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The Korean War: Timeline and Facts


On 25 June 1950, the young Cold War suddenly turned hot, bloody and expensive. Within a few days, North Korea’s invasion of South Korea brought about a United Nations’ “police action” against the aggressors. That immediately produced heavy military and naval involvement by the United States.

Korean War 1950

Throughout the summer of 1950, the U.S. and the other involved United Nations’ states scrambled to contain North Korea’s fast-moving army, assemble the forces necessary to defeat it and simultaneously begin to respond to what was seen as a global military challenge from the Communistworld.

In mid-September 1950 a daring invasion at Inchon fractured the North Korean war machine. In the following two months UN armies pushed swiftly through North Korea. However, with victory seemingly in sight, China intervened openly, and the Soviet Union not-so-openly, on the side of their defeated fellow Communistneighbor. The UN was thrown back midway into South Korea. Early in the new year, the Chinese army was in turn contained and forced to retreat.

Korean War 1951

By the middle of 1951, the front lines had stabilized near where the war started twelve months earlier. Negotiations began in hopes an early truce could be arranged. But this took two more frustrating years, during which the contending forces fought on, with the U.S. Navy providing extensive air and gunfire support, relentless minesweeping and a large logistics effort.

The End of the Korean War

When did the Korean War end? On 27 July 1953, with a new regime in the USSR and the blunting of a final Communist offensive, negotiations concluded and fighting ended. However, the Cold War, considerably warmed up by the Korean experience, would would maintain its costly existence for nearly four more decades.

5 Facts about the Korean War

Actual hostilities occurred from June 27, 1950 to July 27, 1953. However, the war period was extended to January 31, 1955 by Congress to define a period of benefit eligibility in the wake of uneasy peace negotiations after July 27, 1953.

There were 6.8 million American men and women who served during the Korean War period, June 27,1950 to January 31, 1955.

There were 54,200 deaths to Americans in service during the period of hostilities, June 27, 1950 to July 27, 1953. Of these, 33,700 were actual battle deaths.

There were 7,140 POW’s during the Korean War. Of these, 4,418 returned to the United States, 2,701 died, and 21 refused repatriation.

There have been 131 recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor among Korean War veterans.

Timeline of The United States Involvement in The Korean War

August 15, 1945: Korea divided into US and Soviet occupation zones along 38th parallel

July 26, 1947President Truman’s National Security Act creates US Department of Defense

August 15, 1948: After supervised elections, US military government turns over power to Republic of Korea

June 25, 1950: North Korean People’s Army invades South Korea

June 27, 1950: UN asks member countries to aid Republic of Korea

June 28, 1950: US bombers attack troops in Han River area

June 30, 1950President Truman orders ground forces into Korea and authorizes Air Force to bomb North Korea

July 5, 1950: Near Osan, Task Force Smith troops fight for the first time and suffer heavy casualties

July 18, 1950: US Cavalry lands at Pohangdong

July 22, 1950: Battle for Taejon ends with heavy US losses and retreat

August 4, 1950: Pusan perimeter established in southeastern Korea

August 13, 1950: First UN counterattack collapses

August 15, 1950: Four-day battle of “the Bowling Alley”

September 15, 1950: Inchon landing of UN forces

September 29, 1950: UN troops complete recapture of Seoul

October 7, 1950: UN forces cross 38th parallel

October 14, 1950: Chinese Communist troops cross Yalu River into Korea

October 19, 1950: UN captures P’yongyang, the North Korean capital

November 1, 1950: Chinese attack in force near Unsan

November 24, 1950: General Douglas MacArthur’s final “Home by Christmas” offensive begins

December 11, 1950: End of Chinese strike against marine and army divisions at Chosin Reservoi

January 4, 1951: Seoul captured by Chinese

January 25, 1951: UN forces resume offensive

February 11, 1951: Chinese counteroffensive begins north of Hoengsong

March 1, 1951: UN line reaches between the 37th and 38th Parallels

March 18, 1951: UN forces retake Seoul

April 11, 1951: MacArthur recalled

June 13, 1951: UN forces dig in on the 38th Parallel

July 10, 1951: Truce talks begin at Kaesong but communists break off talks six weeks later

September 23, 1951: UN forces take Heartbreak Ridge after 18-day battle

November 27, 1951: Truce talks resume at Panmunjom

March 28, 1953: North Korean and Chinese leaders agree to POW exchange

April 18, 1953: Three-day battle of Pork Chop Hill ends in victory for UN forces

April 26, 1953: Full peace talks resume at Panmunjom

June 14, 1953: Communist offensive pushes Republic of Korea troops south

June 18, 1953: South Koreans release 27,000 North Korean POWs, who refuse repatriation

June 25, 1953: “Little Truce Talks” secure Republic of Korea’s acceptance of armistice. Chinese launch massive attacks against South Korean divisions.

July 10, 1953: Communists return to negotiations

July 27, 1953: Cease fire signed and fighting ends 12 hours later

September 4, 1953: Processing of POWs for repatriation begins at Freedom Village, Panmunjom