Arriving at San Diego on 01 December 1950 from her first successful Korean combat cruise, the Valley Forge’s crew were dreaming of being home by Christmas. Indeed, most of the armed forces in Korea were dreaming of the war over by Christmas, after MacArthur’s successful amphibious landing at Inchon in mid-September and the roll back of North Korean forces to the border with China at the Yalu River.
However, unknown to MacArthur and the U. S. Army, the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army slipped across the border in late November to meet the United States Eighth Army‘s Home By Christmas offensive begun on 24 November. When over 300,000 Chinese troops attacked in late November, the American and United Nation forces had only one route, south as fast as they could go and with no stopping line in sight.
Due to the desperate situation in Korea and the lack of carrier forces available, USS Valley Forge was ordered to take on a new air group and depart for Korea. She left San Diego on 06 December 1950. There was no “Happy Valley” on the Valley Forge and Christmas would be put off for another day. She rendezvoused with Task Force 77 three days before Christmas and recommenced air strikes on 23 December, the first of three months of concentrated air operations against the advancing Communist juggernaut.
Appropriately like the American forces at Valley Forge in the American Revolution, Valley Forge would help American forces in Korea to fight terrible battles in winter weather, where American forces were attempting to hold the army together in desperate times. Valley Forge helped to stabilize the front in the Korean War and would ultimately earn eight battle stars during the conflict. She finally make it home for Christmas in 1953.