More than a half-century ago, thousands of Americans fought a bitter war on the Korean peninsula against a very determined enemy. Known as “the forgotten war,” the battle for Korea was the first US combat action of the Cold War. The Korean War also marked resurgence for the Marine Corps which had been dramatically reduced in size during the years following World War II.
Korea marked the first combat use by the Marine Corps of both helicopters and jet aircraft. On display is a Grumman Panther jet fighter which flew as part of the first Marine jet combat mission in December 1950 and an early Sikorsky helicopter. The gallery describes the “see-saw” nature of the war’s opening battles and the conflict’s gradual transformation into a static war of attrition, reminiscent of World War I trench warfare. Other exhibits highlight the introduction of Combined-Arms Teams, flak jackets (body armor) and expanded roles for women and minorities within the Marine Corps during this time period.
Visitors ride with Marines to the sea wall at Inchon as part of General MacArthur’s strategic end run to attack the enemy’s rear. A Pershing tank rumbles through the war-torn streets of Seoul. On Toktong Pass near the Chosin Reservoir, visitors encounter Marines who are cold, tired and dangerously short of ammunition. Visitors feel the cold; they hear the Chinese soldiers advancing up the snowy mountain and watch the Marines prepare for the next attack. It is a battle that must be won against overwhelming odds. Lastly, a sobering look at a POW cage serves as a reminder of the high price of war.