At 0633 on September 15, 1950, LtCol R. D. Taplett's 3d Battalion,
5th Marines, reinforced by tanks and engineers, some 1250 Marines in all,
landed in the assault of Wolmi Do Island. This island guarded the seaward
approaches to Inchon. These Marines were veterans of the vicious fighting
on the Pusan Perimeter. At 1700 that afternoon these men would have had
a ringside seat from which to watch the remainder of their Regiment assault
the beaches just to the left (north) of the causeway, and the 1st Marines
(Regiment) land on beaches to the right (south) of the causeway.
Taplett's landing had been preceded by intense fire from Navy
and Marine aircraft from Sicily, Badoeng Strait, Valley Forge, Philippine
Sea, and Boxer. The cruisers Toledo, Rochester, Kenya, and Jamaica added
their six and eight inch shells to the carnage on the beach, as did a dozen
destroyers and smaller ships. The piece de resistance were the ugly, squat
shapes of three LSMRs, the 401, 403, and 404 which waddled close up to
the already smoking island and ripple fired hundreds of rockets into what
was already a smoking fiery mess. You may bet that the Marines, bobbing
around in LCVPs waiting to go ashore, thought those "ugly, squat LSMRs"
were the most beautiful ships in the U. S. Navy at that moment in time.
Some 400 North Koreans of the 2000 defenders of Inchon had been
on Wolmi Do that morning. When the fight was over Taplett's battalion would
count some 108 enemy dead and 136 prisoners. The 150 other defenders were
thought to have been entombed in sealed emplacements and caves throughout
the island. Marine casualties amounted to 17 Wounded in Action.
Naval gunfire support of Marine landings during WW II in the Pacific
had always been a problem. Not surprisingly, Marines wanted as much fire
on the objective as they could get, and the Navy almost always shortened
or cancelled scheduled pre-D Day bombardments. With the exception of the
landing on Guam on July 21, 1944, which had proceeded as flawlessly as
an amphibious assault across an enemy held beach could be expected to go
and with minimal casualties, the Marine Corps had never been satisfied
with the time and attention devoted by the U. S. Navy to shore bombardment.
Example after example could be cited where this occurred. Wolmi-Do and
Inchon would be an exception to the pattern which had developed previously
in that the quantity and quality of the pre-landing bombardments had fulfilled
Marine requests and expectations. The result of this bombardment was that
it saved Marine blood during the landing portion of the operation.
Anyone interested in the issue of pre-landing bombardment and
the Navy/Marine Corps conflict regarding this issue is urged to read Holland
M. Smith's Coral and Brass. This book sets forth the Marine Corps side
of the argument, chapter and verse, through the Iwo Jima operation.
The above was courtesy of R.
E. Sullivan, Colonel, USMC ('43/'67) (Ret.)