Today marks the 67th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, a conflict often referred to as “The Forgotten War.”
Fought from June 25, 1950, to July, 27, 1953, when an armistice – not a peace treaty – was signed between the North and South, the brutal Korean War turned the Cold War hot and resulted in millions of deaths. According to figures compiled by the U.S. Forces Korea Command History Office, 36,940 American service members were killed during the conflict and more than 103,000 were wounded.
Sixty-seven years after the war began, there are more than 7,800 Americans still unaccounted for, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
All too often, the Korean War – and the veterans who fought in it – get lost in the shuffle, but the USO wants to make sure the conflict wedged between World War II and Vietnam gets the attention that it deserves, especially on the day it began 67 years ago.
We hand-selected 19 rare Korean War photos from the National Archives, the U.S. Army Signal Corps and the USO’s own private collection to illustrate the war many have forgotten about.
A 2nd Infantry Division soldier talks on the radio, circa September 1950. During the second series of Naktong River battles, which occurred during the first two weeks of September 1950, many U.S. Army units found themselves surrounded by the enemy, with all communications cut off.
Paratroopers float earthward from C-119s to cut off retreating enemy units south of Munsan, Korea on March 23, 1951.
A U.S. helicopter delivers C-rations to the 25th U.S. Infantry Division’s 35th Infantry Regiment near Panmunjom, Korea, May 23, 1953.
Sgt. Ron J. Gladstone of Battle Creek, Michigan, left, Cpl. John McCullough of Chicago, center, and Pfc. John L. Robinson of Willard, Kentucky, knock out a machine gun nest of the Communist-led North Koreans with their 57-mm gun, somewhere in Korea.
An American soldier scans the area in front of his observation post on the front line somewhere in Korea.
B-26s bomb an enemy storage and barracks area in February 1951. In the upper left corner is a B-26 starting its bomb run.
A Korean girl with her brother on her back moves wearily past a stalled tank near Haengju, in Kyonggi Province, Korea, June 9, 1951. The war, which claimed millions of lives and left the Korean peninsula devastated, halted with the signing of an armistice on July 27, 1953.
U.S. Marines use scaling ladders as they assault North Korean positions at Inchon in South Korea on Sept. 15, 1950.
Soldiers, from the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, ride on an M26 Pershing Tank in Korea, in September 1950. In a series of bloody clashes along the Naktong River that month, tanks proved critical for the undermanned American forces.
The Buffalo Bowl was one Korean stop during disc jockey Johnny Grant’s Operation Starlift tour for the USO in the early 1950s.
Hundreds of service members in Korea wait for a USO performance to start.
American troops pick up mail from back home.
MASH units, or the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, was an Army medical unit serving as a fully functional hospital in combat areas.
Soldiers from the 19th Infantry Regiment march in the rough Korean terrain in 1951.
First Marine Division infantrymen take to a rugged hillside in wiping out enemy troops who have set up a roadblock against the Allied advance.
Marines of the 5th and 7th Regiments who hurled back a surprise onslaught by three Chinese communist divisions are astonished to hear that they are to withdraw from their position.
First Division Marines counter fire with fire when attacked by entrenched Chinese forces during the division’s heroic breakout from Chosin.
U.S. Marines land at Inchon in an amphibious tractor and prepared to plant and American flag that was given to them by then-Col. Lewis B. Puller, also known as “Chesty.”
Marines with a bazooka and a machine gun set up a security post against possible tank counterattacks.
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