Eighth Army (United States)

(Redirected from Eighth United States Army)

The Eighth Army is a U.S. field army which commands all United States Army forces in South Korea.[1] It is headquartered at the Camp Humphreys in the Anjeong-ri of Pyeongtaek, South Korea.[2] Eighth Army relocated its headquarters from Yongsan to Camp Humphreys in the summer of 2017.[3] It is the only field army in the U.S. Army.[4] It is responsible to United States Forces Korea and United States Army, Pacific.

Eighth Army
Active10 June 1944 – present
(80 years)
Country United States of America
Branch United States Army
TypeField army
Garrison/HQ Camp Humphreys
Motto(s)Pacific Victors
Colors   White and red
CampaignsWorld War II Korean War
Commanding General Chief of Staff, Combined Forces CommandLTG Christopher LaNeve
LTG Robert Eichelberger
LTG Walton H. Walker
LTG Matthew Ridgway
LTG James Van Fleet
LTG Maxwell D. Taylor
Distinctive insignia
NATO Map Symbol



World War II


The unit first activated on 10 June 1944 in the United States, under the command of Lieutenant General Robert L. 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.[5] 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.[6] However, the Japanese surrender cancelled the invasion, and the Eighth Army found itself in charge of a peaceful occupation.[7] Occupation forces landed on 30 August 1945, with its headquarters in Yokohama, then the HQ moved to the Dai-Ichi building in Tokyo.[8] At the beginning of 1946, Eighth Army assumed responsibility for occupying all of Japan.[8] Four quiet years then followed, during which the Eighth Army gradually transitioned from a combat-ready fighting force into a constabulary.[9] Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker took command in September 1948, and he tried to re-invigorate the Army's training, with mixed success.[10]

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 75,000 North Korean troops with Russian made tanks invaded South Korea, igniting the Korean War.[11][12] 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[13]

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.

Lt. Gen. Walton Walker, Commander of 8th Army (left) confers with Maj. Gen. William F. Dean, Commander Ground Forces in Korea, on 7 July 1950

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. 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 ultimately 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.

Guarding Korea

Eighth United States Army memorial at Yongsan

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.[14] 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.[15]

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, in 1991,[16] all U.S. nuclear weapons were removed from South Korea.

Structure 1989

Organisation of Eighth Army in 1989 (click to enlarge)

At the end of the Cold War Eighth Army consisted of the following units:

Recent times


In 2003, plans were announced to move the 2nd Infantry Division southward. The division, with 15 bases north of the Han River and just south of the DMZ, was to be the most important formation to be moved south of the Han River in two phases "over the next few years" a joint statement between the South Korean and U.S. governments said on June 5, 2003.[40] 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 was Yongsan Garrison, but moved 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.[41]


Eighth Army organization 2023 (click to enlarge)

Other army units based in South Korea:

Specific units


8th Army Band

Soldiers of the 8th Army Band at a parade in downtown Seoul

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.[46] The 41-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.[47] Awards and honors the band has received include the Meritorious Unit Commendation and two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations.[48] 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.[49][50] In June, 2015, members of the 8th Army Band celebrated its 99th anniversary in Mongolia with a concert on Sükhbaatar Square.[51]

Korean Service Corps


The Korean Service Corps was a reserve force composed of South Korean volunteers who were augmented 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.

List of commanders

No. Commander Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Term length
1Lieutenant General
Robert L. Eichelberger
1 June 19444 August 19484 years, 64 days
2Lieutenant General
Walton Walker
4 August 194823 December 19502 years, 141 days
3Lieutenant General
Matthew Ridgway
25 December 195012 April 1951108 days
James Van Fleet
14 April 195111 February 19531 year, 303 days
Maxwell D. Taylor
11 February 195325 March 19552 years, 42 days
Lyman Lemnitzer
25 March 19555 June 195572 days
Isaac D. White
25 June 19551 July 19572 years, 6 days
George Decker
1 July 195730 June 19591 year, 364 days
Carter B. Magruder
1 July 195930 June 19611 year, 364 days
Guy S. Meloy
1 July 196131 July 19632 years, 30 days
Hamilton H. Howze
1 August 196315 June 19651 year, 318 days
Dwight E. Beach
16 June 196531 August 19661 year, 76 days
Charles H. Bonesteel III
1 September 196630 September 19693 years, 29 days
John H. Michaelis
1 October 196931 August 19722 years, 335 days
Donald V. Bennett
1 September 197231 July 1973333 days
Richard G. Stilwell
1 August 19738 October 19763 years, 68 days
John W. Vessey Jr.
8 October 197610 July 19792 years, 275 days
John A. Wickham Jr.
(born 1928)
10 July 19794 June 19822 years, 329 days
Robert W. Sennewald
4 June 19821 June 19841 year, 363 days
William J. Livsey
1 June 198425 June 19873 years, 24 days
Louis C. Menetrey Jr.
25 June 198726 June 19903 years, 1 day
Robert W. RisCassi
(born 1936)
26 June 19901 December 19922 years, 158 days
23Lieutenant General
William W. Crouch
(born 1941)
1 December 199218 October 19941 year, 321 days
24Lieutenant General
Richard F. Timmons
(born 1942)
19 October 199431 July 19972 years, 285 days
25Lieutenant General
Randolph W. House
(born 1949)
1 August 199725 September 19981 year, 55 days
26Lieutenant General
Daniel J. Petrosky
(born 1944)
25 September 199828 September 20002 years, 3 days
27Lieutenant General
Daniel R. Zanini
(born 1946)
28 September 20006 November 20022 years, 39 days
28Lieutenant General
Charles C. Campbell
6 November 200210 April 20063 years, 155 days
29Lieutenant General
David P. Valcourt
(born 1951)
11 April 200617 February 20081 year, 312 days
30Lieutenant General
Joseph F. Fil Jr.
(born 1953)
18 February 200819 November 20102 years, 274 days
31Lieutenant General
John D. Johnson
(born 1952)
9 November 201026 June 20132 years, 229 days
32Lieutenant General
Bernard S. Champoux
(born 1954)
27 June 20132 February 20162 years, 220 days
33Lieutenant General
Thomas S. Vandal
2 February 20165 January 20181 year, 337 days
34Lieutenant General
Michael A. Bills
(born 1958)
5 January 20182 October 20202 years, 271 days
35Lieutenant General
Willard Burleson
(born 1965)
2 October 20205 April 20243 years, 186 days
36Lieutenant General
Christopher LaNeve
5 April 2024Incumbent70 days


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  2. ^ a b Yongsan garrison move pushed back to 2019 Archived 30 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
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  12. ^ History Vault Korean War
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  40. ^ Putnam, Bill (9 June 2003). "U.S. Forces Korea to start major realignment next year" (PDF). See page 9.
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  42. ^ a b Eighth Army 2023b.
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  48. ^ "Eighth Army Band - Eighth Army | The United States Army". 8tharmy.korea.army.mil. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  49. ^ "8th Army band readies for Wonju festival".
  50. ^ "EIGHTH ARMY BAND - News".
  51. ^ "U.S. 8th Army Band's Ensemble Group, Alliance Brass Celebrates 99th Birthday in Mongolia". 30 June 2015.