2nd Korean Cruise (1952-53)

“Decoy Duty in Wonsan Harbor” — Operation War Dance

Memory from: Machinist Mate 3rd class Marvin Dwight Saylor

Setting the Scene

In December of 1952, the KIDD took part in Operation War Dance. Taking place in Wonsan Harbor on the eastern coast of North Korea, her job was to reveal the positions of concealed enemy batteries on shore in the only way possible, . . . by drawing their fire. Machinist Mate 3rd class Marvin Dwight Saylor tells of that experience.

The Recollection

The time we engaged in a firefight with the North Koreans was the day we were acting as a decoy in a large harbor. The North Koreans had cannons mounted on small railroad tracks inside caves above the harbor. The guns were limited as to where they could hit, so a vessel would have to pass through a certain zone to be in danger of being hit. Our job was to make circles in the harbor, each circle bigger than the last, until we passed through this zone. Then the North Koreans would run the guns out to the mouth of the cave and fire. This day, we had a cruiser sitting out in the entrance to the harbor. USS ST. PAUL (CA-73), I believe. We were at General Quarters and I was a telephone talker in a repair party located in the compartment on the main deck that goes to crew quarters aft. I heard a yell into the phones I had on that we were receiving fire from the shore. I looked out of the door of the compartment and saw puffs of white smoke coming from the side of the mountain. About that time, I looked out to sea towards the cruiser and a round from the cannon hit the water a couple of hundred yards from us. The shell would have had to pass right between the smoke stacks. At that time, we started to return fire and [were] departing at flank speed. The cruiser commenced firing with their big guns and the last time I looked back, the mountain looked like it was exploding. The whole thing seemed like it didn’t last very long and we departed there for that day.