Page Updated: Monday, 27 May 2013 12:08
1st Cavalry Divisions DMZ Police Company now has their own page.
Submissions for this page will be accepted via email, an email link is at
the bottom of this and most other pages.
A memento from Korea, 1959. It
tells about the DMZ Police
Click on the pictures for a larger view!
Fire (In The DMZ), My Story:
By Jim Julien
One soldier's view of duty in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the wounds he suffered due to so called "Friendly Fire".
Many do not know the war never ended in Korea and that there is only a cease-fire agreement signed on July 27,
1953. That truce continues to exist today.
Today the North Koreans have a standing army of 1,082,000 while South Korea has 690,000 along with 37,000 U.S. military.
After the cease-fire agreement on July 27th 1953 the front line loosely followed the 38th
Parallel, this is called the Military Demarcation Line or MDL, the troops on both sides pulled back 2000 meters from the MDL and the result is the 4000 meter wide area called the "Demilitarized Zone" or "DMZ". The North Koreans
patrol the northern half of the DMZ and the southern half was patrolled by the South Korean Army and Marines and The United States Marines' 1st Marine Division's 1st Provisional DMZ Police Company.
The responsibility of the patrolling units was to be the first warning of North Korean aggression, capture line crossers (spy's or other insurgents), monitor North Korean troop movement, other activity, and maintain security in and around the Panmunjom (Joint Security Area), the area where peace talks and other related business took place.
In 1954 the Marines turned over the responsibility of the United States Sector to the United States Army's 24th Infantry Division. In 1957 the duties of patrolling the DMZ were turned over to the 1st Cavalry Division. Approximately 150 Troopers were assigned to the DMZ Police Company (Provisional), a subordinate unit of the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry (Regiment) 1st Cavalry Division. Although the men and equipment of the DMZ Police Company were TDY from the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, they reported to U.N. Command at
Panmunjom and later directly to 1st Cavalry Division HQ.
During the years of the cease-fire (1953 to present day), there have been over 40,000 reported incidents in and along the DMZ. Approximately 1500 U.S. troops have died as a result of hostile actions along the entire zone and areas south of the DMZ since the truce was signed in 1953. It was not unusual to stand 10 feet across the dividing line from North Koreans on patrol. Today the United States no longer patrols the DMZ.
My story actually starts in July 1958 when I reached Korea and they were looking for volunteers to patrol the DMZ. I stepped up; I was one of those volunteers who manned the DMZ Police Company and patrolled the DMZ.
One needs to understand what the duties were in a company that was in one of the most dangerous spots in the world. The DMZ Police were only allowed to carry an M1 rifle and two clips of ammunition (16 shots total), in the DMZ as this was an agreement of the cease fire, this and many other things have changed since I was there in 1958.
It did not take us, the new troopers, long to figure out that we were dead meat if any North Korean troops came south. Our main responsibility was to patrol the DMZ and report on any and all North Korean activity, apprehend line crossers and of course, we were the first warning tripwire. Other units patrolled south of the DMZ boundary.
I had various duties while assigned to the DMZ Police Company, driver for a lieutenant, daytime line walking (foot patrol of the MDL (center of the DMZ)), manning of observation posts in the DMZ, night time ambush/listening posts in the DMZ and driver for the patrols and ambush troops to be taken into and brought back from the DMZ.
If you can imagine being out in the woods at night on duty alone with a hostile army 2000 meters away (or closer), many different noises, that at times made you think there was someone moving out "there", then you can feel a bit how the troopers felt. Other than visual contact with the North Koreans my tour was stressful but uneventful until the night I am about to describe; It started on one of these dark nights in November 1958. There were gates that had to be opened before we could enter the DMZ. There were guards (stake-outs, ambushes), set up near the gates that were not DMZ Police troopers; these troopers were from other units that were responsible for the security south of the DMZ. This night I was the driver taking a patrol out to their starting point. We approached "B" gate without any challenge from anyone, in fact we were not even aware that anyone else was in the immediate area, the unseen troopers were back from the gate under cover so you could not see them (as was their intent). We got out of the jeep, unlocked the gate, went through and again got out to lock the gate. It was not unusual not to be challenged at these gates.
I dropped off the relief patrol and picked up another patrol. Our duty was 12 hours on, 12 hours off. I was fatigued and I asked one of the patrol troopers (who was also a driver) to drive back to camp while I rested in the back of the jeep.
We went through the same routine at "B" gate as we did when we entered the DMZ. There was no challenge by anyone at any point, after driving about 100 or so feet past their ambush/stakeout position, one of the troopers at the ambush position opened fire and shot at our jeep hitting two of us.
Our driver was hit in the back; I was hit in the leg. The driver fell out of the jeep and I, along with the jeep, ended up in a rice patty a short distance past where the driver landed. I almost bled to death and I was in a coma for 5 days. The driver recovered, as I did eventually. I never heard from the driver again, I sure would have liked to have kept in touch with him!
It was found that the trooper that opened fire on us had been in Korea but a short time and supposedly he had not been properly briefed on procedures, allegedly he was not aware of the DMZ Police and our duty inside the DMZ and let us enter the DMZ, but when we came out he alleged, "I thought they were North Koreans" and opened fire.
I was not expected to survive my injuries and I was given the last rites. I surprised the doctors when I awoke from my coma 5 days later. Three years later and after many operations including several bone grafts, my lower right leg was amputated below the knee.
The trooper that shot me lived 15 miles from my home, I never did find him. I would like to find him to let him know I was/am OK and also to let him know that I understood his fear at the time and hold no animosity towards him.
With the help of John Maclean's "Cavalry Country" web site, (www.cavalrycountry.org), I was able to find the medics and the doctor that saved my life that day. That was a very happy reunion to say the least!
I, as many other disabled veterans have no regrets for volunteering for dangerous duty. My only regret is that our military did not see fit to award a Purple Heart for this friendly fire incident in a hazardous duty assignment (as is currently done).
PFC. Jim (JJ) Julien Retired
1st Cavalry DMZ Police Company (Prov.) 1958
Note, this story first
appeared in the 1st Cavalry Division Associations November -
December 2003 issue of the "Saber".
Jim Julien Now
"Unnamed Observer (above) is now believed to be Harry Sartin
DMZ Police Co. Veterans Larrie Tennant (L) &
Tom Durban on
Sam Robertson (L)
& Larrie Tennant on
DMZ Police Co.
Flags in background
are at the CP.
Another view of the
DMZ Police Co.
Here is a historical note:
Did you know that the first "DMZ Police Company" was NOT an
element of the 1st Cavalry
Division much less the United States Army!? The first DMZ Police Company (like the one under the 1st Cavalry Division)
was a 'Provisional unit' of the United States Marine Corps! Their story and pictures link is at the
bottom of this page (USMC In The DMZ).
Navy folks, do you have shipboard pictures of your time in Korea? How about it
Air Force? If the other branches are not represented here, now is the
time to correct that!
Were Nuclear Devices
Ever Considered In Korea After 1954? You Bet Your Bippee
To Read About It!