Upon hearing the news of the Chinese Army's appearance on the Korean peninsula, President Truman turned to his trusted advisers:
"At 11 a.m. the President spoke first to General Bradley. How bad, he wanted to know, would the casualties be? 'Very bad, I'm afraid, sir. It is too early for an accurate estimate, but our losses will be heavy.' Then President asked how serious the situation was. 'Critical,' was Bradley's terse response."
With the expansion of the Korean War, the United Nations realized that World War III was at their doorstep if they wanted to engage. Withdrawing in order to fight another day made sense - but such a decision was not without costs.
The Chinese foray into Korea resulted in the coming together of numerous politicians in Washington in order to boost Army spending by $41.8 billion dollars, with an additional $1 billion designated for nuclear warfare preparedness. Assorted branches of the military increased the draft pool and lowered their admission standards. New Jersey Representative Charles Eaton(R) gravely stated:
"We face the greatest danger of extinction since the nation was founded."
This is an eyewitness account of the fortitude and endurance exhibited by the freezing members of the 1st Marine Division as they executed their highly disciplined 100 mile march from the Chosin Reservoir to the Korean coastline - inflicting (and taking) casualties all the while. The account is simply composed of a series of diary entries - seldom more than eight sentences in length recalling that famous "fighting retreat" in the frozen Hell that was Korea. The journalist's last entry points out that the number of Marine dead was so high, we need never think of the Battle of Tarawa as the bloodiest engagement in Marine history.
Five days after China entered the Korean War, three U.S. Air Force F-80 Shooting Star fighter jets duked it out with three Soviet-made MIG-15s 20,000 feet above the the Korean/Manchurian border. Lieutenant Russell Brown of Southern California fired the decisive shot that sent one MIG down in flames. While engaged with the other two F-80s, the remaining MIGs were dispatched in a similar manner (although other sources had reported that these two fighters had actually been able to return to their bases badly damaged). In the entire sordid history of warfare, this engagement was the first contest to result in one jet shooting down another.
"The toughest fighting was in a three-mile beachead at the chewed-up port of Hungnam. There the U.S X Corps had escaped from a Chinese trap and was piling aboard a fleet of Victory and Liberty ships."
The U.S. Navy had a strong presence off shore to cover the American withdrawal.