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Memories of Korea

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  • Memories of Korea

    On Saturday 27 July 2013 the signing of the ARMISTICE that many think ended the Korean will be celebrated. The North Koreans will celebrate what they call their VICTORY's 60th Anniversary. Well a lot just don't remember either that way. If you were not in Security Area 1 or in the Joint Security Area at Pan Mun Jom you probably your memories of Korea will be radically different from those who walked the "Z". Some things brought the reality to some outside the "Z", the USS Pueblo, the North Korean Commando rain into to Seoul to assassinate General Park, Chung-hee or when the NKPA Commandos came close to President Johnson while on his visit to Korea. If you rode on the Hueys as a Ranger or SF ruck trooper your memories are of air assaults on your North Korean counter parts the NKPA Recon and Special Operations units who roamed just south of the DMZ. If you were an infantryman in or on the "Z" you remember night attacks, ambushes inside the "Z" you'll remember 14 April 1968 when an unarmed UNC 3/4 ton truck was ambushed and 2 US and 2 ROK soldiers were brutally executed by the NKPA and thrown in the ditch by their vehicle. Some outside Security Area 1 may remember heavily armed soldiers escorting flat bed trucks carrying shot up and burnt out vehicles to the survey yards in the motor pools. And then wondering what the heck was going on to the north, maybe those sounds you heard at night and some days wasn't the infantry training up there. And in 1968 that artillery you heard was actually the first artillery fired in anger since 1953.

    I've served a lot of my time in Korea. I've grown to love the Korean people and their beautiful country, it reminds me a lot of my home in Colorado terrain wise. Over the years I've studied their culture and history. Did you know the Koreans defeated Japan using iron clad ships in 1592-1598 when japan made an attempt to conquer Korea? Or that their "Turtle ships" were even armed with chemical weapons ? That Korea was an ally of the Mongols that captured most of the known world? That their civilization is 5000 years old? Some food for thought. But I'm going to show you some of my memories of Korea from the decades dating back to a young soldier first arriving in Korea and the 7ID until not to long ago.

    These are my memories from that day when I first wore the "The Hour glass" on my left shoulder on up to the 1990's...Nothing spectacular, the medal is the "ROK Service Medal" that the ROK awarded to us in 1974, the DOD tried to recover all of these because it stood out that it was plainly Korean with the Korean ying and yang ball on it. They claimed they couldn't authorize it because it was only awarded to US soldiers. Most think because the war there was still classified and not to be spoken of. They even issued us the "Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal" so the Korean punch up wasn't on open for all to see on our uniforms. NO US medal was awarded for Korea until 2004 and the KDSM. The little badge above it with the wreath and bayonet is the "7ID Order of the Bayonet", it was awarded by the 7ID because the DOD made the qualifications for the "Combat Infantry Badge" were made the award much harder for troops in Korea. It was only allowed to be worn in..KOREA once you left it was no longer authorized for wear, it's requirements we exactly the same as for what they were for the CIB in Vietnam. the 2ID awarded a pocket patch called the "Imjin Scout" patch. The tape with DMZ Police was worn by troops inside the DMZ, they are authorized by the armistice, these were wink, wink nod title most in the DMZ were in no way "police" but infantrymen and still are on both sides of the DMZ. The patches are from that era. There were soldiers back then that wore NO insignia and wore no dog tags are carried NO ID cards, and the paper would be empty, they were called a lot of things like "Ghost Walkers" and a few others. They walked the night and bad things happened in the DMZ those nights, the NKPA called them the "Night Devils". They carried light weapons and tomahawks. Most when asked said they belonged to HQ&HQ Seoul or a numbered unit with "composite" or "provisional" after which were closer to the real designation
    [attachment=16442atches_and_medals.jpg]


    Here are memories from the 1966-1969 "DMZ War" both ours and theirs the medal with the green striped ribbon is the "Korean Defense Service Medal" that the DOD finally issued in 2004 it's along side the original "ROK Service Medal" which if seen now do not have the ying/yang ball on them. And then the "Order of the Bayonet". Below is a North Korean "Order of the Foundation of the KPA" it was awarded on 25 January 1968 and so dated on the back along with an engraved number of the recipient, these are actually an award not given to "everyone", the other North Korean badge is a cap badge off a NKPA soldiers field cap. The NKPA knew they were at war, Kim Il-sung had declared war on the US and ROK in 1966.
    [attachment=16443:US_and_NKPA.jpg]

    This is a locally made 17th Infantry regiment Pocket patch from "the old days". All three of these items were made in Korea.
    [attachment=16444:local_made_patch.jpg]

    And finally, we wore soft caps in the field, helmets and armor was only worn in fixed positions. The NPA also preferred soft caps. This brought about the common sense of you having to close with the other to confirm the ID of the troops. We LIKED that, no sniping and running from a distance, you had to get close enough to smell their breath On the left side of the photo is the North Korea People's Army field cap and the right ours, look a lot alike at distance.
    [attachment=16445:Field_Caps.jpg]

    If a war's life is posted as dates that coincide with the combat involved the Actual dates for the Korean War would be "1948 to ____" to be filled in later. In 1948 North Korea sent "partisans" south to attack US and South Korean targets. US Army KMAG trained and led the ROK soldiers then and in 1950 were about the only US troops there to help the ROK stop a massive invasion by the North, a war that was fought to a standstill in 1953 ending in "the war of the outposts" that has continued to this very day some times quiet and limited and at times very hot. But on and inside the DMZ and the Joint Security Area everyday combat operations are occurring, each day you walk the DMZ you face the very distinct possibility you will be fired on, you will be ambushed, you will step on a mine. You may be attacked at close quarters by NKPA troops armed with knives, axes or other hand weapons...It's all happened over the years after the "armistice" was signed in 1953, the war is not over, it's been what historians like to call a "low intensity conflict" for over 60 years.

    Three generations of my family have served in Korea, my father, me, and now my son. These are just my memories, my father went north with the 7ID to the Yalu River but didn't come out, my son is with the 2ID and hasn't built up many memories yet. And I hope my new grandson will not have to build up these memories of Korea but will see it as a country that finally has peace when he comes over to visit, not fight. And he can go with his new cousins, Soo-jin's granddaughters, to see a free town of Hyesanjin on the Yalu River where Soo-jin's family fled from their home in December 1950 with the survivors of the 7ID falling back from the great Chinese entry into the war and back to Hungnam and the south. Soo-jin tells me that my friend's and I have bled into the soil of Korea and are part of it now, she say's we belong here with them. I think she's right, they remember it all, those that died in masses during the 1950-1953 war and those from the "Quiet War" that died and fought out in the night, and those of the DMZ War that even their own people didn't know was going on. Korea is the forgotten war and is also the hidden war. the US Army has been in Korea since 1945 and has seen very little peace, it's time to end this war and bring all of Korea peace and freedom. They deserve it, both the Korean people and those that have soldiered here.

    These are my humble memories, thousands have the same, tens of thousands have died here. This is one of my two homes now, I have family here. And yes, I would like to find out what happened to my father that December in 1950.

    Pray for peace for this beautiful country and it's proud people...Jim
    Attached Files
    "A FAMILY THAT STANDS TOGETHER AND FIGHTS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER" The combined Dutch Family...


    "But I've a rendezvous with Death, at midnight in some flaming town, when spring trips north again this year, and I to my pledge word am true, I shall not fail that rendezvous"

    Alan Seeger, KIA Belloy-en-Santerre 4 July 1916, Legion Entrangere, American poet.



  • #2
    "To it and from it and to it again,
    Should you get to it and don't do it,
    May you never get to it again!"

    An old skydiver's toast. One that I feel is apropos to the whole Korean Peninsula situation.

    I've not spent the time there you have Jim, but what time I was there I'll not forget. I had the honor of working with some top notch operators. More or less my glory days I reckon.

    Every morning we patrolled the raked beaches up the coast line for signs of crossing or insertions. If we had signs of traffic it was all stop and laser focused.

    At night we might insert a team, then eventually come back to extract. Praying the whole time we would get them all back administratively, it wasn't always the case. We pulled guys out of places and under circumstances I will never forget. But we got them all out. Usually.

    Then we ended up drinking at Duffy's. Or the Green Door, or points north. It depended on where we were operating out of. I always had a sense of "this is the real deal" in Korea. We always made sure our gear was wired tight and good to go. Even on a training op.

    There is something about operating off that peninsula, whether for Team Spirit or what ever we were doing, you had the sense of "this is the real deal". You didn't screw the pooch like you would on a stateside training op. It was like you knew it could break bad at any minute. Maybe it was that we were out running around the Sea of Japan knowing that the Norks had all kinds of weird crap out there. Being Navy we damn sure knew about Pueblo, and a few other boats as well.
    "Do the right thing even if it means dying like a dog when no one's there to see you do it." Vice Admiral James Stockdale, NAVY PILOT

    "Honor, Integrity, Commitment to core values. When they become abstract concepts or "ideals", all is lost." Me.

    "Character is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking." J.C. Watts

    "I have never seen a projectile turn in flight and come back at the ship that fired it, I cannot however make that same statement regarding missiles." Me.

    Deus lo vult! = "God wills it!"

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Vince;

      Were you around for the capture of the NK Navy Yugo-Class midget sub up by Sokcho in 1996 ? LOL, some fishermen caught a bit more than they wanted and it was drug in unopened, but not for long. That is the North Koreans main ride to infiltrate agents and SF to the south. Usually has a crew of 5 and between 30-35 operators can be carried. You hit it right on the head, Korea is a strange place, it's neither peace nor all out war and usually is somewhere in between. Some really funny things happen along with some that'll turn your white Someday I'll tell you how I made corporal in my first month in Korea, on a cold dark night

      Take care, my friend...Jim
      "A FAMILY THAT STANDS TOGETHER AND FIGHTS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER" The combined Dutch Family...


      "But I've a rendezvous with Death, at midnight in some flaming town, when spring trips north again this year, and I to my pledge word am true, I shall not fail that rendezvous"

      Alan Seeger, KIA Belloy-en-Santerre 4 July 1916, Legion Entrangere, American poet.


      Comment


      • #4
        No, I was back to the fleet and riding ships again by then. The majority of my time there, other than port calls, was in the mid 80's.
        "Do the right thing even if it means dying like a dog when no one's there to see you do it." Vice Admiral James Stockdale, NAVY PILOT

        "Honor, Integrity, Commitment to core values. When they become abstract concepts or "ideals", all is lost." Me.

        "Character is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking." J.C. Watts

        "I have never seen a projectile turn in flight and come back at the ship that fired it, I cannot however make that same statement regarding missiles." Me.

        Deus lo vult! = "God wills it!"

        Comment

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