Newsweek Magazine Article


April 11, 1999

Dear Mr. Smith,


Your March 8,1999 issue of Newsweek has just been brought to my attention.  In your series of articles entitled,  Americans at War, you have devoted five pages to WWI, thirteen pages to WWII, seven pages to Vietnam, two pages to the war with Iraq, and SIX PARAGRAPHS to the Korean War. That was the INSULT- your opening quote on Page 30 was the INJURY, from the doughboys of World War One to the great men of World War Two to the grunts of Vietnam. Apparently you didnít consider the Korean War important enough to include in your introductory statement.



         58,000 Americans were killed during fifteen years or war in Vietnam or 3866 per year:

         54,000 Americans lost their lives in three years of war in Korea or 18000 per year.



Korea represented:

         The first tactical use of the helicopter;

         The first tactical use of the jet airplane;

         The first American war fought in below zero temperatures;

         The first Aircraft carrier operations in sub-zero weather;

         The first United Nations army;

         The first Hot war between Communism and Democracy

         The last large scale amphibious landing against a defended beach,

         The last time two great armies faced each other on a field of battle,

         The last army commanded by a five star general in combat,

         The beginning of the end of Communism. The defeat of Communist ambitions in Korea constituted the first crack that eventually brought down communism and the Berlin Wall.



Consider this: Iwo Jima is generally thought to be the most ferocious battle ever engaged in by Americans - yet compare it to The battle of the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.

         Iwo lasted 36 days- Chosin was 15 days

         Iwo had 6135 Americans Killed in action or 175 per day 

         Chosin had 3115 Americans killed in action or 208 per day

         Iwo had 17841 Wounded or 510 per day

         Chosin had 14000 wounded or 933 per day

         Iwo contained 60,000 Marines

         Chosin had 20,000 Marines  (17,000 Marines, 2,000 U.S. Army, and 1,000 British Royal Marines)

         Iwo had 22 Medals of Honor awarded or one for every 2727 men

         Chosin had 17 Medals of Honor awarded or one for every 1176 men

         Iwo Marines outnumbered the Japanese 3 to 1

         Chosin:  Chinese outnumbered the Americans 10 to 1

         Iwo Marines killed 20,000 Japanese or 571 per day

         Chosin Americans killed 28,000 Chinese or 1867 per day.



Obviously others do not agree. The battle of the Chosin Reservoir is considered to be in the category of Wake Island and of the Alamo, in that every man present participated in combat.


         Sea Power Magazine verified this when they wrote:

There was no rear - echelon, and everyone was a combatant.


         The noted historian and author, Keyes Beech has stated,

Seldom has the human frame been so savagely punished and continued to function. Many men discovered reserves of strength they never knew they possessed. Some survived and fought on will power alone.

Mr. Beech is alluding to a difficulty factor that the men of the Chosin had to overcome which   was not faced by the heroes of Wake Island and the Alamo. Whereas, all the battles were fought while the Americans were vastly outnumbered and surrounded - only at the Chosin did they have to fight the elements as well as a determined enemy.

         The men of the Chosin fought their way over 73 miles of  a treacherous, icy, one lane,  mountainous road.

          They fought night and day, often without food or sleep, under constant attack while overcoming roadblocks, and fighting off ambush after ambush.

         They did it in 45 below zero temperatures, with bone chilling winds blowing out of Siberia at Fifty miles per hour - bringing the wind chill factor to 100 degrees below zero.

          They walked, ran and fought in snow up to their knees, often in Whiteout conditions.



Mr. Smith, I wonder how many pages you think the Korean War would have deserved had you been there?  General S.L.A. Marshall, the most prominent Army historian of the twentieth century was there, and he wrote,

The fighting at the Chosin Reservoir was the most violent small unit fighting in the history of American warfare. No other operation in the American book of war quite compares with the show [the battle of the Chosin Reservoir] by the First Marine Division [and attached U.S. Army and British Royal Marines].


President Ronald Reagan thought it deserved more than six paragraphs,  as was implicit in his second inaugural speech when he stated,

The battle of the Chosin Reservoir was an epic battle of the twentieth century.


Mr. Smith, I am sure that your slight of the veterans of the Korean War was not intentional.  Nevertheless, often intention has no meaning, it doesnít matter to the dead man whether he was shot accidentally or intentionally - he is still dead.


Perhaps, the honest thing to do would be to print this letter in a future issue of Newsweek proceeded by an apology for the oversight.

Respectfully submitted,

Lee N. Mead President

 N.Y.C./L.I. Chapter of The Chosin Few.

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