The Battle for Pusan, A Korean War Memoir
By Addison Terry
Hardcover in dustjacket, 256 pages
Published by Presidio Press, March 2000
Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
On 25JUN50 the North Korean People’s Army swarmed across the 38th Parallel, invading South Korea and starting the Korean War. At the time Addison Terry was a Second Lieutenant stationed with the U.S. Army Seventh Division on occupation duty in Japan. Despite the statements of the politicians, the U.S. military at the time was largely a hollow force, under manned, under equipped, and under trained. 2LT Terry, along with several hundred other Seventh Division personnel, was hastily transferred to the 25th Infantry Division and transported on Japanese ferry boats to South Korea. Thus bolstered, the 25th was brought up to roughly half strength and tasked with helping defend the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula in what would become known as the Pusan Perimeter. The rest of South Korea had already been overrun.
Terry was trained as a Forward Observer (FO), tasked with directing artillery and mortar fire in support of ground forces. Often artillery fire would be the only support available to the troops. There was little U.S. armor available, and what was in theater was no match for the NKPA’s Russian made T-34/85s. Backed up by swarms of infantry, tank-led assaults were a constant threat. Terry’s 27th Regiment, the “Wolfhounds”, was used as a fire brigade to plug gaps and seal penetrations in the perimeter.
This is very much a “boots on the ground” book written from the author’s personal perspective. Terry describes his view from the foxhole in great detail, moving with the infantry and directing artillery fire against a numerically superior foe. Much of the effort was spent establishing and maintaining communications with the batteries to the rear – the radios were obsolete and unreliable, phone wires were cut by fire or infiltrators and constantly had to be spliced or re-laid. Food is invariably a constant focus in these narratives, as is sleep and a shower.
This narrative is limited the defense of the Pusan Perimeter, Terry was wounded and evacuated before the Inchon landing cut off the NKPA and forced their withdrawal. There is no mention of the harsh Korean winter, only the heat and mosquitoes of the summer. Miserable all the same but in different ways.
Korea is called “the forgotten war” and for good reason. I discovered this book at the Half Price Books clearance sale, new and unopened. It is an excellent read, and a useful insight into U.S. troops thrust into a conflict fighting at a strategic and tactical disadvantage. A glossary explains the unique vernacular of Army terms and Japanese slang used by the troops. There are also descriptions of the weapons and organization of the infantry units at the time from Squad on up which will be of interest to wargamers. An informative and interesting book, recommended.