Military Police Units In The Korean War

Military Police Units In The Korean War

Ronald Craig

At 0430 hours on the morning of 25 June 1950, thousands of North Korean soldiers crossed the 38th Parallel and smashed into the small South Korean and American military forces. When this conflict began, the U. S. Army Military Police Corps was recovering from a brush with termination. In 1949, the newly formed Defense Department was in the process of reorganizing the Army and plans were developed to disband the Military Police Corps. But when Congress passed the Army Reorganization Act in May of 1950, the Corps survived, remaining a separate branch of the Army. During the next three years, its members fought valiantly on the Korean peninsula.

When the armies invaded South Korea in June 1950, there were some MP units stationed in Korea. One of those was the 55th Military Police Company, which had been assigned to Camp Ascom in December 1948. Most of those military police units that arrived during the early months of the war came from Japan, where they were serving as occupation forces following World War II. While the majority of MP companies came from outside Korea, most of the battalions of the Korean War were formed on the peninsula.

The MP battalions varied greatly in composition and, with the exception of the 525th Military Police Service Battalion, were regulation battalions. The 91st, 92d, 93d, 94th, 95th, and 97th Battalions were organized by consolidating various companies and were activated in Korea. Those battalions, plus the 96th, were also deactivated on the peninsula soon after the close of the war in 1953. Other battalions that served in the conflict included the 7th, 24th, 31st, 512th, 519th, 720th, 728th, and 772d.

Below the battalion level were companies whose personnel performed a great variety of duties ranging from harbor patrol and traffic control to arresting law violators and guarding installations. Those companies serving in the Korean conflict included the 1st, 2d, 3d, 12th, 55th, 57th, 58th, 59th, 88th, 212th, 289th, 512th, 558th, 560th, 563d, 622d, 700th, and 710th.

In addition to standard MP companies under battalion commands, there were others with various combat units. Those included the 2d MP Company with the 2d Infantry Division, the 3d MP Company attached to the 3d Infantry Division, 7th MP Company with the 7th Infantry Division, a military police company with the 11th Airborne Division, the 24th MP Company attached to the 24th Infantry Division, the 25th MP Company accompanying the 25th Infantry Division, the 40th MP Company with the 40th Infantry Division, the 45th MP Company attached to the 45th Infantry Division, and the 545th MP Company with the 1st Cavalry Division.

There were also MP units attached to various Corps headquarters. These included a platoon with I Corps and another attached to IX Corps, while X Corps had both an MP platoon and company.

In addition to standard and divisional companies, there were units whose members specialized in their duties, such as the escort-guard companies. The primary duty of the members of these units was to escort POWs from the capturing unit to POW enclosures. Due to the nature of the Korean War, most of these units were designated as provisional or nonprovisional organizations. They included–Provisional Units

1st Escort Guard Company (Provisional)

1st Provisional Escort Guard Company

2d Provisional Escort Guard Company

3d Provisional Escort Guard Company

5th Provisional Escort Guard Company

30th Escort Guard Company (Provisional)

41st Escort Guard Company (Provisional)

42d Escort Guard Company (Provisional)

Nonprovisional Units

31st Escort Guard Company

32d Escort Guard Company

33d Escort Guard Company

34th Escort Guard Company

35th Escort Guard Company

36th Escort Guard Company

37th Escort Guard Company

38th Escort Guard Company

39th Escort Guard Company

40th Escort Guard Company

142d Escort Guard Company

165th Escort Guard Company

551st Escort Guard Company

552d Escort Guard Company

555th Escort Guard Company

556th Escort Guard Company

595th Escort Guard Company

In addition to the above, there was the 8070th that was a combination escort guard and POW processing company with dual duties.

The men of the escort guard companies delivered their POW to Military Police POW processing-companies, which included the 164th, 8210th, 8220th, and the above mentioned 8070th. Once the prisoners were processed and interrogated, they were turned over to the military police who incarcerated them in stockades and prison camps. These men were members of POW service units assigned to temporary POW enclosures dispersed across Korea and the permanent camps on Koje-Do Island. The units included the 8113th, 8119th, 8120th, 8121st, 8135th, 8137th, 8163d, 8179th, 8205th, 8209th, 8216th, 8225th, and 8228th.

Above the company level of corrections, there was a military police group at POW Camp #1 known as the 8137th Headquarters, United Nations Command. Subordinate to that command was the 8203d Army Unit at Headquarters POW Command, with an MP section.

One of the most numerous types of military police units in the Korean War was the service company, and most of those were provisionally organized. They included the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 561st.

There were also numerous criminal investigation units, whose agents investigated various crimes. These included the 2d, 6th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 23d, 25th, and 51st Military Police CID Detachments.

There were a few unique military police organizations. One was the 523d Military Police Dismounted Patrol and Guard Platoon and another was a military police traffic platoon attached to the 187th Combat Team.

Although these units were often undermanned and in need of equipment, they performed their duties valiantly and made major contributions to the war effort. Of those men who served, many were seriously wounded, and death was not uncommon. The lowest casualty rate of divisional military police units was the 3d MP Company with the 3d Infantry Division. The highest casualty rate was among those men serving with the 24th Infantry Division. Of the 10 men listed as casualties, one half of those were killed in action. The largest number of casualties was not with the 3d nor 24th MP companies; it was among the men with the 2d Infantry Division with a total of 33 wounded, killed, and captured.

The final casualty rate for MP was 54 killed in action and 151 wounded in action. That was a total of 205 men out of over 42,000 who served on the Korean peninsula. Considering the hazardous situations in which the MP were placed, the casualty rate was minimal. Those hazardous situations not only included guarding 200,000 POW, protecting critical locations and supplies, supervising the movement of over 100,000 refugees, and directing traffic on the battlefield, but they also hunted North Korean guerrillas, cleared roadways of enemy troops for troop and supply movements, protected convoys, fought as infantry troops, and exposed themselves to artillery and mortar fire.

As members of the thirteen battalions stationed in Korea, the Military Police gained the glory and earned the praise of their country for their sacrifices in the Korean War.

COPYRIGHT 2000 U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group