I REMEMBER THE FORGOTTEN WAR, 59 YEARS AGO
So what was happening in the air war? With intensity Russia entered the conflict by sending waves of their new MIG-15 fighter swarming over the border, sometimes over 100 at the time. This plane meant bad news for our Air Force. The MIG-15 had a top speed over 670 mph, could fly considerably higher than even our F-86, and worst of all was equipped with three cannons: two 23mm and one 37mm. It quickly became the B-29s worst nightmare. Our B-29 previously had complete freedom to fly wherever it wanted in the western part of Korea from Pyongyang up to the Yalu. Pyongyang developed a formidable anti-aircraft capability, and the MIGs concentrated on the area eventually known as “MIG alley.” Our B-29s became sitting ducks for the fast MIG, which caused us to paint the underside black, and restrict out flights strictly at night. This failed as radar controlled search lights aided the MIGs. As our loses mounted the USAF ordered that the B-29 would be restricted as to where they could fly, forbidding our flights over many strategically necessary areas such as MIG alley.
With the ground war basically over as the Chinese saturated the North, and our bombers restricted as to where they could fly, so the air war was also over. The U.S. finally saw the light and decided that maybe it would be a good idea to talk instead of fight. This was a major insult to the U.S. as it amounted to a “surrender.” Our government decided it would ignore and reject the idea that we had lost the war, and that was how the “forgotten War” term started. The loss never seemed to bother the U.S. as they treated it like it never happened. Well I can tell you it did happen as 36,913 of our best men were shipped home in a box. My crew went on to fly 50 missions over Korea “for what?” For no reason at all. No one cared about it so the “war” was not even mentioned. We had no will to win this conflict that was pretty stupid to become involved. Our complete defeat in Vietnam is another example of our lack of a “will to win.” It very quickly became a vague memory. Unfortunately it was not a “vague” memory to many, including me. The entire conflict affected thousands of veterans over the way they were completely ignored.
So that is my brief recollection of one of the most embarrassing moments in our history, a recollection that still is very vivid in my mind. Did the war really ever happen? I am now 80, and there is only one other member of my crew still alive. Our navigator, Lt. Crawford Long is a Doctor in Atlanta. So my crew is gone, and most of my friends are gone. Like the veterans of WWII, it won’t be long before all of us have been called to a “better life.” At that time there will be nobody with any knowledge of the forgotten war. As it is now, it will be treated like it never happened.
As to my plane “Tiger Lil.” My crew returned to the states after our 50 missions, and she was turned over to another crew. After the war was over, they were flying apparently over Russian territory in the Kurile Islands, and it was shot down by two MIGs.
That is my story about an unhappy part of my life. Was it worth losing even one man in that conflict? Ask one of the 58,202 who died for nothing in Vietnam. Is it worth continuing to lose men in Iraq, now over 4,000. The wars now are “Presidential” wars. President Bush wanted the war with Iraq so bad he fabricated a reason to attack them. President Obama, even though he promised to pull our troops out of Iraq, now wants a war in Afghanistan. Does he even know that Russia fought there for ten years, and lost? Once again, the U.S. is willing to sacrifice more men in this worthless country, for absolutely nothing. How many times do we have to get beat? When the French lost the war in Vietnam, we were very eager to take over, and become embarrassingly defeated, running for our lives. Has anyone visited “The Wall?” I won’t ask if anyone has visited the Korean war memorial. Very few have. Stand there and read the names of men who had everything in the world to live for, who could all be alive now. Does it matter to you?
What is happening now, after 59 years in Korea. For one they have over a million well trained men, not like the ones in 1950. They have a very impressive missile system, and reportedly have developed the capability to produce atomic warheads to go on these missiles. This might be a good time to send a few soldiers over there and teach them a lesson.
Written by Wayland Mayo, Korea veteran.