Return to Korea


1950 – 1953

The North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950 caused a major mobilization of all American forces, and the Coast Guard was no different. The Coast Guard remained under Treasury, and no Coast Guard units participated in actual combat, but the service supported to war effort in a variety of ways.

Actually, Coast Guard activity in Korea began shortly after the end of WWII. A Coast Guard Advisory Detachment assisted in the development and training of the Korean Coast Guard, which eventually became the Korean Navy.

Once the war broke out, the Ocean Weather Station cutters provided navigation and weather information to UN aircraft and ships transiting to the war zone. The Navy requested additional stations be added and the Coast Guard re-activated some of the WWII WDEs to man them. Stations Sugar and Victor were off the Korean coast and were the most useful. The cutters also served as communications platforms and as plane guards. A total of 22 weather patrol cutters were eligible for the Korean Service Ribbon by the end of hostilities.

Coast Guard aircraft, stationed in the Philippines, provided long-range search and rescue throughout the war. In January 1953, a Navy recon aircraft was shot down in the China Sea. A Coast Guard PBM-5 landed in 12-foot seas to rescue the crew. On takeoff, the Goat suffered an engine failure and crashed. The crew got the Navy crew into life rafts. All were rescued the following day by a surface ship. Five Coastguardsmen were killed.

The Coast Guard also provided LORAN navigation to the UN forces. Nine stations provided direct support to UN ships and aircraft involved in combat operations. One was located in Pusan. The buoy tenders that tended these stations were eligible for the Korean Service Medal.

Headquarters, Coast Guard Far East Section and a Merchant Marine Inspection Detachment, both operating out of Japan, provided logistics support for Navy supply efforts.

At home, the Coast Guard once again assumed the duties of port security, which had been allowed to lapse after the war. This time would be different. After the Korean Conflict, the mission did not go away. The Coast Guard has provided port security ever since Korea.

By the end of the War, the Coast Guard had doubled in size to 35,082 personnel. It would never again fall to the pre-Korean levels.