Page Updated: Saturday, 09 February 2013 18:37
time with "A" Troop, 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Cavalry
(Regiment), 1st Cavalry (Division) was in the Summer of 1959 to the Summer
of 1960. I had just turned 18 years of age when I arrived in
. Even with all of the indoctrination that we were given, a lot of
us still didn't grasp what we were in for, that came later - for me, on my
Our duty was to patrol up to the DMZ, both 2 man foot patrol and 3 man
motorized (Jeep) patrols, stake-outs and OP duty (Observation Post - now
called Guard Posts). We were to make life miserable for (Kill
any and all that were not authorized to be North of the
(see rules of engagement below). OP duty usually consisted of
one GI and one KATUSA (ROK Army soldiers assigned to our troop). The
KATUSA would guard the rear while the GI would observing anything he might
see inside of, or North of the DMZ. This was for duty South of the
DMZ. During my time in
, the KATUSA's were not allowed inside the DMZ.
Our duty inside "The Zone" always
consisted of a 2 man team, patrol, OP duty or stakeout (ambush). I
only questioned the wisdom of this in my own mind, the only rational that
I could come up with was "lack of warm bodies". We were
grossly understaffed. Of course if the crap hit the fan, others with
more pull (than what we had), would have been asking some tough questions!
I doubt that "Our Fearless Leaders" would have had satisfactory
answers! In my time with "A" Troop - 1st Platoon, we never
did have a commissioned officer as a Platoon Leader, it was always filled
by an NCO, E-7 or E-8, that goes to the under staffing we operated under.
The tour of duty in
at that time was 13 months. It seemed a lot longer than that.
The tour was considered a hardship
tour, but we did not get additional hardship or combat pay as
others have. It was not unusual to come in from
patrol or other field duty and go right onto other duty, i.e.; come in
from stake out (outside the zone) and go onto compound guard duty or even
out to DMZ duty (patrol, stake out, etc.). If you can think of the
possible combinations of continuous duty, we probably did it!
and power could not be counted on, showers, well, you hoped that there was
water in the tank and power for the pump when you needed it! I had a
lot of "whores baths" out of my "steel pot" (helmet
for those that do not know what a steel pot is), usually with COLD water.
Sometimes we just had to go without. Even our potable water was
trucked in, when it was available. Other than the mess staff, there
was not too many who served in our unit who did not lose a
of weight, I know that I did! We were the last stop for the supply
wagons, with all the pilfering, black market and such, "if" our
troop was 250 (I do NOT know the actual number), we probably got rations
for 200, that meant a little for most. Sometimes when returning from
patrol or other duty away from the compound, one found that the mess hall
was closed as no more food was available (for that meal), well it was open
if you wanted coffee. Many times, those that found themselves at the
end of the chow line found themselves without food! That went on for
most of my 13 months. I went to
weighing about 180 - 185 lbs., when I returned home, I weighed around 130
- 135 lbs!
On one occasion while on a flight to Japan for R & R, another G.I.
Sitting across from me noticed my unit insignia (1st Cav. & 9th Cav.),
and asked me; "Remember that alert we had 2 nights ago?", I
answered that I did and asked him, "what about it?" - His reply
was something like this; "I am with (I forget the actual unit)
Division Artillery and our commo section got the codes screwed up and we
got the word that all hell was breaking loose and that the North Koreans
had launched an all out attack across the DMZ. In other words, we
had the rounds in the chambers and hands on the lanyards, just waiting to
hear FIRE". I commented that it would have been tuff noogies
for the NKPA, to which he replied, "Not really, it would have been
your ass! Our guns are zeroed in on YOUR battle positions!".
He went on to say "that we finally figured out our mistake and stood
down". Good damn thing too! Geeez, we not only had to
worry about what was in front of us, but our own guys as well. There
was no way in Hell that we would have been able to pull off a
"delaying action" from our battle position (3 of us, one .30
cal. machine gun, another feeding ammo and me with my Garand), until
called off, and as we were to pull back, stop at culverts and bridges
(several), and blow them up behind us, yea, right, that would have worked!
our weapons were real effective against Soviet T-34 tanks! Might as
well have used rocks, sling shots and pea shooters! Only our tanks,
"Walker Bulldogs" with their 76mm guns could have done any
damage to the T-34's. Well,
that is what I was told when I got to Korea and I actually believed it,
that is until I got on the internet and did some research, it was all bull
about us not being able to deal with the T-34's!! That is not to say
that our (M1919) .30 Cal. Browning Machine Guns were all that good
were informed when we first arrived in
that the life expectancy of a Reconnaissance Scout in combat was 12
minutes. It became clear why, real quick!
I think someone over estimated our capabilities
with the manpower and equipment, terrain and time, 12 seconds seems more
like it to me. If you could see our battle position, and the terrain
in front and in back of us and how open we would be and if
we were even able to pull back, I think you would agree!
Another thing we questioned; the wisdom of
wearing bright colored insignia (metal and cloth) along with WHITE under
shirts (and shorts), white name tags etc. I was called a "trouble
maker" for my comments and questions. Quite often I would find
some mud (even in 100 degree heat in the summer) and dull down the Cav.
patch and other bright stuff, remove white under shirt etc. Again I
was called "a problem" and at times given "extra
training" for this "unwarranted & unmilitary" behavior!
few of us were sitting around one day "shooting the bull" about
some of our favorite movies (westerns - She wore a yellow ribbon, among
others) and someone said; "Hey, we're in the Cavalry, let's ask our
Platoon Leader if we can wear the Cavalry Stetson (Hat) when we're off
duty". It was a hot summer day and it would provide more shade
than the blocked "Ridgeway" caps that we wore. We asked, we were
told we were complete idiots and to get that idea out of our friggen
All I can say is, ideas and attitudes within the
1st Cavalry Division changed when they got to Vietnam. Much better weapons, subdued insignia, OD underwear and I doubt
very much that they had 2 man combat patrols and, yea, the Stetson hat
appeared, after an Officer thought of it! I now wear mine proudly!
At least we (in Korea), didn't have some of the constraints placed on us
as they did on our poor troops in Vietnam, that of asking if it was ok to
return fire when fired upon! That has to be the most single
stupid-assed thing I have ever heard of. The idiots that came up with that
brilliant strategy should have been strung up by the 'nads, or pushed out
of a B-52 at 50,000 feet over Hanoi! I got sidetracked there but I
had to say it!
the date/month I do not remember, the DMZ Police Company was starting to
disband and their troops were absorbed by the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron.
At that time we took over their duty inside the DMZ (in addition to our
duty outside) which was again, 2 man foot patrols, stakeouts and
Observation Post manning. This really stretched our resources as we were
grossly under manned to begin with.
Some will argue this, but I was there! The official date for the DMZ
Police Company to cease to exist was 1 April, 1960, that was only after
the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron was "up to speed". The squadron
started absorbing DMZ Police Company Troops and mission in 1959. I
know this as fact as I froze my ass off in the DMZ during the winter of
'59 - 60!
While there were some things that went on when I was "there", some
of them I cannot speak about until I find out that the "Secrecy
that I signed before I left Korea has been voided, other things that
happened, I just won't talk about. However, I will tell you about one small
incident that happened while I was there, I call it;
at OP 239
To view the "Rules of Engagement" in, on and near the DMZ, click on the
"Somewhat" humorous look at two different
"A" Troop Commanding Officers, click HERE!
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