INT: Fascinating, fascinating. In your view, was Inchon a turning point in the war?

ES: Inchon was not only a turning point in the war, it was a turning point in the military sense, the strategic or tactical sense. in the military, a turning movement is a deep-flank attack which causes the enemy to face around and fight in a new direction. Disrupts his lines of communications, forces him to assume a new front. So this was very truly a turning point and a turning movement and the last time that had been done quite so successfully -- and you'll pardon me if I say this -- was in 1846 when Winfield Scott landed at Vera Cruz and marched on Mexico City. General Zachary Taylor was engaged with Santa Anna in northern Mexico, there was nothing but trouble up there. Scott landed at Vera Cruz, Santa Anna had to face about and contend with Scott who landed at Sara [sic] Cruz and when he.. Scott cut loose of his base at Spara [sic] Cruz, which he did, started his march on Mexico City, a British commentator by the name of Duke of Wellington said "Scott is lost." I couldn't help but tell you that. (laugh) You can edit that out!


INT: Right, can we move onto the battle for Seoul itself. How bitter was the fighting that led to the capital.. the capture of the capital?

ES: After the marines had landed at Inchon and we were followed by the 7th Division, the army division, the last of MacArthur's four divisions in Japan, and the 7th Division had been stripped to spare men and material and it was the least ready of divisions and it had been filled up with Koreans conscripted into south of Korea. 'Katusa' was the term, K.A.T.U.S.A. - Korean Augmentation US Army. Utterly unfair to everyone, particularly to the Koreans who got swept up off the streets of Pusan. Without little or no training they had to join an army that didn't even speak their own language so there was not great combat effectiveness on the part of the 7th Division at that time. the 2 marine regiments -- the 1st and 5th -- started an advance from Inchon towards Seoul using the highway and the railroad linking the two as their access of advance and it was a hill to hill kind of fight and I remember well General MacArthur and his party coming ashore 2 days after our landing on the 17th of September I believe and General MacArthur arrived, visited us and I happened to be at the regimental headquarters of the 1st Regiment when he visited the regiment. And here's MacArthur with all the props -- the crushed hat, the sunglasses, the well-worn flight jacket, the khaki uniform, surrounded by a phalanx of generals and correspondents and bodyguards and newsreel cameramen and he swept up this hill where Chesty Puller was presumably directing the 1st Marine Regiment and so you had a situation where both of these individuals, the two greatest actors in Korea at that time, peering through field glasses, looking towards this imaginary battle that was going on somewheres in front of them. In fact, Chesty Puller is supposed to have said "General MacArthur (unintelligible) is in your headquarter" and MacArthur.. and Puller said "well, they have to come up here. I'm too busy to go down and see him" aof course MacArthur gave him a silver star on the spot, great press coverage and so forth. The North Korean resistance got steadily and progressively stiffer as we moved towards Seoul as they moved reinforcements in. So by the time we reached the Han river, we'd done some pretty serious fighting and crossing the river in itself would be quite a manoeuvre, sort of like crossing the Rhine in World War II. Um, we were restricted in our use of supporting fires. We didn't wanna flatten Seoul so we couldn't plaster it with artillery and (unintelligible). Our use of supporting weapons had to be very selective. we knew that the North Koreans were fortifying the city and it was going to be a heavy fight. We crossed the Han by going downstream a bit, crossed using our amphibian tractors and then came into the city from the flank. We had to take some hills. There were 3 hills, each numbered 105 that we had to take first. Then we got into the city.. and my battalion, of which I was Weapons Company Commander, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, our line of advance was [Mah-Po] Boulevard, the main street sort of like attacking up Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. And every few hundred yards there was a rice bag barricade and there was a lot of fire coming in from the flanks, from the higher buildings too. So each of these rice bag barricades had to be reduced then you went forward. Of course we had tank support to help us but it was pretty much riflemen against riflemen, winkling them out of these buildings and so forth. We reached a prison and I was supposed to open up this prison and turn the prisoners loose. Big set of gates, big wooden gates and my company had a demolitions capability and so I told the demolitions sergeant "we're gonna blow that gate", so he's getting all the charges ready and one of my marines, who was standing idly by, went over and tried a door at the side of the gate and that wasn't locked! (laugh) So he opened the door and we walked in! All the prisoners had been removed. We found one or two had been executed. They h

INT: What was your assessment of MacArthur as a commander of the operation in the few months following the.. capture of Seoul? Did you get the impression he had a sense of his own infallibility almost?

ES: MacArthur will always be an enigma. I've been studying the man for 50 years and I haven't made up my own mind about him. His landing at Inchon was a triumph and it was one man's intuition or one man's genius that made Inchon possible. I think a mantle of infallibility settled on his shoulders at that point. Also, MacArthur had the unfortunate habit of having only sycophants around him. His staff worshipped the ground he walked on and never had a word of dissent. So he never got bad news, he only got good news. Also, William Manchester, his biographer, has it right when he gave him the.. his book the title "American Caesar". MacArthur was the American Caesar. He had left the United States in 1936 and in 15 years he had not returned. He'd spent all that time in the Orient. He had ruled -- and I use the word advisedly -- the Japanese people for 5 years. He was worshipped in Japan. I myself have seen him enter and leave the Dai-ichi building with all the Japanese standing by reverently, bowing at the great man as he would go in and.. This man had a.. tremendous ego and it had been fed for all these years. I do believe he was.. at this point felt that he was infallible. He also was 70 years old.. and I think his habits were well-ingrained by that time. And the next few months he would change his mind from moments of high elation to deep despair and I think a psychologist might find something in that in studying him. Did you want me to go on to the Wake Island meeting at this time?