Eighth United States Army

The Eighth Army a U.S. field army[1] which is the commanding formation of all United States Army forces in South Korea. It commands U.S. and South Korean units[1] and is headquartered at the United States Army Garrison-Humphreys,[2] in the Anjeong-ri of Pyeongtaek, South Korea. It is the only field army in the U.S. Army[3]

Eighth Army
The Eighth Army's distinctive unit insignia
Founded10 June 1944 (1944-06-10)
Country United States
Branch United States Army
TypeField army
RoleCadet services, unarmed & light infantry
Part ofRegular Army
United States Army Pacific
Garrison/HQUnited States Army Garrison-Humphreys
Pyeongtaek, South Korea
Motto(s)Pacific Victors
EngagementsWorld War II
Korean War
LTG Michael A. Bills
Robert Eichelberger
Walton H. Walker
Matthew Ridgway
James Van Fleet
Maxwell D. Taylor
Combat service identification badge


World War II

The unit first activated on 10 June 1944 in the United States, under the command of 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 1944, 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 Kantō Plain on eastern Honshū. However, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki cancelled the invasion, and the 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 September 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

At the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into North Korea and South Korea with North Korea (assisted by the Soviet Union),[4] becoming a communist government after 1946, known as the Democratic People's Republic, followed by South Korea becoming the Republic of Korea.[5] China became the communist People's Republic of China in 1949. In 1950, the Soviet Union backed North Korea while the United States backed South Korea, and China allied with the Soviet Union in what was to become the first military action of the Cold War.[5][6]

The peace of occupied Japan was shattered in June 1950 when 75,000 North Korean troops with Russian made tanks invaded South Korea, igniting the Korean War.[5][7] U.S. naval and air forces quickly became involved in combat operations, and it was soon clear that U.S. ground forces would have to be committed. To stem the North Korean advance, the occupation forces in Japan were thus shipped off to South Korea as quickly as possible, but their lack of training and equipment was telling, as some of the initial U.S. units were destroyed by the North Koreans. However, the stage was eventually reached as enough units of Eighth Army arrived in Korea to make a firm front. The North Koreans threw themselves against that front, the Pusan Perimeter, and failed to break it.

Eighth Army arrived in July 1950 and never left. —Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, CG, Eighth Army, 29 August 2017[8]

In the meantime, Eighth Army had reorganized, since it had too many divisions under its command for it to exercise effective control directly. The 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 north.

Both South and North Korea were almost entirely occupied by United Nations forces. However, once U.S. 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. U.S. historian Clay Blair noted that the Eighth Army was left completely unprotected on its right flank due to the Turkish Brigade's retreat despite myths that arose about the Turks killing 200 enemies by bayonet. The defeat of the U.S. Eighth Army resulted in the longest retreat of any U.S. military unit in history. General Walker was killed in a jeep accident on 23 December 1950, 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 U.S. defenses despite U.S. air supremacy and the Eighth Army and U.N. forces retreated hastily to avoid encirclement. The Chinese offensive continued pressing U.S. 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. Eighth Army slowed and finally halted the Chinese advance at the battles of Chipyong-ni and Wonju. It then counter-attacked the Chinese, re-took Seoul, and drove to the 38th parallel, where the front stabilized.

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. During the final combat operation of the war, Lieutenant General Maxwell D. Taylor (promoted to general 23 June 1953) commanded the Eighth Army. When the Military Demarcation Line was finally agreed to by the Korean Armistice Agreement, South Korea and North Korea continued on as separate states.

Post Korean War

During the aftermath of the Korean War, the Eighth Army remained in South Korea. By the 1960s, I Corps, consisting of the 7th Infantry Division and the 2nd Infantry Division, remained as part of the Eighth Army. Then, in 1971, the 7th Infantry Division was withdrawn, along with the command units of I Corps, which were moved across the Pacific Ocean to Fort Lewis, Washington.[9] Later, in March 1977, a memo from President Jimmy Carter said "...American forces will be withdrawn. Air cover will be continued." Bureaucratic resistance from the Executive Branch, with support in Congress, eventually saw the proposal watered down. Eventually one combat battalion and about 2,600 non-combat troops were withdrawn.[10]

This left the 2nd Infantry Division at the Korean Demilitarized Zone to assist the South Korean Army. 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 the 2nd Infantry Division southwards. As of 2015, it appears that one brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division will remain at Camp Casey, near Dongducheon.

The headquarters of the Eighth Army is Yongsan Garrison, but it is scheduled to move southward to Camp Humphreys by 2019.[2] In April 2017 the Eighth Army headquarters began its move from Yongsan to Camp Humphreys and held a ceremony to relocate a statue of General Walton Walker.[11]

Current structure

Eighth Army, USAG Humphreys[12]

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Eighth Army
  • Army Special Operations Forces Liaison Element, Korea
  • Training Support Activity, Korea
  • Korean Field Office
  • Joint United States Military Affairs Group, Korea
  • 2501st Digital Liaison Detachment
  • 2502nd Digital Liaison Detachment
  • Eighth Army Noncommisioned Officers Academy
  • Eighth Army Band
  • 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District
  • Korean Service Corps Battalion
  • United Nations C Security Battalion, Joint Security Area
  • 4th Company, 58th Airfield Operations Battalion
  • 501st Military Intelligence Brigade
    • 501st Military Intelligence Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company
    • 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion
    • 368th Military Intelligence Battalion
    • 524th Military Intelligence Battalion
    • 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion
    • 719th Military Intelligence Battalion
  • 1st Signal Brigade
    • 1st Signal Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company
    • United States Army Communications Information Systems Activity, Pacific
    • 41st Signal Battalion
    • 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion
  • 2nd Infantry Division (Joint United States and South Korean Army)
  • 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
  • 19th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)
    • 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Headquarters and Headquarters Company
    • Materiel Support Command, Korea
    • 94th Military Police Battalion
  • 65th Medical Brigade

Specific units

8th Army Band

The 8th Army Band is the official musical unit of the HQ 8th Army and supports United States Forces Korea and the United Nations Command.[13] The 62 member band was founded in 1916 as the Band of the 35th Infantry Regiment. During World War II, the band, then known as the 25th Infantry Division Band based out of Hawaii, served in the Pacific Theater, being a participant in Central Pacific and Guadalcanal campaigns. It was reorganized in November 1950 and reassigned to the newly formed ROK, the same year the Korean War began.[14] Awards and honors the band has received include the Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations.[15] Nicknamed Freedom's Ambassadors due to its area of responsibility, it has performed at events such as the Wonju Tattoo, the Gangwon International Tattoo as well as Korean War memorial ceremonies in the country.[16][17] The Alliance Brass, an ensemble in the 8th Army Band, celebrated its 99th anniversary in Mongolia in June 2015 with a concert on Sükhbaatar Square.[18]

Korean Service Corps

The Korean Service Corps was a reserve force composed of South Korean volunteers who were agumented to the 8th Army. They provided labourers who were used to carry ammunition and supplies, and support the overall logistic elements of the army. It is today, a paramilitary civilian formation that is battalion-sized. Continuing is role as a combat service support unit, it is capable of being expanded and mobilized during a wartime situation.


Image Name Start End
LTG Robert L. Eichelberger 1 June 1944 4 August 1948
LTG Walton Walker 4 August 1948 23 December 1950
LTG Frank W. Milburn
(acting commander)
23 December 1950 25 December 1950
LTG Matthew Ridgway 23 December 1950 14 April 1951
GEN James Van Fleet 14 April 1951 11 February 1953
GEN Maxwell D. Taylor 11 February 1953 March 1955
GEN Lyman Lemnitzer March 1955 1957
GEN Isaac D. White 1957 1959
GEN Carter B. Magruder 1961 1963
GEN Hamilton H. Howze 1 August 1963 15 June 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 6 November 1978
GEN John A. Wickham, Jr. 1979 1982
GEN Robert W. Sennewald 1982 1984
GEN William J. Livsey 1 June 1984 25 June 1987
GEN Louis C. Menetrey, Jr. 25 June 1987 26 June 1990
GEN Robert W. RisCassi 26 June 1990 1992
GEN Edwin H. Burba, Jr. 1992 1993
LTG Charles C. Campbell 6 December 2002 10 April 2006
LTG David P. Valcourt 11 April 2006 17 February 2008
LTG Joseph F. Fil, Jr. 18 February 2008 19 November 2010
LTG John D. Johnson 9 November 2010 26 June 2013
LTG Bernard S. Champoux 27 June 2013 2 February 2016
LTG Thomas S. Vandal 2 February 2016 5 January 2018
LTG Michael A. Bills 5 January 2018 Present


  1. "Enter the Dragon: Eighth Army unveils new emblem" (15 April 2013)
  2. Yongsan garrison move pushed back to 2019 Archived 30 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  3. THEATER ARMY, CORPS, AND DIVISION OPERATIONS FM 3-94. United States Army. 2014. pp. 1–2.
  4. This Day in History, 1950, Korean War Begins
  5. National Archives, US Enters the Korean Conflict
  6. History Vault, Korean War
  7. History Vault Korean War
  8. The National Defense Committee visits Eighth Army Headquarters (29 August 2017)
  9. Don Oberdorfter, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History, Addison-Wesley, 1997, p. 86.
  10. Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas, 1997, 86-94.
  11. "8th U.S. Army Starts Moving Out of Seoul". The Chosun Ilbo. 26 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  12. "Eighth Army". 8tharmy.korea.army.mil. Archived from the original on 10 October 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  13. https://books.google.com/books?id=oZJACfmiZnUC&pg=RA9-PA32&lpg=RA9-PA32&dq=Freedom%E2%80%99s+Ambassador%E2%80%99s+8th+army+band&source=bl&ots=vqyu6X3ixp&sig=ACfU3U3lcPmPnvGxvo5_pcdV01VCtNpZgA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjjt6vFpc_lAhUHKK0KHfoWAbsQ6AEwBHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=Freedom%E2%80%99s%20Ambassador%E2%80%99s%208th%20army%20band&f=false
  14. https://www.bands.army.mil/organizations/pages/?unit=8AB&p=history
  15. https://8tharmy.korea.army.mil/site/about/eighth-army-band.asp
  16. https://www.stripes.com/news/8th-army-band-readies-for-wonju-festival-1.82522
  17. https://www.bands.army.mil/organizations/pages/default.asp?unit=8AB&p=news&NewsID=38
  18. https://mn.usembassy.gov/u-s-8th-army-bands-ensemble-group-alliance-brass-celebrates-99th-birthday-mongolia/

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