Striking Back: Combat in Korea, March-April 1951

By William T. Bowers | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
OPERATION TOMAHAWK
187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team,
23–24 March 1951

One tool available to General Ridgway that could be used to trap and destroy part of the enemy forces was the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (RCT). From its arrival in Korea in the fall of 1950, the 187th had performed exceptionally well in combat, although the results of its airborne operations, through no fault of the regiment, had been less than expected. The drop north of the North Korean capital of P’yongyang in October 1950 had failed to catch sizeable numbers of enemy troops, the bulk of which had already withdrawn. After fighting in January and February under X Corps in the central mountains, near Wonju and elsewhere, the regiment was withdrawn to Taegu airfield to train and prepare for future airborne operations. A planned jump north of Ch’unch’on was canceled because the ground advance during Operation Ripper overran the target area first. However, the preparations for this jump were helpful, as related by the deputy commander of the regiment and some of the regimental staff officers.

COL. GEORGE H. GERHART, DEPUTY COMMANDER: We were alerted on 16 March 1951 that we were to jump on 20 March. We only had four days notice. We prepared for a drop in the Ch’unch’on area. It was well planned. Too bad we couldn’t have dropped there. But it didn’t materialize. The troops got in there ahead of time.1

MAJ. RAYMOND H. ROSS, ASSISTANT S-2 OF THE REGIMENT: We had been planning and preparing for a jump on Ch’unch’on for approximately one week. So, as far as equipment was concerned, we were fully prepared.2

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