MARSHALL, GEORGE C.

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MARSHALL, GEORGE C. - Nobel Prize winner and Secretary of Defense, George C. Marshall, Responds to Charges of Inadequate Rations, Medical Attention, “Frozen Feet,” and Black Marketeering During the Korean War
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MARSHALL, GEORGE C. - Nobel Prize winner and Secretary of Defense, George C. Marshall, Responds to Charges of Inadequate Rations, Medical Attention, “Frozen Feet,” and Black Marketeering During the Korean War

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I am sure you can appreciate that, because of the critical tactical situation, as well as the extremely rough terrain over which food had to be handcarried, some difficulty was encountered in supplying hot meals to men in forward positions. However, adequate rations were supplied”

 

MARSHALL, GEORGE C. (1880-1959). Nobel Prize-winning U.S. Army general, secretary of state and secretary of defense. TLS. (“G. Marshall”). 2pp 4to. Washington, D.C., (June 19, 1951). On Secretary of Defense letterhead. To American newspaper editor, publisher and Republican Senator from South Dakota FRANCIS CASE (1896-1962).

 

“I am replying further to your letter of April 27th, concerning correspondence you received from certain soldiers of the 23rd Infantry Regiment with reference to conditions they have encountered in Korea.

 

I have now received an interim report on the investigation the Far East Command is making on this matter. Under the conditions existing in Korea, involving the constant movement and exchange of personnel, it appears that some additional time will be required to complete a thorough investigation of all the points raised. I am, meanwhile, furnishing the information made available in this report and will see that you are further informed when the complete report is received.

 

This inquiry has disclosed that soldiers of the company in question had adequate winter clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags during freezing weather, but, at times because of the exigencies of combat, they carried a minimum of bedding with them. Additional data is being secured as to the alleged cases of frozen feet; however, it appears that the number of cases indicated was considerably exaggerated.

 

The unit in question was in combat during the period outlined in your letter; however, it was at times in reserve or in a supporting role. Following this period of combat, the unit was held in reserve for approximately three weeks and assigned certain tactical missions, such as patrolling, anti-guerilla operations, etc. Intensive training, re-equipping, integration of replacements, and like activities were also performed, and necessary maintenance upon the main supply route was accomplished. Although this interval was not designed for a rest period, entertainment, athletics, and church services were provided for and encouraged. One decoration ceremony and one command inspection were held. 

 

I am sure you can appreciate that, because of the critical tactical situation, as well as the extremely rough terrain over which food had to be handcarried, some difficulty was encountered in supplying hot meals to men in forward positions. However, adequate rations were supplied.

 

The men who arrived in Korea in August recently became eligible for consideration for rotation, and some have been returned to the United States. Although the Reservists arrived in Korea after the Regular Army units, they are considered on the same list and governed by the same criteria as Regular Army personnel. The investigation has shown that there is no discrimination against the Reservists in the rotation system.

 

The testimony of other personnel of the company refutes the allegations concerning the lack of medical attention and indicates a high regard for medical personnel. The regiment to which these men are assigned is supported by medical personnel similar to other such units. Company medical aid men accompany the combat platoons and are available for treatment and, in addition, means are provided for evacuation to battalion aid stations, where doctors are always available. Korean litter bearers are used, but are accompanied by United States soldiers at all times. Medical authorities favor the Koreans for such work because of their familiarity in traversing rugged terrain and their sure footedness. Consequently, the employment of Koreans tends to reduce shock cases, rather than aggravate them. It should also be noted that helicopters are being used to evacuate seriously wounded casualties from the front lines wherever feasible. As of the end of April, about 3,000 casualties had been evacuated by helicopters.

 

The illegal sale of certain supplies in Taegu and Pusan has been a troublesome situation. In March, however, through concerted efforts of the Korean forces, assisted by United Nations troops, illicit traders were apprehended, and supplies in their possession were confiscated. I am glad to advise that this action has halted the illegal sale of candy in the above cities.

 

I trust the foregoing information will serve to reassure you of the efforts authorities in the Far East Command are making to see that no undue hardships are encountered by our troops. I shall be glad to advise you further when a final report on this matter is received from overseas. Faithfully yours…”

 

After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute, Marshall worked his way up the Army chain of command. During World War I, he codified and implemented the Army’s infantry training program and served as General John J. Pershing’s aide-de-camp. As brigadier general he was appointed President Franklin Roosevelt’s Army Chief of Staff on September 1, 1939, the day World War II began. Marshall did much to expand and modernize the army and, after the U.S. entry into the conflict, he coordinated the military strategy of the Allies for which he was dubbed the “organizer of victory” by Winston Churchill. In 1944, he became the second officer, after Douglas McArthur, to receive the rank of five-star general. As Truman’s secretary of state, he introduced the American plan to help Europe recover from the war, known as the Marshall Plan, which won him the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize. In September 1950, he joined Truman’s cabinet as secretary of defense, during the early months of the Korean War.

 

In May 1945, Korea had been divided into two countries, communist North Korea and anti-communist South Korea divided along the 38th parallel. Following the end of World War II, America’s fear of Communism reached a fever pitch and led to the establishment of the Truman Doctrine, by which the United States agreed to help free nations resist communist aggression. Accordingly, President Truman sent U.S. forces, led by Douglas MacArthur, to help the United Nations defend South Korea after North Korea invasion on June 25, 1950. The Korean War, which lasted until July 27, 1953, was the first armed conflict of the Cold War.

 

 

Although the Americans expected a swift victory, they were repulsed by North Korean soldiers whose ranks were bolstered by the Chinese Army beginning in October 1950, and whose combined forces pushed American and South Korean troops into retreat below the 38th parallel after their initial incursion into Pyongyang. Reports of poorly trained and ill-equipped troops, issues alluded to in our letter, plagued the American military brass. Depleted by World War II, most branches of the armed services did not have enough warships to implement a naval blockade, and munitions, tanks and aircraft were all in short supply. In fact, it was these criticisms that led to Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson’s resignation and his replacement by Marshall several months into the war.

 

Despite peace negotiations beginning in February 1951, the war continued for several years until a truce was called in July 1953. Our letter concerns the 23rd Infantry Regiment, which fought for the entirety of the war and participated in some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict. Marshall mentions black marketeering in the cities of Taegu (modern Daegu) and Pusan (modern Busan). American candy, cigarettes and Army C-rations were particularly popular. Both cities had remained in South Korean hands throughout the war and were flooded with refugees from the North. 

 

Case was a World War I veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and both the Army and Marine Reserves. After his military career, he was a writer, editor and publisher of newspapers in Chicago and South Dakota. In 1937, he was elected to the Houser to begin a 25-year Congressional career; he was elected to the Senate in 1951 and served until his death 11 years later.

 

Docketed by hand and with a purple ink date stamp in the upper right corner of the first page. Normal folding with staple holes in the upper left corner ad in excellent condition.

 

Content letters by Marshall are rare.

 

Item #13080

$950


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