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The Human Side of War: Two Amazing Stories of Korean War Pilots

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The Human Side of War: Two Amazing Stories of Korean War Pilots

There has always been tensions on the Korean Peninsula. These tensions sparked the Korean War in the 1950s. A war that has never actually ended.

In 1953, a ceasefire was declared and an armistice was signed. However, the region has been on the verge of war ever since.

During the height of the Korean War, the U.S. Marines, under the leadership of General MacArthur, executed a risky amphibious invasion over harsh terrain. The operation was known as the Battle of Incheon.

The well-planned and well-supplied operation resulted in a strategic victory for the UN and slowed the momentum of the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA). However, in any aspect of Military History it is easy to get bogged down in the statistics of a battle and lose sight of the human element of war.

USS Boxer History

In the Battle of Incheon alone, there were roughly 75,000 troops and 261 naval vessels. One of those vessels was the USS Boxer.

The USS Boxer was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II, but was commissioned too late to serve in World War II. Yet, the aircraft carrier saw extensive service in the Korean War and received eight battle stars for that service.

Even though it is nearly impossible to tell every soldier’s story, it is good to take a step back and look at the human side of war. For every victory that is won, there is a soldier who has lost something. That soldier had to endure great pains in name of victory.

This is true for every battle; no matter how big or small. Two soldiers aboard the USS Boxer did just that during the Battle of Incheon. They were Ensign C.C. Howell and Ensign C.E. Dorris.

The Story of Ensign C.C. Howell

According to declassified documents about the Boxer, both men were F4U Cosair pilots during the Korean War.

The plane was a common sight during World War II and the Korean War. During the Battle of Incheon, the planes were used more for support; assisting ground troops. Howell and Dorris were both conducting such supportive missions in an attempt to take the city of Incheon.

Ensign C.C. Howell was conducting just such a mission during September 28th and 29th . The US Marines along with UN forces had NKPA forces on the run. The enemy forces were dwindling, but the air strikes continued.

During the air strike, Howell was shot down near the city of Uijeongbu, just north of Seoul. As the plane went down, Howell was seen parachuting clear of the plane and landing safely. However, his safety was short lived when he was captured by enemy troops.

It was later discovered that Howell was severely beaten and shot in the back. Ensign C.C. Howell lost his life in an effort to gain a victory for the USS Boxer and America. He was the third and final pilot casualty from the USS Boxer.

The Rescue of Ensign C.E. Dorris

Shortly after Howell’s capture, Ensign C.E. Dorris was forced to make an emergency landing when his F4U Corsair was hit by anti-aircraft artillery in October of that year.

Dorris was able to land his plane a few miles south of Pyongyang; but as soon as he was on the ground, Dorris took enemy fire.

Luckily, he was covered by a fellow F4U pilot and several Marine F7Fs. The aircrafts were able to hold off the enemy until an Air Force helicopter could arrive from Kimpo Airfield.

In a tense and daring rescue, Dorris was finally recovered in the middle of the fire fight and brought to Kimpo.

These two soldier’s stories are only a couple out of the thousands of stories that make-up the human element of war.

Stories such as these describe the sacrifices and pains that soldiers must endure in the name of victory. In the case of Ensign C.C. Howell, he made the ultimate sacrifice.

Though it is unfortunate that the outcome of the Korean War was a ceasefire, that ceasefire has lasted for more than five decades; this in itself was a victory for those men, and their families can be proud of.

Submit Your Stories for Memorial Day!

We would like to hear your stories of the human element of war from active duty and former soldiers, from any war. They can be posted in the comment section of this article or emailed directly to TSW for a potential article in observance of Memorial Day.

Originally published on

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Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

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Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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