Remember the Korean War? The Christmas Eve abandonment of Hungnam?:
The last pilot to fly over Hungnam was Princeton’s LT R.B. Mack, who described the night as “…cloudless, cold, and unfriendly. Haze was everywhere,” said Mack. “The artificial haze of war–one part hate, one part frustration, stirred to an even pall by high explosives.
“I was flying the last launch of the day as one of two F4U-5Ns, Detachment Fox of VC-3 from Princeton.
“After a dusk launch, I received orders to proceed to Hungnam as target combat air patrol for the withdrawal of our forces from that port. After a very lonely trip, I arrived about 1900 and reported to Mount McKinley. The fighter director stationed me over Hungnam at 15,000 feet altitude. I had a grandstand seat for the most dismal and distressing sight I had ever witnessed.
“Below, the last of the troops and supplies had been loaded on board the LSTs and other evacuation craft and were pulling away from the dock areas. There were fires everywhere throughout the area, and, as I watched, flames broke out around the docks, growing and spreading until the whole waterfront seemed ablaze. Whatever had been left behind was being made useless for the Reds.
“As the LSTs cleared the beaches, several of our destroyers moved in and did their bit to ruin the real estate for future Communist use. I circled Hungnam until 2045. The ships below formed up single file, nose-and-tail like circus elephants, and headed seaward and then south to Pusan.
“As I took departure for Princeton, I called for the Mount McKinley and we exchanged greetings. “Merry Christmas,” we said, for it was Christmas Eve 1950….”
From USNI Press–The Sea War In Korea by Commanders MW Cagle and FA Manson. Have a grand Holiday–
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