Cold War Files: All Units: Events: X Corps Evacuation from Chosin and the Hungnam Operation

30 November -24 December 1950
X Corps Evacuation from Chosin and the Hungnam Operation

The 1st Marine Division begins its famous fighting withdrawal from Chosin Reservoir. The Fifth and Seventh Marine Regiments begin fighting their way to the First Marine Division command post at Hagari. They finally make it Dec. 4 after fighting their way in subfreezing temperatures. They airlift more than 4,300 casualties out of Hagari, and receive 537 replacements by air. Most of their casualties are frostbite victims.

December 1

The X Corps orders the Army Third and Seventh Divisions to withdraw south to Hungnam.

Task Force Faith, part of the Seventh Division and named for its commander, Lt. Col. Don Faith, begins to fight its way from the east bank of the Chosin Reservoir to Hegari at the south end of the reservoir to join up with the 1st Marine Division.

Fighting in temperatures at 35 degrees below zero and carrying 500 wounded, Faith is told by the hard-pressed Marines to look out for itself. By then the task force has 100 more casualties. Faith has the wounded loaded on trucks and begins to move south again. It is hit by Chinese mortars and small arms, and has to fight through enemy roadblocks.

U.S. Air Force fighters, mistaking them for an enemy column, also drop napalm on the front of the column. Faith is wounded by a Chinese grenade.

The task force reaches Hadong, only to find that the expected regimental tank company had already retreated to Hagari. It is then hit by an all-out Chinese attack. Faith is killed along with most of the other wounded. Only 385 of the original 3,200-man task force make it to U.N. lines. Faith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

December 6

Marines begin the 11-mile trip from Hagari to the First Marine Regiment's position at Koto-ri. It takes 38 hours and more than 600 casualties for about 10,000 Marines to move 1,000 vehicles that distance. The Marines get strong air support from Air Force, Navy and Marine fliers.

December 7

The First Marine Division continues to battle its way south from the Chosin Reservoir past Koto-ri to Chinhung. They are stopped halfway to Chinhung by a blown bridge at Funchilin Pass.

December 9

A treadway bridge is airdropped to the Marines and they are able to cross the gap at Funchilin Pass..

December 10

The 1st Marine Division continues to fight its way south.

December 11

In the early afternoon on Dec. 11, the last part of the 1st Marine Division crosses the Army perimeter at Hungnam.

The Marines had fought 50 miles from the Chosin Reservoir, an action called the longest withdrawal in Marine Corps history, but was not considered a retreat. During the fighting, the word retreat was mentioned to Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, division commander. His reply was, "Retreat, hell. We're just attacking in a different direction."

Marine, Air Force and Navy aircraft helped cover the retreat. The Marines also bring several hundred Chinese prisoners with them, many who had surrendered without a fight.

Since October the Marines lost 604 killed in action, 114 who later died from wounds, 192 missing, 3,508 wounded in action and frostbite accounted for most of the 7,313 casualties. It is believed the First Marines killed 1,500 Chinese and wounded 7,500. Marine air is credited with killing 10,000 and wounding 5,000. It is also claimed that Marine actions hurt the Red Chinese Ninth Army Group so seriously that it could not participate in the continuing communist offensive.

December 15

The First Marine Division completes loading men and equipment onto ships at Hungnam and sets sail for Pusan.

December 16

The remaining forces of X Corps in the inland town of Hamhung withdraw to Hungnam. About 12 Chinese and North Korean divisions attack Hungnam, but are held off with the help of heavy naval shelling and carrier-based aircraft.

December 21

Chinese attacks against the port of Hungnam have stopped and the 7th Infantry Division sails for Pusan. Evacuation of the city continues.

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