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Eighth United States Army

Eighth United States Army
Eighth United States Army shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 10 January 1944–present
Country  United States of America
Branch  United States Army
Type Field Army
Part of Regular Army
Garrison/HQ Yongsan Army Garrison
Yongsan District, Seoul, South Korea
Motto Pacific Victors
Engagements World War II
Korean War
LTG Bernard S. Champoux, USA
Robert Eichelberger
Walton H. Walker
Matthew Ridgway
James Van Fleet
Distinctive Unit Insignia

The Eighth United States Army (EUSA), is a field army,[1] the commanding formation of all United States Army forces in South Korea. A task force of troops which are composed of personnel from the Republic of Korea-United States alliance,[1] it is based in Yongsan Garrison,[2] in the Yongsan District of Seoul, South Korea.


  • History 1
    • World War II 1.1
    • Occupation of Japan 1.2
    • Korean War 1.3
    • Post Korean War 1.4
  • Current structure 2
    • Command group 2.1
    • Current structure 2.2
  • List of Commanders 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


World War II

The unit first activated on 10 June 1944 in the United States, being commanded by Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger. The Eighth Army took part in many of the amphibious landings in the Southwest Pacific Theater of World War II, eventually participating in no less than sixty of them. The first mission of the Eighth Army, in September 1944, was to take over from the U.S. Sixth Army in New Guinea, New Britain, the Admiralty Islands and on Morotai, in order to free up the Sixth Army to engage in the Philippines Campaign (1944–45).

The Eighth Army again followed in the wake of the Sixth Army in December, when it took over control of operations on Leyte Island on 26 December. In January, the Eighth Army entered combat on Luzon, landing the XI Corps on 29 January near San Antonio and the 11th Airborne Division on the other side of Manila Bay two days later. Combining with I Corps and XIV Corps of Sixth Army, the forces of Eighth Army next enveloped Manila in a great double-pincer movement. Eighth Army's final operation of the Pacific War was that of clearing out the southern Philippines of the Japanese Army, including on the major island of Mindanao, an effort that occupied the soldiers of the Eighth Army for the rest of the war.

Occupation of Japan

Eighth Army was to have participated in Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan. It would have taken part in Operation Coronet, the second phase of the invasion, which would have seen the invasion of the Kanto Plain on eastern Honshū. However, instead of invading Japan, Eighth Army found itself in charge of occupying it peacefully. Occupation forces landed on 30 August 1945, with its headquarters in Yokohama, then the HQ moved to the Dai-Ichi building in Tokyo. At the beginning of 1946, Eighth Army assumed responsibility for occupying all of Japan. Four quiet years then followed, during which the Eighth Army gradually deteriorated from a combat-ready fighting force into a somewhat soft, minimally-trained constabulary. Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker took command in 1948, and he tried to re-invigorate the Army's training, but he was largely unsuccessful. This situation was to have serious consequences in South Korea.

Korean War

Fighting with the 2nd Inf. Div. north of the Chongchon River, SFC Major Cleveland, weapons squad leader, points out Communist-led North Korean position to his machine gun crew, 20 November 1950, PFC James Cox.

The peace of occupied Japan was shattered in June 1950 when I Corps and the IX Corps were reactivated in the United States and then shipped to Korea to assume command of Eighth Army's subordinate divisions.

The stalemate was broken by the Inchon landings of the X Corps (tenth corps, consisting of soldiers and Marines). The North Korean forces, when confronted with this threat to their rear areas, combined with a breakout operation at Pusan, broke away and hastily retired.

Both South and North Korea were almost entirely occupied by United Nations forces. However, once American units neared the Yalu River and the frontier between North Korea and China, the Chinese intervened and drastically changed the character of the war. Eighth Army was decisively defeated at the Battle of the Chongchon River and forced to retreat all the way back to South Korea. American historian Clay Blair noted that the Eighth Army was left completely unprotected on its right flank due to the Turkish Brigade'sretreat, describing the Turks as "overrated, poorly led green troops" who "broke and bugged out", despite myths that arose about the Turks killing 200 enemies by bayonet. American commanding officer Paul Freeman said that the Turks had a "look at the situation," "and they had no stomach for it, and they were running in all directions."[3][4] The defeat of the U.S. Eighth Army resulted in the longest retreat of any American military unit in history. General Walker was killed in a jeep accident and replaced by Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway. The overstretched Eighth Army suffered heavily with the Chinese offensive, who were able to benefit from shorter lines of communication and with rather casually deployed enemy forces. The Chinese broke through the American defenses despite American air supremacy and the Eighth Army and U.N. forces retreated hastily to avoid encirclement. The Chinese offensive continued pressing American forces, which lost Seoul, the South Korean capital. Eighth Army's morale and esprit de corps hit rock bottom, to where it was widely regarded as a broken, defeated rabble.

General Ridgway forcefully restored Eighth Army to combat effectiveness over several months. Under his leadership, it slowed and finally halted the Chinese advance at the battles of Chipyong-ni and Wonju. It then counter-attacked the Chinese, taking Seoul again, and driving the communist forces back above the 38th parallel into North Korea. Next, the front stabilized in the 38th parallel area.

When General Ridgway replaced General of the Army Douglas MacArthur as the overall U.N. commander, Lieutenant General James Van Fleet assumed command of Eighth Army. After the war of movement during the first stages, the fighting in Korea settled down to a war of attrition. Ceasefire negotiations were begun at the village of Panmunjom in the summer of 1951, and they dragged on for two years. When the Military Demarcation Line was finally agreed to by the Korean Armistice Agreement, the Eighth Army had failed in its mission of capturing the Korean peninsular, but the realities of a limited war in a world of nuclear weapons had become obvious. South Korea and North Korea continued on as separate states.

Post Korean War

Eighth United States Army memorial at Yongsan

During the aftermath of the Korean War, the Eighth Army remained in South Korea, but the forces under its command were continually reduced as the demands of the U.S. Army in Europe and then the Vietnam War increased. By the 1960s, only the I Corps, consisting of the 7th Infantry Division and the 2nd Infantry Division, remained as part of the Eighth Army. Then, in 1971, further reductions occurred. The 7th Infantry Division was withdrawn from South Korea, along with the command units of I Corps, which were moved across the Pacific Ocean to Fort Lewis, Washington.[5] Later, in January 1977, President Carter launched a review intended to withdraw all forces from South Korea. A March 1977 memo from Carter said that '..American forces will be withdrawn. Air cover will be continued.' Incessant bureaucratic resistance from within the Executive Branch, with support in Congress, eventually saw the proposal watered down effectively to nothing. Finally only one combat battalion and about 2,600 non-combat troops were withdrawn.[6]

This left only the 2nd Infantry Division to watch the Korean Demilitarized Zone and to assist the South Korean Army in defending their country. Besides forming a trip-wire against another North Korean invasion, the 2nd Infantry Division remained there as the only Army unit in South Korea armed with tactical nuclear weapons. (Otherwise, there is only the U.S. Air Force in South Korea and on Okinawa.) All nuclear weapons were taken from the Army to be under Air Force control. Later, all U.S. nuclear weapons were removed from South Korea.

In 2003, plans were announced to move almost all of the 2nd Infantry Division (Eighth Army) southwards, away from the border. That would in turn reduce the "trip wire" effect of having the 2ID close to the DMZ. This provoked a heated debate in South Korea, where the future of the Eighth Army is still a contentious topic.

The Headquarters of the Eighth Army is located at Yongsan Garrison, but it is scheduled to move southward to Camp Humphreys by 2019.[2]

Current structure

Eighth Army units under direct operational control (click to enlarge)

Command group

Current structure

Eighth Army, Yongsan Garrison[7]

List of Commanders

Image Name Start End
Lt Gen Robert L. Eichelberger January 1, 1944 August 4, 1948
Lt Gen Walton Walker August 4, 1948 December 23, 1950
Lt Gen Frank W. Milburn
(acting commander)
December 24, 1950 December 25, 1950
GEN Matthew Ridgway December 25, 1950 1951
GEN James Van Fleet 1951 February 11, 1953
GEN Maxwell D. Taylor 1953 1955
GEN Lyman Lemnitzer March 1955 1957
GEN Isaac D. White 1957 1959
GEN Carter B. Magruder 1961 1963
GEN Hamilton H. Howze August 1, 1963 June 15, 1965
GEN Dwight E. Beach 1965 1966
GEN Charles H. Bonesteel, III 1966 1969
GEN John H. Michaelis 1969 1972
GEN John W. Vessey, Jr. 1976 November 6, 1978
GEN John A. Wickham, Jr. 1979 1982
GEN Robert W. Sennewald 1982 1984
GEN William J. Livsey June 1, 1984 June 25, 1987
GEN Louis C. Menetrey, Jr. June 25, 1987 June 26, 1990
GEN Robert W. RisCassi June 26, 1990 1992
GEN Edwin H. Burba, Jr. 1992 1993
Lt Gen Charles C. Campbell December 6, 2002 April 10, 2006
Lt Gen David P. Valcourt April 11, 2006 February 17, 2008
Lt Gen Joseph F. Fil Jr. February 18, 2008 November 19, 2010
Lt Gen John D.Johnson November 9, 2010 June 26, 2013
Lt Gen Bernard S. Champoux June 27, 2013 Present


  1. ^ a b "Enter the Dragon: Eighth Army unveils new emblem" (15 April 2013)
    • Task Force Smith, July 1950, Battle of Osan, memorialized
  2. ^ a b Yongsan garrison move pushed back to 2019
  3. ^ Blair 2003, p. 455.
  4. ^ Blair 1987, p. 455.
  5. ^ Don Oberdorfter, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History, Addison-Wesley, 1997, 86.
  6. ^ Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas, 1997, 86-94.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  • Blair, Clay (2003). The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950-1953 (illustrated, reprint ed.). Naval Institute Press.  
  • Blair, Clay (Dec 12, 1987). The forgotten war: America in Korea, 1950. Times Books.  

External links

  • Eighth Army – Official Homepage
  • GlobalSecurity: Eighth Army
  • The short film STAFF FILM REPORT 66-12A (1966) is available for free download at the Internet Archive []
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