Posted: 5/10/2004 4:45:19 PM EDT
I am proud to call this man my friend. Please excuse the Caps. That's the way he types and frankly he has earned the right.
I RECENTLY RETURNED FROM A TOUR IN KOREA TO VISIT AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE
THOSE AREA I WAS IN 1952. THIS TOUR WAS TAILORED FOR THE 40TH AND 45TH
INFANTRY DIVISIONS AND WE VISITED AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE THOSE AREAS WE
MY GOOD FRIEND AND 2D PLATOON SERGEANT, PAUL ELKINS WAS ON THE TOUR AND
HE WHIPPED OUT A NARRATIVE OF OUR TRIP. JOYCE DEVANEY MY FRIEND WAS ALSO
ON THE TRIP AND SHE MADE ADDITIONS TO PAUL'S NARRATIVE IN RED.
BEING NATURALLY LAZY I HAVE NO COMPUNCTION IN PLAGIARIZING THEIR WORK SO
IT IS LISTED BELOW,
NEEDLESS TO SAY WE ENJOYED THE TRIP IMMENSELY. THE GROUP WAS VERY
CONGENIAL AND WE ALL ENJOYED ONE ANOTHER.
Paul Elkins served under Jack Rose for a period of time while in Korea.
He said that the first time he saw Jack he ordered him to go to the medics to take care of a wound on his leg…one leg of his pants was torn most of the way and neither could remember how he had them “wired” together…. And while your there, take a bath. They normally got a bath every 30 days…he had not had one for 45 days! I have inserted the
“red”-lettered additions to his report!
Korea Battlefield Tour, 2004
By Paul Elkins
My wife Sue and I toured some of the Korean Battlefields, including some that I served in 53 years ago. We left Alaska 4/20/2004 and returned 4/30/2004. The country sure has changed; the mountains are now covered with trees, not the shattered stubs we all remember (all the trees had been shot up). Also the towns we remember as piles of rubble are now thriving cities. Seoul is now a big city with many tall buildings and hundreds of out lying clusters of apartment buildings. All are connected to Seoul by a very modern subway system and provide housing for the people that work in Seoul, Inchon and other cities in the area. Labor costs are now fairly high and they can no longer afford to manufacture tourist items for sale, they are now made in China and elsewhere. There are now lots of rice farms and MANY LARGE plastic green houses, some which are double insulated for growing food in the winter around Seoul as it is much “less” hilly than up north.
We landed at the Inchon International Airport on 4/22 after crossing the International Date Line. The tour started immediately with a visit to Freedom Park and then on to Inchon harbor and the landing beach (Green)at Wolmi-do island. Next we checked into the Hamilton Hotel located in the Itaewon shopping district. Most people walked all the nearby streets. The tour guide alerted us to try and stay up till 10 PM, get a good nights sleep and this would eliminate the onset of jet lag. Sue and I did that and it seemed to work.
Next day (4/23) we did a tour of Seoul points of interest. First we
stopped at the Gyeonbokgung Palace established in 1395 by King Taejo.
This Kings Palace has been burned at least 3 times and has had to be rebuilt. MANY groups of students from all over the country were touring this place also. It is a very large coumpound…more than 10 A. Much of the heating of homes etc. is done through the granite floors from the outside! Next we stop at the Korean Folk Museum (similar to our natural history museums) and then on to North Mountain. (One of the 4 high points in Seoul) After viewing Seoul from North Mountain we head out to the Chorwon Valley via the Uijongbu corridor. As we approach the area we enter the “Civil Exclusion Zone” and proceed on to our hotel; the Chulwon Spa Tourist Hotel. Tour director said that this was a mineral water and suggested trying the hot Spa’s, & jade or clay sauna. He said thatthere was a women, men, and mixed section where families wore bathing suites and went. I went down to the women’s section in a bathing suit. There were 3-4 long rows of women setting on little stools bathing, washing hair, & children….boys up to 4-6. I was the “odd one”, but did try out the spa & jade sauna. Was more tired after that than before I went down. BUT an experience! The Korean interpreter was with me and said it usually took her 2 hours. .None of the hotels had a washrag in the room! After check-in Sue and I explore the area, walking down to the Hantan River located at the bottom of a deep canyon. The area had lots of pretty flowers, later we had dinner at the hotel. All areas in the Civil Exclusion Zone have many ROK army installations and most roads have land mines on likely avenues of approach. There are rice paddies and farms interspersed with the army bases, the areas are all heavily defended.
After breakfast the next day (4/24) we head out to DMZ (Demilitarized
zone) a “no man’s land between North and South Korea all across the
Korean peninsula which is guarded on the N by the NK and on the south by the South Koreans. On the South Korean side there is a double row of high wire fence with rolls of razor wire at the top of each and sometimes along the bottom too. In addition, there is a well worn path just inside the SK first row of wire which is patrolled 24 hours a day. Along the fence they also have OP every so often, fox holes, cans with rocks, colored tin, etc tied to the fence which will make a noise if someone tries to cross. This has been going on for 54 years! The DMZ is suppose to be along the 38th parallel, but deviates according to the lay of the land and view from both sides. The NK side is not nearly as well defended as….who wants to go north?
ROK Yeolse (Key) OP, located near the old MLR SE of “T-Bone” hill. From here we have a good view of T-Bone, Hill 260(NK-GP), Alligator Jaws, Hill 324, Wadunji Finger, Wadunji Cut, Hill 285, Yoke(ROK GP-174), Point Eerie, Arsenal, Spud, Uncle, Snook and Pokkai Ridge west of T-Bone. During 1/52 and 2/52 I was on or near most of the above sites. While at this position we had a good view of “Yoke” (GP-174), which is the place I spent my first night On-Line. At that time it was a lonely outpost located well in front of the MLR, I have a picture of it taken then. I had two squads with me; it was bitterly cold and started to snow as night fell. We ate frozen C-rations for all meals; chipping out the contents with a bayonet. From this position I could clearly see the area I traversed during operation Dark Baldy (2/6/52), from the MLR down the hill east of Point Eerie up the valley to Spud where we climbed the steep icy ridge to the top. It was on this spot that Lt. Lamb stepped on a land mine, I then assumed command of the 60 man task force and proceeded on toward our objective. There were other attacks by other companies during the early days just after we went on-line. I myself participated in numerous patrols in this area. Next we move west to a ROK 50 Cal MG position about 1300 M east of Hill 347. Here we could see Pork Chop Hill (in NK with NK GP’s 510 & 511), Hill 200 and Hill 347(ROK GP-172). Too the west we had a distant view of ROK GP’s 171(on Baldy Ridge) and 170(east of Togun-Gol). While at this position I was told that we could see Old Baldy off to the west but after studying the maps I believe we couldn’t because it was blocked by a ridge extending out from Hill 347. Before arriving at this point I was led to believe we were going to Hill 347. From past experience I knew we could see the important battle areas to the west, Old Baldy and others. I assume we were denied this access by US Forces Korea and not by the ROK army.
Probably the biggest battles in Korea after Operation Commando (10/51)
were the Operation Counter battles for Old Baldy, Pork Chop Hill, Point
Eerie and nine other outposts in the area. These were taken by the 45th ID and turned over to the 2nd ID on 7/15/52. They turned them over to
the 7th ID about 12/15/52. The 7th ID held them (some were lost) till
the end of the war. This information is documented in the book “Truce
Tent and Fighting Front” p. 285 - 292, the book gives the 45th ID a good review. Note the map on Roy’s brochure is from p. 286 of this book and shows the objectives of Operation Counter. It is interesting to note the last battle the 45th fought on Old Baldy (7/3/52 – 7/4/52) was fought by the 3rd Bn 279th. I-CO lost 20 KIA’s and most were WIA’s. L-CO under the command of CPT (later LTC) Jack Rose relieved I-CO about 0400, 7/4.
The late LT(later Col) Kenneth Herring’s 2nd platoon(my old platoon),
L-CO, reinforced I-CO at 0100 just in time to hold off the last CCF
attack. I-CO probably would have lost the hill if LT Herring hadn’t
arrived when he did. LT Herring should be commended for taking his
platoon over one mile under heavy artillery and mortar fire arriving in
time to rescue Old Baldy.
After leaving the west flank area we toured the NK Peoples Labor Party
Building, the bombed out remains where the NK’s committed many atrocities against the Korean people. The NK (North Koreans) would call in farmers and torture them until they would sign over there land to them. The basement was completely full of human remains. It is located in the city of Churwon which because of the ill will was never rebuilt and is now a ruin. Next we visited the memorial to the battle for “White Horse Hill”, a very bitter battle fought by the ROK 6th ID. This would compare to the battles at Gettysburg in the US. The Hill was over run at least 6 times.
We depart the Chulwon Hotel (4/25) for the Punch Bowl via Kumhwa, Hwachon resiviour, Chungchon and Yanggu. We stopped at the monument to ROK 3rd (White Scull) ID near Kumhwa. Next we stop in Kumhwa and walk around down town. It is a fair sized modern city, we picked up some snacks and then on our way. Churwon and Kumhwa form the southern base of the Iron Triangle, Pyonggang now in NK forms the northern apex of the triangle. We stopped for lunch on the way and then on to the Punch Bowl. The road was very steep getting up to the Punch Bowl then we dropped down and stopped at the Punch Bowl museum. It was the first time that the tour director had been up this new road….not sure he will take another bus up that road. The last curve the driver had to back up 3 times to make the turn. Was by far the steepest narrowest mountain road that I had ever been on. Had a new diesel bus and the driver was an excellent driver, very courteous. The first time that Jack got on the bus it was a high step up and he fell….had a heavy backpack on too! Before he was to get on the next time, I asked if they had a stool or something which would help. The driver pushed a button and lowered the bus each time that Jack, I or another man got on or off which really made the trip more enjoyable. Next we see and go into the NK tunnel # 4, walking down the intercept bore hole, then we took an electric train into NK and back. The actual tunnel was about 5’ W X 5’ H and very wet from water dripping from the roof. AFTER the armistice was signed, over the next 10 years or so the ROK found 4 separate tunnels that the NK had dug into SK. The first one they found in the winter as “steam” was coming out of the ground. The NK said that it was a natural occurrence….broken shovels, picks, etc were also found inside the tunnel.
Another one they said was a coal mine……All tunnels were in solid granite. They found the other 2 by drilling every so far across the mountain. I’ve forgotten the distances, but these were all long tunnels. After exiting from the tunnel we proceed on to the north rim of the Punch Bowl to the ROK Ulchi OP, another very steep climb. After viewing the DMZ we exit the Punch Bowl and proceed on to Inje and the Sky Lark Hotel our home for the next two nights. We had dinner at a very picturesque restaurant behind the hotel.
Sue and I walked around all the nearby streets and took several
pictures. This hotel had no sheets on the beds. You slept on the
mattress pad and covered with the comforter. All the hotels had “smoke masks” and ropes so you could climb out the windows in case of a fire! Another odd thing in hotel bathroom, except in Seoul, there was a bowl. You were suppose to pour water over yourself, before you got into the tub, soap then rinse off then get into the tub or shower!!! The tubs were very deep and shorter than I was.
We depart the Hotel (4/26) for Heartbreak Ridge. We ride our bus to the bottom where we are met by a ROK army band in red dress uniforms. After being warmly greeted by the band we load into KIA jeeps and start our 45 minute drive up to Hill 931 on Heartbreak Ridge. Here we were met by a Lieutenant Colonel, the tour director said that it was usually a sergeant or lesser commander. They had also brought 2 different ROK soldiers who spoke good English to answer any questions. The ride up is very steep and rough. From the ROK GP (guard post) we had a good view of the rugged country around the Heartbreak Ridge area. We could see the NK GP to the north on Hill 855(?). After viewing Heartbreak Ridge we retired to the back side of hill 931 and took several pictures at the monument for the 21st ROK (mountain) ID. On the ride down we stopped by a very beautiful stream that according to the ROK guide had big fish in it, however fishing is not allowed. The stream was very cold and clear and was fed by a beautiful waterfall. It started raining as we returned; our timing was good. We had dinner again at the restaurant but it was too wet out to walk around.
On 4/27 we depart Inje for Seoul via the Kapyong High School, originally built by the 40th ID in 1952. Again we were met by a band and a very warm welcome. The principal and assistant principal (actually an English teacher who had gotten her degree at TAMU while her husband had gotten his doctorate there and was now a teacher in one of the nearby collages. There were 6 of us who had graduated from TAMU) ushered us into a school meeting room and gave us some history of the school. They also expressed their appreciation for US participation in the Korean War. They also had snacks for us; we talked to the students and toured the campus. The students were very interesting to talk too and some seemed to attach themselves to various members of the group. It was a very warm and interesting meeting. There were 800 hundred students in the upper 3 grades. Seniors went to school from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM. They had 2 meals at school a day. This was so that they could do well on the S.A.T. test.
After leaving the school we continued on to Seoul down the Han River
valley. When we arrived in Seoul some of us visited the Korean War
Museum. It is a very big impressive and interesting museum. Afterward
we checked into the Hamilton Hotel and later had dinner. Next day (4/28) we depart the hotel for Panmunjom. Arriving at Camp Bonifas we get an army briefing and a tour of the joint security area. Here we went in a different bus and was under guard at all times. To prevent “bad propaganda from the NK, as there were camera’s everywhere on both sides, we could not wear any type of jeans, had to have toes in our shoes, shirts had to have sleeves, no dungarees of any sort. We visit
building T-2, the peace talk conference building where we take pictures
of ourselves in NK. We also get pictures of NK guards outside the
building. After leaving conference row we view propaganda village (a
village on the NK side which probably has @ 20 care takers, but no one
lives, however they play loud music and other propaganda 24 hours a day.
There is a small town on the SK side in this area where if a woman
marries someone from outside the town, they may stay, but if a man
marries someone outside the town they have to leave. These people farm
from 12-17 A per family and the guide told us that they made an
equivalent of $62,000/year. I questioned out tour director and he said
that he had heard this for 12 years! Don’t think he believed it either, but they do make more than most. Normal a family farms from 3-4A. and briefly stop at the “Bridge of No Return” after the armistice was signed prisoners were exchanged. The NK prisoners @ 30,000 went north and had to walk. Those SK walked across the bridge were loaded onto trucks, given new clothing, medical attention etc. @ 14,000. and view “Freedom Bridge”. On the way back to Seoul we make a roadside lunch stop and view another monument dedicated to the United States Forces that fought in the Korean War. That night we were treated to an extravagant farewell dinner and all veterans were presented a medal by the KVA and KNTO.
All Korean food is very artistically presented. The banquet was
exceptional! Next day (4/29) some of us toured the Korean War Museum again while others went shopping. It is a very extensive museum and would require more time than we had to cover it thourghly. At 1400 we check out of the hotel and proceed to the Inchon International Airport. At 1930 we depart Inchon for SFO on Asiana flight #214, arriving at 1420 on the same day. It is impossible to describe in words how warn and friendly the Korean people of all ages were to us. At all stops we were greeted by kids, teenagers and adults with smiles, handshakes, salutes and bows. I don’t know of another nation that after 50+ years would still show such sincere appreciation for helping them save their country. We saw no demonstrations or other displays of disrespect. South Korea is truly now a vibrant thriving nation. Sue took five rolls of 35 MM film while I took 267 digital photos and almost an hour of video. Now we are trying to figure what they are and where they were taken. How soon we forget.
Thanks for sharing!
LOL, that was exactly what I sent to him.
Great read Aggie !!
BTW, how the hell are ya ??
Outstanding... I quit my job a couple of months back, got a new one and am the happiest I have been in my life. The only thing I miss about my old job is that I don't get to see people like Mr. Rose and several other fine gentlemen. These guys are truly men among men. I even had a survivor from the U.S.S. Indianapolis that was a regular.
Check my sig pic. Thats my Dad with his new jump wings just before he went over to ROK.
Its interesting to read about the attitudes of normal Koreans. The demonstrations and anti-American slogans are of a very few liberal young people. We have a lot more of those nasty people here! My grandmother loved Americans. She would spit on a Japanese however.