Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Secrets of Inchon

Lt. Gene Clark with his South Korean commandos, 1950 
My father was a young sailor during the Korean War. Among other ships, he served aboard the USS Coral Sea, a shiny new aircraft carrier named for the famous WWII sea battle fought just a few short years before. The Coral Sea left Newport News for her shakedown cruise to Guantanamo Bay and the Panama Canal, going on to serve us all over the world, including Viet Nam.

It was a world that seems so very, very long ago now--so long ago that even Democrat presidents were still worth a damn...

 Prelude to the Rumble
"On August 26, 1950, I was summoned to the office of Captain Edward Pearce, USN, in the Dai Ichi Insurance Building in downtown Tokyo, overlooking Emperor Hirohito's imperial palace. For the past year, I had been serving under Captain Pearce on General Douglas MacArthur's staff.
"Gene," Eddie Pearce said in his gruff deadpan way, "I believe we've cooked up a little rumble you're going to like."
The twinkle in Pearce's gray eyes intrigued me. So did the eager expectation on the face of the other man in Pearce's office, Major General Holmes E. Dager. He had been one of General George S. Patton's tank commanders during World War II. Between them, these two guys had seen a lot of bullets and shells fly in that global struggle. Now a new war had exploded in Korea. I sensed they were about to invite me to sample some excitement in this fracas.
I said nothing, while Eddie Pearce shifted in his chair and leaned toward me. "We're going to make an amphibious landing at Inchon on 15 September, and General MacArthur says it's essential we obtain more timely and accurate information on everything in and around the place-at once."
"How would you like to try to get us that information?" General Dager asked.
On June 24, 1950, Communist North Korea had invaded South Korea with fourteen well-trained divisions. They quickly captured the capital, Seoul, and smashed the lightly armed Republic of Korea army with a lavish use of artillery and tanks. President Harry S. Truman had ordered General MacArthur to send American soldiers to resist this act of naked aggression.
The green GIs, mostly draftees in combat for the first time, had been driven back to a precarious perimeter around the port of Pusan, on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. They were clinging to this enclave, under ferocious North Korean attack. Many people in General Headquarters thought it was only a matter of time before we faced an American Dunkerque. In Washington, D.C., shudders ran through the White House at the possibility that if the North Koreans succeeded in spreading Communism at the point of a gun, the Russians might try something similar in Europe. There was also a very visible threat to Japan, where President Truman had done his utmost to exclude Communist influence. The tip of Korea was only about ninety miles from Kyushu, Japan's southernmost island.
I was devoted to Captain Pearce. The white-haired Annapolis man had accepted me without the slightest hint of the condescension often displayed by some naval academy graduates toward "mustangs"-officers appointed from the enlisted ranks during World War II. That was how I had won my commission. A yeoman, I had risen from seaman to chief petty officer-the highest rank an enlisted man can achieve. But I disliked captaining what I sometimes called an "LMD"-a Large Mahogany Desk-and applied for a commission to get myself into the war zone.
I was not completely surprised by Eddie Pearce's proposition. Since the war in Korea began, I had been working in the Geographic Branch of General MacArthur's staff, gathering information about tides, terrain, and landing facilities at various ports along both coasts of South Korea. I had participated in amphibious operations during World War II, notably on Okinawa, the last big battle of the Pacific war, and knew what was needed to make a successful landing on an enemy-held shore. I and other members of my research team had scoured every possible source, from old Japanese studies to aerial photography taken during World War II-and had come up with very little that was reliable about either Korean coast. Major General Charles Willoughby, MacArthur's intelligence chief, had expressed grave dissatisfaction with our reports.
My experience as an amphibian also enabled me to grasp why a landing at Inchon required absolutely reliable information. The port was on Korea's west coast, 180 miles north of the Pusan perimeter. If anything went wrong at Inchon, the American attackers would be in serious danger of being flung back into the sea with horrendous casualties. The fighting men around Pusan were too far away to give them any support. From my preliminary research, I already knew that the approach to Inchon was complicated by tides that rose and fell twenty-nine feet in a twenty-four-hour period-leaving miles of mudflats, some extending six thousand yards from the shoreline at low water.
"I know we've gone to the limit in researching this matter," I said. "So I take it that a little personal look-see trip is in order. Is that correct, Captain?"
"That's right, Gene," Pearce said. "It's going to require a reconnaissance of the Inchon area by someone qualified to observe and transmit back to Tokyo the information we currently lack. I believe you're the man for the job."
"I'd certainly like to take a crack at it," I said-simultaneously trying to visualize what this rumble might involve. I had an uneasy feeling it was not going to be a pleasure trip. At thirty-nine, I was getting a little old for the commando game. But I preferred excitement to desk work. I had had a pretty good taste of action on Okinawa and nearby islands, dealing with Japanese troops who were inclined to stage a final banzai charge rather than surrender. After the war, I had enjoyed some highly clandestine operations along the China coast, trying to help the Nationalist Chinese in their losing struggle with the Communists.
"I told General Willoughby you'd be ready to tackle the job," Captain Pearce said, visibly pleased. "You will report to General Dager until the completion of this mission, as of now."
"Aye aye, sir!" I said.
In the elevator, General Dager told me to get him a list of what I would need for the expedition by the following morning. With it should be a target date for my departure to the vicinity of Inchon.
Back in my office, I sat down at my desk and lit my pipe. Below me spread the peaceful, exquisitely beautiful grounds of the Japanese imperial palace. It was hard to believe that men were fighting and dying around Pusan while I gazed down at this oasis of serenity. Struggling to concentrate, I called in my secretary, Florence Truitt, and told her to start pulling information from the files about Communist strength around Inchon. I began gathering data about the people on the islands neighboring the port. One of these islands would be the most likely place for me to set up this operation.

After an hour or two of note-taking and listing what I needed in the way of food, guns, and ammunition, I became dismayed at the length of the dossier I was compiling and decided to go home to think the whole thing over for twenty-four hours.
In our house on the outskirts of Tokyo, I found my wife, Enid, my daughter, Genine, twelve, and my son, Roger, nine, waiting to join me for dinner. With a pang, I realized I could not tell Enid where I was going. All I could say was that the U.S. Navy had done it again, they were shipping me to northern Japan on another confidential assignment. I loved Enid deeply. We had met in high school and married so quickly, I decided not to bother graduating. I also regarded her as one of the most patient women alive.
After the years of separation inflicted by World War II, I had hoped we would be reunited in occupied Japan. But the Navy repeatedly interfered in this happy dream by altering my orders with no warning. At first I captained LST 865, which operated out of Yokosuka, the big naval base on Tokyo Harbor, on runs up the China coast. But I was forced to surrender this, my first ship command, to the Philippine Naval Patrol, which soon beached her on an unwelcoming shore and left her there to rust.
Next I briefly captained the attack transport USS Errol. But I lost this ship, too, when the Navy ordered me to Guam to serve as chief interpreter in the war crimes trials of Japan’s wartime leaders. Finally I was shifted back to General MacArthur’s staff in Tokyo, where we endured a waiting list for decent quarters. Even when we finally got a steam-heated house in a Tokyo suburb, I was frequently away in the north of Japan, interrogating Japanese prisoners repatriated from Communist Russia. Through it all, Enid never lost her good cheer. She was a truly wonderful wife, and I tried to let her know it now and then.
It was not easy to tell Enid a white lie about my new assignment. I made it sound like some unfinished business in the repatriation centers in the north. I told myself the fib was far better than having her toss and turn all night for the next three weeks, wondering whether her husband would come back in one piece from this jaunt into Communist-held waters.
The next morning, I kissed her and the kids goodbye and returned to Tokyo to begin putting together the men and equipment we would need for our rumble. I began with the men. I flew to Taegu, Korea, another town inside the Pusan perimeter, and recruited a bilingual Korean Navy lieutenant, Youn Joung, and a former Korean counterintelligence officer, Colonel Ke In-Ju. Both had served on General MacArthur’s staff before the war broke out. I had a pretty good personal estimate of their qualifications, and they had gotten gold-plated praise from several men whose opinions I respected.
While I was in the vicinity, I decided to take a look at how the Korean “police action,” as President Harry Truman called it, was being fought. I found an old army buddy I knew from Okinawa, and we jeeped to the front lines. We watched while a company of infantry got ready to assault North Koreans dug into high ground just ahead of them. American artillery was plastering the enemy with phosphorus shells, a weapon we had learned they feared and detested. The North Koreans responded with mortar shells, which began kicking up a lot of dirt on the road just behind us. My friend suggested it might be a good idea to put some distance between ourselves and this firefight, since we were armed only with pistols—and the NKPA (North Korean People’s Army) had an unpleasant habit of executing prisoners of war.
At my friend’s quarters, I got the lowdown on Taegu. The town was being overwhelmed by a horde of civilian refugees. I had taken a concentrated course in sanitation when I trained to become part of the military government of Okinawa, and I saw at a glance the place was ripe for outbreaks of typhus, typhoid, and the other diseases that breed in filth. Later in the day, my pal took me to an area where the Americans were trying to put young Koreans through a forced-draft course in soldiering. It was located on one of the local heights, and I could see from the elevation much of the battle line of the American perimeter. I heard the rumble of artillery to the north, where the Communists were trying to cross the Naktong River, the last natural barrier before Pusan. This infantryman’s-eye view of the war underscored the importance of the Inchon landing. There was little doubt that the American situation in Korea was precarious to the point of desperation.
By this time I had learned what was happening behind the scenes at the Dai Ichi Building and in the corridors of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. It underlined the word desperation in my mind and put a few question marks after it. General MacArthur’s decision to invade Inchon was a daring gamble in a half dozen ways. He was withdrawing badly needed troops such as the Marine brigade from the Pusan perimeter and combining them with reinforcements arriving from the United States and Europe. This strike force was supposed to drive inland from Inchon to seize South Korea’s capital, Seoul, and sever the North Korean army’s supply lines.
It was brilliant strategy—but the devil was in the hairy tactical details of this risky venture, code-named chromite. General J. Lawton Collins, the U.S. Army’s chief of staff, and Admiral Forrest Sherman, the Chief of Naval Operations, had flown to Tokyo to talk MacArthur out of it. At an historic briefing session in the Dai Ichi Building, Navy and Army planners had been more than a little pessimistic about attacking Inchon. At the end of the session, after scarcely a voice had been raised in favor of the proposal, Rear Admiral James H. Doyle, the man in command of the amphibious side of the operation, said: “General, I have not been asked nor have I volunteered my opinion about this landing. If I were asked, however, the best I can say is Inchon is not impossible.”
Through this negative barrage, MacArthur sat in silence, puffing on his pipe. After the last man had spoken, the general remained silent for another full minute. Then he rose and gave a speech that for sheer eloquence has probably never been equaled in American military annals. He told the assembled admirals and generals that the very arguments they had used against Inchon were the prime reason why he wanted to execute chromite. If the Americans thought it was close to impossible, so did the North Koreans, and that gave us the key element in any attack, large or small—surprise.
MacArthur ended with a peroration that was soon echoing through the Dai Ichi Building. He said the prestige of the Western world was hanging in the balance in Korea. The Orient’s millions were watching the outcome. Communism had elected to launch its march to global domination here in Asia. In Europe, we were able to fight Communism with words. Here, we had no choice but to do it with deeds. Inchon was a deed that would resound throughout the civilized world—and save 100,000 American lives.
General Collins was reduced to surly silence and Admiral Sherman became a believer. They flew back to Washington, D.C., where, with great reluctance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave Inchon their approval. To cover their rears, they asked President Truman to give his explicit permission for the operation. The ex-artilleryman from World War I said it was a plan worthy of a great captain and gave us the green light.
Back in Tokyo from my flying trip to Korea, I told Captain Pearce we were almost ready to shove off. He handed me secret orders that introduced me to Rear Admiral Sir William Andrewes of the Royal Navy, who was in command of the naval forces blockading the west coast of Korea. Soon my two Korean lieutenants and I were in Sasebo, a port on the East China Sea in Kyushu. There Admiral Andrewes presided aboard his flagship, HMS Ladybird.
Before I presented my orders to the admiral, I had a final, extremely important chore to perform. I had to turn my list of weapons and supplies into reality. I had waited until the brink of departure because I had learned an old shipmate, Lieutenant Commander Russell Q. “Shorty” June, was the executive officer of the Sasebo Naval Base. I thought I had a better chance of getting everything I wanted from Shorty. Was I ever right. Laying my requirements before him, I explained that my mission was secret in nature—and urgent. Without another word, he grabbed the phone and called his supply officer, directing him to give me everything I asked for and if he didn’t have it to get it from the local Army outfit.
Having placed this wheel in motion, I hopped over to the BOQ (Bachelor Officers’ Quarters), took a quick shave, and called in Youn and Ke for a conference. I asked them to put their heads together and come up with an answer to how much native (Korean) food we should bring and whatever other items of gear they thought we might need. They told me rice and dried fish should be at the top of such a list—especially rice. The Reds were requisitioning every available grain of rice in South Korea to feed their invasion army. From there I headed for Admiral Andrewes’s flagship, tied up alongside the wharf.
I had had the privilege of meeting Sir William and his chief of staff, Captain James, at a dinner party aboard his then flagship, HMS Belfast, at Yokusaka the previous May. It was at that party Enid was first introduced to the British sleeper, pink gin. In consequence, my reception by Sir William and Captain James was somewhat more than cordial. After I had broken out my secret orders and they had been thoroughly digested, the admiral queried Captain James about available transportation.
“The Charity is due to sail for the west coast of Korea day after tomorrow,” Captain James replied.
“Will that suit your plans, Lieutenant?”
“I had planned on arriving in the Inchon area not later than the first of September, Admiral,” I answered. “To do this, it will be necessary to shove off from here not later than tomorrow morning.”
The admiral thought this over a moment and turned to Captain James. “Can’t we set Charity up to leave tomorrow morning? I think the ship she is to relieve will welcome her early arrival.”
“I believe that can be done, sir. Suppose we send her a signal and ask her captain to come in and discuss the matter?”
“Righto! Lieutenant, could you come back in about an hour and we’ll see about getting the Charity set up for departure tomorrow morning?”
“Of course, Admiral.”
Captain James saw me to the gangway. I thought it wise to check on how the supplies and equipment were coming along. Contacting the Sasebo supply officer, I learned that his base armory was short on Thompson submachine guns and was asked if grease guns (U.S. submachine guns) would be okay. I assured him they would and that they were preferred in view of their simplicity of operation and breakdown. Unfortunately, he could not get me any Garand semiautomatic rifles, an item I thought could come in very handy. He had obtained from the Army fifty cases of World War II C-rations containing three menus. This wasn’t exactly ensuring a varied diet, but our troops in the Pusan perimeter certainly weren’t better off.
Shorty had hit the officers’ mess for two cases of Canadian Club—an admirable means of placing a man at ease while conducting a friendly discussion on the relative merits of Communism. On the advice of Youn and Ke, I also obtained a million won (South Korean currency—pegged at about 1,800 to the dollar) for buying information if we needed it.
Returning to HMS Ladybird, I was greeted warmly by the officer of the deck, who escorted me to the wardroom, where Sir William introduced me to Lieutenant Commander P. R. G. Worth, commanding HMS Charity. “We’ve been looking into your problem, Lieutenant,” said Captain James. “Could you tell us about where you would like to have your party taken off at the other end?”
“I’ve arranged a rendezvous with the ROK PC-703 twenty miles southwest of the island of Tokchok-do at 7:00 A.M. on the first, Captain,” I replied. “However, this arrangement is subject to change at discretion.”
The mess boy came in with coffee, and while the admiral’s operations officer and Lieutenant Commander Worth were computing speeds and distances, the admiral was interesting himself in further support for our mission. He asked Captain James to get a signal off to the cruiser HMS Kenya, then patrolling the Korean west coast, informing the captain in general terms of our mission and requesting he look after us. As HMS Jamaica was shortly to relieve Kenya on station, he asked that similar instructions be sent to her. All this solicitude gave me a warm feeling for our British cousins.
Having completed their calculations, Captain Worth gave me the results, which produced an even warmer feeling—a mix of fraternity and relief from anxiety. “If Charity gets under way at first light in the morning, Admiral, she will make the rendezvous area nicely.”

“Excellent! What time would you like Lieutenant Clark’s party and cargo on board?”
“Any time at all, Admiral. The sooner we get cracking, the better. I would like to have everything on board and secured as early as possible.”
“I’ll have the cargo alongside the Charity in an LCM about 11:30 P.M. tonight,” I said. “The other passengers and I will come aboard not later than 6:30 A.M. We have quarters on the beach for tonight, and I can see no reason to burden the ship unnecessarily.”
“Is that satisfactory, Worth?” asked the Admiral.
“Splendid, sir.”
“Very well, then, that’s it,” the Admiral said. “Lieutenant, will you step into my cabin a moment?”
With a quick au revoir to the operations officer and Lieutenant Commander Worth, I followed Sir William and Captain James to the cabin. Here I found that the Admiral had not been unaware of the heat of the day. Was it bourbon, scotch, or gin? It was scotch. Soda or water? Soda, please. As we raised our glasses, I found myself wondering, not for the first time, why the United States declined to trust its responsible officers with liquor aboard our navy’s ships. I ruefully remembered how many times I had tried to explain this American anachronism to officers of other nations.
Putting this unpleasant thought out of my mind, I took this opportunity to ask the admiral to forward a dispatch to General MacArthur’s headquarters, to the effect that everything was going according to plan. Then, receiving their hearty best wishes for the success of the mission, I took my leave—deeply appreciative of their friendship and support.
Ashore, I learned that the Sasebo supply officer was short only a few items, which were coming over from the Army later in the evening. At the BOQ, Youn and Ke had completed their list of native items to be procured. It was getting along toward dinnertime, so we decided to do our shopping in town after dinner.
A message was awaiting me to call Shorty at his quarters, and it turned out to be an invite for dinner. I hadn’t seen Helen, Shorty’s wife, since our days on Guam. Over cocktails and an excellent dinner—the last I would eat for two weeks—we discussed our old relatively carefree days in the tropics.
 Later, Shorty ordered a jeep for me. Picking up Youn and Ke, we went into town and finished our business about eleven o’clock. We were able to get only two hundred pounds of rice, which distressed them somewhat. By the time we returned, all the Army items were in. Loading the LCM, we had it alongside HMS Charity with minutes to spare before our 11:30 deadline. The stuff was promptly taken aboard and secured for sea. Back at our quarters we awaited morning—and the start of our rumble. 
Into Red Inchon Harbor

IT WAS STILL DARK when the duty watch woke us the next morning. Looking out the window, I saw that the stars were sharply etched in deep blue velvet. Navigators everywhere in this part of the world were on the bridge, breaking out their instruments. The fortunate ones with such a sky as this would fix their position on the vast ocean expanse. The less lucky would resort to their electronic equipment or, lacking such luxury, would place before their captains an “educated guess”—a dead-reckoning position.
Washing up, Youn and Ke chatted spiritedly back and forth, seemingly without a care in the world. Although they normally spoke in Korean, they could both speak excellent Japanese and Chinese, and Youn spoke good English. Dressed, we made our way down to the pier, where Shorty June had a boat waiting. We stepped down into the cockpit, and I gave the coxswain orders to make for the Charity, which was well out in the stream.
The bay was crowded with warships of all types, their anchor lights gently rising and falling with the slight swells. When we passed close aboard, we could make out the sounds of reveille. These huge masses of cold steel were again coming to warm pulsating life, assuming their individual characteristics—loved by those who served in them and had come to know this secret life.".......
--Excerpt from "The Secrets of Inchon: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Covert Mission of the Korean War" by Commander Eugene Franklin Clark, USN. .............................

Lt. Gene Clark, an intelligence officer, was sent into the islands near Inchon to prepare the way for MacArthur's brilliant invasion that saved South Korea.

Clark operated right under the enemy's nose, fighting hand-to-hand at times, relaying intelligence that saved thousands of his brother servicemen. He organized the local South Koreans, who fought bravely; and his own small fleet of junks conducted mine-sweeping and naval firefights like a pirate from another century.

He wrote his own unassuming and professional first-person account...and modestly filed it away for fifty years, only to see the light of day after his death. It reads like a John Wayne movie, with espionage, infiltration, sabotage and combat.

For his heroism, Cmdr. Clark was awarded the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit, among other honors.

But like my father, he was just one of the many American servicemen who answered the call of duty, serving our country with honor, as Americans still do to this very day. They made it back safely, where many of their friends and colleagues did not.

We remember them; the long, unbroken line of patriots who paid the full price to secure for us our freedoms.

Don't forget to remember them. After all, they remembered you.

Inchon 1950: Operation "Trudy Jackson"
Two of Clark's men were Korean officers: a bilingual Navy Lieutenant, Youn Joung; and a former Korean counterintelligence officer, Colonel Ke In-Ju. Both had served on General MacArthur's staff. Youn and Ke used the aliases of "Yong Chi Ho" and "Kim Nam Sun" and were nominally on detached duty from ROK forces, to try and mask the intelligence nature of the covert mission. Youn is standing at center with the pistol at his belt.

Clark and his men conducted bloody raids on land and sea, gathered vital information on the approaches and seawalls at the Inchon landing "beaches," and turned on the Palmi-do light-house to help the invasion fleet navigate. Clark brought Youn and Ke out to the McKinley with him, but most of the men in the above photo were probably caught and killed by the North Koreans, who also murdered 50 civilians at Yonghung-do who had helped the mission succeed.
Clark later took about 150 South Korean Guerillas, including Youn, on island-hopping forays all the way up to the Yalu. In October, Clark was able to notify Tokyo Headquarters that his agents had reported large numbers of Chinese were crossing the Yalu into North Korea.

High Command evidently discounted this information. The belief that China would not intervene permeated Eighth Army leadership right down to the Battalion level and lower. The Cav discounted firm Intel that large columns of infantry were advancing to attack them at Unsan. The entire Army was ill-prepared psychologically, and ill-deployed tactically when China's veteran Infantry finally launched their Phase One and Phase Two Attacks. The Army was smashed, almost surrounded, routed, and soon fled from them in the longest retreat in US history.

LT Eugene F. Clark and the Inchon landing
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 12:01 AM


The invasion of South Korea in 1950 nearly resulted in a Communist victory. UN forces were driven into a perimeter around the southeastern port of Pusan when General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, commanding U.S. and UN forces in Korea, decided to launch an amphibious landing against the North Korean flank at Inchon. A successful assault at Inchon and an advance to the nearby South Korean capital of Seoul would sever the main communist supply lines. An attack launched from Pusan would then batter the now cut-off North Korean forces. It was a bold plan.
The Navy knew little of the dangerous waters around Inchon despite the fact that the U.S. had occupied Korea south of the 38th parallel for four years. With a tidal range of over 30 feet, accurate intelligence of Inchon and its water approaches was vital to the success of the landing.
No one did more to provide that information than the daring and resourceful Lieutenant Eugene F. Clark, USN, a geographic specialist on MacArthur’s intelligence staff. Clark had enlisted in the Navy in 1934, became a chief yeoman and earned a commission in World War II. He commanded an LST and a transport, and participated in several clandestine operations with the Nationalist Chinese against the communists after the war. Invasion planners needed detailed information about the harbor, the approaches and enemy defenses so they dispatched a reconnaissance team under Lieutenant Clark to get the answers. His small team included two South Korean officers who had fought in World War II and possessed sufficient arms to equip a small irregular force.
Clark’s team landed on Yonghung Do, an island only 14 miles from Inchon, on 1 September 1950. They quickly organized a force of local men and boys to watch the nearby enemy held island of Taebu Do. On the advice of his Korean officers, Clark had brought in rice and dried fish for the islanders, which brought much good will. Clark also equipped Yonghung Do’s one motorized sampan with a .50-caliber machine gun and armed his men with carbines and submachine guns. To acquire intelligence about the enemy, the team seized local fishing sampans-interrogating crewmen who generally professed loyalty to South Korea-and explored Inchon harbor. Clark’s young Korean operatives also infiltrated Inchon, Kimpo air base and even Seoul and returned with valuable information. Clark told the planners that the Japanese-prepared tide tables were accurate, that the mud flats fronting Inchon would support no weight and that the harbor’s sea walls were higher than estimated. Clark also reported that Wolmi Do, an island in Inchon harbor, was fortified with Soviet-made artillery.
The North Koreans, aware of Clark’s presence on Yonghung Do, sent only small parties to the island to investigate his hideaway. On 7 September, however, they sent one motorized and three sailing sampans loaded with troops. South Korean lookouts spotted the approaching boats, enabling Clark and his men to get their “flagship” underway. As Clark closed the enemy, a 37- mm anti-tank gun mounted in the bow of the Communist motorized craft opened up. A shell splashed well in front of Clark’s sampan. Undeterred by their poor shooting, Clark directed his flagship to within 100 yards of the enemy squadron. His .50 caliber machine gun raked two of the North Korean vessels, sinking one and demolishing another. Witnessing this slaughter, the two remaining boats fled the scene. After Clark reported that battle to headquarters, the destroyer Hanson (DD 832) arrived to take off the team. Clark, who had not asked to be extracted, instead requested Hanson’s skipper to pound Taebu Do. Hanson blasted the island with 212 5-inch rounds, covered by Marine Corsairs that bombed and strafed the North Korean positions.
The team stayed on the island and continued their mission. Clark scouted Palmi Do, an island centrally located in the approaches to Inchon, and reported that Canadian raiders had only damaged the lighthouse beacon. Clark was ordered to relight the lamp at midnight on the 15th. On 14 September, Clark’s team moved to Palmi Do and repaired the light. Meanwhile, the North Koreans sent a second contingent to wipe out the force on Yonghung Do that overwhelmed the defenders and executed over 50 men, women and children. Clark avenged their sacrifice when he activated the beacon atop the lighthouse at the appointed time on 15 September. With this light to guide them, the ships of the landing force safely threaded their way through the treacherous approach to Inchon. The Inchon landing was an incredible success and UN forces soon drove the remnants of the North Korean army across the 38th parallel.
In recognition of his heroic work, the Navy awarded Lieutenant Clark the Silver Star and the Army presented him with the Legion of Merit. Clark participated in several other special operations off Korea, earning a Navy Cross and an oak leaf cluster for the Silver Star. Commander Clark retired from the Navy in 1966 and died in 1998.

CLARK, EUGENE F. Citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Eugene F. Clark, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving with Special Operations Group, G-2, Headquarters, Far East Command, in enemy-held territory in North Korea on 13 and 14 September 1951. Lieutenant Clark was a member of a special operations group which landed in enemy-occupied territory to perform a confidential mission. Lieutenant Clark, in charge of the shore party, proceeded by boat from an offshore rendezvous lying approximately twenty miles offshore through rough seas to a point approximately two hundred yards off the beach of enemy-held territory, known to be occupied and in the process of being mined by Chinese Communist forces in anticipation of an invasion by United States forces. He then transferred to a small rubber boat and landed through the surf on the beach where he contacted friendly personnel who had been operating in that area. He then proceeded inland to the vicinity of an enemy-occupied village, reconnoitered the area and posted guards at the village and northward from the landing point to intercept Chinese Communist patrols in order to protect the remainder of the party during the performance of the confidential mission. On completion of the mission he returned by rubber boat through a surf which had subsequently become heavier and increasingly dangerous to the off-shore rendezvous. The hazards of capture based on losses of preceding groups, together with warnings received from ashore that the enemy was aware of the planned operation did not deter this gallant officer from continuing to volunteer and successfully completing the mission. He was well aware that if he fell into the hands of the enemy, who were on the alert and occupying the entire area, he could anticipate the same fate as those who had preceded him; that is, torture followed by death. Lieutenant Clark's display of outstanding courage and gallantry uphold the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

The Real Secrets

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