After retreating before the invading Communist North Korean forces since June 1950, U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) forces withdrew behind the Naktong River near the port city of Pusan, a position which the United Nations (UN) Command was determined to hold.

The area held in southeastern Korea resembled a rectangle. The southwestern side was guarded by the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions to prevent a breakthrough to Masan. The 1st Cavalry Division was deployed on the west to guard the Taegu railroad approaches. The northern front was defended by ROK divisions from south of Hamch’ang to just south of Yongdok on the east coast.

On 4 August, Lieutenant General Walton Walker announced the strategy of trading space for time had ended, and ordered a final stand along the 140-mile perimeter around the port of Pusan, which had become a well-stocked Eighth Army supply base and the hub of a rail and road network leading to the battle front.

By now the enemy’s lengthened supply lines were under constant air attack, enemy naval opposition had been wiped out, and the blockade of the Korean coast had been clamped tight. During the next month and a half, fourteen North Korean divisions dissipated their strength in piecemeal attacks against the Pusan perimeter. Walker rapidly shuttled forces to meet the greatest threats and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and prevented serious penetrations.

The North Koreans, determined to annihilate the Eighth Army and take Taegu and Pusan, massed for a two-pronged attack across the Naktong, one prong from the west and the other from the southwest.


  1. Then Mao decided to hide executing his #1 Son by burying that death during the winter invasion.

    Thanks for the graphics. A lot of people don’t realize how close we were to losing the whole thing.

    And Taegu? Dad flew F-84Gs out of there right after the war.

    • The US Navy’s presence is in the Pusan (Chinhae) area and I knocked around there. The perimeter held, but just. The terrain helped. Damned steep mountains.

    • Tell the PFC that I send my best. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure. Lots to learn, lots of life to live.

  2. Several Sargents I served under 1963-1966 were Korea vets. They were bitter. Old, outdated equipment, poor training, and too few people. One study later determined 1-2 out of 8 troops under fire simply cowered and never fired back.

    Army Basic circa 1963 was heavily weighed towards developing a fighting spirit. Not to the level of the Marine Corps and by different methods, we were kept so tired mental resistance was weakened. Personally, I enjoyed it.

  3. Jerry Pournelle recommended a book about the Korean War that explained it well to me, “This Kind of War,” by TR Fehrenbach. For some reason, I remember it as a Trilogy of books, covering the three different phases of the Korean War. It took me two days to remember the author’s name. Unfortunately, both Jerry Pournelle and TR Fehrenbach have passed away.

    Here is an excerpt from the book:

    I think it was the same one Jerry Pournelle used to introduce me to the book(s).

  4. I only found out recently that there was very nearly a second full blown war less than 20 years later, while Vietnam was raging. As it was there were cross boarder raids on pretty significant size and regular firefights. Even an attempt by North Korean special forces to assassinate the president of the south.

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