U.S.S. LYMAN K. SWENSON: A "SITTING DUCK" !
The USS LYMAN K. SWENSON (DD-729) was one of the six destroyers that spearheaded the assault landings at Inchon, Korea in September of 1950, for which they earned the nickname "Sitting Ducks".
A half century ago on June 25 1950, massed forces of the North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel and rolled into South Korea. The South Korean army, which was outnumbered and outgunned, retreated down the peninsula. But by early August, U.S. and allied land, sea, and air forces had stabilized the front around what became known as the Pusan Perimeter. Meanwhile, a daring plan was conceived for an amphibious assault landing on the west coast city of Inchon -- cut enemy supply lines, capture Kimpo airfield, liberate the capital Seoul, and support a breakout from the Pusan Perimeter. There were many navigational hazards involved; 30-foot tides, 5-knot currents, a 35-mile narrow channel with but few navigational aids, and extensive mud flats. Planners of the operation stated, "Make up a list of amphibious 'don'ts' and Inchon had 'em all". And there was only one 3-day period per lunar month when the tide would be high enough for the landing.
The D-Day assault was set for September 15.
Vice Admiral A.D. Struble was appointed overall commander. Under him Rear Admiral J. H. Doyle, an experienced amphibious warfare officer, would command the Attack Force. Doyle's main components were: the Landing Force (First Marine Division) under Marine Major General O.P. Smith, the Gunfire Support Group under Rear Admiral J.M. Higgins, and the Air Support Group of escort carriers with embarked Marine air squadrons.
The Gunfire Support Group consisted of two US and two British cruisers, and six destroyers under Captain H.C. Allan:
MANSFIELD (DD-728) (Flagship), DEHAVEN (DD-727). LYMAN K. SWENSON (DD-729), COLLETT (DD-730), GURKE (DD-783), and HENDERSON (DD-785).
But there was a problem. The 300-foot-high island of Wolmi-do commanded the Inchon harbor entrance. It was judged to be fortified and would have to be reduced before the landings could take place. What guns did it have and where were they located?
To answer these questions the six Gunfire Support Group destroyers (Task Element 90.62) would go in on D-2 and D-1 Days to find out the hard way -- draw enemy fire to reveal guns positions and take them out if we could.