INCHEON, South Korea (April 28, 2014) -- Leaders from the top U.S. Army formation in Korea visited the sites of the amphibious operation that turned the tide of the Korean War 63 years ago.

Eighth Army conducted a staff ride to Incheon, South Korea, Friday, to recount Operation Chromite, the decisive amphibious operation championed by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, during the Korean War.

Eighth Army leaders went to the Incheon Landing Museum and Green Beach landing site. They also hiked up Radio Hill and Observatory Hill to take in the high ground objectives of the Green Beach and Red Beach amphibious operations.

Early in the Korean War, MacArthur designed the Incheon amphibious operation to serve as a "hammer and anvil" that would cut North Korean supply lines and trap enemy troops between the Eighth Army at the Pusan Perimeter in the south and the X Corps in the north.

During his first visit to the Korean Peninsula after North Korean forces invaded, MacArthur decided that an amphibious assault would be needed to retake the South Korean capital city of Seoul.

MacArthur planned the operation while Eighth Army tenaciously held onto the last corner of the Korean Peninsula, a 50-mile-wide by 80-mile-long defensive perimeter dubbed the "Pusan Perimeter" by news correspondents.

With 31-foot tidal fluctuations, restricted approaches and steep seawalls, the port of Incheon was not an ideal spot for an amphibious assault operation. This is exactly why MacArthur pushed for the operation. He knew it would catch the enemy off guard.

The amphibious assault focused on seizing and establishing three beachheads -- Green Beach on Wolmi Island and Red and Blue Beaches in Incheon. MacArthur personally directed Operation Chromite from the amphibious command ship USS Mount McKinley (AGC 7). Capitalizing on the element of surprise, the audacious amphibious operation routed enemy forces and enabled United Nations forces to retake the capital city of Seoul in two weeks.

Following the Incheon landing, Eighth Army broke out from the Pusan Perimeter and drove enemy forces all the way past to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, in less than a month.

According to Eighth Army Historian Ron Miller, the Incheon landing was one of the defining moments of the Korean War.

"It enabled friendly forces to transition from the defense to the offense," said Miller, a retired U.S. Army Infantry officer from Odessa, Texas.

In Incheon's Freedom Park, near Observatory Hill, a 10-foot-tall statue of MacArthur was dedicated to mark the 7th anniversary of the Incheon landing in 1957.

"It was here at Incheon that we knew the incalculable height of his genius," reads the inscription on the statue. "With the infinite capacity of his vision, he conceived and on September 15, 1950, personally executed an almost unbelievable landing operation, which instantly turned the course of the war to the triumph of freedom and the salvation of the Republic. This is a deed and this is a man to hold eternally in honored memory."

Standing tall and holding binoculars, the MacArthur statue surveys the landing sites.

Just 63 years after it was reduced to rubble by U.S. Navy guns and stormed by American Soldiers and Marines, Incheon is the third largest city in South Korea, and Wolmi Island is a popular seaside promenade with an amusement park, coffee shops and restaurants.

Page last updated Mon April 28th, 2014 at 00:00