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Fast Facts on the Korean War 1950-1953

Growth

The Marine Corps emerged from the Korean War with the highest sustained peacetime strength in its history. The suddenness of the war, and General MacArthur's immediate request for Marines, had emphasized the importance of maintaining the Corps as a ready striking force. The fiscal year end strengths of the Marine Corps during the Korean War and immediate post-Armistice period were as follows: 
 

Year

Officers

Enlisted

Total

1950

7,254

67,025

74,279

1951

15,150

177,770

192,920

1952

16,413

215,544

231,957

1953

18,731

230,488

249,219

1954

18,593

205,275

223,868

 Aviation

Marine aviation activities in Korea were first in support of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in the Pusan Perimeter, and next with the Inchon landing by the 1st Marine Division. In both instances, squadrons of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing gave effective close air-support from carriers, and later from Kimpo Airfield. Following the collapse of North Korean resistance in early October 1950, Marines moved to the seaport town of Wonsan. During the latter part of November and early December 1950, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps aircraft supplied the division during its breakout from the Chosin Reservoir. During these operations, repeated airdrops were made and more than 5,000 casualties were evacuated. In addition, Marine and Navy aircraft provided outstanding close air support, which was vital for the withdrawal out of the reservoir. Between August 1950 and 27 July 1953, units of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing flew more than 118,000 sorties, of which more than 39,500 were close air support missions. During the same period, Marine helicopter squadrons evacuated almost 10,000 personnel.

Reserves

In 1950 the Korean War saw the Marine Corps expand from 75,000 regulars to a force, by the end of the conflict in 1953, of 261,000 Marines, most of whom were Reserves. Complete mobilization of the organized ground reserve had been accomplished in just 53 days, from 20 July to 11 September 1950. Of the Marines participating in the Inchon invasion, 17 percent were reservists. By June 1951 the proportion of reservists in Marine Corps units in Korea had increased to nearly 50 percent, and during the war, 48 percent of all 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Combat sorties were flown by Marine reservists. Between July 1950 and June 1953, approximately 122,000 reservists, both recruits and veterans, saw active duty in Korea.

Awards

At the conclusion of the Korean War in July 1953, a total of 42 Marines had been awarded the Nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor; 26 of these awards were posthumous. In addition, 221 Navy Crosses, and more than 1,500 Silver Stars were awarded to Marines. Of the awards cited above, Marine reservists received 13 Medals of Honor, 50 Navy Crosses, and over 400 Silver Stars.

Casualties

The war in Korea had been a costly one. Total U.S. casualties during the war numbered approximately 136,000 killed, missing in action, and wounded. Marine Corps casualties from August 1950 July 1953 were as follows: (NOTE: The total under "DIED" includes killed-in-action, died of wounds, captured and died, and missing in action, presumed dead). 
 

Died

Wounded

Total

4,506

26,038

30,544

Reference Branch
USMC History Division

Marine Corps University