Korea * The Forgotten War *
General Eisenhower helped clear the way by strongly recommending that women become a
part of the U.S. Military. He was backed by several other senior officers who had worked
with women during WWII and had nothing but praise for their efforts. On the 12th of June,
then President Harry Truman signed on the dotted line, putting Public Law 625, The
Women's Armed Services Act of 1948 in to effect. A law that today would be laughed out of
town, it was so full of loopholes and strange parameters. But it opened the door for
dedicated women to serve their country in peace time. One thing it did not do, that is often
misinterpreted, is create separate women's branches, corps or forces. The only unit to retain
that distinction was the WAC. The rest of the women in the other branches of service were,
for all intents, but not every purpose, fully integrated. Or so the law implied. It just didn't
happen that way.
Two years later, in June of 1950, as the overall numbers for women in the military dropped
to a post war low, the North Korean Communists crossed the 38th parallel, starting what is
now remembered as The Forgotten War. Over fifty thousand American lives were lost over
a country we had never heard of before, in a conflict termed a limited war. President
Truman ordered troops into South Korea and within a few days the Army Nurse Corps was
also there. To many of you the word MASH means a long running hit television program
from the '70s. To the hundreds of women who served in Korea at the real Mobile Army
Surgical Hospitals, it was no party. To the hundreds of women who flew air evacuation,
caring for the wounded during every bumpy air mile, it was no luxury flight.
Air Evac Flight
During the Korean era over 120, 000 women were on active duty. In addition to the nurses
actually in Korea, many women served at support units nearby, in Japan and other far
eastern countries. Yet in researching women in war, and surfing the Internet for more
information, it appears that the women who served during this campaign have become as
forgotten as the war itself. Many of the web pages highlighting the Korean Conflict fail to
mention them. We know they were there.

In time of danger and not before
Women were added to the corps
With the danger over and all well righted
War is forgotten and the women slighted.
The pilots of the United States Air Force were heavily outnumbered and flew an airplane
that in many ways was inferior to the MiG-15s flown by their Communist adversaries. Nor
could they pursue the MiGs into their sanctuaries beyond the Yalu River. Nonetheless, they
built up an impressive combat record. They included old hands from World War Two like
Gabby Gabreski, John Bolt, and Bud Mahurin; newcomers like Hal Fischer and Pete
Fernandez; and future astronauts like John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, and Wally Schirra. Forty
American fighter pilots achieved the coveted status of ace in Korea. While USAF pilots
dominated the ranks of 'aces', Navy and Marine aviators also carried out much of the
unglamorous, but deadly bombing and ground-attack missions of the conflict.
The United States and Korea:
In the quarter century before the Japanese take-over, the United States showed a mild
interest in Korea and made some effort to support Korean independence, at least in
principle. In 1882, an American naval officer, Commodore Robert W. Shufeldt, negotiated
was achieved through the reluctant good offices of the Chinese Government. It provided
for exchange of diplomatic representatives, protection of navigation and of United States
citizens, extraterritoriality, and trade under a most-favored nation clause. The treaty could
have given the United States overriding influence in Korea. But when the Emperor sought
an American foreign affairs adviser and Army military advisers, the United States moved
slowly. The matter dragged on for several years. The American representative in Korea
repeatedly appealed to Washington for action. Although requested in 1884, military
advisers reached Korea only in 1888.
The United States treated Korea casually in the late 19th century. Its only significance lay
in the effect it had upon relationships with other major powers in the Far East. According
to one authority, the Korean Government was in the position of an incompetent defective
not yet
committed to guardianship. The United States was her only disinterested friend-but had
no intention of becoming her guardian. When the Japanese took over Korea, the United
States made no objection. President Theodore Roosevelt remarked, We cannot possibly
interfere for the Koreans against Japan.
... They could not strike one blow in their own defense. On 29 July 1905, Secretary of War
William H. Taft negotiated a secret agreed memorandum with the Japanese Prime
The United States approved Japan's suzerainty over Korea in return for its pledge not to
interfere with American interests in the Philippine Islands. The Korean Emperor's appeal
to the United States for help under the good offices& clauses of the Shufeldt Treaty fell
on deaf ears.

Korea 1945
When World War II began, Korea was regarded by the Allies as a victim of, not a party
to, Japanese aggression. One of the earliest signs that the Allied Powers were concerned
about Korea appeared in a joint statement by the United States, China, and Great Britain
December 1943, after the Cairo Conference, which said "The aforesaid three great powers,
mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course
Korea shall become free and independent."
Sharp differences between north and south had traditionally been part of the Korean
scene. South Koreans considered their northern neighbors crude and culturally backward.
North Koreans viewed southerners as lazy schemers. During the Japanese occupation
Koreans in the north had been much less tractable than those in the south. Differences in
farming accounted for some of the social differences in the two zones. A dry-field type of
farming in the north opposed a rice-culture area in the south to produce marked
variations in points of view. In the south were more small farms and a high tenancy rate,
while in the north larger farms and more owner-farmers prevailed. Those differences the
38th Parallel promised to exacerbate.
Korean Service Medal And Ribbon
Korean Service Medal and Ribbon