Burley Smith receiving the Medal of Honor from the South Korean Government in South Korea last year
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Korean War hostilities.
Did you know?
A veteran of that conflict who played a significant part in one of the great events of that war lives in Coconut Grove. His name is Burley Smith. He is my father and a valued colleague here at ShowcaseMiami Realty.
Largest Evacuation of Refugees ever on one ship (2nd largest number of passengers ever assembled on any vessel of ANY size)…
The incident was the rescue in late December 1950 of almost 100,000 North Korean civilian refugees by sea from the harbor of Hungnam in North Korea when they were trapped, along with McArthur’s retreating UN forces, by the combined armies of China and North Korea. The US flag Victory ship, SS Meredith Victory, on a single voyage, packed aboard 14,000 of the refugees while the port was under fire from the encircling enemy forces. The ship was a cargo vessel with a normal crew of just over 50 souls with no sanitary or subsistence facilities for the refugees in the cargo holds to which they were confined for the voyage through the huge enemy mine field at Hungnam to South Korea and safety.
H.J Burley Smith (my father) had graduated from Kings Point, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Great Neck, NY in June 1950, the month the war started. His first voyage as a ship’s officer was on Meredith Victory as Jr. Third Mate when the vessel was taken from the WW II mothball fleet in Norfolk, VA and sent to Tokyo in August 1950 with war supplies. The ship joined McArthur’s Inchon invasion fleet in September after spending several months ferrying armaments from Japan to the beleaguered UN forces defending the Pusan perimeter. After the successful autumn drive of McArthur’s forces to the Yalu River in North Korea, the Chinese joined forces with North Korean troops to push our military back down the peninsula, trapping a large group along with many thousand North Korean refugees fleeing the Chinese onslaught at the port of Hungnam.
The story of the rescue of the refugees, the five babies born on Meredith Victory during the voyage to the south, and the successful landing of all 14,000 is told in several books, among them “Ship of Miracles” and “Hope in Hungnam”…(book details below). It is said that over 100,000 South Koreans today are descendants of the 14,000 ancestors that were rescued aboard Burley’s ship.
A WW II cargo ship with accommodations only for her crew of forty six…
100,000 desperate North Korean civilians, searching for escape…
No food, water or toilet facilities for three days…
One ship, carrying 14,000 lives…
Last year the South Korean government invited Burley, at the South Korean government’s cost, to attend a ceremony honoring Burley Smith and the 2 others that were young officers on the Meredith Victory. Photo of Burley (above) after receiving his medal of honor from the Korean government.
His wife tells him constantly that he is the OSCAR SCHINDLER of Korea.
Who knew that this Miami Realtor had such a storied past!
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