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Korean War begins on June 25, 1950.

HistoryLink.org Essay 3323 : Printer-Friendly Format

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War begins when North Korean troops invade South Korea, but the report goes largely unnoticed in Seattle. Seattle's principal role during the three-year conflict will be as a port of embarkation through which personnel and materiel flow to the Far East.

News of the invasion by North Korea came on a Sunday. The first indication of the seriousness of the event came the next day when military installations in Puget Sound and in Alaska were placed on full alert. Even after President Harry S. Truman ordered U.S. Troops to Korea to aid in its defense, servicemen enroute to the Far East through Seattle's Port of Embarkation at Pier 91 did not express concern. On June 30, Mayor William F. Devin (1898-1982) officially notified Civil Defense leaders of the liklihood of nuclear attack.

Air Force Captain Raymond Shillereff of Seattle became a hero on June 30 by being the first to shoot down an enemy airplane with a jet.

Seattle's first combat fatality was probably Marine Corporal Richard E. Hawley, age 22, who had attended O'Dea and Garfield High Schools. He was killed in action on August 12, 1950. Three Seattle men, Marine PFC Edward Dale Darchuck, age 19; Army Lieutenant Milfred L. Kostoff, age 25; and Marine PFC John M. Hausmann, age 18 were all killed in action on August 29.

Plans to close the Navy's Sand Point Naval Air Station were postponed and the aircraft maintenance and training activities there went to six days a week. The Boeing Co. had little direct role in the war since its military contracts were geared toward the construction of nuclear bombers. The Korean War remained conventional in nature. Boeing B-29 bombers, built during World War II and Boeing C-97 transports, built afterwards played important roles in the conflict.

The war eventually claimed more than 33,000 U.S. lives as well as approximately 3.5 million Asian lives over next three years. The state of Washington counted 558 among the dead (including at least one woman and at least one Asian American). On July 27, 1953, both sides signed a cease fire agreement establishing a demilitarized zone in the same general area as the demarkation line between North and South Korea in 1950.

In 2001, U.S. troops were still stationed in South Korea to maintain the cease fire.

Sources:
"The Korean War," Britannica CD 2000 Deluxe Edition, (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2000); "Rosters of Local War Dead," HistoryLink Metropedia Library, (www.Historylink.org); Robert Reed, "Seattleites Regarded Korea As Insignificant," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 27, 1953, p. 6; Jack Sullivan, "Lonely Parents Hope Son's Death Not in Vain," Ibid., p. 4; "Truce No Halt To Program," Ibid., July 31, 1953, p. 3.


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Civil Defense display by Seattle City Light at the Armory, 1952
Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives


U.S. Army soldiers arrive at Seattle from the Korean War, January 18, 1952
Courtesy National Archives


 
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