? by the name of David Styles, who had the distinction of being the first midshipman to have seen combat since the days of sailing ships (and that, he said, occurred on July 8, 1950, when BE-5 first went into action in Korea). ?Dusty? Rhodes, ADC, was the Plane Captain, Carl Whitsley, AM1, the 2nd Mech, and John Scott, AOC, the ordnancemen. Otis Rhea, who was flying in the radio position (he was also an excellent saxaphonist), was 2nd Radio.

Most of us believed at the time that we had flown into a flak trap. In any event, if anyone would like to discuss that period, please feel free to contact me.

Charles Pomeroy (former AL1 with time in VP-27, VP-6, VP-9, the Naval Attache in Rome, and VP-11 from 1949 through 1956).
Email: charlesp@coffee.ocn.ne.jp

   
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
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  91 Also There at This Battle:
 
  • Amos, Bobby, PO1, (1949-1969)
  • Cope, Alfred Lovell, CAPT, (1928-1960)
  • Crandell, Kenneth, PO2, (1950-1954)
  • Erese, Damian, PO2, (1945-1966)
  • Flick, Robert
  • Foley, Warren, PO2, (1949-1963)
  • Freeman, Harold, CMC, (1943-1975)
  • Goodrow, Joseph, PO2, (1949-1952)
  • Linkey, Glenn, CPO, (1948-1968)
  • Patin, James Allen, PO3, (1950-1953)
  • Richard, Earl, PO3, (1948-1953)
  • Stotz, Joseph, PO2, (1948-1952)
  • Taylor, Robert, PO2, (1947-1951)
  • Walker, Robert J., MCPON, (1948-1979)
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