The Richard G. Trefry Archives is happy to present an online exhibit of photographs from the Korean War. The photographs showcase many different aspects of the war from life in a prisoner of war encampment, to laundry department, surgery and into combat. They cover a wide breadth of the war.
Lasting just over three years, from June 1950 to July 1951, the Korean War was one of the first flashpoints in the Post-World War II Cold War and first military actions taken by the newly formed United Nations.
Korea had been under Japanese colonial rule since 1905. With the end of World War II, Russian and American forces entered into an agreement to partition a liberated Korea at the 38th Parallel in order to disarm and end Japanese occupation. Almost immediately, this led to a proxy civil war starting between Soviet backed North Korean forces led by Kim Il Sung and American backed forces of Syngman Rhee to create a unified Korea.
When Kim's North Korean People's Army (NKPA) crossed the border on June 25, 1950 to begin an invasion of South Koreas, the United States responded by sending air, naval, and ground forces to combat the invasion kicking off the Korean War.
The war would see many swings in fortune for either side with the front line being as far South as around the Pusan salient and being pushed as far north as the Yalu River on the border with China until reaching a brutal stalemate of fighting in the mountains north of the 38th Parallel. The armistice came in July of 1953, and Korea has been divided into North Korea and South Korea ever since. In the end, the war caused over three million Korean civilian and military deaths, and the lives of one million Chinese soldiers and 38,000 American and non-Korean United Nation forces.
This collection comes from the personal papers of Army LTG (Ret) Richard G. Trefry and from a collection donated by the Association of the United States Army. It includes 21 photographs showing the diverse aspect of the American military involvement in the war.