The Sitting Duck Squadron at Inchon, Korea · Presidential Unit Citation Project Petition

13 September 2003: the 53rd Anniversary of the 1st day of The Battle of Inchon

From: Captain William H. Barnes, III, USNR (ret.) on behalf of the U.S. Navy sailors who fought in the "Sitting Duck" destroyers at Inchon, Korea, in September 1950.

To: CINC; U.S. Senators Bennet - UT; Hatch - UT; Sarbanes - MD; U.S. Representatives Bishop - UT; Cardin - MD; Eshoo - CA; Matheson - UT; LaHood - IL; Gov. Ehrlich - MD; ADM Clark - CNO; Acting SECNAV Johnson; SECDEF Rumsfeld; Ship Associations: DD 727; DD 728; DD 729; DD 730; DD 783; DD 785; B. Cross - Korean War Vets Assoc; "Sitting Ducks" Vets R. Bowman - UT; J. Burnaide - IL; R. Lee - CA; G. Ingram - TX; Capt. D. Lumme, USN.

Subj: Petition for the proper award to the six "Sitting Duck" Sailors for their combat action at Inchon, Korea in September 1950.

1. Since efforts by Gunners Mate 1/c, Joe Carillo (COLLETT) in early 1996, veterans of the combat action of the six old Navy destroyers (now known as the "Sitting Ducks") at the Battle of Inchon in September 1950 have sought to have their battle action acknowledged by a Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) in lieu of the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) that they had been awarded (Enclosure 1). All the "Sitting Ducks" petitions have been rejected; essentially by the Navy Department's Awards Code 09B13. The "Sitting Duck" sailors have also petitioned for the right to wear a combat denoting 'V' on their NUC ribbon should the PUC be denied them. This petition has also been denied. The Navy Department has taken a stand that is insulting to the combat sailors who fought the North Koreans at the Battle of Inchon. Wonder why? A chance encounter on 3 September 2003 between the writer and a neatly uniformed U.S. Navy LTJG at the Naval Academy Store at the U.S. Naval Academy is pertinent. A conversation was struck up and it was noticed that the young officer was wearing the Navy Unit Commendation ribbon. When asked how he won that ribbon, the officer replied that it was awarded last year to the Navy's Ceremonial Guard Unit which appears at formal Navy events such as retirements and funerals. The Ceremonial Guard Unit serves under Commander Naval District Washington, DC, and handles ceremonies in the Washington area. Combat sailors wonder if being shot at, at point blank range, by North Korean 76mm shore batteries is a completely devaluated attribute in today's Navy. The NUC is now considered as an "attaboy" ribbon, as it is given frequently to stateside non-combat units for such things as guard duty.

2. In July 2003, Mr. Richard Bowman, a "Sitting Ducks" veteran from Roy, UT, received three encouraging replies to a letter he had written to the Navy Department. The encouragement did not come from the Navy, but from three members of the U.S. Congress to whom Mr. Bowman had sent copies of his petition re the "Sitting Ducks". These kind of encouraging replies came from U.S. Senators Orin Hatch and Robert Bennett, both of Utah, and from U.S. Representative Rob Bishop, also of UT. Previously, Captain William Barnes, a "Sitting Ducks" veteran from Annapolis, MD, had received a generous and kind letter on the Inchon matter from Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland (enclosures 2, 3, 4, 5).

3. Among the members of the U.S. House of Representatives that have been contacted and shown interest in the petitions of the "Sitting Ducks" are: Congressman Benjamin Cardin, MD, whose staff member , Anne Irby, is following our petitions, and working with the Congressman's constituent William H. Barnes, III, of Annapolis, MD; Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, CA, from whom correspondence had been received by Captain Barnes, by Congresswoman Eshoo's constituent, Dr. Russel H. Lee, M.D. of Porsola Valley, CA; the staff of Congressman Ray LaHood, IL, had been in contact with his constituent, James Burnside QMC, USN (Ret.) Mr. Burnaide lives in Rushville, IL. The support of these Representatives is sincerely appreciated.

4. Our Congressional contacts are of the utmost importance if our petition for the PUC is to be granted; obviously, the President of the United States must approve this award. An entrenched Navy bureaucracy has summarily rejected five petitions (1996-2003) for the upgrade to the PUC; they have also rejected the request to allow the "Sitting Ducks" sailors to wear a combat 'V' on their NUC ribbon. To our regret, we have not had a Congressional champion, or champions, who would lead an inquiry in depth and meet the Navy bureaucracy face to face. This bureaucracy rejects of "new" material without ever giving any comment of asking any questions about our submissions. Because many getting this petition are just becoming aware of the combat action of the "Sitting Ducks", Enclosures 6, 7, and 8, are presented for information. These are but a few of the accolades to the six old destroyers who fought so valiantly at the Battle of Inchon in September 1950.

5. The Navy's Code 09B13 rejection letters to the "Sitting Ducks" always contain the same verbiage - "there is nothing new or relevant". Unfortunately, the sequence that had occurred with past petitions is as follows: The "Ducks" petition is sent to the Navy by "Duck" veterans or by a Congressman who is aiding the cause. The petition will invariably end up in Navy Code 09B13, where a ritual letter will be drafted stating that there is "nothing new or relevant". the sender of the petition (be it a veteran or a Congress person) will receive the rejection. End of Petition! And this goes on ad infinitum. While Code 09B13 prepares the letters of rejection, be assured that these letters would not be signed out without the full support of senior staff.

6. As noted above, Code 09B13, does not comment regarding new material sent them concerning retroactive awards, or PUC's awarded for non-combat service. When comparative combat actions involving the award of the PUC vice the NUC are presented for comment, Code 09B13 does not respond (e.g. a comparison of the comparative dangers faced by the crews of the "Sitting Ducks" in the Battle of Inchon (NUC award) and the crew of USS ARCHERFISH, the disrespect is that shown to the "Sitting Ducks" (see Enclosure 9); another unanswered question was why the PUC was awarded to the U.S. nuclear submarine, TRITON (SSRN-586), for the definitely non-combat circumnavigation of the globe?; lastly, why was the NUC so devalued, and why not allow a combat 'V' on the NUC when it has and TRITON are not misunderstood, the writer notes that he had spent the better part of his adult life riding in both diesel and nuclear propelled submarines, and is of the belief that the U.S. Submarine Force deserves the lion's share of the credit for winning the Cold war.

7. The "relevance" as to what award was granted the "Sitting Ducks" was misjudged by the awarding authorities; most likely because of the Korean War syndrome which caused a negative view of Korean War actions; this was the unpopular "Forgotten War", and its unpopularity was reflected in the awards granted by the Navy (See Enclosure 10). The questions regarding the award granted to the "Sitting Ducks" are further clouded by the Korean War Syndrome. In Code 09B13's letter of 31 July 2003, to Mr. Richard Bowman, it states with regards the "Ducks" petition for the upgrade: "In addition, the Secretary of the Navy convened a special review board (Q. WHEN?) to review personal and unit awards recommended and awarded during World War II. Included in this review was the NUC to Task Element 90.62 (the "Sitting Ducks") resulting in no change to the NUC." This statement raises the question of chronology. Is there not a problem with placing the classiccccc Incon destroyer action in a review of WWII actions?

8. What is "relevant" to the award to the six old Navy destroyers, the "Sitting Ducks", is the indesputable fact that these ships were sent as targets to unmask the North Korean shore batteries on 13-15 September 1950; when the first shots were fired by the Communist guns the "Ducks" answered shot for shot at point blank range. The enemy batteries were silenced and U.S. troops were able to storm ashore on 15 September 1950, enroute to Seoul. In retrospect, the award of the NUC to the "Sitting Ducks" was a mistake on the low side; the PUC was the correct award. History has proven that the Inchon invasion was a classic Naval action, spearheaded by the six old Navy destroyers. What U.S. Navy destroyer action after WWII can match the performance of the "Sitting Ducks" at Inchon? The only U.S. destroyer to gain widespread newspaper and TV coverage in recent years was the unfortunate USS COLE which fell prey to a terrorist attack in October 2000. By way of comparison, it is noted that quite a few U.S. and South Korean ships struck enemy mines with great damage and sevearal ships sunk. One of the "Sitting Ducks", the USS MANSFIELD (DD-728) struck a mine when on a rescue mission on 30 September 1950, 28 Purple Hearts, scarcely any newspaper or TV coverage.

9. It is hoped that our Congressional supporters will find the time to look at this matter in depth and review the Navy's seemingly ambiguous awards policies. We hold fast to the belief that the Navy Department has erred in its award to the "Sitting Ducks". the truth is there, behind it is the Presidential Unit Citation.

10. The "Sitting Ducks" ship associations are urged to give this petition wide distribution to all their members and especially those members who served aboard the ship during the Battle of Inchon. If your shipmates will take the time to write letters (or e-mail) to their U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, CNO, SECNAV, and SECDEF, it will aid the cause of the "Sitting Ducks" tremendously. A list of ship associations is included in Enclousure 11, and addresses of Navy, Defense Department, and congressional officals are given in Enclosure 12 (bottom of this page).

As age takes its toll, we are steadily losing "Sitting Ducks" veterans, so to honor those departed, as well as those still living "Ducks", please get those requested letters in the mail. Like John Paul Jones, "We have just begun to fight!"

William H. Barnes, III
Captain, UNSR (Ret.)
2 Williams Drive
Annapolis, MD 21401
Telephone: 410.263.2006

Enclosure 12 - Addresses to send letters to show your support for the PUC award to the "Sitting Ducks":
Commander in Chief
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500
Mr. Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
100 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-1000
Admiral Vern Clark, USN
Chief of Naval Operations
2000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-2000
Secretary of the Navy
Mr. Hansford T. Johnson
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000
To write to any U.S. Senator:
Senator's Name
Washington, DC 20510
To write to any U.S. Representative:
Representative's Name
Washington, DC 20515

* You should also be able to get your Senator and Representative's phone number in your local phone directory.

Note: Enclosures 13, 14, and 15 are presented for their pertinence to the sailors of LYMAN K. SWENSON. SWENSON's great C.O., Captain Bob Schelling, and Ensign Swede Swenson (killed at Inchon 9/13/50) were among us as "Sitting Ducks". Enclosures 16 and 17 are two very important letters from Congressman Jim Matheson, copies of which were just sent to me by Richard Bowman of Roy, UT.


Email Email

Return to Home Page