7 Replies Latest reply on May 21, 2020 3:13 PM by Esther Hyun

    Hungnam Evacuation




      I have just returned from Geoje Island in southern South Korea after visiting with my Korean Father-in-law and his older Brother who lives there.  Both of them plus family were evacuated by US forces from Hungnam on or around 22 Dec 1950.  I am trying to pull together their story and combining with old and current photos.


      Older Uncle who was 10 at the time remembers they were evacuated on a US LST and I am hoping that somewhere I may be able to find out the name plus any other details such as commanding officer or even a photo of the ship in question.  He remembers that they boarded on the evening of 22 Dec and departed 23rd Dec.  They arrived in Geoje Island around the 26th - these dates may not be 100% accurate.


      Any help or pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated.

        • Re: Hungnam Evacuation

          Dear Mr. Evered,


          Thank you for posting your question on History Hub!


          Your question is a difficult one to answer.  The Navy’s official history (The Sea Services in the Korean War, 1950-1953), online at https://www.koreanwar2.org/kwp2/usmckorea/sea/The%20Sea%20Services%20in%20the%20Korean%20War%201950-1953%20%20PCN%2019000412100_1.pdf) mention that a total of 81 LST’s participated in the Hungnam evacuation, of which the 1st Marine Division used 13 of that total.  A factor that complicates research on your question is the use of Japanese-crewed LST’s from the Shipping Control Administration-Japan during the Korean Conflict.  SCA-Japan operated a total of 38 LST’s during the war. 


          This is only a surmise based upon my Navy background and knowledge of naval history--I don’t have any official records to point to--but I believe that Korean civilians were probably evacuated on the SCA-Japan LST’s (among other vessels), with military personnel and equipment being evacuated on the U.S. Navy LST’s..  The photographic record is not helpful in this respect--a sequence of photographs was taken of a few LST’s on the beaches adjacent to Hungnam Dock #4 during the evacuation. I could identify U.S. Navy LST’s 845, 883, and 898 in that photographic sequence. There are two SCA-Japan LST’s identified on the same beaches--LST’s 23 and 715.  I know there were many more LST’s involved, but these are the only positive ID’s I could make.


          It is highly unlikely that any passenger manifests were created during any of these refugee evacuations of December 1950.  The military imperative at the time was for a speedy evacuation, and given the short span of the intended voyage and the wide variety of ships and craft used, it is doubtful that any of the busy crews of the evacuation ships had any idea of who embarked at Hungnam or disembarked at Geoje Island.  Plus passenger manifests for naval transports (both military and civilian-crewed) were considered by the Navy to be temporary records and would not have been transferred to the National Archives.


          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!


          2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Hungnam Evacuation

              Thank you for your reply.


              I have now done further research including reaching out to some folk with more details including the After-Action report from Hungnam Evacuation. I am further down the path but need some further help.


              It seems that there were two distinct groups of refugees evacuated.


              1 A group of some 4,500 made up of Korean Government officials, local dignitaries, and those deemed at risk of execution by the communists - prominent Christians. These were included in the overall Corp X evacuation plan as one senior officer commented that they could squeeze them between the vehicles.

              2 98,100 of refugees that were evacuated using remaining available sealift capacity post 19th Dec. The ships assigned to this activity are nominated in the after action report and as follows:




              Now I believe that my Father-in-Laws family were part of the former group of 4,500. My reasoning for this:


              1 Firstly older Uncle (11 at the time) distinctly remembers that they were squeezed in between 3 tanks and some 10 artillery pieces.

              2 They were part of a Christian Group who had moved in an orderly fashion to Hungnam by Train and then advised when to go to board the LST around 9pm on 22 Dec 1950 and then departed on 23rd Dec


              So from many documents on this there must have been 7-10 LSTs on the beach and departing 23rd. Thats my challenge to find them.


              I know all ships maintain deck logs which would at least have dates of departure, loading etc, etc. Have they survived? Are they available for research? If I can find all ships departing Hungnam 23rd Dec, then from those logs see which arrived in Geoje as opposed to Pusan and other ports around 26th Dec. Then I will have narrowed down the list.


              As I am new to History Hub I would appreciate any advice on how to best take advantage of the resources.

                • Re: Hungnam Evacuation

                  Dear Mr. Evered,


                  Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!


                  We located more accurate information about LSTs in the Hungnam evacuation.  An article in the Spring 2012 Naval War College Review (https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1001880.pdf) pointed out that a total of 37 LST’s (11 USN and 26 SCA Japan) formed part of Task Element 90.21 under Task Force 90 for the evacuation operation. 


                  The difficulty in this research is finding a comprehensive list of the ships participating in the Hungnam evacuation outside of the available photographic evidence.  We have not yet discovered such a list, although some staff members in Research Services may be able to indicate an appropriate series that may contain correspondence that reveals such a list.  However, even if such a list was available, the deck logs may not contain the information you seek.


                  We checked the deck logs of the three Regular Navy LST’s that have been identified photographically at Hungnam during evacuation operations: LSTs 845, 883, and 898.  We do not have the December 1950 logs for LSTs 883 and 898. We did locate the December 1950 log for LST 845, and the entries for her time at Hungnam only indicate that the ship was at Condition 1A (that means general quarters for an amphibious assault) during her time on the beach at Hungnam.  The log also indicated that the ship loaded vehicles and personnel during that time--no further details given about the vehicles or the personnel, or even if the personnel were military or civilian.


                  To compile all of the information you suggest would require significant effort. One would have to find all active LST’s in December 1950, determine the ships assigned to Seventh Fleet, then read the logs to find those at Hungnam and repeat that effort for the 11 U.S. Navy LSTs. 


                  We have not located any documents that record the status of the 26 Shipping Control Authority - Japan LST’s.  If they served under the Japanese flag, the deck logs may be in the custody of either the Military History Archives, National Institute for Defense Studies, 5-1 Ichigayahonmuracho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8808, Japan OR the Modern Japanese Political History Material Room, National Diet Library, 1-10-1, Nagata-Cho, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100-8924, Japan. 


                  2 people found this helpful
              • Re: Hungnam Evacuation



                Thank you for replying.


                As part of my continuing search I reached out to Dr Donald Chisholm who is a professor at the Joint Military Operations Department at the US Naval War College. He was able to confirm to me my searches through Google and navsource.com that there were 11 US LSTs in the operation of Hungnam. He provided me with a copy of the Operations Order (see below) that specifically lists the US LSTs in the operation.


                With further research I have been able to knock out for of the LSTs as there are specific statements that they either left Hungnam on the 24th or arrived in Pusan. Remember I am looking for ones that went to Geoje Island (then name Koje-do).


                So I am left with LSTs; 715, 742, 802, 914, 973, 975, 1048 and 1134.


                I suspect the best approach is to get access to the Deck logs of each of these and search for Dec 26th and see which ones went to Geoje Island. I am happy to pay for a researcher to explore the logs for me - I understand from Dr Chisholm that the deck logs for individual US Navy ships are kept at the US National Archives, likely at its facility in College Park MD.


                I don’t know if you are aware of anyone who could do this research for me??

                LST Section from Operations Order

                • Re: Hungnam Evacuation

                  Dear Mr. Evered,


                  It's unfortunate that my father, the late Dr. Bong Hak Hyun passed away.  He might have been of assistance to you regarding general information about the Heungnam Evacuation.  He ended up on Geoje Island with my aunt and grandmother.  During the Korean War, my father served as a medical doctor (I think for the Korean Marine Corps) but ended up being more useful as an English translator.  He got loaned to the X Corps to serve as Civil Affairs Advisor to Major General Edward M. Almond, Commanding General of the X Corps.


                  My father and civic leaders from Hamheung, his hometown, conceived of the Heungnam Evacuation.  Colonel Edward R. Forney USMC figured out it could be implemented, and together, they tirelessly advocated for it.  General Almond enabled the Heungnam civilian evacuation to occur, which I'm sure was no small feat.  There were huge concerns that the US military might not be able to get their own personnel out of Heungnam - let alone 100,000 civilians.


                  Around the mid-1970s the Douglas MacArthur Library requested General Almond's account of the Heungnam Evacuation for their archives.  They subsequently requested my father's account. While my father had a photographic memory, he does not mention LSTs in particular... I wonder if they have a personal account from Col. Forney, such as a diary.  Unfortunately, he passed away in 1965 from lung cancer.


                  Below are links to a KBS (Korean Broadcasting Station) documentary about my father and his role in the Heungnam Evacuation in 1999.  Part 2 of the video around 15:50+ minutes lists the number of civilians that boarded the ships.  Not sure if it's a comprehensive list.  My father boarded the Sergeant Andrew Miller on December 21 (and departed on December 22nd); I don't recall it being listed in the video.  Here are the LSTs listed with total number of civilians rescued:  LST 668 (10,500 civilians); LST 666 (7,500); LST 059 (8,000); LST 081 (4,000); LST 074 (3,500).  (Not sure if any babies were born on any of these ships.  Five babies were born on the Meredith Victory.)






                  Not sure if In Mortal Combat, by John Toland will be helpful... It's been a while since I read it.  There might not be enough detailed information about the Heungnam Evacuation.  (My father is mentioned on p. 360-370.  BTW, the only reason I'm mentioning this is in case this website requires  documentation).


                  Perhaps sources from A Christmas Far From Home:  An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival During the Korean War, by Stanley Weintraub might be helpful.  (My father is mentioned on p. 230-232).  Mr. Weintraub mentions the (Douglas) MacArthur Memorial Archives in Norfolk, Virginia, directed by James Zobel.  He is probably worth contacting, I remember his name from years ago.


                  Best of luck to you!




                  Esther Hyun

                  • Re: Hungnam Evacuation
                    Alice Lane Pioneer


                    If you know whether they were on the last ship to depart that would have been the Meredith.



                    Good luck in your search.