UNITED STATES MARINE FORCES
Note 1 - Information on MAG
squadrons will be expanded as more information received.
Korean War Order of Battle
When the Korean War began, the U.S. Marine Corps, like all services, was understrength and still equipped with World War Two equipment so when ordered to Korea, all that could be provided initially was a provisional brigade, designated the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. The Brigade was formed from assets of the 1st Marine Division and 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Camp Pendleton, CA. The Brigade was activated on 7 July 1950 and built around two units, the 5th Marines as a regimental combat team and Marine Aircraft Group 33 (MAG-33). The air component was consolidated under Forward Echelon, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing who's commander was double billeted as the deputy brigade commander. Troops were hurriedly reassigned to the Brigade from 1st Marine Division units as supplies and mothballed equipment were arriving. Some 6,800 troops were sent from the 2d Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, NC for both the Brigade and to begin the rebuilding of the 1st Marine Division. Much of the equipment and vehicles came from Marine Supply Depot, Barstow, CA and were recovered from Pacific islands and refurbish during Operation ROLL-UP in the late 1940s. Regardless, many units were still short men and equipment. The 5th Marines' three battalions had only two rifle companies apiece. While third rifle platoons were hastily formed for these six companies, they were still short some 50 men each. The three artillery batteries had only four 105mm howitzers instead of the normal six and the regimental Antitank Company lacked its organic tank platoon.
Load out of Task Group 53.7 at San Diego began soon after the Brigade was activated. The 266 officers and 4,503 enlisted men of the ground component sailed between 12-14 July on three troop transports, two attack cargo transports, and three landing ships dock. MAG-33 was embarked aboard two troop transports and an escort carrier. A total of 6,534 Brigade troops departed for Japan. The Brigade Advance Party with the commander, deputy commander, and part of their staffs departed by air on 16 July and arrived in Tokyo on the 19th. On 25 July, while en route to Japan, the Brigade's ground component was ordered to sail directly to Korea due to the deteriorating situation on the Pusan Perimeter. The Advance Party went on to Korea on the same day and situated itself at Taegu near the center of the Pusan Perimeter.
A significant combat capability exists within the Marine Corps that was not possessed by the Army. Marine ground combat units could have Marine aviation units placed in direct support to provide close air support, resupply, and medical evacuation. For the 1st Provisional Marine brigade this support was in the form of MAG-33. MAG-33 arrived at Kobe, Japan on 31 July. Marine Tactical Air Control Squadron 2 (MTACS-2) and the ground echelon of VMO-6 departed that same day by landing ship tank for Pusan arriving the next day. The 70 aircraft of the three fighting squadrons launched from the CVE and landed at Itami where they prepared for action. By 5 August VMF-214 and 323 were stationed aboard the USS Sicily(CVT-118) and USS Badoeng Strait (CVF-116), respectively, and VMF(N)-513 was split between them. The Brigade's ground component arrived at Pusan on 2 August and was attached to EUSAK, arriving just in time to blunt the North Korean offensive in the area along and west of the Naktong River. Although suffering heavy casualties in the fighting, the Brigade continued to stop North Korean attacks in its area until it was pulled from the Pusan Perimeter to join the 1st Marine Division at the Inchon Landings. It was deactivated as an independent brigade on 13 September 1950.
Forward Echelon, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Marine Aircraft Group 33
1st Marine Division (Reinforced)
This division was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA having previously served as an occupation force in North China from September 1945 to June 1947. It was brought up to war strength mainly with reservists. The Division departed for Korea between 10-22 August 1950, minus 7th Marines, which departed on 3 September 1950. Lead elements of the 1st Marines and support units arrived in Japan in early September 1950. The bulk of the Division landed in Korea on 15 September and regained control of the former 1st Provisional Marine Brigade elements, which rejoined the Division by sailing directly from Pusan. It was joined by 7th Marines on 21 September 1950. The Division was relieved by 25th Infantry Division and returned to Camp Pendleton in April 1955. The associated 1st Marine Aircraft Wing redeployed to Japan at the same time.
Following the successful amphibious invasion at Inchon, the division fought its way in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. It was withdrawn and again loaded aboard ship to make another landing, this time at Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast. However, by the time the combat assault landing was scheduled to take place, North Korean forces had collapsed and Wonsan was already in the hands of South Korean forces advancing up the east coast highway so the division was landed and then trucked northward to the Hamhung-Hungnam area of North Korea. From there, the division advance up a narrow road leading to the Chinese-North Korean border via the towns of Koto-ri and Haga-ri. The division was north of Yudam-ni at the far north end of the Choshin Reservoir when Chinese Communist Forces attacked in November 1950, blocking the road to safety. What followed was days of hell as the division fought its way out the trap in sub-zero temperatures and down the narrow road to Hungnam. This battle is a classic the proud history of the United States Marine Corps.
The 1st Marine Division consisted of:
Provisional Marine Units in Korea
Kimpo Provisional Regiment
HHSC, Kimpo Provisional Regiment
Other Provisional Marine Units
Non-Brigade/Division Marine and Navy Units