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HOW IT WAS!
6170th Air Base Group
6170th Air Base Squadron
6175th Air Base Squadron
6175th Air Base Group
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Kunsan Airbase (1954-1964)
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6170th Air Base Group
Acknowledgement: Special thanks to Don Hill for supplying the 1954 K-8 Christmas menu. Thanks to Johnny Choe (Choe Pyong-Hyan) for his account of the demonstrations at Kunsan AB in 1954. Thanks to Kiyomi Noriye, SMSgt USAF (ret) of Las Vegas, Nevada for his comments on K-8 in 1955. Thanks to Al Schmitz of Alexandria, MN for his narratives of K-8 in 1957. Special thanks to George Rabe of Cincinnati, OH for his narratives and photos of his years at Kunsan between 1958-1960. Special thanks to Larry Doyle of San Pablo, California for his narratives and photos of K08 in 1959. For the year 1959, we relied heavily on material from Taking Command, John Moench, 1996. While this novel is a "faction" -- part fact - part fiction -- much of the coverage herein of the 6175th Air Base Squadron/Air Base Group and related subjects was derived from Taking Command (1996) and later associated discussion (2004) with the author, Major General John O. Moench, USAF. We thank the General for his generous contribution of his research materials and advice. Special thanks to Bob Koeser for his narratives of K-8 "C-Pad" and Kunsan in 1961. Thanks to James G. Mitchell (MSgt, USAF, Ret) of North Carolina for his narrative account and photos of Kunsan in 1964. Special thanks to Gib Foulke, SMSgt, USAF (ret), for his illuminating narratives of his tours at Kunsan from 1965-1966. Thanks to Pat Souders, TSgt, USAF (Ret) of Palm Beach Gardens, FL for his photos of K-8 in 1954.
OverviewAs the truce took effect, everything started to quickly wind down. This left the base with a much reduced mission. (See 3rd BW for wing history at K-8.) The 6170th Air Base Group -- commanded by Col. Homer C. Munson, the former 3d Air Base Group Commander -- was in charge of the base for a transition period. The 6170th Air Base Group officially took over on September 1, 1954. (1)
The last elements of the 3rd BW departed for Johnson AB, Japan in October 1954. (See 3rd BW: 8th BS, "FIGMO".) On April 8, 1956, this 6170th ABG was redesignated a "squadron" -- 6170th Air Base Squadron. On 27 March 1959, the "6170"numerical designation was changed to "6175" and the 6175th Air Base Squadron was born.
NOTE: There is a bit of confusion as to when the 6175th ABS actually came into existence. The 8th Fighter Wing History, Appendix J, "Kunsan Air Base" lists the major organizations with inclusive dates: "6170th Air Base Group: 1 Sep 1954-8 Apr 1956; 6170th Air Base Squadron: 8 Apr 1956-25 Mar 1959; 6175th Air Base Group: 25 Mar 1959-1 Aug 1968" This listing does NOT include the "6175th Air Base Squadron" which came about on 27 March 1959. (2)When Col. John Moench arrived in 1959, he was not happy as he was a "full-bird" colonel assigned to a "Squadron Commander" position that is normally filled by a Lt. Col. at the highest. In the years of tight promotions, such an entry onto one's records could have spelt a death knell for promotion. Luckily, it did not impact on Col. Moench's career as he ultimately rose to the rank of Major General. (3) (Note: His predecessor and replacement were both colonels (0-6).) He also pointed out that the organizational chart went from the 6314th Wing at Osan to the 6175th Squadron at Kunsan without a Group in between. After protesting personally to the 6314th Wing Commander at Osan, the designation from Squadron to Group may have been made retroactive -- which would create a lot of confusion with subsequent histories.
The designator became the 6175th Air Base Group AFTER Col Moench left and the designation change appears to be retroactive. There was a SQUADRON in August 1958 (4) but on 25 March 1959 the 6175th Air Base GROUP was organized. (5) In early 1958, a letter was submitted by the 314th Air Division to 5th Air Force to upgrade the 6134th Air Base Group - the parent organization of the 6175th Air Base Squadron -- to a WING. This upgrade to a Wing apparently took place after Dec 1958 -- possibly in early 1959. Justification was requested by 314th Air Division for upgrading the 6170th Air Base Squadron to the 6170th Air Base Group in Oct 58. Instead, the 6170th Air Base Squadron was redesignated the 6175th Air Base Squadron ?instead of concurrent rise to Group level when the parent unit (6134th ABW) became a wing. (6) It appears that the change to 6175th ABG was made retroactive to correct the oversight.
Up until the mid-1960s, Kunsan was relatively peaceful with temporary deployments periodically and serving as a safe haven base for aircraft evacuated from Okinawa and Guam during typhoons. In 1965, the Republic of Korea Air Force assigned a squadron of F-86 fighters to the base. This ROKAF unit was the only permanently assigned flying contingent at Kunsan until after the Pueblo incident in 1968."(7)
However, what was not mentioned was that Kunsan AB also contained the nuclear alert facility for the 3rd BW (1958-1964) and 39th Air Division (1960-1964). (See 3rd BW & 39th AD: Nuclear Alert for details.) To this date, the subject remains in the area of "neither confirm nor deny."
1954The 6170th Air Base Group -- commanded by Col. Homer C. Munson, the former 3d Air Base Group Commander -- was in charge of the base for a transition period. The 6170th Air Base Group officially took over on September 1, 1954. (1) The last elements of the 3rd BW departed for Johnson AB, Japan in October 1954.
The following is the Christmas menu of 1954 with Col. Munson's holiday message.
Pat Souders, TSgt, USAF (Ret) of Palm Beach Gardens, FL was previously assigned to K-55 (Osan AB) before being sent to Kunsan. He was assigned to K-8 under the 3rd Bomb Wing (L-NI) as part of the 3d Motor Vehicle Squadron. When the 3d BW departed in Oct 54, he was assigned to the 6170th Materiel Squadron until his departure in Feb 54 on the USS Breckenridge. "I was a K-8 Sep 54 - Mar 55. Came there from K-55 when 5AF Hq moved to Japan. Was 70250 in 3d Mtr Veh Sq and later the 6170th Materiel (?) Sq (think 3d Ftr Wing might have moved or something - I know my job, etc didn't change, only Sq name changed). P." (3a)
|The "6170th Air Base Group Christmas Day Menu" front cover read, "Merry Christmas 1954". On the inside left of the menu was the following Christmas Message|
Once more Christmas has come to people of all lands, and we who are in Korea share the joy of this occasion. Therefore, during the Holiday Season, I wish to stress the importance of the task before us in securing for our time Peace on Earth and Good Will among men. To every individual of my command, attached units and Korean employees, I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
(Signed) Homer C. Munson
L: Alert R: In front of Sandbag bunker (Pat Souders) (1954) (Click on photo to enlarge)
Alerts were still frequent as incursions by North Korean jets were fairly common simply to probe the defenses of the south. The Armistice Agreement was nothing more than a truce -- which South Korea refused to sign. It was signed by the US -- as head of the UNC -- China and North Korea. Thus South Korea and North Korea were still technically at war. The anti-aircraft batteries of the 30th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion were still in place but left for Pyongtaek (K-6) soon after the 3rd BW departed. Notice the M-2 Carbine that Pat is holding. This became the standard weapon for the USAF -- non-security forces -- in Korea for the next twenty years. In the photo of Pat on Alert duty, notice the plywood Jamesway building where the corrugated roofing had to be held down by sandbags to keep it from being blown off. During alerts, ditches along the side of the road were used to take cover and around the barracks area there were sandbag bunkers that were used. Pat commented on the hat in the photo, "The baseball cap had 3d Mtr Veh Sq emblem on front, but I lost it while going into Kunsan in back of a 4x4 and never got another. I also didn't save any of the Korean name tags like I have in that slide."
Winter in front of barracks (1954) (Pat Souders)
L: Houseboy R: In 3d Motor Vehicle Barracks (Pat Souders) (1954) (Click on photo to enlarge)
The barracks for the enlisted was the Korean War Jamesway structures that were made from prefabricated plywood that was shipped in from Japan. They were hastily erected and was open bay with oil heaters that provided heat in the winters. From accounts, the only warm spot in these Jamesway structures in winter was next to the heater -- and even then it wasn't that warm. The chill factor caused by the winds off of the Yellow Sea made winters biting cold and hazardous. Pat commented, "Pic w/snow has to be back of hut, as the front door was always drifted shut when there was snow. I vaguely remember also that it was the first hut, w/only runway between it Yellow Sea. Wind howled off the Sea and that hut used about twice the fuel as the others behind us. Remember sleeping in 2 squares around the 2 stoves each hut had (4 guys in each square - had to roll over whenever the non-stove side got too cold!)."
Notice in the photo of the 3d Motor Vehicle Squadron barracks that the interior furnishings was very spartan-like with makeshift shelves and nightstands/cabinets constructed out of scrap lumber. Screen openings (in summer) provided limited ventilation, but offered some protection from the mosquito infestations around the base. In the photo of the houseboy, notice the exterior of the barracks. The exteriors walls were plywood (with air insulation between) and then covered with wood slats nailed to the surface. (NOTE: Pat Souders' uniform was typical of the tailor-made varieties of uniforms that appeared overseas with shoulder pockets for pens and pencils. In the photo below, Pat's uniform is the old "505" khaki uniform with the 5th AF patch for overseas duty worn on the left sleeve.)
Pat related about the living conditions and how they supplemented their diet with pilfered fresh eggs and steaks, while the rest of the base ate powered milk/eggs and canned meats. The answer is that such items were special ordered from Japan for the base commander and staff -- or sent as special "gifts" from the 3rd BW after they departed for Japan for the friends left behind in Kunsan, like Col Munson. Pat wrote, "Since we (3MVS/6170 Mat Sq drivers in my hut) brought all the supplies from Kunsan Port there was never any shortage of fresh eggs and steak - course we had to cook all ourselves, but w/the 2 stoves that wasn't any problem. Don't know who the eggs and steaks were intended for as normally it was powdered milk/eggs and canned meats in chow halls at K-55 and K-8." Of course, such pilferage was simply written off as stolen by the coolie labor that was used. Many times the coolie labor would intentionally drop crates or containers to get at the contents when they were unloaded by hand at the pontoon docks operated by the 21st Trans Port Co. at Kunsan Harbor. These pontoon docks are still in use in Kunsan's inner harbor.
L: Archery R: Pat Souder (click on photo to enlarge)
The photos of Pat Souder on the Archery range gives some idea of the entertainment that was available to the airmen once the war was over. The large open area that is now the golf course was used for athletic events and such sports as archery or football. In the rear of the photo is the old base chapel constructed in about 1953 along Avenue C on the intersection next to what is now the Base Clinic. There were the hobby shops which were located where the the Son Light Inn is located as well as the Service Club located just behind the hobby shops. A small quonset hut served as the base library.
L: Archery R: Pat Souder (click on photo to enlarge)
When Pat returned to the states, it wasn't by fancy commercial aircraft -- it was by the proverbial "slow boat to China." Air transportation was still decades away. Pat departed Korea in Feb 55 on the USS Breckenridge. Incidentally, the USS General Breckenridge (AG-112), a WWII troop ship, has a distinguished history in transporting troops to Japan for the battles ahead in Korea -- especially remembered by the Marines it transported during those bleak initial days of the Korean Conflict in 1950-1951. It was initially a Wickes Class Destroyer (DD-148) that was commissioned in 1919, but was converted to a "Miscellaneous Auxiliary" (troop ship) in 1945. It continued to serve in transporting troops for the first major US troop buildup to Vietnam in 1965-1966.
Officer's quarters from hill (1954) (Pat Souders)
The photo above gives an excellent view of the base. The photo is taken from what is near the water tower area. It is up near the third tier of the senior commander billets that still exist today -- though highly modified and upgraded. The bottom tier to the left near the base hospital was the Wing Commander's billet. Below these quarters in the open flat area are the BOQ houses that still remain today as well -- though modified and upgraded. In the foreground to the left in the trees is the base clinic with the old plywood wards barely visible. If you look closely, you can see the steeple of the base chapel sticking up above the trees marking the intersection with Avenue C. To the left edge of the photo is Avenue C that heads directly towards the small hill that is now known as "Little Coyote." The hill to the right of it is what is now called "Big Coyote." Between the two hills the end-of-runway is located. To the right side of the picture there are two parallel lines that appears to run directly towards "Big Coyote." The right line is the runway and the left line is the taxiway. The "new" north-south runway that was completed in the spring of 1953.
In the center of the photo is the open athletic field that has now become the golf course. To the right of the athletic field (east) are the 12-man tents of the 841st Engineering Aviation Battalion (SCARWAF) who completed the runway. The 841st departed Kunsan for the states in Jan 1955. To the south of the field is the main base. The enlisted Jamesway barracks are located closest to the athletic field. Then the administrative headquarters of the 3rd Bomb Wing and finally the operations/maintenance facilities for the B-26s. Next in line was the parking ramp for the B-26s and the two long hangars to the right of Avenue C are the open maintenance hangars. To the right of these hangars in the rounded Quonset hangar (Nissan) that used to house the 49th/474th FBW F-84s. This hangar would later be turned over to the ROKAF in 1958 for their use along with the parking ramp area next to the taxiway when their F-86s started to arrive. This hangar still exists today and is used as a maintenance shop facility for the ROKAF F-5Es of the 38th Fighter Group (ROKAF). Between the open hangars and the quonset hangar, Avenue B ran from north-south running parallel to the taxiway down to the contingency pad (C-pad) area next to the airfield tower.
Aussie Meteor (Pat Souders) (Click on photo to enlarge)
The 77 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force were stationed at Kunsan. Upon the departure of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing from Kunsan in 1953, the 77 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force from Iwakuni, Japan assumed the air interceptor role for the base defense as a TDY unit. The pilots and ground crews stood by in constant readiness to scramble at a moment's notice. The TDY was on a monthly rotation. The Aussies were housed where the current Seabreeze is located while their aircraft operated off the contingency pad (C-pad). Shortly after the 3rd BW departed, the Aussies returned home. Patrick Lawler of North Dandenong, Victoria, Australia wrote, "I served in KUNSAN in 1954 with the Australian 77 fighter squadron. We were flying twin engine Meteor jet aircraft. We regarded the American forces there as our mates. In particular a good friend was Tommy S. Nelson M/Sgt, 3rd Bomb wing. Tommy and I with another Australian named Johnny O'Donnel, used to whoop it up nightly in the Honcho's bar to which Tommy would invite us. Johnny was later killed in service in Malaya. I lost track of Tommy when he left Kunsan. I believe after a short stay in the States he was due to be stationed in Norway, which was his birthland. If anyone reading this knows of his whereabouts or any knowledge of him, I would appreciate your help in contacting my good mate again. It was great to serve on the same base as the American forces and like other writers I have fond memories of Kunsan and a few old photographs.regards and best wishes from downunder." Paddy later wrote, "Tommy was a orderly room m/sgt from memory but do not know his squadron. ... I turn the big 70 in march and it is my greatest wish to get Tommy down here. I know somehow that man is still kicking." He continued, "Kunsan was just a little fishing village when I was there.We were not allowed off the base except for escorted tours.I remember the big king tides in the yellow sea. All our water was heavily chlorinated with a greenish tint and it was better to drink beer instead of water. A habit I have kept ever since. Our tour of duty was 4 months in Korea. After that I went back to our homebase in Iwakuni. Altogether I was 2 years overseas. Best years of my life." Ellie E. Price of the 841st EAB remembered the Aussies. He wrote, "Yep, there were Aussies there in '54 and a great lot they were, mate, eh. They wore those wide brimmed outback hats on the flight line and seemed to like us." From his comments, it appears the Aussies liked to party hard as well. Ellie relates about one party thrown by the Aussies where he was hauled back to his tent by his buddies, but the next morning, he discovered that some others had not been so lucky. They were still passed out in ditches." When the threat from North Korea diminished, the Aussies finally went home. The 77 Sqdn.departed Korea on October 16th 1954 for Iwakuni. Then finally the last elements went home to Australia in November 1954 -- over four years late. It departed Japan by ship November 1954 and arrived back in Australia on 3rd December 1954.
Rescue helicopter (Pat Souders) (Click on photo to enlarge)
The H-19 helicopter was from Detachment 1, 3rd Air Rescue Squadron 2157th Air Rescue Squadron. The H-19 was to support the B-26s of the 3d BW. Remember that the life expectancy of an aircrew in freezing waters of the Korean winters was 15 minutes so speed was essential. The helicopter pad was located on the northeast corner of the athletic field -- near the Officer's club. According to The U.S. Air Force in Korea (p580), Detachment 1, 3d Air Rescue Squadron "received H-19 helicopters as replacements as the H-5 helicopters were wrecked or worn out. These larger helicopters proved more suitable for water rescue work, since they had a radius of 120 miles. Originally, the H-19s were outfitted with floats for water landings, but most H-19 pickups were made by means of a line dropped from the H-19's hydraulic -powered hoist."The H-19 "whirly-bird" of the 2157th Air Rescue Squadron was attached to K-8 from its home base at Seoul City AB (K-16). In case a helicopter failed, a replacement aircraft, mechanics or parts were immediately dispatched from K-16. In 1955, the unit moved to K-14 (Kimpo AB). The 2157th was deactivated in 1956 and incorporated into the 39th ARS.
In the Korean Anniversary Project site, Raymond G Loynes of Ontario, Oregon tells of serving with the 6170th Material Squadron at Kunsan from Jan 6, 1954 to Oct 21, 1957. He states, "There were no aircraft on the base at this time except for one lonely C-47. I was in the 6170th Material Squadron at the time. We were having a lot of disruptions from the South Koreans because of the Truce Inspectors housed on the base. They seemed to think they were spies or something." (3)
The "one lonely C-47" described by Raymond Loynes is disputed as in Feb 1957, two L-20As appear to have been assigned to the base with "total hours flown...are as follows: C-47, 238.5 hours; L-20A, 101.05 hours." (4) However, the L-20A Beaver may have been a "loaned" asset to keep up the flying hour requirements for the 3rd BW pilots after the war was over. Budget cuts were being made for funding training missions and the L-20A would be a cheap alternative.
(Note: Under the Armistice agreement, Truce Inspectors were to be stationed at Kunsan. The Armistice Agreement, Vol I Paragraph 43 states, "Neutral Nations Inspection Teams shall be stationed at the following ports of entry: Territory under the military control of the United Nations Command Territory under the military control of the Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteers ... KUNSAN (35?59'N, 126?43'E) ... These Neutral Nations Inspection Teams shall be accorded full convenience of movement within the areas and over the routes of communication set forth on the attached map (Map 5)." (5)Spearhead of Logistics, A History of the United States Army Transportation Corps (p307) states, "Following the truce, the port also hosted a United Nations Inspection Team to monitor compliance with armistice restraints on the imports of war materials." (6) The inspectors not only monitored the AB but also the Kunsan Harbor operations.
However, South Korea never signed the Truce Agreement and under President Sygman Rhee (Yi Sung-man (1875-1965)) threw up many stumbling blocks to the peace process. (7)) Travis Hughlett of Raymore, Missouri provided a hand-printed threat notice written by "Anti-Red Citizens" that was posted on the 14th Trans Port Co. HQ building at Kunsan Harbor. It was aimed at the Truce Inspection Team and read, "1. Russia's Puppets, Czecho-Slovakia and Poland Delegates!! Get Away at Once!! 2. Czecho-Slovakia and Poland Delegates, Reds' Spies Disguised as Neutral Truce Observation Group!! Run Away!! 3. Our Enemy Czech-Slovakia & Poland!! Get Out or No Guarantee of Life Anti-Red Citizens" This was definitely not a warm greeting. (8)
Johnny Choe (Choe Pyong-Hyan) (9)-- an orphan who was later to work as a translator for the 8th SPS. In 2002, he told about the Czech and Polish delegates that were housed on base above the BOQ area in what is now the ROKAF training grounds. They would be escorted on base to the chow halls or PX for their protection because of the immense amount of hatred focused on them. As they were on base, the protests formed at the main gate and grew to be larger and larger. Protesters would shout death threats to the Czech and Polish observers. Johnny told a story of this protest. In 1954, Johnny was about 12 and observed the protests going on at the main gate. At that time the perimeter was nothing but strands of barbed wire strung on poles. The protests were highly organized and in one instance, involved children brought in by train from all over who surrounded the base perimeter from one end to the other. They used kites as a signal for an action when a colored kite was let loose. One the first kite dropping, all children grabbed the fence. On the second, all the children started shaking the fence in unison around the WHOLE perimeter. On the third, they stopped. An impressive demonstration!
At times the protestors would advance in a mass on the gate one step at a time. The ROK guards (civilians hired by the USAF) were armed with M2 carbines formed the first line of defense. Behind them were the Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) and finally, the fire trucks. The problem with this defense line was that the people were not given permission to fire of the protestors. Thus when the mass of bodies reached the guards, they simply disarmed the guards and hoisted them over their heads and passed them back -- like people at a rock concert. The APCs were useless as they could not fire. However, the fire trucks were very effective. The fire hoses were turned on full force and the bodies would be flipped into the air. These stopped the protestors.
The last of the Korean War units from Kunsan AB (K-8) left in 1955 when the Marine MACS-1, a Ground Control Intercept unit, left for Atsugi NAS, Japan via an LST from Kunsan Harbor. (1) (Go to Marine Ground Control Intercept Squadron No. 1 Marine Air Control Squadron No. 1 for unit writeup.)
The last Korean War unit in Kunsan Port to depart was a small Army group in the Kunsan Harbor area. This Army unit was the 21st Transportation Port Co. This small unit started off as the 14th Trans Port com in 1952 with around 88 American soldiers plus stevedores, tug, MPs, etc. They handled the Kunsan port facility and railroad yards. The 14th Trans Port Com handed the operations over to the 21st Trans Port Com in 1954. When it closed to move to Inchon in 1955, the unit had shrunk to about 10 folks. Travis Hughlett of Raymore, Missouri wrote, "After changing over from the 14th T Port to the 21st T Port Com. I was in HQ Com Port operations we closed out the Port in the winter of 1955 and moved to Inchon." (2) (Go to 21st Transportation Port for unit writeup.)
Kiyomi Noriye, SMSgt USAF (ret) of Las Vegas, Nevada first visited Kunsan AB in 1955 with the 36th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber Group out of Itazuke AB, Japan with their F-86Fs. He wrote, "When I first went to Korea, I was in the 36 F.B.S. of the 8th F.B. Group. At that time we were known as the Flying Hobos with a logo or patch of a hobo laying atop an 8 ball." (The "Flying Hobo" was strictly unofficial. Since 1931, the unit was officially the "Flying Fiends" -- or humorously called the "Pucking pups." The "Hobo Squadron" dates back to the beginning of the Korean Conflict when the combined elements from various units were thrown together as the "5th Air Force 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing 'Hobo Squadron'.") Prior to the 8th FBG assuming nuclear alerts in Osan and Kadena, the unit would deploy to Kunsan AB to practice their war-time operational taskings. (See "6175th ABG: 1958" for more on deployments of the 8th FBG to Kunsan.)
Kiyo continued, "Yes, the big black hanger was the one the ROKAF later used but in 1955, it was in pretty bad shape. some of the older guys said 35th F.B.S. personnel were hanged inside by safety wires by the communists during an evacuation in the Korean war." This hangar was first constructed as a maintenance hangar for the F-84s of the 474th FBG in the Korean War. (4)
Kiyo Noriye's aircraft F-100D 564
taxing down the way for takeoff. (1958)
Notice the "black hangar" (ROKAF)
in the background.
Kiyo makes mention of persistent rumor that has been around Kunsan starting right after the war. The variations are people hung on hooks in the hangar and the names of the units change. Incidentally the 35th FBS was originally flying out of Itazuke AB, Japan and were nowhere near Kunsan. The fact was that there was NO U.S. forces in Kunsan at the onset of the war. The U.S. forces left Camp Hillenmeyer (original name of K-8) in March 1948. The USMAAG that remained in Korea was located up in ASCOM City (Pupyong in Seoul). These troops were attached to the ROK in the initial days of the war and when caught were tortured or executed. However, there were no such people at Kunsan. This rumor has lived for over fifty years and still floats around today. It's just too good a war story.
From this information we know the original ROKAF hangar was left over from the Korean War days. The ROKAF flightline ramp was the location of the 474th FBG during the Korean War when the original east-west runway (now Taxiway Charlie) was used. Later the current north-south runway was built and the old 474th FBG ramp was incorporated along the taxiway. Along with it was the old maintenance hangar used by 474th FBG for heavy maintenance work on their F-84s. Dave Day was at Kunsan from July 10, 1952-May 17, 1953. He wrote, "You will notice in the background the roof of a quonset type building. What this eventually became, I believe, was a aircraft maintenance facility." The quonset structure he mentions is the ROKAF hangar that at that time was in a state of disrepair. (5)
This hangar is still in place today, though it is NOT listed as a Korean War structure by the Kunsan AB Civil Engineers -- probably because it is ROKAF property and not carried on U.S. lists.
Taxiway at Kunsan looking north (1959)
(Courtesy Larry Doyle)
Dave Day in front of A/C 517 with hangar in background
Kiyo continued, "C-Pad was only a hardstand the first time I saw it, with the control tower just behind it, behind that was a perimeter road and barbwire fence with some Korean huts behind that." His remarks of C-pad (the contingency pad) reflect that no improvements had been made to the base after the 3rd Bomb Wing (L-NI) left in 1954. The concrete parking areas were best suited for jet aircraft -- as much of the other areas were PSP. These concrete pads adjacent to the taxiway were constructed by the 841st EAB (SCARWAF) before they departed for Okinawa. (6)
There were some Quonset huts (often referred to as Nissan huts) that were used by the 77th Squadron RAAF when they stood alerts there in 1955. The Quonset hut skeleton was a row of semi-circular steel ribs covered with corrugated sheet metal. The ribs sat on a low steel-frame foundation with a plywood floor. The basic model was 20 feet wide and 48 feet long with 720 square feet of usable floor space. The larger model was 40 by 100 feet. These structures were between the C-pad and the perimeter road towards the Ammo dump and remained in place until the late 1980s.
Yellow Sea. Location of present day "Christmas Tree" area. (1956) (Courtesy Kiyo Noriye)
Kiyo's comments of the off-base huts refer to the fishing village of Haje which is still right next to the fenceline. (Go to the "6175th ABG: 1959" to view photos of the village then.) (7) The perimeter road behind C-pad that he mentions still exists in its original route laid out by the Japanese -- who used the area as an ammo dump during WWII. Reports indicate that immediately following the war, much of the fenceline started to disappear -- along with the metal housing on the base. Remember that in those desperate poverty-striken times, metal was a precious commodity in Korea.
Haje village just outside the fenceline across from C-pad. (1956) (Courtesy Kiyo Noriye)
1956Kiyo Noriye, SMSgt, USAF (ret), deployed to Kunsan in 1956 with the 36th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber Wing from Itazuke AB, Japan. The aircraft that they still flying was the F-86F which the 8th FW had transitioned to in the later part of the Korean War. The 8th FW was starting its transition to the F-100s. (1) The pictures below show the Korean War Jamesway buildings used for billeting -- and in a terrible state of disrepair. (2)
Notice that the aircraft are operating off of the contingency pad which was nothing more than a large concrete area with no revetments or other structures except the Control Tower.
Ron Kuryla (left) and Donald Murray (Right) in front of our barracks. Donald is Leroy Murray's brother.
Transient Quarters. All the comforts of home!!!
SSgt Parson, Supply NCO, on C-pad.
1957The 6170th Air Base Group operated and maintained the base from 1 Sept 1954 - 8 Apr 1956. Then the unit was downgraded to 6170th Air Base Squadron which assumed control of the base from 8 April 1956 - 25 March 1959.
Al Schmitz's photo of himself in front of the base headquarter's building in 1957 substantiates that the change was made to "6170th Air Base Squadron." However, we have a 1958 photo of the base headquarters building that shows "617" -- missing a digit -- indicating a changeover in the 1958 time frame. This casts some doubt on the ACTUAL stop date for the 6170th ABS. We believe that the designator ACTUALLY changed to the "6175th ABS" sometime in late 1958 (after March), but was OFFICIALLY listed as 25 March 1959. In other words, Jack Stoob's photo would have to be classified as some folks jumping the gun on the designator change. (1)
According to the 8th Fighter Wing History of Kunsan AB, Appendix J, "For the next several years Kunsan merely hosted periodic rotations of fighter and light bomber squadrons, with base facilities maintained and operated by an air base group. In 1957 and 1958, the 6170th Air Base Group began to upgrade base facilities, increasing the runway from 5,000 to 9,000 feet and building new dormitories." (2) This may have been slightly erroneous description as the 6170th ABG had changed to the 6170th ABS by 1957. The 802nd Eng. Co."C" arrived at Kunsan in l958 to correct a problem with buckling of the runway. According to the following narratives, no new construction was undertaken besides an upgrade of the base chapel. There were no new dormitories built and the enlisted lived in the Korean War era Jamesway prefab buildings or quonset huts.
6170th Air Base Squadron HQ Building (1957)
(Courtesy Al Schmitz)
Click to enlarge
Al Schmitz of Alexandria, MN wrote, "Headquarters Building: 1/LT Al Schmitz -- Air Police; Capt Norm Palmer -- Adjutant; 1/LT Harry Conner -- Personnel and 4th man -- unknown. Probably taken in late fall of 57 -- note Conner holding shotgun. Col. Collins was an avid hunter so we had quite a few hunting trips in the local area for pheasants, ducks and geese. The kitchen crew at "Bottom of the Mark" would prepare the game for us." (3)
(SITE NOTE: The building in the background is the old 3rd Bomb Wing Headquarters building. The "Bottom of the Mark" was the name for the Officer's Club. It remained the O-club until the 1990s when it burned down and not renovated. It was refurbished in 2000 and reopened as the West Wind Golf Course club house. During 1957 there was no golf course. Al Schmitz said, "There was no golf course or driving range that I know of at Kunsan AB in 1957-58. I have no recollection of anyone even having clubs." The 9-hole golf course was built around 1961. In addition, the comment of hunting still applies today. Ducks and geese are only rarely seen. Pheasant season is in the winter. However, other birds are protected. The area around Kunsan is recognized internationally as a bird migratory sanctuary where during the fall, many different species of birds flock.) In 1957, there was very little in the way of entertainment at Kunsan. There was the Airman's Club (Bldg 1100) near the enlisted billets and Officer's Club (Bottom of the Mark) up in the BOQ area. There also was the USO Club (which was the Airman's Club in the Korean War). There was a movie theater, but the movies were shown in the clubs. The base Hobby Shop was a cluster of Jamesway buildings left over from the Korean War. The location is where the current Son-Light Inn is located.
In 1957 at the Hobby Shop was the start of a long relationship with the base. Mike Yi (Yi Yong-Ku), aged 62 in 2004, of the Skills Development Center started work at Kunsan AB in the Photo Shop when he was still in middle school at age 14. The job was given to Mike by Mr. Young who was the head of the Hobby shop at the time. (Mr. Young retired from Kunsan AB and in 2003 was a English Professor at Hwangwan University in Iksan.) In 1957, he secured an assistant's job at the Base Hobby Shop in the Photo Section. He attended elementary school and worked at the Hobby Shop at the same time. Mike fondly recollected that he has a picture of himself in his school uniform while at work in the Hobby Shop. He worked there until he entered the ROK Army in 1958 at the age of 15. Between 1958-1962, he was in the ROK Army. After his discharge, he returned to Kunsan and got his old job back from Mr. Young at the Base Hobby Shop. He has remained with the same job in the Hobby Shop as a lapidary teacher and manager. He ran the lapidary shop for many years. He was married in 1970 and has five daughters. A devout Christian he constantly expresses his thanks to God and the U.S. military for his life and country. Mike in 2004 was still working on a three-year extension to his retirement. (SITE NOTE: Mike's story of being reunited with the GI who saved him from a snow bank, Ellis Forgy, are documented on this site at Mike Yi of Kunsan AB Miraculously Finds His Korean War Savior.)
Al wrote, "I was stationed at Kunsan with the 6170th ABS from July 57 to March 58. I served as an Air Police Officer and Provost Marshal - was rated and got my time in the lone C-47 we had on base. As I recall I was only the 5th rated officer when I arrived but by the time I left there were 23 on base and still only one aircraft. Some of the newcomers were right out of F-86 gunnery school. LTC Mathews was Base Commander when I arrived - LTC Harold Collins was Commander when I left."
Syngman Rhee, a corrupt despot, was being supported almost wholely by U.S. monies. As there was no Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed until 1965, the military basically was responsible for their own justice. Local authorities normally deferred to the U.S. military when the cases dealt with GIs. For all intensive purposes, Korea "belonged" to the U.S. back then. The U.S. military was king. There have been many accusations over the years that some GIs "got away with murder" in the literal sense prior to the SOFA. There seems to be supporting evidence that in some cases offending GIs were shipped out of country to face justice in military courts rather than be turned over to local authorities in some highly controversial cases. These circumstances placed those responsible for administering military justice in Korea in a strange position. (4)
6175th ABS HQ Building (1958)
(Note the missing digit)
(Courtesy Jack Stoob)
The above picture is a classic example of the base in transition. The sign is incomplete...with only "617 th Air Base" painted on the sign -- without any "Squadron" or "Group" designator. It was taken in late 1958 just before the unit designator changed to the 6175th Air Base Squadron. It appears to be premature as the picture was taken in late 1958 and the official redesignation was in March 1959.
Al went on to comment on questions of Korean protests at the base, "As to Koreans protesting the only thing that comes to mind was when two Koreans were shot in the bomb dump area, villagers lined the perimeter chanting and banging on steel drums. Bomb dump personnel were responsible for their own security during daylight hours and two of their people got tired of chasing viillagers out on a Sunday afternoon and open fired killing two of them. These two Airmen received a General Courtmartial and were convicted and sentenced to do time. At the time I left their sentences were being reviewed. A legal team headed by a LTC came over from Japan to conduct the General Courtmartial. Our base legal officer 1/LT Jim White conducted the more routine matters like Article 15's etc." (5a)
Even in 2003, the North Korea clamors for the U.S. to leave Korea and have dredged up an incident over the shooting of a girl in Kunsan on Sept. 19, 1957 to justify their argument of GI brutality among others. No details were given over the incident. As there was no other violent incident at the time, Al Schmitz stated that he felt this must have been the same incident in the ammo dump. (5b)
Immediately after the Korean War was over, anything with metal content disappeared. Barbed wire fences and even complete quonset huts were reported to have been carted off. Even beer cans were pressed into roof tiles and tins converted into water buckets. Anything that wasn't nailed down had a tendency to "grow legs." Without a fence line, there wasn't much of a defense perimeter. In addition, during the Eisenhower years there were massive cutbacks in military manning. The security forces were stretched wafer thin with one man per ten miles of perimeter coverage -- an impossible situation. "Slickey boys" -- thieves who would sneak on base under the cover of darkness -- were a constant problem. Al commented, "Base Security was a challenge as much of the perimeter fence was gone. The first time I checked the East Gate post I found there was no fence or gate. I learned the Koreans had long ago removed it. The best thing we had going were the sentry dogs - the Koreans feared them. We had nine and 18 handlers. The dogs pulled two shifts to the handlers one. Slickey boys were a problem, also prostitutes."
Al commented on the base facilities that had no improvements made to it since the Korean War. During the Eisenhower administration, funding for the military got so bad that toilet paper became a rationed item. The U.S. mood was not to fund the military war machine -- and scarce funding never made it to a backwater base like Kunsan. Up until 1958, Kunsan (K-8) was considered to be nothing more than a contingency base in case of typhoon evacuations. Al commented, "As far as base facilities there was nothing new on the base that I recall other than Col. Collins receiving a new Ford staff car. That was kind of a joke because Col. Mathews tried so hard to get a replacement for the old Chevie and when he left the new Ford arrived." (NOTE: If you look at the picture of the headquarters building, you will see the staff cars to the right.)
As to infrastructure, it was basically the same as during the Korean War without the frequent DDT aircraft sprays to control the mosquitoes. Rats were everywhere. Sanitation was still minimal and honey-wagons used to cart off the human waste to be used as fertilizer in the fields that surrounded the base. Al stated, "I don't remember much about the water/ electricity. Rats were in abundance as well as mosquitoes. We did have two guards that came down with encephalitis and were unable to return to duty."
Syngman Rhee's Visit (1957)
(Courtesy Al Schmitz)
Click to enlarge
Al commented on the visit of Syngman Rhee in the photos above, "Syngman Rhee and Mrs. Lee arriving at the base on their way to the city of Kunsan. Col. Collins turns from the vehicle as Rhees leave for Kunsan in base staff car (the new Ford)."
As was mentioned before, Syngman Rhee (Yi Syng-Man) proved to be an unpredictable despot, but there were not many alternatives at the time. Rhee engaged in drawing the "Peace Line" which demanded Tsushima from the Japanese as reparations. Finally in the end, Ullungdo was given to Korea and Tsushima was given to the Japanese uner the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty -- but the fate of Tokdo/Takeshima/Liancourt Rocks has remained a burning point till today because of his actions. Remember that because of Rhee, the South never signed the Armistice and he had to be "bribed" to keep him from making waves during the signing. Despite this just before the signing, he secretly ordered the release of all the North Korean POWS who claimed to be sympathetic to the South. Despite the Armistice, he continued to vow to attack the North -- causing a great deal of concern on the part of the U.S. (4) (SITE NOTE: These problems exist until today. In 1954 the Koreans seized Tokdo and a Japanese boat was sunk with mortars when they tried to land. Because Rhee refused to sign the armistice, Korea remains technically at war with North Korea and boundary disputes remain unsettled with China, North Korea and Japan.)
Al talked about a visit by President Rhee to Kunsan. He said, "Syngman Rhee did visit Kunsan while I was there. He was there to give a speech in the city of Kunsan. When he arrived at the base there were both ROK Army and AF units lined up including bands from both. A C-54 came into the pattern and we were all expecting it to land but it just made a low pass and then a C-46 behind it landed and out stepped Rhee, Mrs. Rhee and their contingent. I have a slide of Rhee, Col. Collins and other VIP's reviewing the ROK troops but it's pretty marginal (dark)." (5)
He continued later, "I was surprised to have a college classmate show up one day just before Syngman Rhee's arrival. After entering the service he was sent to language school to learn Korean and was with the OSI. He was there to find out what Rhee was telling the Korean people in his speech. I had no contact with him after the speech so I don't know what he learned."
Some units had an unofficial practice at the time of "adopting" a young orphan and supporting him with food and shelter while he attended elementary school or perhaps providing him with a small job in the unit if he were a little older. One such person was Mike Yi (Yi Yong-Ku), an orphan from North Korea. In 1955, Mike was transferred to the Orphanage of Korea in Cheju Island, but because of over-crowding and poor conditions, Mike opted to return to Kunsan's International Orphanage. In 1957, he secured an assistant's job at the Base Hobby Shop in the Photo Section. He attended elementary school and worked at the Hobby Shop at the same time -- fondly recollecting that he has a picture of himself in his school uniform while at work in the Hobby Shop. He worked there until he entered the ROK Army in 1959. After his release from the ROK Army, he returned to Kunsan AB and continued to work at the hobby shop. In 2004, he was on his third extension of his retirement. (6)
When asked if the Air Police had any "mascots" in the 1957-59 time period, Al Schmitz replied that there was no mascot while he was there. "However, the OSI agents that lived in Kunsan when I arrived did have a houseboy they called "Buckshot". I understood that he was an orphan who lived with Americans much as you described. I took him to be a little younger than 14-15, a very friendly likeable kid who spoke excellent English. I often wondered what became of him after Agent Singer moved on base and they no longer had the compound in Kunsan." (7)
When asked about the relationship with the Korean workers on base, Al said, "I had little contact with ROK personnel other than they were on the base the last part of my tour. I was Provost Marshal the early months of my tour until someone more qualified finally arrived. I had some contact with villagers with requests - like allowing them to send a work detail on base under guard to cut grass. They used the grass to heat their homes. I still have a sake set they gave me when I left, in appreciation for allowing them to do that." (8)
He went on to talk of on-base Korean personnel, "We had a Korean National Police representive on base much of the time. I always thought he was there more to spy on us then assist us. Although I recall a time he did succeed in returning some stolen items to us. We had two Koreans at Air Police as interpreters, both were Mr. Lee so we called one Tom. They were loyal and helpful employees and well respected by the other Koreans. Mr. Lee was the best interpreter on the base and would serve Col. Collins when the need arose as when Syngman Rhee was there. We also had about 60 Korean Security guards that watched work details and helped with perimeter defense. ... OSI had two people that lived in the city of Kunsan when I arrived. Later one left so the remaining agent moved on base." (9)
When asked about the period when RIFs (Reductions In Force) were common as the military "downsized," Al stated, "You mentioned the RIF and I was part of that. I had a three year commitment and was released 6 months early which was why I left Korea three months before my year was up. After pilot training my assignment was Blytheville AFB in Arkansas where I was supposed to check out in B-57's. Four of us were sent there and I don't think any of us got to check out in the 57. We all were given secondary AFSC's, mine was Air Police and that's how I ended up going to Korea as an Air Police Officer. I know the fellows arriving at Kunsan from gunnery training were disappointed to say the least but the fact is they just didn't need us. The logical thing was to release those of us that had not signed "indefinite status" which would have indicated we wanted to make the Air Force our career. That was my feeling - the RIF may have gone deeper then that." (10)
As to the ROKAF presence at Kunsan, Al replied, "There were no ROK F-86D's at Kunsan while I was there. They did have some F-86's there not long before I left but I don't know which model - but no D's. They were increasing their personnel on base but we did not have much contact with them." (11)
Islands under UNC Control (South Korea Ministry of Defense)
Al commented on the lone C-47 "Goonie Bird" that provided the means for rated pilots to get their flight time logged in. He commented, "Our C-47 got us around without problems - it was mostly liaison flights to Osan. We got diverted from Osan one time to pick up a guy on a radar sight in the Yellow Sea north of the 38th. He needed rabies shots for a rat bite. We just landed on the beach." Al added later that he and Capt Wesley East made the flight. On the flight, they also exchanged mail bags. There were 30 personnel on the island and operated a radar site -- on what we now believe was Paengyong-do (Paegyoug-do/Baegryong-do). (NOTE: Paengyong-do (37?58' N, 124?40' E), Taechong-do (37?50' N, 124?42' E), Sochong-do (37?46' N, 124?46' E), Yonpyong-do (37?38' N, 125?40' E), and U-do (37?36' N, 125?58' E), were the five islands just off the coast of North Korea under the UNC control.) Al also added that he also got to Tachikawa and had one R&R flight to Hong Kong. (12a)
Base C-47 on the beach (1957)
(Courtesy Al Schmitz)
Click to enlarge
|6175th ABS C-47 Flying Crewchief Patch (Date unknown) (Courtesy Lee-Jackson Militaria) The patch is from the 6175th ABS C-47 flying crewchief -- note the enlisted wings. The word "Choge" most likely from the common Japanese slang expression: "Cut a choge" (leave quickly). "Choge" in Korean means "oyster" or "there" depending on pronunciation. Patch most likely made in Japan. No idea on the significance of "KUNSAN (VERY) LTD" unless it is a snide remark of Kunsan's positive aspects. |
Later on Al said, "I remember reading somewhere on a website an account of an L-20 on base after I was there. With as many pilots as we had there was sure a need for something in addition to the Goonie Bird, which by the way was standard as you described. I think the increase in pilots indicated the Air Force just had too many and didn't have flying jobs for us." (12b)
Jack Tickle and kid at the fishing village of Haje
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Mud flats at Haje fishing village at low tide|
(Courtesy Jack Tickle)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Street scene outside Kunsan AB (Summer 1957)
(Courtesy Jack Tickle)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Okku village on the left side outside of base on the way into town
(Courtesy Al Schmitz)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
(l to r) Tom Martin and Harry Conner at Okku Reservoir next to pipeline (Dec 57)
(Courtesy Al Schmitz)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Al commented on the above photo, "Dec 57 -- On the road to Kunsan. From left, Tom Martin and Harry Conner. Note the pipeline used to pump fuel to the base. It was light "invasion pipe" and caused some problems. The Koreans would try to tap into it and on one occasion the pipe ruptured when the pumping started spraying fuel into a hut where a woman was cooking with an open flame. Three children and a pregnant woman died in that tragic accident." The photo taken looking towards the base with the village of Okku at the base of the hill in the background. Notice the reservoir to the left which the base got its water. (13)
Visit to the Kunsan Orphanage (Dec 57) (Courtesy Al Schmitz)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Al wrote, "Tom Martin with children. At Christmas the base gave the orphanage some bags of rice we bought on a flight to Japan. Mr. Lee, Air Police Interpreter, told me this was a nice gesture on our part, but we should realize that Japanese rice did not equal the nutritional value of Korean rice."
(SITE NOTE: This statement of quality would be suspect. Most of Kunsan's rice went to Japan during its colonial period -- but it was the same rice strain as used in Japan to match Japanese tastes. After the war, the same strains continued to be grown in Korea. This statement by the Korean interpreter is similar to the irrational statements heard in 2004 about how other countries rice products are inferior to Korea's -- even though their cost is cheaper. Koreans prefer the gellatinious rice (sticky) versus the long-grain varieties prefered by Chinese and other cultures. But it all boils down to taste -- and Koreans think Korean rice tastes better than any other rice.) As to the TDY presence of the TDY units at Kunsan, Al stated, "The 3rd BW from Johnson must have arrived after I left - didn't they have B-57's? The mobility groups we had were F-100's from Itazuke. I know the 35th FBS was there. I did see a black painted B-17 on the line one morning with Nationalist China markings. Also heard there was a Nationalist B-57 on base too but didn't see that. We heard they made photo runs or leaflet drops over China." (14)
Later on Al would add, ""Capt. Tom Martin was Provost Marshal when I left and we had learned that in the near future Kunsan would have to provide security for nuclear weapons. We had some discussion about the facility it would require and the staffing needs but that got underway after I left in March 58." (See 1959 for details on nuclear alert.)
These discussions were in reference to the 3rd BW picking up a nuclear alert in Korea. Throughout the Korean War, a nuclear alert was in Japan but after the war was over strong anti-nuclear Hiroshima protests caused the military to look elsewhere. Kunsan was an ideal site that was out of the public view and not controversial. To this day, the U.S. retains a "do not deny nor concur policy" on nuclear weapons ("special weapons") in Korea. The 3rd BW B-57s would assume the nuclear alert from 1958-1964 with TDY backup aid from the 18th FBW from Okinawa with their F-100s starting in 1958. All TDY aircraft and personnel worked out of the Contingency pad (C-pad) on the south side of base. The 8th FBW of Itazuke did NOT stand nuclear alerts at Kunsan. They staged out of Kunsan with their F-100s to use Kooni Range because of runway and facility problems at Osan. When the facilities at Osan were ready, the 8th did perform nuclear alerts out of Osan. (15)
The 8th FBW -- consisting of the 35th, 36th and 80th FBS -- out of Yokota AB, Japan with nuclear-capable F-100s used Kunsan to practice LABS at the Kooni range, but never pulled nuclear alerts at Kunsan. The 8th FBW continued to regularly deploy to Kunsan to practice their war skills. When the alert facilities were finished at Osan, the 8th moved its training to Osan and started standing nuclear alerts there.
Family threshing rice on north perimeter of base (Fall 57) (Courtesy Al Schmitz)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Al Schmitz would add about the photo above, "Family threshing rice at the north perimeter of the base. The F-100 crash mentioned by Dick Seeley (Nov. 57) occurred later just to the left of the picture." (Go to 1958: 8th TFW TDY for details.) Notice the use of the traditional A-frame (choge) used to carry heavy loads on one's back.
Alc Hensen, A2c Jefferson, and A2c McCray at storage area on C-pad (Oct 1957) (Courtesy Kiyo Noriye)
1958By 1958, the U.N. Truce Inspectors had left and the northern portion of the base had been partially returned to the ROKAF. In February 1958, North Korean agents hijacked a South Korean airliner to Pyongyang that had been en route from Pusan to Seoul; 1 American pilot, 1 American passenger, 2 West German passengers, and 24 other passengers were released in early March, but 8 other passengers remained in the North. (1e)
Though there was a ROKAF detachment at Kunsan starting from 1953, they were primarily Air Traffic Control and Weather Service trainees under the command of a Captain Kim Chong-yul. They were assigned to the 3rd Airfield Installation Operation (AIO) to learn how to maintain the base and to the 1973rd AACS (Aircraft and Airways Communications Service) to learn Ground Control Approach (GCA) methods and the use of the all-weather radar and navigational aids. The ROKAF airmen were eager to learn English from the permanent party personnel. (1a)
The ROKAF controlled the north end of the base -- including the North Gate of K-8. Some of the BOQ quarters were turned over to the ROKAF for their officers. There are still two examples of these old units (though modified now with the end chimneys removed) next to the ROKAF training field. They were used by ROKAF NCO families up to the late 1980s but are presently abandoned. The ROKAF enlisted personnel were housed in quonset huts near the ROKAF flightline. (1c)
BOQ billets during Korean War (1952)
This type of house was given to ROKAF. The ROKAF F-86Fs did not arrive until 1959. In 1959, the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) assigned a squadron of F-86 fighters to the base. This ROKAF unit was the only permanently assigned flying contingent at Kunsan until after the Pueblo Incident in 1968 -- besides the C-47 and L-20As of the 6175th Air Base Squadron. (1d) (For an expanded writeup of the early days of the ROKAF at Kunsan go to ROKAF.)
ROKAF Airman (1959)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
(Courtesy Larry Doyle)
ROKAF Area showing ROKAF hangar (1978):
F-86 aircraft are lined up on the ramp.
(Click on image to enlarge)
The original ROKAF area was built with one large quonset-style hangar.
The Haje village area outside the fence on the south end of base was still a small fishing village. The fishing boat harbor that exists today had not been developed as yet. From the photos of the time, the fishing boats were beached on the shores of the mudflats during low tide. The Kunsan area was still an area of subsistence farming and fishing -- it was a poor country town. The hills surrounding Kunsan AB were denuded of trees and Kunsan City would not have been called a pretty town. The "honey" wagons still were in use to fertilize the fields surrounding the base. (For pictures of Kunsan City in the 1960s go to Welcome to Kunsan City.)
It also appears that much of the background information of government buildings prior to 1957 was lost -- if it ever existed. In fact, there were no real property records for Korea until 1955-1957. Thus in many cases, the information of the buildings construction date was on the "best guess" basis. For example, the BOQ quarters built by the 3d Battalion, 63rd Infantry Regiment for their dependents in 1947 at Camp Hillenmeyer (pre-decessor of Kunsan AB) was identified as being of Japanese construction. Perhaps the fact that the materials were part of Japanese war reparations might have added to the confusion. However, the fact remains that after the Korean War, there were no real property records.
No one seemed to care about the existence of Kunsan from HQ PACAF on down. Prior to coming to Kunsan in 1959, Col Moench, base commander in 1959, searched for information on the base at HQ PACAF and could find little or none. From budget information to manning, there was nothing. This lack of documentation in fact, this was a command-wide problem for Korea. (2) The problem stretches back to the end of the Korean War when all the U.S. military could think of was how to get out of the country. There were no real property records in Korea until the 1957-1959 time frame. There are unit histories recorded, but there was a lack of meaningful data available.)
But against this backdrop of neglect in Korea, we have to remember that the Cold War dominated international politics...it was a real threat then -- not theoretical. The building up of Kunsan as a contingency base with a 9,000 foot runway (to handle heavy bombers and larger cargo aircraft if needed) was a logical choice given the lessons learned from the initial days of the Korean War. (See841st Engineering Aviation Battalion for the story of the building of the new north-south runway in 1954. The 802d Engineering Co. used this quarry in 1958-1959 for runway repair work.) Kunsan would remain a contingency base until the first operational units returned in 1968.
(SITE NOTE: The 8th FW History states the runway was extended to 9,000 feet between 1957 and 1958 which we feel is in error. We feel the runway was "repaired" -- NOT extended. According to the 8th FW History Appendix J: "In 1957 and 1958, the 6170th Air Base Group began to upgrade base facilities, increasing the runway from 5,000 to 9,000 feet and building new dormitories." However, the 6175th ABG history (1957) states the Company C, 804th Engineering Battalion was sent to repair buckling of the runway at the expansion joints by direction of 5th AF. The North-South runway started by the 808th EAB in 1953 and completed by the 841st EAB in 1954 was 9,000 feet. Besides, one COMPANY of engineers doing what it took a BATTALION of engineers a year to do is not logical. (See 808th EAB/841st EAB))
Airfield Diagram (2000): The runway and taxiway areas
have remained basically the same
(Click on image to enlarge)
Until the late 1960's , though, Kunsan remained relatively dormant, hosting temporary deployments of flying units and serving as a safe haven base for aircraft evacuated from Okinawa and Guam during typhoons. (Note: Though the typhoons regularly hit Okinawa and sweep up through the Japan Sea (East Sea) between Pusan, Korea and Japan, Kunsan has very seldom had any threat from a typhoon -- besides some heavy rains. It is an ideal safe haven for typhoon alerts. (3)
Al Schmitz wrote about an officer he recognized from his time at Kunsan. He ran across his biography on the AF Biographies site. Major General Frank G. Barnes was a Major at Kunsan when Al knew him. Al wrote, "I didn't recall his duties but apparently he arrived in preparation to making improvements to the base. "General Barnes was assigned as operations officer with the Civil Engineering Group at Reese Air Force Base, Texas in July 1956. He was transferred to Korea in January 1958 as base installations officer at Kunsan Air Base and later was installations engineer at Osan Air Base." Most folks with talent or "connections" usually ended up at Osan as that was the base where the focus was on to make the center of air operations in Korea at the time. The challenges of inadequate funding, indifference on the part of the overhead echelons and general disregard for Kunsan had its impact on the lack of improvements to the base infrastructure. However, he may have been sent to Kunsan to lay the ground work for the nuclear alerts that would be starting in 1958 with the 3rd BW from Misawa. New igloos were under construction for the nuclear alert force in 1959 under the contract of the Army Corps of Engineers (Far East).
Dick Seely, then a Lt. with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, remembered his experiences with the wing at USAF Memories.(4) By October 1957, the 8th TFW had just converted to the F-100D, but allotted flying hours were low. However, soon the cold war heated up, Sputnik had been launched and flying hours increased. However, the F-100 had some mechanical problems. He stated, "Like all new aircraft the F-100 had its problems. The biggest one I recall was the CSD (constant speed drive) which provided the electrical power for the aircraft. The CSD would fail, causing the loss of all engine oil resulting in engine seizure. A bad way to end a flight. The F-100 was a poor glider." During his four years of peacetime service they lost 30 aircraft and 15 pilots.
2Lt. Dick Seeley - 1957
(Courtesy Dick Seeley)
He remembered one that happened at Kunsan. He stated, "It occurred around November of 1957 at Kunsan, AB Korea. Captain Jim Sharp was testing an aircraft, following maintenance, and crashed on the Air Base runway. The second or third accident involved a dear friend, Leslie (Ed) McDonald. We both attended advanced flight training at Luke AFB, Arizona from March to July 1957 and went on to Nellis AFB, Nevada to upgrade in the F-100. Ed loved flying, but he didn't like flying over water, vowing never to eject until he reached dry land. His engine seized during a practice bombing run on a water range. He tried to stretch the glide to land, ejecting too low. Ed hit the shore still strapped in his ejection seat." (5)
H.K. White - Be Happy
(Courtesy Dick Seeley)
On another page, he stated, "The 8th Wing maintained a detachment of aircraft at Kunsan AB, Korea. Our mission at Kunsan was primarily to maintain a presence and to 'show the flag.' Each squadron rotated crews to Kunsan on a scheduled basis and my first TDY to Korea was in February 1958. Conditions were somewhat austere. We were assigned quarters in a house that looked like it belonged on a Ma & Pa Kettle movie set. There were about 4 crews to a house with one bath. As I recall our bathroom had a hole in the floor with a clear view of the ground below."
Kunsan flightline (Feb 58)
(Courtesy Dick Seeley)
He went on, "The Officers Club at Kunsan would have made a great set for a 'MASH' episode. There was a nightly poker game in the bar area which would be interrupted by the occasional sighting of a rat. Everyone joined in the chase and the unfortunate animal would almost always meet an untimely end." (NOTE: The O-club was called the "Bottom of the Mark" and was a leftover from the Korean War. The original structure has been modified many times over and now is the West Wind Golf Course Club. Al Schmitz said, "There was no golf course or driving range that I know of at Kunsan AB in 1957-58. I have no recollection of anyone even having clubs." The 9-hole golf course was built around 1961.)
4 Huns on Kunsan Runway
(Courtesy Dick Seeley)
He continued, "Flight operations consisted primarily of flying training missions, occasionally we would fly an operational mission along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). DMZ missions were for the benefit of the North Koreans. We would climb to altitude, to make sure they could see us on radar, and fly supersonic dashes parallel to the DMZ. I don't know who was impressed the most, us or them." He added, "On one of my missions, during this first TDY, both nose gear tires blew during a formation takeoff. My first declared emergency in the F100 ended without incident." (NOTE: Though the unit mission at Kunsan was to only "show the flag", they kept proficient in LABS bombing practice for nuclear weapons using the Kooni Range.)
F-100D with 80th TFS tail flash
(Courtesy Dick Seeley)
Later he stated, "Sometime in 1958 the 8th Fighter Bomber Wing designation was changed to 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. Fighter pilots were not happy with the word bomber in the unit designation and this was cause for celebration." He went on, "I believe Colonel Robert P. Montgomery was replaced by Colonel Chesley G. Peterson sometime in 1958. Colonel Peterson had a distinguished career as a fighter pilot during World War II and we were fortunate to have him assigned as the commander of the 8th Wing. (Col Chesley G. Peterson was the youngest full colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces at the age of 23 in WWII and would later attain the rank of Maj. General.) Later in the year we moved our detachment operations to Osan AB, Korea and we took on a more serious mission." (7) (NOTE: The "more serious mission" was the standing of a nuclear alert. Though Osan AB was much more "civilized" than Kunsan, it had no real alert facilities. Later the 8th TFW would move their alert operations to Kadena, but in 1960 would move the alert back to Osan AB after the alert facilities were built.)
Kiyo Noriye, SMSgt USAF (Ret) sent the following photos taken in 1958 soon after the 8th FBW transitioned to F-100Ds at Kunsan for LABS training at Kooni Range. While at Itazuke, its primary mission was the air defense of Japan and it performed "alert" duty at Osan AB, Korea on a rotational basis. In truth, the wing was pulling "nuclear alerts" in Korea as their could be no nuclear weapons stationed in Japan. During the Korean War starting in April 1953, the F-84Gs from the 9th TFS (formerly of the 49th FBG at Taegu AB, Korea) pulled nuclear alerts in Misawa, Japan. The 3rd Bomb Wing in Misawa, Japan also added the nuclear tasking to their mission after it converted to B-57s. However, after the Korean War, it soon became a political issue due to the horrors of the Hiroshima being memorialized in Japan. World wide was focused on Japan with the plight of the "Hiroshima maidens" -- women disfigured by the nuclear blast who were flown to America for reconstructive surgery. No nuclear weapons were stationed in Japan starting in 1958 and they were "forward positioned" in Korea at FOLs (Forward Operating Locations) in Korea.
The two locations for the FOLs supporting the nuclear missions was Osan AB and Kunsan AB. As one pundit put it, they stood "Victor Alerts with a 15-minute scramble to the start of World War III." At that time, there was no permanent facility for any of the alert aircraft. The aircraft simply stood the alerts out in the open in their own designated areas with the "silver bullet" stored in the ammo dump. From 1958-1964, the nuclear commitment at Kunsan was handled by the 3rd Bomb Wing's B-57s and TDY's with F-100Ds from the 14th TFW at Kadena AB. The units were "self-contained" in the C-pad area and provided their own security for the nuclear weapons as well as all maintenance support from home station. These deployments were on a monthly rotational basis.
The 8th FBG did NOT have any nuclear alert at Kunsan. From 1958, the nuclear alerts by the 8th FBG was at Osan AB. Kiyo Norime wrote, "When we started going into Kunsan, it was on training and bombing; ie, Tactical sorties. Our sister outfit at Itazuki with F-84Gs which at that time was part of the 49th Fighter Group, however had the capability to carry it When we got the F-100D/Fs the only thing we did at Kunsan was training exercise ie : LABs/ Tactical bombing. We set up alert duties in Osan in 1958 I can't remember the exact date but it was on D diamond and that is the only place that I know of that we had special weapons."
Kiyo Noriye's aircraft F-100D 564
taxing down the way for takeoff.
Notice the "black hangar" (ROKAF)
in the background.
F-100D 349 taxing by C-pad.
F-100D 575 taxing out from C-pad.
The aircraft in the revetments
are those of the 18th TFW out of Kadena.
Possibly 44th TFS.
Photos taken in 1958. (Photos courtesy Kiyo Noriye)
Click on photos to enlarge
Since nuclear weapons could not be stationed in Japan, in August of 1958, the 3rd BG set up a rotation of crews to stand nuclear alert at Kunsan (K-8) air base in Korea. This rotation continued until April of 1964, when the 3rd BG returned to Yokota to begin the process of inactivation. (6)
On the Aerospace Publishing Ltd site, it states, "Within the USAF, one bombardment unit that did prevail long after the others ceased to exist was the 3rd Bomb Wing in Japan. It continued with its important mission during those unsettled years by maintaining quick-strike capability against targets on the mainland of China, North Korea and the USSR. A squadron-strength detachment was always on 15-minute quick-strike alert at Kunsan, Korea as the primary mission of the 3rd Bomb Wing."
1959According to the 8th Fighter Wing History, the 6170th Air Base Squadron was redesignated as the 6175th Air Base Group on 25 March 1959 and remained in command of the base until 1 Aug 1968. (1a) However, there is some confusion over this as the base was still the 6175th Air Base SQUADRON when Col. John Moench arrived to take over as base commander in July 1959. The designator became the 6175th Air Base Group AFTER Col Moench left. From this we surmise that the designation change was retroactive -- thus causing confusion as to the dates.
There was a 6175th Air Base Squadron in August 1958 (1b) but on 25 March 1959, the 6175th Air Base Group was organized. (1c) In early 1958, a letter was submitted by the 314th Air Division to 5th Air Force to upgrade the 6134th Air Base Group - the parent organization of the 6175th Air Base Squadron -- to a WING. This upgrade to a Wing apparently took place after Dec 1958 -- possibly in early 1959. In Oct 58, justification was requested by 314th Air Division for upgrading the 6170th Air Base Squadron to the 6170th Air Base Group. This slipped through the crack. Instead, the 6170th Air Base Squadron was redesignated the 6175th Air Base Squadron ?instead of concurrent rise to Group level when the parent unit (6134th ABW) became a wing. (1d) It appears that the change to 6175th ABG was made retroactive to correct the oversight.
Comments on Taking Command Col. John O. Moench (later Major General) took command of K-8 in July 1959 as base commander, 6175th Air Base Group, Kunsan Air Base. Col. Moench was in command of Kunsan AB for a short time and then took over as director, Plans and Programs, 314th Air Division, Osan Air Base. When at Osan his "personal interface included the Commander of UNC, USFK, Fifth Air Force and even ROK President Syngman Rhee." (55) In June 1960 he was transferred to Pacific Air Forces headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (2a) Taking Command, John O. Moench, (1996) -- a "faction" -- covers the period John served as the base commander at K-8.
While this novel is a "faction" -- part fact, part fiction -- much of the coverage herein of the 6175th Air Base Squadron/Air Base Group and related subjects was derived from Taking Command (1996) and later associated discussion (2004) with the author, Major General John O. Moench, USAF. The book documents the early period of K-8 after the Korean War. Though John stated that the book was "on the par of 95% fact," he also stated that the book was intentionally written to be vague on certain high-profile areas and eliminated the names of individuals whose families might be affected. John did not intend the book to be a foot-noted historical reference, but as a "historical novel" in which certain events were loosely interpreted or eliminated for brevity. (2b)
In John's own words, "As I noted, the writing of Taking Command was tempered to be partially faction -- without telling the reader (other than in the names) what was not fact. One reason for that was that I did not want to place individuals "on report." Note the eyes covered in one photo. But there was more, e.g. I did not wish to set forth words that could cause family problems. Thus, some name changes, etc. Also, at the time of the writing, I was unaware of the degree to which the use of the base for nuclear operations could be openly discussed by a retired senior officer. There is much behind that concern that I cannot reveal -- even at this late date." (2b) (SITE NOTE: In this site we describe the C-pad and the unit's ground operations, but we do not describe the tactical aspects of the nuclear operations. Facts contained here have in the most part been disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOA) and assembled by various groups concerned with nuclear proliferation. (2c)) Rumors and Myths in Taking Command We have discussed these items with John Moench and he explained that when he was researching his book, there was a scarcity of material in existence on Kunsan. (2) At times he had to rely on the materials or recollections of others. The reason we mention these here is that they have persisted as rumors and myths amongst those who serve at Kunsan.
One of the myths that the book perpetuates has plagued Kunsan's history for over fifty years. The officer's billets are referred to as "Japanese built base billets" in more than one place. In speaking of his quarters, it stated, "These are Japanese buildings. From the Koreans, I understand that they were built some time before the end of World War Two. We think the Japanese occupying Korea built them for their officers -- possibly as family quarters although they don't have conventional kitchens." In actuality, they were built by the 3rd Btn, 63rd Inf Reg for Camp Hillenmeyer's dependents in 1947. (2d) (See 63rd Inf Reg: Officer's family for more photos of these structures.) The problem was that there was no real property records in Korea until 1957 and when an inventory of buildings was done, much of it was on a "best guess" basis. This is the story of the BOQ housing at Kunsan as it was built for the Occupation forces dependents using Japanese war reparations materials and local carpenters trained in Japanese techniques (under the supervision of the 508th Utility Company). In effect, they were Japanese...but NOT built by the Japanese forces. Most people didn't remember that the Occupation forces' Camp Hillenmeyer was actually the predecessor of Kunsan AB (K-8).
There is an interesting, but erroneous rumor in the book that has persisted until present times. It is another variation of the American soldier massacre at the Kunsan that the 8th FW Historian has tried to eradicate as well. "...in the Korean War, when the air base was evacuated as the North Koreans came south, the last bug out element of security from the base was ambushed and slaughtered in that tunnel. Allegedly, people from the village next to the entrance did the job. It's called The North Korean Village." (2e) This rumor is talking about the Wolmyong Park Tunnel (Kaebong Tunnel). The story is ridiculous and has been around Kunsan AB for ages. First, the "village" was not there in the early 1951 shots of the tunnel (taken by 3rd BW personnel), but was built AFTER the North Korean refugees flooded the city DURING the war. Second, there were no Americans in Kunsan to "bug out" as the base was turned over to the Korean Constabulary in March 1949. Third, according to local Korean historians, the "massacre" was of dissident Korean farmers in 1940 and attributed to the Japanese who set up machine guns to execute the dissidents. (SITE NOTE: The "North Korean Village" that once scarred the hillside of Wolmyong Mountain was cleared in 1992 and has now been replanted with cherry blossom trees. Their have been variations of this rumor that airmen were trapped at the start of the war and hung up on hooks in the ROKAF hangar by the North Koreans. The only problem is that there were NO airmen or soldiers in Kunsan as the base was turned over to the Korean Constabulary (forerunner to the ROK Army on March 1948. This rumor was even commented in the Kunsan AB History to attempt to dispel it.)
Also in the book, there is a persistent rumor that major massacres occurred in Kunsan when the North Koreans took over. There is a photo labeled a "North Korean execution pit" on Kunsan Air Base without any further comment in the text. The photos appear to be simply a 1951 excavated gravesite where the disinterred body in an accompanying photo came from. (2f) This execution theme has been a popular rumor with the sight of forgotten burial mounds surrounding the base. Actually, there were few -- if any -- executions in Kunsan as the North Koreans were first engaged in fierce fighting with ROK Marines over in Changhang across the Kumgang River of Kunsan to impede their progress. When the ROK Marines withdrew, the North Korean soldiers continued south with great speed to capture Yeosu as part of a pincer movement on Pusan. The constabulary and local officials had all fled south well before the communists consolidated its hold on Kunsan. As far as we know, there were no executions on Kunsan Air Base or Kunsan City. (SITE NOTE: The Korean tradition is to bury their dead on propitious spots on hills. When Kunsan was constructing its new roads in the 1990s, mass relocations of graves were accomplished. In 2003, the base started relocating some graves that were on the base property near the Ammo Dump to make way for expansion. On the north end of the base, there are still the forgotten gravesites mentioned in George Rabe's narratives in the 1959 section.)
Jim Gehlin wrote Oct 2004, "Stationed there in 59 and left May 29th 1960. Spent a lot of time on Pad C and a little time on town Patrol. Sorry, but after 44 yrs, the memory banks kinda shut down on names of that period. Remember the bone chilling cold and the heat with no air conditioning. No heat because of the shortage of heating oil and the hot stoves when we had it. Powdered eggs and the milk with inside of the cartons peeling off." (2g) Pad C duties included freezing in winter or sweating in summer (along with being eaten alive by mosquitoes) as a sentry for the aircraft on the nuclear aircraft of the pad. The town patrol duties was mainly to keep the GIs out of the off-limits brothels and to stop any brawls in the bars that John Moench mentioned. But to be truthful, the town was wide-open.
Colonel Moench's Arrival at Kunsan When John arrived in 1959, he was not happy as he was a "full-bird" colonel assigned to a "Squadron Commander" position that is normally filled by a Lt. Col. at the highest. After protesting personally to the 6314th Wing Commander at Osan, the designation from Squadron to Group may have been made retroactive -- which would create a lot of confusion with subsequent histories. Though Col. Moench's predecessor and replacement were full colonels, in the years of tight promotions, an entry onto one's promotion records of an 0-6 (Col.) sitting in an 0-5 (Lt. Col.) slot might have spelt a death knell for promotion. Luckily, it did not impact on John's career as he ultimately rose to the rank of Major General.
What was unsettling was that the Base Commander was subordinate to the Wing Commander of the 6314th Wing at Osan AB without a Group in between. Strangely, he was responsible for a Taegu MAAG unit (Military Assistance Advisory Group) that had no aircraft assigned and provided ROKAF technical assistance (Det 1 6314th ABS). This would normally have been a Wing function, but somehow it was squirreled around. Also in the organizational chart, he was in command of a SQUADRON, while the parent unit was a WING...without a GROUP in between in the organizational structure. Apparently the 6314th Air Base Group was upgraded, but an administrative error instead caused the 6170th Air Base Squadron to simply be redesignated as the 6175th Air Base Squadron -- without it being upgraded to a group as would be normal. Later it appears that this was corrected retroactively (back dating the action to 1959), which in turn has caused a lot of historical confusion. (3)
What he saw when he first arrived was a base that had fallen into disrepair after the Korean Conflict. According to the book, there was no new construction since the Korean War...except for a rebuilt chapel. (NOTE: This chapel originally built in 1952 was on the corner where the current Base Hospital is now.) Thievery was rampant by local nationals as Korea was desperately poor after the Korean War -- and all the ills of a base located in a backwater part of Korea abounded.
On John's arrival (pg 36), he described what he saw of the base. He "could see that one road led out of the base -- apparently it connected to the distant city of Kunsan. Like the other roads I had viewed, it was obviously dirt and, even from 1000 feet, I could see that it was in terrible condition." He later mentioned that the Koreans would break off chunks of the paved roads and use the macadam for fuel during the winter months. Thus any two lane paved roads soon became one lane paved roads. Though the off-base roads were the ROK responsibility, the Kunsan AB periodically graded the road to make it passable. (See Kunsan City (1945-1960s) for photos of the city during the Korean War and post-war period.) (4)
He went on, "On a large concrete hardstand area adjacent to a taxiway that paralleled the longest runway, I noted several parked tactical fighter aircraft -- F-100s -- apparently, these were the nuclear alert birds. There appeared to be no aircraft revetments on the field." These were NOT the nuclear alerts -- though they did carry nukes. These were the F-100s from Kadena that were deployed to Kunsan due to the unrest in China -- starting with the bombing of Quemoy in 1958. John left this area vague because of concerns over what could or could not be written over the area -- and also to simply the writing. However, he did confirm that the B-57s with their shotgun starters were indeed present. (5)
Larry Doyle wrote, "We had a Black Pad ( 7/24 alert and we were there for one week at a time it was voluntary) on Okinawa with 13 F100's and two A/C rotated every other day so we had to down/upload a Mk-27 A-bomb every other day plus every day we had an alert dam klaxon would go off and it was start engines, chk bomb and make sure the 20mm were charged!! When we went to K-8 almost the same drill around the clock two of the six A/C were hot! and they did have Mk-27s, sidewinders and the cannon were charged and we guarded them with our little 30 cal Mk2 carbines!!!!" (See 18th TFW Deployment (1959) for details.) (6)
When John arrived, the 3rd Bomb Wing (Tactical) was also handling the nuclear alerts with their B-57s. The nuclear alerts were started in August 1958 on the concrete hardstand known as C-pad (contingency pad). (Go to 3rd Bomb Group: Nuclear Alert (Aug 58 - Apr 64) for more info.) Larry Doyle commented that the "cart starts" (cartridge engine starts), "I do not know what the status of the B-57's was but they were flying every day, the shotgun starters would drive us up the wall. How crude! We F-100 types use real engine starters!!" (SITE NOTE: In Taking Command mention of the 3rd BW was left out for the sake of brevity and also the uncertainty of what a senior Air Force officer could include dealing with the nuclear forward staging -- despite the long passage of time. John did state that the 3rd BW B-57s were at the base at the time.) (7)
He went on, "At one end of the runway, I observed some F-86 aircraft parked." These would have been the squadron of ROKAF F-86s assigned to the 10th Fighter Wing which judging from the timing might be from the 27 F-86Fs received by the ROKAF in 1958. The F-86Fs had arrived at Kunsan shortly before Col Moench arrived in 1959, but there was talk on the base of increases for the ROKAF in 1958. John noted that there was "an old hangar at the north end of the airfield -- there were some F-86s parked near it. It was obvious that the hangar had suffered bomb damage during the war -- it had not been repaired." John commented later (2004) that it never occurred to him that the damage he saw was due to neglect -- and not battle damage. This large ROKAF hangar -- that still exists today in 2004 -- was NOT in existence prior to the Korean War. The hangar was built for the F-84 maintenance near the end of the Korean War. The parking ramp for the ROKAF was where the 474th FBG parked their F-84s on PSP. From John's comments, we can infer that the deplorable state of the buildings also extended to ROKAF structures as well. (8)
Taxiway at Kunsan looking north (1959)
(Courtesy Larry Doyle)
|The taxiway shown in the picture is looking north. The ROKAF hangar is to the right. Note in the picture in the center the mountain that is cut away. This is the quarry area where the 808th EAB obtained the earth to build the north-south runway. The scar remains till today. Though the parking ramps and runways were concrete there still were numerous areas where PSP was laid down. |
The runway he landed on was the north-south runway -- which in August 1959 would buckle due to the heat of summer. 5th Air Force personnel had to be dispatched to repair the expansion joints. This was the 802th Engineer Aviation Battalion (SCARWAF). They reopened the quarry just north of the North Gate to repair the runway. He noted that the "other" runway was unused. This would have been the old southeast-northwest runway -- in use from 1951-1953. This old runway would become eventually Taxiway Charlie (642) after the aircraft arches (shelters) were constructed in the 1970s. (NOTE: It remains classified as an "emergency runway.")
Base Operations: "The Rivera of Korea" (1959)
(Courtesy Larry Doyle)
|John's C-47 taxied up the PSP taxiway and pulled up in front of the Base Operations building. John mentioned that it was in a sorry run-down state. However, from the 1959 picture above, we think it looked pretty good compared to the rest of the base, but this may only be the sign post section. Everything else was downhill after he got off the C-47 aircraft. (8a) |
When John arrived, the base didn't have enough toilet paper, no lawn mowers, no screen mesh to patch the screens -- and NO AMERICAN FLAG FOR THE BASE!!! For lack of funding, there would be no flags for the base until the next fiscal year. He used up a "chit" to get around the problem. (11) His comments of some of the officers under his command were not very complimentary. It sounded like a place where people were simply putting in their time. Everything seemed to be referred to as someone else's responsibility up the chain of command.
As he says, "Overall, it appeared that things "just happened"-- which was about how I had begun to believe all things at Kunsan Air Base functioned." (2e) The Deputy Base Commander one day just disappears to Seoul where he was reported to have a "josan' stashed. The morale on the base was bottoming out. John wrote in 2004, "Finally, when we get down to the Osan, Kunsan and other levels, classification kept those who knew from revealing �urpose?to the men who labored under austere and seemingly meaningless conditions. Adding to the view of �ack of purpose?was the lack of support. Logic would say that, if the job was important, the support would be important. With little attention given to support, it tended to seal in the minds of the men down the line that the job was not important. Telling the men that they were �n the front line of defense?had little impact when they looked around at the conditions at hand. Thus, too many men remained unmotivated, gave up, �ent native,?turned to drugs, simply no longer cared, felt cheated and dumped on, focused on personal enjoyment and survival, simply wanted to get out of Korea, lost �eam motivation,?etc. In total, �orale?was a hard nut to crack and, for many, the enemy became each other, the officers and especially the commanders, and, eventually, the entire service." (9)
3rd Bomb Wing Headquarters Bldg (1952)
(Courtesy Hans Petermann)
6175th ABG Headquarters Bldg (1959)|
(Courtesy Larry Doyle)
Moving Day for the 3rd Bomb Wing to Johnson AB, Japan
8th BS Orderly Room: Every Squadron had their own flag pole.
(Courtesy of Craig Hinton)
No American Flag at Kunsan AB The story of no American flag for the base (pg 41) we originally found a hard to believe. Supposedly the old flag was unusable and burned and a new one requisitioned, but 5th AF said that it would be another year before it got there. John sent off to the states for an official flag -- and uses up a "chit" for a personal favor. (11) We originally stated that getting a flag from stateside didn't sound reasonable as a TEMPORARY substitute flag could have been easily tailor-made -- and there even was an on-base tailor shop shown in the book. We also stated that the flags -- base and office -- arrived within five days was a wonder of modern postal service -- something that didn't exist in Korea at the time. John wrote to correct our misconception.
"First, it was real. As I recall, when I queried the individuals in the base headquarters, I was advised that the cause of "no flags" was that "up the line" it was asserted that they were not in the budget for the base and that my staff had been told to place it in the coming year's budget. A lot of strange things were going on and I was not to be stopped on the basis of such information! I had not yet visited the Division or Wing at Osan and simply took things into my own hands -- as I had done so often in years past at Air Material Command, in the Pentagon, in USAFE and U.S. EUCOM. Fortunately, I had worked for very senior individuals who allowed me to do anything I decided was correct (using their stars as authority) SO LONG AS I DID NOT MAKE ANY MISTAKES! I knew how to cut a lot of corners and the fast delivery was the result of a RADNOTE to an Air War College classmate in the Pentagon. He immediately got the flags and placed them in a "pouch" for direct delivery to me -- and that resulted in the speed. It was not the postal system. As to the idea of the tailor shop making a flag -- all I can say is "preposterous." The tailors were not Betsy Ross individuals -- their work was mostly adjusting GI clothes for length, etc." (11a) In dealing with the flag issue and flag pole problem, John claimed he instituted the flying of the Korean flag -- the first ROK flag a present from the ROKAF Commander, Col. Lee -- alongside the UN and American flags for the first time at the base. He re-instituted reveille and retreat. According to John, three flag poles were not erected -- as they had at Osan -- because of the problem involved significant national considerations, command and more. (10) In the 1959 photo above (right), the door to the left is the Private Entrance of the Base Commander. Later flag poles were located in this area. Up to the late 1980s, there was an concrete slab area next to the parking lot -- approximately 100 feet from where the old headquarters building had stood . This could have possibly been the old flagpole area.
(SITE NOTE: Kunsan AB has two flagpoles in 2004 -- one for the ROK flag and one for the US flag. What we find innovative is that the flag poles are positioned between the road and the parking lot to the Wing Headquarters. From the street, the U.S. flag is on the right in the place of honor, but from the front entrance/parking lot of the building the ROK flag is on the right in the place of honor. Thus everyone's happy.) Image of Koreans in General In Taking Command, the lingering image is left of the Korean civilians who were untrustworthy and would steal anything that wasn't nailed down. Unfortunately, by-and-large this was true of the time. Though some found the Korean people friendly and helpful, most soldiers and airmen had a low-opinion of the Korean people during the 1950s.
SITE NOTE: Some may come to a mistaken conclusion that John Moench was prejudiced against Koreans. This would be the furthest from the truth simply from his rank. John Moench attained the rank of Major General in a process that weighed not only his political acumen, executive leadership ability and a myriad of other intangible factors -- but one item would have eliminated him immediately would have been any exhibition of prejudice. Modern generals can not survive the microscopic examination if racial prejudice were ever even hinted at. Thus we can unequivocally say that simply by his attaining the rank of Major General, personal prejudice against the Korean people is -- and was NOT a factor. During the Occupation days, people died along side the road and people simply walked by. In Kunsan, some people lived in caves and scavenged through the base garbage to survive. At Kunsan in 1947, the 3rd Battalion, 63d Infantry Regiment Commander told his adjutant, Capt. Robert E. Grenig (Lt. Col., USA, Ret.), to simply let the Koreans strip buildings instead of tearing them down as it was cheaper and more expedient. Fred Ottoboni provided photos of children running barefoot scavenging through the garbage dump for food. Korea was not a pretty place...and filthy and starving Korean people all about, do not make for a pleasant cultural experience. (12)
His statements are simply a reflection of the environment he was tossed into where most of the negative elements of the Koreans were at work. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, one cannot pursue "self-actualization" until you have fulfilled the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. In 1959 in Kunsan, Korea, the average Korean hadn't had a bath in ages, had to fight the rats for any scraps of subsistence, and whose shelter was a mud wattle house with a rice thatched roof. It's hard to be polite and cultured when you're starving.
James Wade in One Man's Korea states that American soldiers in the mid-1950s complained about "sensitivity" manuals that say Koreans were "proud and dignified." "All the people we've seen so far have been filthy beggars, or farmers living in huts worse than animals. They're not even civilized, let alone dignified or proud." This provides some insight into how the American military in Korea felt towards the Korean people at the time. (12a)
Andrew C. Nahm stated in A History of the Korean People, "The outcome of the American occupation of South Korea was quite dissimilar from that of the American occupation of Japan. Having no clear-cut policy or plans for Korea, the American occupation left behind no particular imprints, or notable accomplishments. When the Americans ended their occupation, South Korea was unstable, socially chaotic, and an economically bankrupt country." (13) The truth was that the majority of the Americans in Korea lost interest in helping the Koreans and simply wished to go home. To most American GI's, Korea was simply "a piece of worthless real estate," and they totally lacked concern for the Korean people's future.
During the Korean War, things got worse and items would be stripped from the base. People were constantly sneaking under the fence, even though being caught meant death. In extreme circumstances, there were fires set near the Ammo dump simply to create diversions to allow Koreans to clean out supplies. The lucky folks had a straw-thatched mud hovel to live in, but the unfortunate people were living in holes dug into the side of hills. Survival was harsh. After the Korean War, the poverty deepened. People were starving and orphans were everywhere running around in filthy clothes, runny noses and matted hair. It is very difficult to generate any sympathy for the Koreans who were dirt poor with a land stripped of everything including the trees.
There was nothing to like about Korea. The rice fields were fertilized with human waste. The overpowering smell of fermented kimchi was unappetizing to American sensibilities. The landscape was denuded of any trees. The roads were nothing more than dust traps in summer and impassable mud holes in the rainy season. The winters were some of the cruelest imagineable because of the wind and chill factor. Korea was not a place that a person could love. To the American GI, it was basically a worthless piece of real estate -- that no amount of words about "national interests" or "front line defense" could change. (14)
The relative luxury of Japan with its clean streets, historical venues, cultural attractions contrasted starkly with the Korea of the mid-1950s which had been devastated by the Korean War. While Japan had profited economically from the Korean War, Korea had been reduced to rubble. It would be very easy for Americans to compare the two in their minds and start to become prejudiced against the Korean populace. Comments of Japanese were a "clean people" with "furo" baths, while Koreans were a "dirty people" who didn't bathe. Constant comparisons made by the military personnel reinforced this in their minds -- and a trip to Japan for Rest and Relaxation (R&R) was a way to get away from Korea's ugliness. (15)
There was also a systemic problem where the prevalent attitudes of FEAF (Far East Air Force) and Fifth Air Force paid no attention to developing the Korean bases into a "livable environment." Instead the upper echelons keyed in Japan and the development of the bases to suit a luxury lifestyle. However, on the opposite side of the coin, those in Korea were simply not paid attention to. For example, in the 1950s, there was a move to work on the development of Cheju-do as a recreation resort for hunting lodges (40a), while the rest of Korea was neglected. In other words, the higher ups were interested in Cheju-do's development to improve the JAPAN environment -- NOT to improve the Korean environment.
John mentions how "slicky boys" (thieves) captured by the Security Police were turned over to the local authorities and would reappear on base in a few days after bribing the officials. These "trespassers" were being captured at a rate of 2+ per day -- with an unknown number who actually made it through the perimeter defense. (16) These "professionals" were a problem throughout Korea where they would be able to enter the bases and camps almost at will.
However, before condemning the Korean National Police, one has to look at the Korean tradition and how the Korean understood how survival meant that people had to steal simply to live. For example, there is a mannerism of older Koreans in whistling or making noise when entering the home from outside at night. The action was to allow the "slickey boy" to escape. Where as American view right-and-wrong based upon a strict set of codes and laws that protect the individual's rights, the Korean system is based on a variable system based upon the rights of society.
This hard-to-understand outlook would allow the Police to "understand" how the "slickey boy" was just trying to survive and not deserving of the punishment reserved for other crimes against society. The Koreans developed a strange outlook that if you left something out unprotected, you didn't want it anyway -- even if it was locked up in your room. Bribery was not considered a major sin, but rather as an accepted custom and called a "gift" in exchange for a "favor." These kinds of attitudes were developed by a desparately poor populace living under these hand-to-mouth subsistence conditions for generations. After years of this behavior, it became "ingrained" as the "modus operandi" for how Koreans "greased the skids" to get anything done -- and has created major corruption problems as the Korean society reinvented itself in the late 1990s. (16a)
John relates a truely fantastic tale of a WHOLE QUONSET HUT being disassembled in the middle of the night and removed from the base with only the slab remaining in Taking Command. (17) However, it is not so fantastic when you consider the practice of the Koreans had in stripping structures -- and how bribing security guards (or GIs) was a way of life. Given a contractor with a truck, a truck load of coolies, some willing guards to turn a blind eye -- and the job could be done in less than an hour. (SITE NOTE: The Quonset hut skeleton was a row of semi-circular steel ribs covered with corrugated sheet metal. The ribs sat on a low steel-frame foundation with a plywood floor. The basic model was 20 feet wide and 48 feet long with 720 square feet of usable floor space. An example of the the large version of 40 feet wide and 100 feet long was the structure that became the ROKAF hangar.)
One must remember that raw materials -- especially metal -- was very scarce in Korea. Metal of all kinds was recycled from beer cans into roof tiles or tin oil cans into pots and pans. Wood was also a scarce commodity because the country was denuded. (See Cheol-hyun Shin Kunsan Photos (1960) for panoramic views of the denuded hills of Kunsan City. (17a)) At the time, there were no trees and a law promulgated that made it punishable by jail time if one cut down a tree. This law remains in effect today, though the reforestation project started in 1975 has covered all the mountains and hills in Korea in trees.) John related a rumor from his Air Police that the ROKAF helicopter was used to get things off the base that could not be smuggled out past the gate guards.
He tells about a box car of PX goods being empty because the thieves had cut a hole in the bottom of the car and unloaded it -- while Army guards on the train were unaware. (Whether the theft to the boxcars occurred at Kunsan or elsewhere is unknown -- it was discovered at Kunsan.) (18) The theft of PX goods and food stuffs was a Korea-wide problem. The actions of these groups of "slickey boys" dates back to the Korean War when groups of "slickey boys" would jump on trains and before they could be chased off, they would have stripped the key components off any vehicle or machinery. What John witnessed in 1959 were pros who had been at their profession for years. This was the reason why train guards consisting of lower-rank enlisted men were sent on all trains armed with M-2 carbines. The use of train guards dates back to the Korean War when being on this train trip was a hardship and very dangerous as the "slickey boys" actually fell into the category of "armed bandits." The use of these guards continued into the early 1970s. (19)
George Rabe as Train Guard (1959) (Courtesy George Rabe)
Click on photo to enlarge
George Rabe wrote the caption for the photo above: "George Rabe, riding "train guard" from Kunsan to the port city of Inchon. There were four of us, guarding nine box cars, full of 1000 pound bombs to be shipped to the states. It took 6 days to make the 600 mile trip because the entire country had to observe a 11:00 pm to 7:00 am curfew and nothing could move at night. The police could shoot anyone they caught violating the curfew, including us. We slept in the boxcars on top of the bombs." (56) The train guards were essential as the "slickey boys" were so proficient at stripping anything not nailed down. These individuals were pros who could strip the key components of any vehicle before the train stopped rolling. When trains were at a stop on the siding, the "slickey boys" were known to bore a hole through the bottom of boxcars to get at foodstuffs or perishables.
Views from the train: Top Left: Countryside near Yongdong-Po;
Top Right: Near Inchon; Bottom: Small village near Taegu
(Courtesy George Rabe)
John's opinion of the "josans" (prostitutes) brought on base was not very complimentary. The "josans" were "ordered" from downtown to fulfill the officer and enlisted club entertainment needs for each night. Military trucks were sent to get the "josans" and deliver them back downtown after 12 o'clock. John's remark was to wonder whether the base was running a whorehouse. Later he would have the "josans" barred from base without an escort which would result in protests at the main gate by the "josans". John took on the two bars downtown, but it appears that his efforts were for naught. When the 4th TFW arrived in 1968, it appears the two bars were still in operation. (20)
Kunsan AB Environment John Moench wrote, "If there are two things necessary to run an organization, they are money and personnel. During the latter part of 1956 and the beginning of 1957, both of these highly necessary items were curtailed, not just in the 314th Air Division but service-wide." (35) To illustrate the conditions at the time, a draftsman was assigned to the 802d Engineering Battalion from Japan while at Osan. He commented that the 802d brought along their own toilet paper, a commodity everyone had forgotten about in Korea. (8a)
A. Mission Statement -- Hidden Nuclear Alert: The "mission statement" of a unit is what drives everything else. From the it is derived the "unit goals" and, in turn, the unit standards required to fulfill the goals are developed. Thus in the military, the "mission statement" is very important. John stated, "The 6175th "mission" was essentially support, but the inherent responsibilities of "command" were broader." (40)
In 1956, the mission of the Air Base Squadron (Jan-Jun 56) was to "maintain K-8 in an operational status, providing base support for fighter and light bomber squadrons that will rotate to the base periodically, and providing support to tenant units." This was a very simple statement, but as you see by the photos, the buildings were run-down so the "maintain in operational status" starts taking on some new meaning.
However, the mission statement changed slightly between July - Dec 56. The mission statement added "providing logistical support for fighter and light bomber aircraft units that rotate to this Base periodically." This is a significant statement in hindsight as we see the base mission statement reflecting a change in U.S. strategy in deploying nuclear hardware in forward position -- along with a change in strategy to use the nukes early on in an open conflict. The fighters in the PACAF area could be interpreted as the F-100s stationed in Japan and Okinawa while the bombers were the B-57s from Japan. In 1957, the 8th FW started "showing the flag" at Kunsan awaiting the repairs at Osan (K-55) by the 802d Engineering Battalion who were brought over from Japan. However, we also know that it was manned by TDY personnel on a rotational basis. In addition, the 20 F-100s that were "showing the flag" at Kunsan in 1958 departed for Osan where they would take up a "serious mission." (See 1957 for details.) At the same time, the 3rd BW arrived to conduct "training" using the Kooni Range. In Aug 1958, the 3rd Bomb Wing started its "semi-permanent" nuclear alert facility at Kunsan AB on the contingency pad. (See 1958 for details.)
With this mission statement in mind -- innocuous as it is -- all subordinate units start looking into their ability to support the "logistical support" end of the statement. This would start the ball rolling on planning for future changes.
The other part of the mission statement identifies the support units that will be involved in the change: "The 6170th Air Base Squadron also provides support for tenant organizations which furnish Air Weather Service, Airways and Air Communications, Aerial Port facilities, Post Office activities and Army engineer units assigned to Kunsan Air Base for construction purposes, and the Office of Special Investigations."
The units "attached" in 1958 (35) were: This mission statement change would give a "heads up" to affected agencies. The Air Weather Service (30th Weather) and Air Communications (1246 AACS) start to thinking about provisions for an additional flying commitment at Kunsan. The addition of the "Aerial Port facilities" (7th Aero Port) starts looking at its capabilities to handle increased TDY cargo to support whatever flying mission comes in. "Army engineer units" (802d Engineering Battalion) start looking at the Kunsan AB runways to support an added flying mission. In 1957, Company C, 802d Engineering Battalion would appear to repair the buckled runway. "Post Office activities" might indicate an increase in personnel requiring services. Of course, the OSI was always there if there was significant military activities going on.
- Det # 1, 6123 AC&W (6123d Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron believed to be at Pyongtaek (K-6). These folks handle the GCI (Ground Control Intercept) for bogies inbound.);
- Det # 2, 8 OSI Dist.;
- Det #5, 1246 AACS (1246 Airways and Air Communications Service were the folks who handled the Control Tower and GCA (Ground Control Approach));
- Det # 1, 6303 A&E (6303 Armament & Electronics stationed at Misawa and supported the B-57s of the 3rd Bomb Wing. Its presence indicates a long-term commitment was planned as TDY units don't set up detachments.);
- Company C, 802 Eng BN (Army unit attached to 5th Air Force who came to repair the buckled runway. Formerly 802d Engineering Aviation Battalion (SCARWAF). Main unit at Osan AB (K-55) in 1957.)
- Det # 6, Postal Squadron (Post office.)
- Det # 27, 30 WEARON (30th Weather Squadron supported bases all over Korea. Needed for flying missions.)
- Det # 7, 7 APRON (7th Aero Port Squadron needed for cargo support of TDY mission.)
In 1958, the mission of the 6170th ABS (July - Dec 1958) was much more simplified. It was to "maintain Kunsan Air Base in an operational status, providing logistical support for tactical units that rotate to this base periodically from other components in the Pacific Air Forces. The 6170th air Base Squadron also provides for support for tenant and attached organizations." (40) This mission statement is very neat and says nothing, but notice that "Pacific Air Forces" has been entered. Prior to this the mission statement was centered on the organizational chart leading to the FEAF (Far East Air Force) but in the late 1950s, certain parts of the FEAF responsibilities were being handed back to SAC (Strategic Air Command) and PACAF (Pacific Air Forces) seemed to be moving into take control. From the appearance of this mission statement, Kunsan AB is nothing more than a support base for TDY "tactical" units. It became on paper a "contingency" base -- a base that will be used IF there is a need -- but never mentions the on-going nuclear alert.
Nothing can be read into this mission statement and it is perfect if you don't want to draw attention to one's nuclear alert. The "semi-permanent" facilities for the nuclear alerts such as the construction of the "green house" at C-pad does NOT exist on paper. At this point, the 6175th Air Base Group started into the coverup games dealing with nuclear weapons and the base becomes a "contingency" base. (SITE NOTE: 40 years later, the USFK still maintains a policy of "neither confirm nor deny" on any questions dealing with the nuclear alerts or weapons in Korea.)
When the unit became the 6175th Air Base Group, the mission statement did NOT change. In 1960 it was exactly the same with the exception of the designator change. (40)
However, a problem with discipline arose because the purposely vague mission statement did not define the limits of authority. Who was in charge of what was ambiguous. For John Moench as the Base Commander, he was faced with TDY personnel openly questioning his authority. In one sense, the nuclear alert was purposely removed from the control of the allied ROK elements chain of command and created this problem. They TDY units reported directly to headquarters in Japan -- NOT to any element in Korea. As was stated previously, the reason for cutting the United Nations Command elements out of the loop was due to the introduction of a "new" weapons systems into Korea in violation of Article 13d of the Armistice agreement. This way the nuclear weapons could be considered as NOT being introduced in Korea through a bit of sophistry. But the fallout to John was these TDY elements telling him that he was not their commander. He wrote:
In the absence of a limiting mission statement or other authority, on assuming command of Kunsan Air Base, I took the view that I was the law on Kunsan. And I proceeded accordingly until I found resistance and then "sorted out" the boundary. In most cases, the resistance wilted. Almost everyone was happy to allow some other individual to be responsible and to avoid personal responsibility. The nuclear alert facility down on C-pad was NOT attached to the 6175th, but rather manned by TDY elements from Japan. In discussions with John Moench, it is surmised that the nuclear alerts were purposely NOT made into "attached" detachments to avert them falling under the UNC command's control. There would be massive complications over having nuclear weapons under the auspices of the UNC -- as the U.S. signed the Armistice as the Commander of the UNC forces. However, later when the igloos were complete the 6175th MATRON would take over the handling and storage of the nuclear weapons -- which in turn made the special weapons technically under the UNC control. Again the "neither confirm nor deny" policy comes into effect. There is more to the nuclear weapon issue than meets the eye.
Resistance began shortly after I stepped onto the air base. Demanding to look at the base's war and base defense plan, a young officer stated that he could not reveal it to me in that he had not been furnished a Fifth Air Force security clearance in my name ?which was true. Actually, until I late reported in to the 314th Air Division, neither the 314th of 5AF knew I was there. I quickly reminded this officer that I was the commander and he would produce for me anything I asked for or he would not be eating in the officer's club that night. Technically, the officer, by regulations, was correct.
In not too long a time, I was faced with "you are not my commander" and "you cannot tell me what to do" assertions by some tenant and rotating individuals ?officer and enlisted. I quickly made it known that I didn't care who the commander of the individual was but that, so long as the individual was on my base, he would conform to my directions. Most of the time that ended the issue.
Kunsan was just one piece of a much larger puzzle dealing with atomic weapons on the Korean peninsula in 1959. Korea was ear-marked for nuclear weapons starting in August 1957 when the Eisenhower administration approved provisions for the deployment of nuclear weapons to South Korea with NSC 5702/2. (50) On 24 December 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower issued the order to deploy 280mm nuclear artillery and Honest John nuclear rockets to South Korea. (51) In January 1958, the United States deploys 280mm nuclear artillery and Honest John nuclear rockets to South Korea. (52) In early 1958, the United States deploys nuclear weapons in South Korea for the first time. The weapons are in the form of "atomic artillery, Honest John rockets, bombs, and atomic demolition munitions." (53)
According to nuclear non-prolifieration organizations, the problem with nuclear arms in Korea was that it violated the "wording" in the Armistice agreement. The U.S. unilaterally ignored Section 13d of the Armistice agreement and introduced the nuclear weapons on Korean soil. Section 13d states that no NEW weapons may be introduced into Korea except for replacement items. (41) (SITE NOTE: Regardless whether one argues this is a "new system" (nuclear weapon) and essential for defense, the fact remains that it was a NEW weapons system -- not a replacement -- and was NOT approved by the North as specified in the Armistice agreement. After Syngman Rhee was deposed in 1963, the policy of nuclear weapons being on Korean soil continued without protest as the economy was still almost entirely U.S. funded. As the nukes were removed from Korea in 1992, the argument is now a historical one -- rather than a real-world one.)
The defense strategy in the late 1950s called for the early use of nuclear weapons in case of a North Korean breakout -- either from missile or artillery -- and the twelve ROKA and two U.S. divisions in South Korea keyed their defense plans around this. (SITE NOTE: The 7th Infantry Division left in the 1970s under the Nixon Policy leaving only the 2d Infantry Division.) A declassified document from the U.S. government showed that in 1952, it was realized that the forward positioning of COMPLETE nuclear weapons were essential as "delays bringing the weapons to bear on a target were considered unacceptable in a fluid situation." The document also stated that they realized that there were "political and psychological considerations offered deterence to foreign concurrence." In other words, nobody really wanted the weapons to be stationed on their soil. Psychologically, the Japanese had a distinct "allergy" to the weapons on their soil. (41)
B. Off-base Problem: Everything at the Kunsan AB was very lax. For example, there were two "on-limits" clubs downtown and the off-duty men would spend their time there. Unfortunately, if the men stayed downtown, there would not return to base until the next morning's bus. This meant that about a 100 men were "missing" downtown every night. (20) This in turn contributed to a VD rate of 900+ per thousand. (3) This and other matters, he attempted to resolve in his short time at the base, but everything seemed to be snowballing.
He even had a prostitute protest at the front gate when he changed the open-door "josan" (prostitute) policy for the base to one where they were individually signed-in and signed-off the base. Ironically, the bar owners of the A-town -- a "special entertainment zone" set up by the ROK for GIs in 1969 -- were still protesting at the gate when the town was put off-limits in 2002. (20)
Without any fence line in places, the "perimeter" was pretty hazy. For example, the village of Haje off the south end of the base (near the Ammo dump) was a blackmarket center -- with a few prostitutes -- and you could simply walk to it from "on-base". TDY personnel commented that a pack of "Cools" (cigarettes) could "get you anything" when they engaged in barter due to lack of money. In other areas, it might be easy for a farmer to encroach on the base territory to expand his rice fields. And of course, the "slickey boys" had no problem getting on base to steal anything not nailed down.
There were allegations of the Kunsan City government officials being corrupt. Though narratives from various individuals at K-8 in the 1950s cited examples of government or police corruption, there were also examples of Police assisting on-base authorities who recovered stolen property or provided assistance on cases. That corruption existed in the form of graft, pay-offs and kickbacks were undoubtably true. This was the norm for Korea at that time rather than the exception. The country was starving and survival was the driving principle behind any action. "Greasing the skids" with "gifts" was accepted as the way to do business -- and remained the norm till recent times whether in business, government or private affairs. (See President Roh Moo-hyun for examples of corruption at all levels of government, politics, and business that exists to the present day.)
C. Discipline Problems:By looking at some general facts about the in disciplinary actions in the period, one gets the feeling that the problems in Korea were spiralling out of control. According to the history of the 6170th ABS, 1 July 1958 -- 31 December 1958: Summary courts martial totaled 23 for this period. (34) Remember that the size of the base population for the 6170th ABS in August 1958 was 585 -- 30 officers and 558 airmen -- not including tenant or detachments. (35) To have 23 summary courts martials in a base population of 585 seems rather extreme. This would indicate there were severe disciplinary problems. Though we only have taken a cursory look at the disciplinary data dealing with Korea during the late 1950s, it is evident from the past history that Kunsan had severe morale problems.
In February 1956, "the guard house was put into operation for two prisoners, then was shut down after the prisoners had completed their sentence." John commented, "This may have been the PSP jail I found when arriving at Kunsan. " (55)
John wrote when talking about his analysis of data dealing with court martials, "These data tend to reflect discipline and related problems. But to give it a measure, comparative data in locations outside Korea, even in the U.S., are needed. When at Osan, I was President of the Court on a lot of cases ?all drugs. As I recall, the common sentence in my court was dishonorable discharge and one year. This may sound lenient but, in the long range, it is not. What was sad to observe were those with multiple stripes, and often family men, that got into trouble. It was the Korean environment and the pressure of the surroundings." (34)
Regardless that Taking Command is a "faction" novel, the book illustrates some typical administrative problems that plagued many overseas commanders then -- and continue to plague them today.
- One Airman wanted to marry a Korean prostitute and had sent a letter to his mother complaining of his treatment and abuse at the base. His mother filled a Congressional report on the base over the alleged abuses. Moench's answer was to ship the offending Airman out. (33) This solution of transferring the love-sick airmen out has been used repeatedly over the years. In most instances, the "fires of love" cool off once the individual is removed from the area. The saying "distance makes love grow stronger" is only for love stories. Ask any military wife who has had to fight to save her marriage by trying to get their men away from the clutches of a foreign bar girl. To some this is interfering in the personal life of an airman, but many of the young airmen simply do not have enough life-experience to make some major decisions. Most marriages to bar girls are passed through, but some bar girls have some very bad information in their files with the CID (Central Investigation Division) or OSI. Often times, the airman will involve their families -- who listen only to the airman's side of the story -- then the family members write dunning letters to the commander. The threat of a Congressional investigation is a recurrent nightmare for many commanders who have to make some unpopular decisions. It comes with the territory of being a commander.
- Some men were found to live in mud shanties with their "josans" (girlfriends) on land fronting the base. What was embarrassing was that these men were supposedly mostly Security Police and it was hypothesized that they were a conduit for blackmarketing. By his order, these shanties were ordered to be moved in five days or "burned down" -- and the sergeants who had "gone native" were shipped out to Taegu with follow-on order to other locations. (33a) John Moench stated, "Logic would say that, if the job was important, the support would be important. With little attention given to support, it tended to seal in the minds of the men down the line that the job was not important. Telling the men that they were "on the front line of defense" had little impact when they looked around at the conditions at hand. Thus, too many men remained unmotivated, gave up, "went native," turned to drugs, simply no longer cared, felt cheated and dumped on, focused on personal enjoyment and survival, simply wanted to get out of Korea, lost "team motivation," etc. In total, "morale" was a hard nut to crack and, for many, the enemy became each other, the officers and especially the commanders, and, eventually, the entire service. ..." (27c) Blackmarketing remains a problem in Korea in 2004, but the commodities sought after are mainly liquors or top-end consumer durables.
- Like his former Deputy Base Commander, John's answer to personnel problems seemed to be to ship people out -- without any detrimental ratings on their efficiency reports. (33b) John commented that the situation in Korea was a "nightmare" for a myriad of reasons. (3) As John mentioned before, there was a certain amount of leniency shown to NCOs with families who slipped due to "the Korean environment and pressure of the surroundings."
On-base hootch near railroad track used by GI and his "yobo" (girlfriend)
Others might say he was "passing-the-buck" on the problems to other bases, but this was the standard overseas policy for disciplinary actions for infractions in gray areas. This is a commander's judgement call. If the person is salvageable and there were extenuating circumstances, perhaps to ship the individual to new surroundings might turn them around. Even today, commanders prefer the use of Article 15 non-judicial punishment only after a process of letters of counselings. A commander's options in maintaining discipline are very broad. Many times someone with a serious offense (UCMJ violation) will be "let off" with a Letter of Reprimand, if it is a first-time offense. However, someone who commits a minor offense, but has had previous disciplinary problems may get "hung out to dry."
According to the History of the 6175th ABG, 1 January 1960 - 30 June 1960, the "Staff Judge Advocate participated in two General Court martials, 15 Article 15 reductions, 24 Article 15 non-reductions..." (34) This is a rather large number, even if the Staff Judge Advocate did perform some of these at Osan, and would indicate that there was a significant morale problem. Also remember that reductions in rank were a serious matter as promotions were very slow and such action was considered very detrimental to one's career.
Morale was hard to maintain when the neglect of the forces in Korea amounted to such basics as lack of mosquito nets in a location where troops were coming down with malaria and encephalitis spread by mosquitoes. Screens were unpatched because there was no materials and the base didn't even have a U.S. flag. Basically the neglect of Korea was a result of Fifth Air Force, PACAF and USAF inaction to improve conditions in Korea. In truth, Korea's neglect stretched even to the U.S. government. Korea was a festering thorn in the side of the U.S. -- with Syngman Rhee, a corrupt despot, at the helm. On the other hand, Japan was the "cornerstone" of democracy in Asia and was intended to be protected at all costs. Korea was nothing more than a buffer zone between China and Japan -- populated with U.S. forces intended to be used as a "trip wire" (to ensure U.S. involvement) in case of another invasion. In the big picture, Korea was a worthless piece of real estate whose only value was as a buffer zone. (SITE NOTE: John emergency requisitioned the mosquito nets for his troops (that arrived in 1960) and used a "shortcut" to procure the base flag using a "personal chit." The mosquito nets were very important as the Japanese Encephalitis "B" mosquito was a major problem in the summer months.)
The discipline and morale problems in John's eye was a direct result of the prevalent attitudes by upper echelons about Korea. As an example he illustrated how FEAF (Far East Air Force) and Fifth Air Force keyed in on the development of Cheju-do as a recreation resort for hunting lodges (40a), while the rest of Korea was neglected. In other words, the higher ups were interested in Cheju-do's development to improve the JAPAN environment -- NOT to improve the Korean environment.
"The disparity of FEAF and Fifth Air Force focus on Cheju-do and the rest of Korea is obvious. In many cases, the only visitation of personnel, especially senior personnel, of those organizations to Korea was to Cheju-do ?not to the operational units in Korea. As to actual use of Cheju-do, while many from Japan would go to Cheju-do, few Korean assignees would be afforded the opportunity. Regarding visit of Japan based FEAF/Fifth Air Force personnel to P-Y-Do, it was about as rare as hen's teeth. While Cheju-do was further support of the good Japan environment, it was a thorn in the side for those suffering through the Korea environment. For myself, while I made it to P-Y-Do (where one landed on the beach when the tide was out ?and damn well took off before it came in), I never visited Cheju-do." (40a) D. Manning Problems: There were on-going manning problems. However, one must remember that this was the time that the military was downsizing. Reduction in Force (RIF) was a means of bring the numbers down. Another method was simply not filling the authorized slots. At that time the method of justifying slots was through man-hour utilization reports. If people documented their time fully, the manning was justified and remained at the same levels. However, if there was a lack of utilization over an extended period, the manning numbers were adjusted.
In 1956, staff assistance visits were made to the 6170th ABS on routine supply matters. the overall problem was...the lack of qualified assigned personnel. (35a) Food Service Section and Materiel Section faced critical shortages of personnel. (35b) In August 1956, the 6170th ABS had 597 personnel assigned -- 6170th ABS: 20 officers and 437 airmen assigned; Det 1: one officer and 70 airmen; and Det 2: 2 officers and 67 airmen. However, during the next two months (September and October) three officers and 93 airmen were inprocessed, while three officers and 159 airmen rotated out. Simple arithmetic: 597 assigned (Aug) + 96 inbound - 162 outbound = 531 assigned (Oct). This meant that the 6170th ABS experiencing growing manning shortages in 1956. (35d)
According to the history of the 314th Air Division, July-Dec 1958: "All Air Force units in Korea for the reporting period were handicapped by personnel shortages, turnover, and by personnel with low experience levels. Material shortages and maintenance problems in most cases were a direct or indirect result of personnel shortages in supply and maintenance areas, and such problems were made more severe by the long supply line ?time and distance." (35d)
In 1958, the 6170th ABS was below the number of personnel with 585 authorized, but only 535 assigned. (35c) On August 28, 1958, the KING 8 COURIER, Kunsan's newspaper, ceased publication. The cause was personnel shortage .. AFKN-Kunsan operated during this period under a critical shortage of engineers and announcers. (35d)
An anciliary problem was the lack of qualified personnel that compounded the manning shortage. In a short tour area, continuity is a major problem. The 6170th ABS from 1 Jul 56 - 31 Dec 56 had three commanders in three months. (35e) However, some of these problems remain until today at Kunsan. Many individuals simply sign off on plans and blueprints for future buildings because they have no idea what it contains. In the past, buildings with outdated designs have actually been built -- just because the people signed off on them during the annual review. This is the impact of a lack of continuity.
Kunsan AB as American Territory In John Moench's words, the ROKAF was a "tenant" on a base commanded by a USAF officer and the ROKAF "occupied" their part of the base. (36) This may seem strange but this was the situation in 1959. In a normal situation, the ROK government would provide the U.S. land rent-free to use for its operations in defense of Korea. The ROK would be the "host" while the USAF would be the "tenant." This would be established in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), but there was a major delay for Korea in signing a SOFA treaty. The Mutual Defense Treaty of 1952 allowed the American forces to have bases in Korea -- but there was no SOFA implemented on how to operate the bases.
One has to view the situation in the light of the Korean situation at the time. During the Korean War, the Americans had to build the bases such as Chunchong, Osan, Taegu, Kunsan and Pusan. The Koreans had nothing. Thus in a very real sense, the bases were "American" -- built by U.S. forces, maintained by U.S. forces and "owned" by them as there was no SOFA to stipulate otherwise. Unlike Japan and Germany after WWII, where the allied forces moved into military bases already constructed by the defeated forces, Korea had nothing. Right or wrong, that was the way it was in 1959. In 1959, it was still a vague quagmire.
Status-of-forces agreements are NOT basing or access agreements. Rather, they define the legal status of U.S. personnel and property in the territory of another nation. The purpose of such an agreement is to set forth rights and responsibilities between the United States and the host government on such matters as criminal and civil jurisdiction, the wearing of the uniform, the carrying of arms, tax and customs relief, entry and exit of personnel and property, and resolving damage claims. (38a)
Status-of-forces agreement basically fall under three categories. A SOFA covering for military attaches with diplomatic privileges; a short term SOFA for deployments; and a permanent SOFA. The latter is what applied to Korea. Though primarily dealing with administrative and civil matters, the ROK SOFA does contain articles on the use of the land, environmental concerns and return of such lands when no longer required. The ROK SOFA also contains articles dealing with reimbursement for damages on a percentage system for cases where damages assessed by a court are for an individual incident (i.e., a traffic death), but absolves the USFK from damages assessed for the use of the land granted by the ROK to the USFK. (NOTE: There is contention in the interpretation of the SOFA even today. For example, in 2004 civilians have been awarded damages for bombing incidents at the Kooni Range. The USFK position is that the ROK is liable for all payments under Article 5 of the SOFA, while the ROK contends the USFK must share the costs under Article 23.)
Some versions of the SOFA story -- normally anti-USFK activist sites -- state that the SOFA was first signed in 1951 during the Korean War and REVISED in 1967, 1991 and 2001. (38c) Others versions like the USFK site state the SOFA was first signed in 1966. (38)
Negotiating a SOFA begins with the assumption that the presence of U.S. military forces is in the interests of the host government as well as the U.S. government. The starting proposition is that the host country exercises complete authority over all of its territory and over anyone who is in that territory, subject to any agreements that make exceptions to that authority. There would be no SOFA until 1966.
Although each SOFA is unique, all SOFAs normally deal with issues necessary for day-to-day business, such as entry and exit of forces, entry and exit of personal belongings (i.e. automobiles), labor, claims and contractors, and susceptibility to income and sales taxes. In situations where U.S. forces will be present for a lengthy period, SOFA's may also deal with ancillary activities such as postal offices, and recreation and banking facilities.
More importantly, SOFAs deal with civil and criminal jurisdiction. They are a vital means by which the Department of Defense carries out its policy directive "to protect, to the maximum extent possible, the rights of United States personnel who may be subject to criminal trial by foreign courts and imprisonment in foreign prisons."
Most SOFAs recognize the right of the host government to "primary jurisdiction," which is to say the host country exercises jurisdiction for all cases in which U.S. military personnel violate the host country's laws. There are two exceptions, however, which generally apply only in criminal cases involving U.S. forces personnel: When the offense is committed by Americans against Americans ("inter se" cases), and when the offense is committed by Americans in carrying out official duty. In these situations, the United States has primary jurisdiction over the accused American. (38b)
Why didn't Korea get a SOFA treaty after WWII? Unlike Japan and Germany after WWII, where the allied forces could negotiate with established government officialdom, Korea had nothing. Japan had as a policy not allowed Koreans to become a partner in its governance. There was no "officialdom" in Korea -- as the Japanese had filled all the positions. As a result, General Hodges in setting up the Occupation Forces was fighting a futile battle to "democratize" Korea. Korea was fast turning into a quagmire and the U.S. wanted out. The U.S. didn't need a SOFA if it wasn't staying.
In October 12, 1945, Gen. MacArthur ordered Col. Preston Goodfellow, former Deputy Director of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), to fetch Syngman Rhee from America. Rhee owed this fortune to Chiang Kai Sek. MacArthur was looking for a Korean leader he could count on and asked Chiang Kai Sek for a recommendation. Chiang came out with two names: Kim Ku and Rhee Syngman. MacArthur ordered Gen. Hodge (in charge of Korea) to treat Rhee with respect and do whatever in Hodge's power to anoint Rhee as the chosen puppet to control the 'Korean mobs'. In 1948, Rhee was 'democratically elected President of the First Republic of Korea." (39) The U.S. was washing its hands of Korea.
The U.S. just threw the mess to President Syngman Rhee and fled the country in 1949. The remarks of Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1949 putting Korea outside the line of American protection encouraged Kim Il-sung (with the acquiescence of Stalin) to attack the South.
During the onset of the Korean War, Rhee forces committed ruthless atrocities such as the slaughter of communist prisoners in the jails at Chonju and Taegu. The magnitude of these mass executions are only recently coming to light. He was not a man whose hands were clean. In addition, through the eyes of his allies, he could not be trusted. His unauthorized release of twenty-eight thousand prisoners of war in June 1953 to frustrate negotiations for an armistice in the Korean War. (39c)
Dealing with Rhee throughout the war was quite a struggle for the allies. At the end of the war, Syngman Rhee was trying to block the cease-fire negotiated between the allies and communists. He wrote to President Dwight Eisenhower on 6 May that his government would accede "at our risk" if the United States agreed to make a mutual defense agreement where American forces would help defend the Republic of Korea against an invader; keep U.S. military forces in South Korea until it builds it forces enough to stand alone; and give the ROK military enough supplies to help defend the country with U.S. military help. The letter said, "Our preference is still to have U.S. forces by our side to help us out. But if that is no longer possible, Korea should exercise its innate right of self-determination ..." (13)
His hope throughout the war was that with UN help he would be made leader of a united Korean peninsula, and tried to veto any peace plan that would not eliminate the north completely. He pushed for stronger methods to be used against the People's Republic of China and was often irate at the US reluctance to bomb Mainland China. (39c)
Instead of an Armistice, he wanted to continue fighting the North and was adamantly opposed to the Armistice. Between 5-7 Jun 1953, large crowds staged demonstrations in Seoul and other large cities against a truce, which seemed to be near. On 8 Jun 1953, the ROK National Assembly voted 149-0 June 8 to reject an armistice that didn't result in Korea unification. A resolution called upon the South Korean military forces to take "all necessary measures" to "prevent another communist aggression" (and) be prepared for a northern advance."
Rhee only acquiesced to the Armistice after the U.S. promised to sign a mutual defense treaty and promise massive American economic and military support as his price for acquiescence. One thing that is not often mentioned is that the ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty is unlike the one with Japan and NATO nations. Those countries have an automatic entry clause that if they are attacked, the U.S. will intercede immediately. However, in the case of Korea, the entry of forces must be approved by the United States Congress. This is not what is mentioned. (Go to Mutual Defense Treaty for the Treaty text.)
The exact phraseology states, "Understanding of the United States of America. It is the understanding of the United States that neither party is obligated, under Article 3 of the above Treaty, to come to the aid of the other except in case of an external armed attack against such party; nor shall anything in the present Treaty be construed as requiring the United States to give assistance to Korea except in the event of an armed attack against territory which has been recognized by the United States or lawfully brought under the administrative control of the Republic of Korea." (Go to ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty for article on this row.)
The verbage was due to the squabbles of Rhee in international politics dealing with negotiations with Japan and China and made him a nightmare to deal with.
Things were turning into a nightmare in dealing with Syngman Rhee. On January 18, 1952, Rhee declared South Korean sovereignty over the waters around the Korean Peninsula, in a concept similar to that of today's Exclusive Economic Zones. However, in trying to sort out the boundaries between Japan and Korea, President Rhee's demanding Tsushima Island as "reparations" from Japan in determining Korea's international boundaries. This was resolved by giving Korea Ullungdo Island in the north, while Japan got Tsushima in the south. Rhee's drawing of a "Peace line" in 1952 led to many difficulties. Many islands remained disputed such as Tokdo/Takeshima/Liancourt Rocks. In 1954, a Japanese boat was sunk by Korean mortars as it tried to land an activist party on the island AFTER Koreans had seized the island. (39b)
At the end of the war, the Syngman Rhee government was nothing more than a "regime" justifying its existence with corruption running rampant. "The tightening of fiscal and monetary policies in 1958, coupled with the phasing out of the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency program and the reduction in direct aid from the United States in 1957, caused a shortage of raw materials for import-dependent industries and led to an overall economic decline. By 1958 Liberal Party leaders paid more attention to political survival than to economic development." (39a) In the meantime, South Korea's citizens, particularly the urban masses, had become more politically conscious. The press frequently exposed government ineptitude and corruption and attacked Rhee's authoritarian rule. (39f)
To complicate matters, President Rhee was showing signs of senility at age 84 and isolated from politics by his inner circle, the political situation was in shambles. Negotiating a SOFA was the farthest thing in the minds of the ROK politicians.
Why did it take so long to negotiate the SOFA after the Korean War? The United States Forces Korea (USFK) uses the official excuse that the U.S. gained experience with the Japanese SOFA. The USFK "reason" reads as follows: "The US-ROK SOFA was signed in 1966 after the US gained experience with the 1960 US-Japan SOFA and the earlier 1952 Administrative Agreement upon which it was based, and with the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA provisions are modeled on various provisions of pre-existing agreements including the US-Japan SOFA and the US-Federal Republic of Germany Supplemental Agreement to the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA is not, nor was it ever intended to be, identical to the US-Japan SOFA. It is based on mutual accommodations recognizing different systems, some of which remain quite different today. The Japan labor provisions, for instance, recognize that in Japan there is an "indirect hire" system for local national labor (the Government of Japan is the employer for Japanese nationals who work for USFJ). In Korea, USFK has a "direct hire" system (USFK is the employer of its Korean employees)." (38)
But we believe this patterning on the US-Japan SOFA is not the complete answer. We need to look at the situation after the Korean War. In Japan, the 1952 Administrative Agreement with the new Japanese democratic government under its Peace Constitution was implemented. This laid the ground work for the 1960 US-Japan SOFA. (38)
The American forces in Korea in 1959 were basically STILL operating under the mandate of the United Nations Command from the Korean War. President Syngman Rhee, with the approval of the National Assembly, had placed the control of his forces under the control of the UNC Commander, who happened to be the U.S. commander, in the dark days of the Pusan Perimeter action. Understandably during the Korean War, the Korean National Assembly was more worried of survival to worry about niceties like a SOFA -- and President Rhee in 1952 had placed all ROK forces and lands under the protection of the UNC Commander.
Though the ROK forces had on the whole performed admirably during the Korean War, their forces in 1959 were not able to defend itself against the north. In 1959, the U.S. was in the process of training and arming the ROK forces with surplus aircraft, tanks, and weaponry under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and through outright grants.
Thus in 1959, because of Rhee's unrepentent stance to invade the North, the U.S. was rearming the ROK with modern weaponry, BUT it was doing it in such a manner that the ROK could NOT attack the North. The U.S. was still the primary force on the DMZ with two divisions facing the North. It would not be until the 1970s, that the situation changed dramatically and the U.S. sought to make the ROK self-reliant militarily when President Johnson wanted to pull troops off the DMZ to support Vietnam. This policy that later became known as the "Nixon Policy" that poured massive amounts of aid and monies into Korea. (28a)
In addition, if you have a "regime" more interested in self-preservation and with rampant corruption endemic in its operations, the negotitation of a SOFA is nothing more than a golden opportunity to "squeeze" monetary concessions on any point under review. To negotiate such an agreement with a proven corrupt administration would be not something any reasonable foreign entity would pursue willingly. Seoul depended heavily on foreign aid, not only for defense, but also for other expenditures. Foreign aid constituted a third of total budget in 1954, rose to 58.4 percent in 1956, and was approximately 38 percent of the budget in 1960. The first annual United States economic aid bill after the armistice was US$200 million; aid peaked at US$365 million in 1956 and was then maintained at the US$200 million level annually until the mid-1960s. (39a) "The tightening of fiscal and monetary policies in 1958, coupled with the phasing out of the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency program and the reduction in direct aid from the United States in 1957, caused a shortage of raw materials for import-dependent industries and led to an overall economic decline. By 1958 Liberal Party leaders paid more attention to political survival than to economic development. (39a)
For the above reasoning, we conclude that the U.S. simply did not want to negotiate a SOFA because it was NOT to the US's advantage. The Mutual Defense Treaty provided a basis for stationing forces in Korea. But at the same time, without a SOFA, there would be no questions as to the "use" of the bases. Without a SOFA, Kunsan AB was as John Moench stated, "An American base commanded by a USAF officer."
As such, it became easy to "hide" the nuclear weapons in Korea under Eisenhower's policy of forward positioning the nuclear weapons. In the late 1950s- early 1960s, the forerunners to the radical "Japanese Red Army" ran riot throughout the streets of Japan. Nuclear arms were protested -- as they were stationed in Japan starting in 1953 with specially-modified F-84s from SAC. By 1958, they were positioned in Korea but served by Japan-based wings -- at Kunsan (3rd BW) and Osan AB (8th TFW). (7) In 1958, China had started to launch its nuclear programs that would lead up to its first nuclear test in 1964. The U.S. needed to position its weapons in a location that it could strike quickly at the perceived threats in China or Russia. The strategy of the U.S. at the time was to utilize its nuclear weapons at an early stage if hostilities broke out.
But without the SOFA there were all kinds of entanglements. John stated, "In brief, the above mission renditions tend to sound like the running of a hotel along with an airfield for visiting traffic. In amplification, various solid and dotted lines are drawn on organizational charts. Beyond that, authorities of the commander over the activities on the base would be contained in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and host-tenant agreements ?virtually none of which existed and those that did exist were inadequate." (40a)
According to John, "when the unit was the 6170th Air Base Squadron, an order was issued by the 304th Air Division tasking the 6170th ABS "to draw up a joint use agreement between that organization and the tenant ROKAF organization." (Source: HRA files.) Apparently, this had not (or could not) be done. Frankly, passing to base level the responsibility to sort out an international arrangement was not the way to do things -- it amounted to "passing the buck." In the book, it is mentioned that there was not even a Host-Tenant Support agreement between the "semi-permanent" nuclear alert components -- regardless that they were only deployed. Building igloos for their nuclear munitions certainly indicates that higher headquarters considered this a permanent deployment.
The problem was a matter of "kicking things downstairs" as a means of relieving the upper echelons of the "responsibility" for formulating these agreements. As John saw it, the people who were to accomplish this tasking were (1) inexperienced and (2) seldom stayed in the job more than a few months. Because of these factors, the job never got done.
(SITE NOTE: It was only after Park Chung-hee had consolidated his power and been elected as President to legitamize his iron-fisted dictatorship, did the SOFA get negotiated. However, Korea was still a poor country and many of the provisions in the US-Japan SOFA were not incorporated. The primary clauses dealing with jurisdiction of US soldiers accused of crimes were weighted heavily to favor the US, while "cost sharing" in the maintenance of the bases and "compensation" for damages by the USFK was weighted in favor of the ROK. However, the SOFA did identify and grant the usage of certain lands to the USFK for free -- which ended the ambiguity that was facing Colonel Moench at Kunsan in 1959. ROKAF on Base As was mentioned previously, Kunsan AB (K-8) was Col Moench's domain. Because there was no SOFA, the base was commanded by a USAF officer and the ROKAF "occupied" their portion of the base. (38) This attitude extended upward with the ROKAF identified as a "tenant" by the 304th Air Division under the 6170th ABS. The SOFA was not signed until 1966, so the unit operated on a play-it-by-ear basis until then. Though there should have been host-tenant agreements or other "paperwork" to identify areas of responsibility, there was nothing for -- or what there was, was inadequate - for the reasons mentioned before.
Today the USAF at Kunsan AB is a "tenant" with the ROKAF as the "host" -- though some U.S. forces at Kunsan continue to think otherwise. Kunsan has a "host-tenant support agreement" which covers the relationship with the ROKAF as the "host." In truth, the USAF operates everything with the ROKAF as the user of USAF infrastructure. However, the SOFA does identify that the land was granted for the use of the USFK forces free of charges in exchange for their continued presence in the defense of Korea. On a higher-level dealing with the SOFA, many problems continue today in a multitude of areas ranging from disputes over criminal jurisdiction to cost-sharing to environmental concerns. The latest in 2004 deals with an environmental award over "noise pollution" of the base. The SOFA states in Article 5 that the ROK has to pay for the civil damage awards -- and that is the rub.)
The operational ROKAF F-86 unit belonged to the 103rd Fighter Squadron and the H-19 helicopter belonged to the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron. The first ROKAF units at Kunsan consisted of a ROKAF Detachment in 1953. The 1954 Welcome Brochure of the 3rd Bomb Wing read:
"ROKAF DETACHMENT. The ROKAF has had personnel on K-8 since the fall of 1953. Under the command of Captain Kim Chong Yul, this Korean organization has been undergoing intensive OJT with various Air Force units, including the 3d AIO and 3d Air Police Squadrons, learning various Western techniques in installations and security. Too, they have worked with the 1973rd AACS receiving instruction in such aerial matters as The Ground Control Approach System and traffic control. To promote the learning rate of the Koreans, English classes have been started which have removed the language barrier somewhat. Continuing progress has been made, and the ROKAF personnel have been of great assistance to us. It has been another example of the close cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Korea which started in 1950 after the invasion, and has been growing since that time." (48)The base was to Koreans a backwater, rundown, neglected podunk location -- the same as it was to the Americans. One has to understand the promotion system at the time. If an officer wanted to make general, he must NOT remain at Kunsan -- but instead get assigned to the one of the more prestigious bases at Sachon, Suwon or Taegu. Under the Syngman Rhee administration, cronyism, nepotism and corruption permeated all levels of the society, government and military. Only those with "connections" succeeded in the military and positions were often "bought" by monetary "gifts" or favors to superiors. Also factors of regionalism -- where one was from -- affected promotions as well. Officers and senior NCOs in the ROKAF would normally remain at a base for ten-fifteen years. So unless one finagled a position elsewhere, one would sit at Kunsan and stagnate. The bottomline is that if one didn't have the "connections," the only way up the ladder was being near the action at the DMZ was where one's abilities could be showcased and one could rise on merit. Considering this, one can see that an assignment to Kunsan would NOT be considered a choice assignment.
Andrew C. Nahm stated, "Following the signing of the armistice agreement in July 1953, South Korea strengthened its military, aiming at the construction of a self-reliant defense posture. Various new academies of the military branches and a war college were established, and after the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States on October 1, 1953 more U.S. military aid was received and troops became better trained and equipped. While training better qualified officers at military schools in Korea, the government sent a large number of officers to receive advanced training at U.S. military institutions. Although South Korea's military strength increased during and after the Korean War, it was not until after the emergence of the Third Republic in 1963 that the national defense posture was noticeably improved. The government adopted several important measures to strengthen national defense, increased the number of divisions and units in the armed forces, and improved the training programs." (45) Regardless of the fact that the ROKAF was the operational unit on the base with the 103rd Fighter Squadron with F-84Fs and a rescue helicopter belonging to the ROKAF 33rd Air Rescue Squadron, the 6175th ABS (retroactively 6175th ABG) "owned" the base. (1a) The ROKAF controlled the northernmost end of the base -- as it does today along with the ROKAF flightline ramp. According to John, he attended a formation where there was approximately 350 airmen present. The number of 350 airmen would be about right to support a squadron of F-86Fs.
The aircraft was parked on the ramp. It would not be until the late 1970s when shelters would be built for the F-86s on the ROKAF Ramp. According to George Rabe of Cincinatti, OH (56) who with at Kunsan from 1958-1960, "There were two yellow fifty gallon drums at the base of the hill. The ROK F-86 pilots did their strafing practice between the drums, shooting into the hills." The hill George mentions is now called "Little Coyote" and is the small eastern hill. In the diagram that George attached, the two drums set up on the west side of the hill so the F-86 fighters had to be making a east-west pass over the runway overrun area.
The ROKAF unit was a squadron assigned to the 10th Fighter Wing (ROKAF) at Suwon -- that won fame as the 10th Fighter Group flying the F-51 Mustangs in the Korean War out of Kangnung. We believe the Kunsan squadron was the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron -- the same unit that was at Kunsan in 1975 with F-86Fs. (48) (SITE NOTE: Currently the 38th Fighter Group with its 111th Fighter Squadron is stationed at Kunsan with F-5Es.)
F-86F Static Display at Inchon War Museum (Aug 99) (Duncan's Sabre Site)
As U.S. units transitioned to the F-100 Supersabres, the F-86 Sabre jets were sent to the ROKAF and other allies. Under the military aid programs, military hardware was transferred to Korea at no cost using the slight-of-hand tricks of Foreign Military Sales (FMS), military grants and US military "aid" dollars to purchase the FMS materials. This was the only way it could afford the aircraft. (43) The ROK was dependent on the $200 million in foreign aid which in 1958 amounted to about 38 percent of their GDP. Foreign aid constituted a third of total budget in 1954, rose to 58.4 percent in 1956, and was approximately 38 percent of the budget in 1960. (39a)
ROKAF F86s at Kunsan
Though we don't have any specifics on the numbers on the F-86Fs that arrived in 1959, we suspect they were from the batch received in 1958. The first of these aircraft arrived in 1958 at Kunsan as witnessed by Al Schmitz at the end of his tour. These would have been for the intial training elements before the unit became operational. We believe the detached unit was the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron under the 10th Fighter Wing at Suwon.
"In 1958, 27 more F-86Fs and ten RF-86F reconnaissance aircraft were delivered. Many of the ROKAF ex-USAF Sabres were retrofitted with the "F-40" wing with extended tips and slats. Many were modified to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile. These ROKAF Sabres were replaced by Northrop F-5s beginning in 1965." (8) The RF-86F would have gone to the Recce unit at Suwon.
The F-86F was originally brought out in 1952 and saw extensive service in Korea. It was powered by the G.E. J47-GE-27 turbojet engine. The maximum speed was 1118km/h. The ceiling was 15200m. In its fighter interceptor role, it was equipped with a pair of drop tanks mounted under the wings. Initially armament was six 0.5 in machine-guns in the nose. Effective range with drop tanks was about 250 miles. Eventually it was equipped to fire two Sidewinder missiles. (46c)
The ROKAF had a Sikorsky H-19D "Choctaw" helicopter during this time period. This would be one of the 18 transferred to the ROKAF in 1958. It had a rotor diameter of 53.0 feet. Its length was 42.02 feet and height 13.04 feet. It was powered by a 550 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340. Its maximum takeoff weight was 7,200 lbs with a payload of 2,455 lbs. Seating was for 10. (46d)
Sikorsky H-19 (PAF Museum)
The primary purpose of the ROKAF helicopter was sea rescue. During the winter months, life expectancy for a pilot downed over water was 15 minutes due to hypothermia. (SITE NOTE: There is a note that in 1956, there was a crash-rescue boat in Kunsan Harbor that the Air Police patrolled. This might indicate that the 22d Crash Rescue Boat Squadron (who were at Kunsan Harbor during the Korean War and disbanded in 1956) MAY have transferred one of their crash boats to the ROK -- though how they would keep it in operation with the scarcity of parts is unknown.)
According to John Moench, "...as an intermediary with the ROKAF, I used a ROKAF "Captain Lee" whose English was reasonable. He flew the ROKAF helicopter. He was a slight built individual. His use of "as a matter of fact" in his conversation was monumental -- almost every other sentence. My observation was that he was a "manipulator." Had he worn a USAF uniform, I could have used his skills. My Air Police advised me that the helicopter was used to lift out materials that would not make it past the gate guards." (46b)
The JP-4 fuel for the F-86Fs were transported via ROKAF fuel trucks refilled at the ROKAF POL Dump in the northern area. The helicopter used AVGAS and this was supplied by the USAF.
However, the North Korean threat of another invasion was real in the minds of the Koreans and Americans alike. For example, an incident in 1961 was related by Robert Koeser then of the 3rd BW from Yokota, Japan while TDY to he nuclear alert pad (C-pad). He mentioned that one of Kunsan's F-86s strayed over the border of North Korea and was shot up pretty bad. The Korean pilot limped home to Kunsan and landed safely. This incident put all the USAF aircraft in Korea and Japan on full alert until things died down. This incident indicates that Kunsan's aircraft were actively utilized on patrols near the Demarcation Line between North and South. (46a)
In 1959 just as Korea was poor, most ROK maintenance shops were too. They operated out of one tool box well into the late 1980s -- actually a tool room concept where you only signed out the tools you needed for a job. The ROK would stretch the life-cycle of critical components well beyond their technical order specifications. We need to comment that in the mid-1950s, the technical-competency levels of the airmen at Kunsan would not be considered up to the same level as an American technician. Though Koreans were noted for being great "jerry-rig" specialists who could get anything operating with a roll of bailing wire and a hammer, this trait on more sophisticated aircraft could prove fatal -- to the pilot or the technician. (49b)
The reason for the Korean technician using "workarounds" simply was that replacement parts were scarce -- and money in the ROKAF budgets even scarcer. Thus the ROKAF technician was forced to find innovative ways to keep the aircraft flying well beyond their normal service life. However, the pressures to keep the aircraft in commission was tempered by the penalties administered -- often harsh and inhumane -- if an aircraft crashed. As to the discipline in the ROK military at the time, it was harsh to say the least. If someone was found at fault for the destruction of an aircraft, executions were not unusual. Beatings and brutality was the norm for the slightest infractions. (49c)
The unit operated from one large hangar in the same general area that it operates from today. The hangar was large rounded type construction with hooks along the wall. John Moench's comments on his arrival at the base, the roof had a hole in it. Though it appeared to be from battle damage, it turned out to be from neglect. This a statement of the building conditions on Kunsan AB in general -- fallen to various states of disrepair since the Korean War.
Prior to 1959, the northernmost tiers of Korean War BOQ buildings were turned over to the ROKAF officers when their operational squadron arrived. (NOTE: These structures were plywood Jamesway buildings hastily erected when the base added the F-84s and Marines. There are still two examples of these old units in existence on the edge of the ROKAF area -- though their end-chimneys for "hondol heating" were removed in about 1998 and their exteriors "upgraded." The rest of the units were demolished over the years.
The northern portion of the base was transferred to the ROKAF for family housing when the unit grew in size after the arrival of the F-86s. Some of the USAF BOQs were transferred to the ROKAF for use by their officers. This would be reasonable as they would have fighter pilots along with families. The times were poor and Col. Moench observed the ROKAF kids only having tires for swings. As a gesture of goodwill, Col. Moench directed that a swing set be built for the ROKAF family children. (47)
We believe the ROKAF commander's house was a cinderblock building that still exists today on the left side of the Avenue C leading up to the North Gate. The Officer's Club was behind the Commander's billets. To the rear of the cul-de-sac was a two story dormitory of cinder block construction and rebar-concrete for the ROKAF pilots. There is an area below the hill near the North Gate where other NCO family quarters were located. We are uncertain of the houses construction. (NOTE: Construction in the late 1960s had started to turn to cinderblock/concrete construction as the norm. Houses during this period were simple rebarred concrete walls for the basic structure with brick or cinderblock to face the building. For example as one goes towards Kunsan City, one passes through Mimiyon that is lined with these houses. These will be destroyed in the near future as new construction is built.)
The ROKAF set up their vehicle maintenance and POL dump in the area. (NOTE: The ROKAF handled JP-4 refuels for their fighters, but the AV-gas used by the helicopter was supplied by the USAF POL.) A two-story concrete structure was later built in the 1960s for the training area. Senior NCOs and officers lived in the area on the North end of base. Enlisted ROKAF lived near the ROKAF flightline in Korean War-era quonset huts. The ROKAF training area was located on the north-end of base with a large training field. (49)
There was a small ROKAF Officers club in the ROKAF BOQ area. From observations of 1960s Korean movies of life in the ROKAF we surmise that the club were rather stark surroundings with enlisted men serving as the Club Manager and staff. The standard floor plan would be a small bar with stools in the front and bottles of liquor displayed on shelves with a mirrored back along the rear. Some private booths would along the walls and tables in the center. There would be a small space for dancing or entertainment. (48c)
Following the prevailing Korean custom that socializing together builds up team spirit, social drinking would have been considered a mandatory element of leadership. Officers would drink the more expensive beer or whiskey, while enlisted men drank the cheaper varieties of soju or makoli (rice wine). Bruce Charles, an F-4C Phantom II driver with the 67TFS between 1968-1970, recalled being taught the Korean drinking art of "topshida" (bottoms-up) at the ROKAF Officer's Club. This involved drinking a shot of whiskey and placing the upturned shot glass on one's head. (48b)
It appears that the ROKAF controlled the anti-aircraft positions for the base with antiquated weapons transferred to them from the departing 30th Anti-aircraft Artillery battery after the Korean War. These would be the 50-caliber "Quad-50" and 40mm Bofors (for high altitude aircraft). These ROKAF air defense systems remained in operation until the U.S. moved other systems to Korea for air defense. A high-altitude anti-aircraft position run by the ROK Army was located outside Kunsan AB on a hill about 1 1/2 miles from the North Gate which we suspect was the 40mm Bofors inherited from the Army units of the Korean War.
In a Nike Missile Battery (Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 44 Air Defense Artillery) from 1962-1977 in Kimje about 20km from Kunsan. The Nike-Hercules was designed to be used with air-burst explosives to knock out incoming enemy bombers. Later close-in air defense was handled by a Hawk Missile Battery (Battery B, 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery and later Battery B, 6th Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery) from 1964-1980. The Hawk battery was situated on a hill about 3 miles to the north of the base. Once the Hawk battery was in place, the Quad-50 was relocated to Little Coyote hill at the south end of base as part of the perimeter defense. (Go to ROKAF: 1970s for photos of the Quad-50s in 1975 as ground perimeter defense assets.) The Quad-50 would be replaced later by a 20mm Vulcan cannon operated by the ROKAF.) (NOTE: A maintenance facility for transfer of training and technology for Surface-to-Air Missiles became operational in 1974. Then training of the ROK Army in operating Nike Hercules and HAWK systems took place from 1974 to 1975. All the Nike Hercules and most of Hawk systems were transferred to ROK Army by 1977. The ROK Army took over the Nike-Hercules at Kimje in 1977 and maintained it until the 1990s when it was transferred to the ROKAF. In 2002, the unit was still in the same location at Kimje though it was rumored to soon be deactivated. The Kunsan Hawk site set up in 1968 was NOT transferred to the ROK when it was deactivated in 1980.)
The F-86 pilots for the ROKAF were trained in Misawa by the 4th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS) (Aug1954-Jun 1965). The 4th FIS of the 39th AD provided training for Japanese Self-Defense Force, Korean and Thai Air Force pilots on the F-86 aircraft from 1954 through 1960. (46)
ROKAF language proficiency was a serious problem. The problem dealt with the use of USAF fields and communication with USAF air traffic controllers. The use of Korean at the all Korean airfields in Sachon, Kangnung and Taegu was still practiced. However, on collocated bases, it became a severe problem. (SITE NOTE: Kalani O'Sullivan remembered seeing a 1960s Korean movie of the lives and loves of Korean F-86 pilots as they climb the ladder of training from raw recruits to T-6 training and finally assignment to an operational unit with F-86s. Kalani noted that the English communications during GCI/GCA operations (using real ROKAF operators) were so heavily accented that it was almost to the point of intelligiblity. (49)) Improper training of the pilots and aircraft controllers was blamed for the language problems. The following is from the History of the 314th Air Division, 1 January 1957 ?30 June 1957:
One of the problems that confronted the USAF during this period was the result of improper training in the past of ROKAF pilots and controllers. Bi-lingual pilots and controllers are required for safe operations. . . . ROKAF pilots were failing instrument checks because of language difficulties . . . . (1a) The ROKAF organizational structure was understandably a carbon copy US organizations. The ROKAF was heavily reliant on US aid. By 1959, the ROKAF was expanding as more and more trained technicians filled their ranks. Training was still primarily through US assistance. Pilots and senior technicians attended military schools within the United States.
The 6146th AF Assistance Group had training detachments at the major ROKAF bases such as Sachon, Suwon and Taegu, but it never had a detachment at Kunsan. Technicians at Kunsan may have attended training under this group at other bases. In 1955 the USAF started the first transfers of the F-86 to the ROKAF. This entailed training the ROKAF on a completely different technology to bring them into the jet age. Suwon (K-13) became the ROKAF training base for the F-86. USAF personnel were advisors to teach the ROKAF to fly and maintain the F-86.
The following is from The Defender, "Military Assistance Program: On-the-job-training", Vol. 1 No. 51, 314th Air Division, Korea, August 26, 1959. The photos on the page showed USAF personnel showing the "finer points" to ROKAF personnel. The photos included ROKAF and Vietnamese personnel with their USAF trainers in the prop shop; fabrication shop; sheetmetal shop; flightline ground power field maintenance shop; air frame repair; technical orders and supply insection; parachute rigging; and liason offices. At the top of the page was two hands in a handshake with the ROKAF aircraft "taeguki" on one cuff and the USAF aircraft insignia on the other.
The hand clasp above symbolizes the friendly cooperation and coordination which exists between the personnel of the 314th Air Division units and the ROKAF toward the Military Assistance Program (MAP).As the ROKAF had a large number of trained aircraft mechanics with F-51 experience, the transition to jet aircraft would not have been too great problem -- though it would take some classroom instruction probably done by ROKAF personnel trained stateside. Prior to the F-86, the Koreans were noted as "band-aid mechanics" on the F-51 Mustangs. Basically, they were miracle workers who could temporarily fix things with bubble gum and bailing wire. However, jet engines were not tolerant of these old-fashioned techniques. By 1959, there would have been sufficient numbers of ROKAF NCOs trained on the F-86F to form a core group of trainers for the ROKAF as a whole. The ROK pattern was to send its senior NCOs with English skills to the U.S. for technical training at various military schools. Upon their return, they in turn would conduct specialized training programs for the ROKAF.
This program enables units of the 314th Air Division to train personnel from FOKAF and other foerign countries who participate in the Military Assistance Program.
The objectives of MAP are to assist such countries in raising the skill level of their military personnel to a degree permitting ready transition to more modern equipment. Other objectives are to assist in establishing self-sufficient training programs and in attaining combat effectiveness at the earliest possible time.
The foreign liaison officer located in the 6314th Air Base Wing OJT Division, Room 420, Hq. Bldg. 828 is charged with coordinating the training capability of Air Force units in Korea with the 6146th Air Force Advisory Group which determines ROKAF training requiremebnts.
Air Force units who accept foreign students for training are relieved from making burdensome reports or records pertaining to the students. These functions are retained by the 6314th Air Base Wing foreign liaison office so that the training units may expend the maximum effort in the training of MAP students.
The recent transfer of the Air Defense Network to the ROK Air Force is attributable in no small part to MAP. Prior to the transfer of this importatnt responsibility, hundreds of ROKAF and USAF officers and airmen participated in a coach-pupil method of training to allow eah function to be absorbed by the ROKAF counterpart. By July 1959, all Aircraft Control and Warning sites, including the Air Defense Control Center, were being operated by ROKAF personnel. This in turn relieves requirements for assignmnet of USAF personnel in this function.
Of course, the MAP program not only involves training of foreign students in direct mission skills, but also in other important support areas such as supply, administrative, and medical career fields. Upon arrival at Osan Air Base, the MAP student reports to the USAF Foreign Liaison Officer. Here he is oriented and necessary on-the-job trianing records are accomplished after which he is taken to the unit in which his trianing will be conducted.
If any training was done at Kunsan with Americans, it was most likely done through On-the-Job Training (OJT). Money was scarce for ROK formal training and most training would be in the form of OJT with a USAF trainer. This amounted to simply assigning a few ROKAF airmen to a USAF airman who was told to train them using the USAF JPG (Job Proficiency Guide). The JPGs were modified for local ROKAF needs in upgrade training. This was the preferred method for "hands-on" training of foreign Air Force units by JUSMAGs (Joint United States Military Assistance Groups) around the world. It was inexpensive and did not require special Field Training Detachment (FTD) involvement. (49a) (NOTE: In the late 1980s, this same form of training was still being used by the 8th TFW at Kunsan AB to qualify ROKAF welders on special metal welds using the JPG. (49a))
However, the danger with this form of training in 1959 was that there were many inexperienced "3-levels" (entry-level technicians) assigned who would end up performing the training -- with the end result of "the blind leading the blind."
In Korea, most of the training programs to assist the ROKAF were informally administered -- meaning it was simply a handshake agreement between a local ROKAF unit and the USAF unit -- with approval by the mid-level FTD training unit. Language problems in the training were glossed over and the adequacy of the training was questionable. Regardless, this form of OJT training of foreign military was done throughout the world. For example when the 6123d ACW was turning over the GCI operations at Pyongtaek to the ROKAF, the unit set up a "school" to train the ROKAF controllers on site. In 1959, they turned over the site to the ROKAF and closed down their operations there.
Even when training was done for transition to new airframes, the Military Assistance Group (MAAG) simply went to local USAF units and "borrowed" technicians to handle the "hands-on" training. For example when the ROKAF transitioned to the F-5 in 1965, specialists from local USAF units with F-5/T-38 experience were used as trainers. In the transition to the F-4 in 1970, airmen from the 3rd TFW at Kunsan were sent to Suwon and Sachon as trainers for the initial batch of 18 F-4s. Very little formal FTD work was done by the USAF simply because of the language barrier. Instead the ROK handled their own formal training under their own military Training Commands. Much of the training was handled under the Military Assistance Program (MAP) under the central office at Osan. The training was decentralized down to bases and shops with formal documentation minimal at the working level.
SITE NOTE: There has been a dramatic change in the form of training provided to the ROKAF over the years. Years ago the USAF would train the ROKAF on the system and then transfer the system to the ROKAF. However, now systems are purchased "off-the-shelf" and contractors provide support/training. For example, let's consider the development of Air Traffic Control within the ROKAF. In 1952, the Taegu Air Control Center (ACC) was established in Taegu by USAF/MATCOM. However, by 1958, the ROKAF was sufficiently trained to take over the enroute control of aircraft. In 1968, the High-Control Service was established at Mt Palgong by USAF to provide radar service for flights at or above FL240. In 1973, the ROKAF took over High-Control Service. In 1986 a new computer-based enroute radar control system was installed at Taegu airbase by the ROKAF. Thus one can see that the pattern in the past was that the USAF first established a system; the ROKAF was trained via OJT to maintain the system; and then the system was transferred to the ROKAF. This system of "training and transfer" was used in all areas up to the late 1980s. However, after the "Miracle of the Han River" came about, Korea has gone about developing her own electronic systems in cooperation with foreign companies in the 2000s. There appears to have been little contact between the two occupants of the base -- though the ROKAF made attempts to bridge the gap by maintaining cordial relations. John mentioned that the ROKAF 103rd Fighter Squadron Commander Colonel Lee invited him in 1959 to review the ROKAF troops consisting of about 350 airmen in the formation. Many of the ROKAF senior enlisted technicians spoke English as they were trained by U.S. forces in the U.S. and Japan. The F-86 pilots were trained in Misawa by the 39th Air Division personnel -- and even the ROKAF Commander Colonel Lee spoke English. We find comments about lack of contact on a "professional level" due to a "language barrier" hard to justify within the officer ranks -- though the personal contacts at lower enlisted levels would probably have been minimal. If anything, the ROKAF hierarchy would have been thinking of every way possible to establish contacts -- if for no other reason than to try to get some favors. On the whole, however, it seems the Americans kept their distance from the Koreans.
However, as the base had a ROKAF squadron flying F-86s, a ROKAF airman in the tower during ROKAF operations was most certain. However, as mentioned before, the bilingual qualifications of such airmen was inadequate. In addition, because of the close proximity of the ROKAF Security Police headquarters up from the main gate near the USAF security police headquarters, one can suppose that there was a working relationship involved with perimeter defense and manning the Main Gate jointly. We are not certain how the ROKAF Civil Engineering personnel interfaced with the 6175th ABS, but we assume the USAF handled all infrastructure on the base and the ROKAF would only handle the maintenance of the buildings in its area. (Go to ROKAF at Kunsan in 1960s for details.)
On a personal level, there appears to have been some contact. We have run across personal accounts on the internet from Americans during this early period that relate how Korean Airmen would ask USAF personnel outside the Service Club if they would teach them English. These students were described as diligent, hard-working, and eager to learn English. However, they would be taught in cramped rooms sitting on floors with poor lighting and ventilation without proper materials. However, these contacts were the exception.
Perimeter Defense Soon after Col John Moench settled in, he learned that his base defense was a joke with one man per mile of perimeter. As he looked around, he found out his base defense was worthless. To attempt to beef it up he turned to the ROK Army, but he learned that the ROK Army in the South was a "phantom" unit amounting to nothing more than a training unit with "homeguard" elements. The main active ROK units were concentrated on the DMZ.
(SITE NOTE: This has remained the policy till the present day in Korea. The rear areas are the responsibility of "Home Defense Units" -- or reserve forces. Along the DMZ is strung the Special Warfare Command (Songnam, Kyonggi Province); the Capitol Defense Command (Seoul Special City, Kangwha Island, Inchon); 3rd ROK Army (Kyonggi Province); and 1st ROK Army (Wonju) are the frontline units. In the mid-1990s, almost all the active units were moved from the 2nd ROK Army control to the DMZ. Thus all that is left in the south is basically reserve units under the "Homeland Defense" organization (Inactive reserve units) and Army training bases. The 2nd ROK Army defends Kyongsang Province, North and South Chungchong Provinces; North and South Cholla Provinces) Special City through the use of "Homeland Defense Infantry Divisions" in its special cities. The ROK Marines, ROK Navy, and ROKAF are spread out throughout the country and in/near major port cities. (56)) The base perimeter was basically indefensible -- ten miles of perimeter with one man per mile. (55a) The alert system for the perimeter was to fire off a shot and the reaction team would go to find out what was the problem. In most places there was no fence as it was stolen by the Koreans. John noted, "Fences (varying from a roll of concertina or a few strands of barbed wire to, here and there, a chain link fence) did exist ?but were regularly subject to theft by the Koreans." (55) (NOTE: This same problem was noted at Osan AB (K-55) where there was 8 1/2 miles of perimeter. The fence line was broken down and base officials admitted that even if new fence was erected, the base would have a hard time keeping the fence from being stolen. In addition, the Osan authorities admitted that the "slickey boys" were almost unstoppable from keeping them out -- and guards were still needed at key buildings.)
John commented on the manning situation and its impacts on security. "Now spread those 50+ to (1) front gate, (2) point guard at POL, water and other sites, (3) Kunsan patrol, (4) rescue boat security, (5) the Air Police command location, (6) base roving patrol, (7) in training, e.g. qualification fire, (8) pad C, (9) weapons storage, (10) perimeter guard, (11) quick reaction team and (12) special assignments. Add to this the dilution of sick call, protocol formations, convoy guard, investigations, etc. and then realize how thin the line of defense was and how difficult to mount a reaction to any incursion ?or even come up with any sensible base maneuver and defense plan!" (55)
The only thing of value in his defensive arsenal was the guard dogs. There were about nine guard dogs and about 18 handlers. The Koreans since the Korean War days were deathly afraid of these dogs. However, because they were an invaluable resource, they had to be allocated only to the highest priority assets. Though perimeter defense as sentries would be their forte, there simply were not enough dogs to go around. Thus they were most effectively allocated to close-in roving patrols to protect assets which were the targets of the "slickey boys." Thus they were most likely positioned around within the fenced areas of base supply and the AIO areas, bomb dump and nuclear alert area -- and as roving patrols.
The approximately 20 "pochos" (Korean sentries) on the base payroll would be used to guard other close-in assets, such as the Post Exchange during the night. This would leave the other security police to patrol the perimeter as best they could with roving patrols.
The USAF personnel would also perform "Town Patrol" duties of the two bars in Kunsan and the off-limits red-light district. (SITE NOTE: The rescue boat security is one which we are curious about as the USAF 22nd Crash Boat Squadron out of Itazuke, Japan was disbanded in 1956. (See 22nd CRSB. The FEAF activated the 6046th CRBS effective 1 July 1956 absorbing all men and assets of the 22nd CRBS. Though the case was pressed at the Pentagon, the USAF stated that no more Marine AFSCs would be filled nor would AMC provide any marine supply support. PACAF deactivated the 6046th CRBS effective 31 December 1956. The USAF discontinued the use of watercraft for rescue and all boats were declared surplus and disposed of by surplus sale. If the rescue boats were ROKAF assets, the USAF had no responsibility for them. If they were for KCIC clandestine operations, the USAF might be involved, but this would be highly speculative.)
John wrote, "How vulnerable was the base? Reading from history, "In one month, 69 Korean personnel were apprehended for illegal entry to the Base [for] prostitution and theft of government property, among other things." That is an average of 2+ a day.Comment: How many were not apprehended is an obvious question." (55)
He continued, "What was the "fence" situation? Apparently nil for the history notes that during the period a fence was constructed around Base Supply and another around AIO machinery and warehouse area. This means that, up to that time, there was no fencing or, if there had been some, it had been stolen. Let me assure you that what was constructed was not a chain link fence ?it was a fence using "anything that was available." Most fences were simply strands of barbed wire that could be cut with ordinary pliers ?and were. Most property lines (indistinguishable) had no fence at all."
He added his comments on the differences in training. In 1956 "augmentation" became a policy simply because there wasn't enough men to cover the base. (NOTE: The augmentation forces became known as "auggie doggies" Air Force-wide in the 1960s after a popular cartoon character.) In the 1959 they were armed with an 30 caliber M2 carbine and told to guard the fence line around their own areas of responsibility. (See George Rabe's photo in 1959). According to John, these augmentees were not given advanced training on 50 caliber machine guns or other weapons. Basically it was as John Moench mentioned, simply guarding against "slickey boy" infiltrators. The point John made was a "guard" is not a "sentry" -- and the quality of the base defense is compromised. (55)
"Kunsan was wide open to infiltration/attack from the sea, over land and (not considering air or missile attack) air landed forces. (Keep in mind that infiltration of the air base was a daily event.) As stated, normally, a defense plan begins with a threat assessment (intelligence) and expanded on by operations." (55) He went on, "In relation to the above concern, was there a concern about imbedded enemy on the base or in the neighborhood ?the so-called spies? Just think what one individual could do to the water system or via the icehouse." (SITE NOTE: We had communicated previously on this site about the water system that pumps water from the unguarded pump station at the Okku Reservoir. This was the same pump system location installed during the Korean War -- and is in the same location today.)
George Rabe (Courtesy George Rabe)
Click on photo to enlarge
George Rabe of Cincinatti, OH was stationed at Kunsan from Dec 1958- Jan 1960. He sent some interesting photos. The photo above is of himself as an A3C one-striper on one of the base's alerts. There is some humor in the photo as there is a star on George's helmet. The location on base is uncertain, but there appears to be grave mounds just outside the fence line indicating the northern grave yards area abutting the POL area. (NOTE: Remember that in 1959 the units had to augment the Security Forces by defending their own area because of inadequate manning.) In the background there is a perimeter road and the perimeter fence consists of only a few lines of barbed wire strung between some posts -- not much to stop anyone from getting in.
North perimeter of K-8 (Courtesy George Rabe)
Click on photo to enlarge
His photo of the north end of base shows the thatched huts and the barbed wire fence line in a complete state of disrepair. If you look closely, the right of the picture has the barbed wire fence erected during the Korean War, but the left of the picture it is completely gone. In its place is wire strung between two posts and the laundry hung out to dry. John Moench, base commander in 1959, upon seeing the photo pointed out that the clothesline seemed incongruous for the times. Laundry was normally spread out on the ground -- and this setup would have been a perfect antenna for a clandestine radio. In the rear, the hill to the far left is the stone quarry that the 808th EAB opened in the Korean War and then used by the 802d EAB in 1959 to repair the runway. The photo is from what is now Gunsmoke Hill on the northernmost portion of the hill facing northeast.
According to John Moench, "All air bases are required to have a base defense plan. But to defend against what and how?" (55)This was the key question. John continued, "The base defense plan emerges from the threat assessment. ...The threat against a base inside the U.S. and one distanced from the U.S. is quite different. The variables in any defense plan can be wide." (55) However, the reality was that most of the base inspections ended up giving the base a "satisfactory" rating despite the obvious faults. John stated, "In the end, most things simply were not considered. And the inspectors (as well as much of command) did not know the difference or did not care. In that regard, in my view the inspectors should be top notch and, frequently, those assigned to inspection duty were not."
Despite the obvious deficiencies the base secured "satisfactory" ratings on inspections. (55) As we mentioned before, the problem with inspections is that were intended to provide recommendations to "fix" things. However, the reality of the time was that the deficiencies were obvious, but the "fixes" were impossible as the manning had been decreasing since 1956, but no fills were coming. In 1956, sections were told to handle their own base defense plans as the base did not have the manning to support it. Augmentation was the only way the base could survive. (55) To improve the base defense would require additional manning and procurement of equipment, but in the tight-budget Eisenhower years, it was an impossibility. To make a recommendation for action by higher headquarters -- over something that was not "fixable" even at Air Division level -- would draw flak down on the inspectors and in the end, result in no action at all. Thus to the inspectors of the time, a "satisfactory" rating was the best choice of two evils. John summed it up by saying, "In total and in relation to base defense, to me the above rendition is frightening ?but, apparently, it was generally satisfactory and acceptable to others."
Base defense plans do not only include perimeter defense measures but also response actions; designated areas of responsibility; as well as recovery from damage (individual casualties, buildings, etc.). However, the plan for Kunsan was ill-developed primarily it seems due to inexperienced officers being tasked with formulating such a plan. Then when inspectors were sent, the base was given a "satisfactory" and the problem continued. (55) John noted that Brig. Gen. Virgil L. Zoller, Commander of the 314th Air Division in 1959, had a similar appreciation of the issue of base defense. General Zoller stated:
In many cases, base defense plans have been considered impractical and ineffective. Units are not fully utilizing all resources available to them. . . . Action has been taken to cause commanders to review all resources, i.e., tenant organizations and nearby friendly forces, and to direct all effort towards a common cause. . . . John went on, "I did not need a 101 primer lesson to assess the threat. In overview, I was not so much concerned about a general attack across the DMZ as I was about a more probable, narrow operation against the base ?an operation that could be mounted by a relative handful of enemy (much as we now encounter in relation to terrorist activity). And, as set forth in Taking Command, I brought in a Marine from USFK to give me some counsel on ground defense. As to air attack, it was beyond my purview. But, in assessment, the Korea air defense as the time was near to worthless ?radars were left over equipment of the conflict in Korea, equipment was often out of service with whole sectors uncovered, while the command and control was primitive." (55)
Inspections have revealed that many units and staff security officers are not familiar with their responsibilities. . . . The greatest fallacy in this has been the assigning of young and inexperienced officers to these responsibilities without the benefit of supervision and the assistance of qualified supervision and assistance of qualified supervisors. (55)
Of the approximately 550 military on Kunsan, about 200 were security police. (34) In addition, there was a "civilian guard" component of 20+ personnel -- initially paid by the Officers Club but administered by the Security Police -- that guarded the officer quarters and key buildings like the PX from "slickey boys" (thieves). It appears that later these were paid from base funds and referred to as "Pochos" (sentries). However, overall manning was so bad that augmentation was required from the base units with personnel having minimal training to "guard" the fence line.
However, the nuclear alert caused him concern. Though not directly responsible for the operations, he would ultimately be held responsible if there were a nuclear incident at Kunsan. He said, "As to the objectives of an enemy attack against the Kunsan Air Base, of my primary target concerns were (1) nuclear theft and (2) causing a nuclear incident ranging from a simple attack, to an induced fire that could lead to a single point nuclear detonation. Both possibilities, if they were executed, had enormous national and international military and political implications. And, in my mind, both possibilities seemed within reason of execution. If they took place, the one that would be called on the carpet and crucified (the public scapegoat) would be the base commander for not having prepared for the event. This is just the way things happen. Just think about the witch hunt that is now taking place with respect to 9-11 or that which took place after Pearl Harbor. In that regard, the tradition of our Congress is to avoid and under fund the military equation prior to a war or related event and then, after the unfortunate invent takes place, to �nvestigate?why the military forces failed to deal with the military situation." (55)
Since 1956, the Security Forces were below strength with more rotating out than being in-processed. "Due to the lack of personnel in the Air Police, airmen from other sections on base were removed from their normal duties temporarily, to stand flight line and guard for the mobility units." (55) In May 1956, the flight was still below authorized manning. The history stated, "The frequency of mobility operations has necessitated the continued use of squadron personnel for flight line guard, and to establish their own security in order to provide the minimum security requirements." (55) In this instance, the security forces were so undermanned they turned over the base defense to the various sections. This was NOT base augmentation in which individuals from sections perform additional duties with the security forces when required. In 1956, what they had was each section protecting its own -- not a good base defense plan. By 1959, it appears a base augmentation plan had been implemented. However, training was questionable and it appeared that the airmen were simply given an M2 carbine and told to guard a section of the fence. John commented that "Guard duty is no true base defense. Duty performed by untrained individuals is near to worthless. The security forces were undermanned and required augmentation from other agencies." (55) (See photo in 1960).
Photos of buildings in the late 50s indicate that they were not camouflaged by paint schemes to confuse aerial attack. According to John, "Camouflage was an appropriate consideration but, other than in the front line DMZ area, was mostly ignored in Korea." (55) The camouflage paint schemes did not become prevalent until the 1970s for both ROK and US buildings. (SITE NOTE: Though these paint schemes are now removed from USAF buildings which prefer the use of netting as camouflage, the ROK Army fuel tanks at Kunsan Harbor still sport these paint schemes.)
According to John, "Dispersion was simply not considered ?instead aircraft were grouped on the ground (the air bases) to facilitate human guarding." Clustering on C-pad made the aircraft vulnerable to attack -- but on the other hand, aided in the close-in protection of assets. In addition, the idea of "dispersal" would indicate the base had room to disperse the aircraft -- which Kunsan did not. In 1968, this idea of dispersal was put to the ultimate test for Kunsan as a "contingency" base. The 4th TFW brought its three F-4 squadrons, plus another F-4 squadron came up from Vietnam. All types of "special" aircraft arrived daily. Things became very crowded with aircraft parked along the concrete taxiway (the old east-west runway) as well as the C-pad -- and even on the PSP taxiways. The F-100 nuclear alert remained in place. In the end, one squadron of F-4s went to Taegu and one squadron of F-4s went to Kwangju.
In 1959, the C-pad area was void of revetments and the only building in the flightline area was the Control Tower. It was only much later that revetments and blast walls or shelters were built. There were Quonset huts and storage sheds in the area. The C-pad area would be a major consideration for a base defense plan for even though the units were TDY, any blame for an incident would fall on the base commander's shoulders.
Chemical and biological threats were not a player back in the late 1950s. Chemical warfare was not considered important until the Russians demonstrated their capability -- and active intent -- to use their potent chemical attack strategy on the battlefield. Even though gas masks were issued during the Vietnam War period, no one really paid much attention to it. NBC (Nuclear-Bacteriological-Chemical) warfare concerns came much later. According to John, "Regarding a chemical or biological threat ?fundamentally, it was ignored. Memory tells me that at Kunsan (and then at Osan) there was no inventory of gas masks. And, of course, defense plans, while having a chemical and biological annex, provided for no clean up and/or casualty handling."
A small portion of the perimeter was assigned to the ROKAF. This would have been the northern boundary of the ROKAF housing area. As to their close-in defensive perimeters, they surrounded their ROKAF ramp with bunker positions as indicated in 1960s photos. The truck-mounted quad-50 anti-aircraft weapons were positioned around the ROKAF ramp.
John stated, "While my time at Kunsan was short, I passed my thoughts on base defense to my replacement, Colonel William J. Fealock, and I note that, in the History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960, a line reading: "publication and exercise of a new Security Operations Plan." I did not learn of its detail as, following my assignment to Osan, my time was fully involved in upper level planning, programming and policy ?a terrible void in the system that, frankly, I never fully overcame before the year long tour was up and I was transferred to PACAF in Hawaii." (55)
Base Infrastructure At the time, Kunsan City had a population of about 40,000 -- greatly reduced from the 100,000 wartime refugee population. To get to Kunsan AB from the main area (Japanese section) of the town, one would go through Kaebong Tunnel in what is now Wolmyong Park and turn left. The road was mostly dirt with animal drawn carts or people on foot. The road would wind along the base of Wolmyong Mountain until the rice fields opened up. Then the road would veer right onto a dusty two-lane straight away. George Rabe wrote, "The road to town was dirt. The army had paved it with asphalt, but the local Koreans had dug the asphalt up, to burn as fuel, to heat their homes." (SITE NOTE: This problem was common throughout Korea and Koreans would continue to dig up the macadam to burn as fuel well into the late 1970s.)
Crude map of Kunsan AB (Click on map to expand) (Courtesy George Rabe)
George Rabe of Cincinatti, OH was in POL at Kunsan from Dec 1958- Jan 1960. He included a map that is as George points out, "This map is very crude and not proportional. It shows the areas of the base I was personally familiar with." The streets are not quite right, but one gets the gist. Despite its limitations, George's map is quite informative as it gives us an idea as to what was in operation. He wrote:
A. Base Road and Train systems The road to the Main Gate followed the fence line. It was along this road the ROKAF Security Police established their command post. (SITE NOTE: In 2004, the main route into base is straight ahead, but the road that George mentions jogs to the right as you enter the base and leads down to the intersection next to the POL area drawn on George's map.)
If you proceeded straight ahead, the AFKN would be on your right at the next intersection. If you turned right, the road would lead to "Water Point" (water tower area) then jog to the left past the hospital on the left and the base commander's billets on the right. It would then run into Avenue C, the primary north-south road.
If you proceeded through the intersection the hospital would be on your right and then the Base Chapel would be on the corner at Avenue C. If you proceeded straight ahead, you would go past the BOQs, the Officer's Club (Bottom of the Mark) and the temporary Airmen's chowhall. The road would then run into Avenue A. To the right was the ROKAF area, while to the left ran parallel to the taxiway/runway and led down to the POL refuel parking area.
If one turned left at Avenue C, you would pass an empty field that would in 1961 would become the golf course. To your right was the Service Club in about a block. At the next intersection if you turned left, it would lead to the 6175th AIO (forerunner to the Base Civil Engineers). If you continued straight ahead, the post office was at the next intersection. If you turned right at the post office, you would run into Post Exchange on your left.
If you continued down Avenue C from the post office for one more block and turned right, it would lead to the Airmen billets to the left and the Base Headquarters building on your right. At the end of the road was the POL parking area.
There was a railroad link to Kunsan City for cargo shipments. Just inside the base perimeter, the railway split into two spurs -- one for the Ammo Dump and the other going past the main gate and then straight ahead to the base supply buildings. The warehouses from this time period are still along the railroad siding.
B. Water and Sewer systems Supposedly there had been some improvements to the water system, but perhaps the desedimentation and filtration needed work. The water was fed from the Okku reservoirs using the pump station below Okku village just outside the Main Gate. The underground water main ran from the pump station down the levee to the Okku town where it turned left and followed the road to the main gate where it veered right to the desedimentation tanks on "Water Point" (Gunsmoke Hill). After filtration and chlorination it was pump to the water tower where it was gravity-fed to the base.
The base sewage disposal system was simply to chlorinate the waste and dump it directly into the Yellow Sea -- something that is still done to this date. Nothing of substance to improve the base was done until about 1964 when new two-story cinder block barracks were constructed for permanent party personnel. Besides the runway repairs done by the Company C, 802d Engineering Battalion (US Army), no major improvements to the base infrastructure (water, electric, transportation) were done until after the Pueblo Incident in 1968.
C. Electrical Systems The primary power for the base was provided by base deisel generators. (56b) This is strange statement was because the power from off-base was intermittent. Though the local steam driven turbine generator was installed in 1945, the base power was supplied by North Korea throughout the Occupation years. (SITE NOTE: This coal-fed, steam-powered turbine generator system for KEPCO (though updated of course) is still in operation at the same location in Kunsan as in 1945.)
During the Korean War, the power was supplied from off-base with separate auxiliary power unit sections for the flightline and base. Though the local power was inadequate and subject to brown-outs, but it still was the primary power to the base. The main power feeds where the electricity comes into the base has remained the same since the Korean War. The power station near the POL dump on the north side of base.
In 1956, the history notes the spoilage of "approximately 1,400 pounds of goods" which could be associated with the loss of electrical power during the hottest summer month of the year. In 1957, the 314th AD History states, "There is a definite lack of primary power. Most of the power requirements in Korea are met with power units designed to furnish auxiliary power and were not designed to furnish steady power. . . . Outages are frequent . . . . In spite of usage of larger diesel units, power failures still account for a large percentage of equipment outages." Thus it is assumed that this Korea-wide problem also affected Kunsan. The base was relying more and more on its diesel Auxiliary Power Units (APU) to supply electrical power for the base. (56c)
History of the 6175th ABG in 1960 states: "As a result of a survey of the electrical distribution system, the Electric Shop effected considerable improvement by changing and/or eliminating a number of transformers, thereby increasing efficiency while decreasing the electrical load requirements. ... The current contract with the South Korea Electric Company provides for a maximum of 500 KWH. However, due to increase in base requirements, peak demands of as high as 680 KW have been experienced . . . in the near future, the demand will be still greater. . . . The company does not presently have the facilities to provide for this without a new generating plant. However, it is understood [that] construction is planned, with completion expected in 1963. It was on this basis that FY-1961 Military Construction Program for a new 700 KWH Emergency Power Generating Plant on base was deleted by higher headquarters. . . . [These] conditions have resulted in an average of 24 power outages a month, with these outages varying from five minutes to as long as five and one-half hours."
From the above we can see the problem facing the base was the increased power requirements, but the power company (KEPCO) was not able to meet the power demands. The outages are significant and the operations of the base would have been affected greatly -- thus causing more and more reliance on the APUs.
John Moench added a comment: "My experience was that outages could be both local on the base and base wide. Back up generators were in almost constant/repeated use to maintain critical functions such as tower, security lights, refers, etc. Electrical feed lines were a security issue for, in the case of an attack, an enemy would give priority to the cutting of the feed lines and any such cut could never be repaired in sort order ?even finding a cut could take time. There was no protection to the feed lines. At higher headquarters, the vulnerability of the electrical system was not a matter of concern. My view was that the 700 KWH Emergency Power Generating Plant was vital." (56e)
But a question needs to be asked as to what was increasing the power requirements for the base? A clue may be from looking at the statement in 1956 that "3,435 gallons of ice cream were turned out in this reporting period ?the ice plant furnishing about 75,000 pounds of ice a month." (56c) Compressors require a lot of electricity and perhaps some of the "creature comforts" may have become essential component in maintaining morale. We also wonder how much of the "hidden" tenant requirements added to the load. For example, the 6303d Armament and Electronics Maintenance Squadron Detachment supporting the B-57s would require how much electricity to support its special weapons mockups. We also wonder if there were newer GCA equipment added because of the increased flying commitment -- both ROKAF and USAF.
1st Row: Substation (1952); 2nd Row: Power Station (1952)
3rd Row: Power House Living Quarters (1952) (57)
D. POL Areas On the map from George, the train spur ran up past the main gate to behind the Supply buildings. It stopped at the road intersection (that still exists today). At that point, there was a fuel pump station that pumped the fuel from the tankers into the above ground tanks on the north end of base. (56a) (SITE NOTE: At some point after 1960, the spur was extended over the road and curved up along the base of the hill (Gunsmoke hill) to the POL tanks.) (56a)
The entry to the POL is shown on the map. George did not indicate on the map the base power station and electrical transformers to connect the base to the Kunsan City power. The power station has been in the same location since the Korean War. It would be located just to the left of the gate as one enters the POL area. (57a)
To the left is a small "Korean" house "where the tank farm crew lived. It burned down in 1959." (56a) Notice it had the typical "water closet" (latrine) separated from the quarters that was emptied under contract by ox driven "honey wagons." This house was formerly used by the 3d Airfield Installation Operations (AIO) electric generation crews in the Korean War. (See 3d AOI: 1951-1954 for details.) (57a)
The base gas station used above ground gravity feed tanks for the refuel of vehicles. (56a) There was not much need for a "real" base gas station as there was only jeeps and rag-top deuce-and-halfs for vehicles. (NOTE: The ROKAF had their own POL facility located between the ROKAF area and the runway.) (57a)
The POL Fuel Truck parking was paved with PSP and adjoined the Taxiway. (57a) This POL dispatch area would remain here until 1968 when the POL bladders on the south end of base was installed near the C-pad. The POL dispatch would be moved down to this area after a small dispatch building was built. The POL dispatch has remained in this same location since 1969.
In 1959, the fuel was brought into Kunsan Harbor at high tide on shallow draft tankers into the Inner Port (Naehang). The fuel was swiftly pumped off the tanker into storage tanks in Kunsan harbor. From these above-ground tanks, the fuel was pumped along a pipeline to the base that went around Wolmyong mountain, through the "North Korean village" area. The pump station was located in the area of tanks at Kunsan Harbor and would have been under the Army control. The "fuel head" was located on the base side of the plywood factory in the North Korean refugee area.
The "fuel head" was on the base side of the village. From there it ran down the long straight-away through Mimiyon, over the levee at Okku (on the reservoir side) and to the base at the Main gate area and up to the above ground-POL storage tanks near the base of Gunsmoke Hill. (SITE NOTE: The fuel tanks in Kunsan Harbor still exist today, but were transferred to the ROK Army in 1992. Fuel no longer pumped from Kunsan Harbor. Fuel is now pumped from storage tanks in the outer port area (Waehang).)
The pipe line was constructed of "invasion pipe" and stretched to base. The pipeline was disassembled when not in use. It is assumed that this was done only at key points to drain the pipes. When in operation there had been accidents like the fuel spray incident in 1957 that touched off a tragic fire in a nearby home -- killing a pregnant woman. According to John the major problem was pilferage of the fuel. Whenever fuel was to be pumped, Koreans would show up with buckets to tap the lines. According to John, there were roving patrols when in operation to prevent this. Though the pipe itself was a pilferable commodity, there is no mention of the locals attempting to steal the pipe. This is the same pipeline that Al Schmitz talks about during the 1957 time frame on this site.
Shortly after the Pueblo Crisis in 1968, a special Army pipeline unit was brought up from Thailand to set up the pipeline. (See 3rd Platoon, 697th Engineer Company (Pipeline) from Thailand which buried the pipeline during the Pueblo Crisis in Sept 1968.) (62) Ralph Brown with the 6175th Supply (POL) in 1967-68 stated that the method PRIOR to the pipeline in 1968 was through the use of railroad tanker cars to haul the fuel from port storage tanks to the above ground tanks in the north POL area -- close to the main gate. (57a) The railroad tracks and North area above-ground POL tanks are still in existence. (NOTE: Currently the fuel is transferred from the outer port through a pipeline to these same storage tanks. The fuel is then transferred to the POL bladders -- installed in 1967 -- in the south end of base.)
Ralph Brown wrote, "During the time I was at Kunsan there was a Fuel Station in the port area operated by the US Army it used to receive fuel from ships and transfer it to Kunsan AB. The fuel "head" was located just a little way on the base side of the plywood factory in the refugee village area. After the Pueblo and build up of Kunsan they actually put a fuel line from Kunsan City to Kunsan AB above ground. It ran alongside the road to the base on the side of the road that they built "A town" on. It was guarded by locally hired security guards stationed about every hundred yards 24 hours a day." The "fuel head" Ralph mentions is the old invasion pipe system. He was at Kunsan during the construction, but not completion of the new pipeline. He recalls having to supply fuel for their welders and generators from the base via fuel trucks.
(SITE NOTE: There were questions that Ralph's description of the number of guards ("every hundred yards") on the 1968 pipeline would be too many -- amounting to about 120 guards for the 7 miles above ground. It would be much lower and probably roving patrols -- and they would NOT be full-time as at the end of refuel operations, a wiper plug was run through the length of the pipe from Kunsan Harbor. However, it was a North Korean target. In Jul 1969 an infiltrator attempted to sabotage the JP-4 pipeline that ran from the harbor in Kunsan. The infiltrator was wounded by the guards. E. Communications Units: On the northwestern tip of the hill were the Communications units on what was called "Radio Hill." (57a) This area is now where the Radome is located near Wolf Pack Park at the top of the hill. The map misses the ROKAF area below "Radio Hill"
The 4,600 feet of the 8-mile line ran through a populated area of Kunsan and was underground except for 300 feet where the crew met solid granite underground. After leaving the populated area at the long straightaway to Kunsan, the line was run above ground. The pipe was laid in 18" culverts (sort of like a trough) originally with wood supports at the pipe joints, but this wood support was eliminated as "the local Natives found that the wooded supports was the answer to their fuel shortage." The line ran on the east side of the road over the levee; past Okku village and into the main gate area of the base. It then ran up the fence line side of the road up to the POL area. (62) Interestingly, the "invasion pipe" used in the original line was cut into pieces and welded together to from a simple barrier at the edge of the levee to prevent vehicles from going over. It was in place until the late 1980s.)
There were two Communications units with had detachments on Kunsan. The first was Det # 1, 6123 Aircraft Control & Warning (ACW). These folks handled the GCI (Ground Control Intercept) for "bogies" inbound. This function would be important if one has a Fighter Interceptor unit (ROKAF F-86Fs) on base. This unit would require a high point for a radome installation. This unit was probably located on Radio Hill. The 6123d ACW was headquartered at Pyongtaek (K-6) as the only Air Force unit on an otherwise Army base. (Previously the 607th ACW from Korean War through 1957. Trained ROK personnel to take over the operations. Unit designator changed to 6123d ACW in 1957. The operations and radar site at K-6 was turned over to the ROKAF in July 1959 indicating the ROKAF was assuming the GCI operations for its F-86D/F units.) (57b)
The second unit would have been the Det #5, 1246th AACS (1246th Airways and Air Communications Service were the folks who handled the Control Tower operations as aircraft controllers and GCA (Ground Control Approach) radar operators handling instrument landings. GCA radar units would most likely have been positioned on the seaward side of the runway and operated with APU diesel power.
The on-base telephone systems were maintained by a mix of USAF and Korean workers. (SITE NOTE: Korean employees started work on the telephone switch and installation operations during this time period. At the 8th Communication Squadron in 2004 there were still one or two workers who were working on retirement extensions.)
F. Miscellaneous Units: On the northernmost tip of what is now called Gunsmoke Hill was a small group of burial mounds of anonymous persons on the hill behind the POL area. (57a)
The senior officer houses were strung out along the side of the hills next to the Hospital as it is today. (57a) Below the senior commanders billet across the Avenue C, the BOQ billets were located.
The hospital was simply a cluster of Korean War era buildings. The chapel was located to the south of the hospital on the corner and was the only building on base that seemed to have received some upgrade. (57a) Right up from the hospital on the hill was the Water Tower and desedimentation pools. Just below the Water Tower was the AFKN radio station.
The Base Ops building on George Rabe's map is mislocated a bit. The Base Ops building was down where the present aircraft tank farm is located. The area in front of the Base Ops was the concrete parking area left over from the B-26 days but the taxiways were primarily PSP leading up to this area. The concrete hardstands would be demolished and the PSP ripped up in 1963.
The base was said to have a C-47 "Gooney Bird" and L-20A Beaver (later designated as U-6 in 1962). John Moench a flew mission on the C-47 to pickup an injured person on the beach at low tide from Paengyong-do off the coast of North Korea. The aircraft was described as being in terrible shape mechanically with instruments that were not calibrated. The fault was that replacement parts were not available. The L-20A in Korea at the time were painted in Rescue colors with a red or international orange nose, tail, underbelly and wings. In 1955, there were two L-20As assigned to Kunsan, but there was no listing of an L-20A in the records for 1959...though it did exist according to John's eye-witness account. (4c)
L-20A Beaver painted in Rescue Colors
The aircraft were most likely housed in the Korean War maintenance hangars that were open on the front. The hangars for these aircraft were the old B-26 maintenance hangars from the Korean War. (NOTE: These hangars were torn down and new hangars erected sometime in the 1960s. In 2004, these hangars are the F-16 phase hangars. The hangars have been extensively modified on the exterior with dryvit, but the "bucked" hot-rivet construction dates them as 1950s-style construction.)
To the north of this area as the 3rd AIO of the Korean War was the base's Airfield Installation Operations (forerunner to the Civil Engineers) who operated out of the same general area as the present CE folks. Because of the problems with "slickey boys," a fence was erected around their critical machinery and vehicles. (55)
Down the road was the Base Supply area which also had a fence erected around it to prevent pilferage at the hands of the "slickey boys." The fence was around the open storage areas near the railroad tracks. (55)
On the south side of base, the rough drawing of the C-pad with its two-story "Green House" for maintenance, barracks and ops is interesting as it shows the spots for the F-100s, but not the B-57s. There were some Quonset huts (often referred to as Nissan huts) that were used by the 77th Squadron RAAF when they stood alerts there in 1955. In addition there were open-faced sheds on the C-pad that had been used by the 8th FW during 1957 as a storage area. It is uncertain when these were constructed. (See 1957 Photo.)
The air control tower was located next to the C-pad (near the intersection of taxiway 624). (57a)
On the opposite side of the runway (seaward), the seawall is said to be 10-15 feet in height. (57a) (A "faction" account in Taking Command has people coming over the wall in protest. Even though the account is taken with a grain of salt, there is an assumption that in 1959, there was no barbed wire fence along the seawall as there was in the Korean War.)
At the far north end of the runway there is a swamp in what would now be Kunsan Airport. This area where there was a pond that the Occupation days forces used to get its water. This was prior to the Okku reservoir being used in the Korean War for water.
In the opposite direction, the ROKAF have placed two fifty gallon drums painted yellow at the base of Little Coyote Hill on the east side. This is used for strafing practice by the ROKAF F-86s on a east-west pattern. (57a)
George makes a note on the map that "there was a small Korean village down here somewhere." This village is Haje just off the base near the Ammo Dump. The base firing range was down on the large hill towards the south in what is now called "Big Coyote." This range was expanded by the Red Horse in the 1970s. (57a)
G. Airman/NCO/Officer Messing Facilities Officer messing was at the Officer's Club (Bottom of the Mark). John Moench pointed out that there were problems with transient officers complaining of the facilities and food when compared to their comfortable home stations. However, when John recommended a transient officer surcharge because of the limited messing facilities, there was a great outcry from these same officers.
We are not sure about George's statement that they "built" a new Officer's club because the interior/exterior photos of the Korean War O-club in 1953 matches the club below. This temporary Airmen's Mess Hall building appears to be still next to the O-club but now is a storage building.
Jack Stoob, a bombadier/navigator with the 3rd Bomb Wing (Tactical) sent some pics of K-8 in 1959 that are terrific examples of what existed on the base at the time.
Bottom of the Mark O-Club
Bus in the O-Club Parking Lot
(Courtesy Jack Stoob)
Click on Photo to Enlarge
The Officer's Club was called the "Bottom of the Mark" and basically was the "cleaned up" version of the O-Club in the Korean War. The hand-painted sign in the front of the O-Club building marks the parking spot for the Base Commander. Though there have been major modifications on the interior, it appears that over the years, the small bar was always to the left as you entered and messing facilities to the right. The kitchen was at the far right end.
(SITE NOTE: The 9-hole Golf Course built around 1961 is in the rear. The location was the O-Club until the 1990s when the kitchen burned and the facility was not rebuilt. In 2001, the building was renovated and reopened as the West Wind Golf Course. The main structure is the same as the one built during the Korean War, but renovated many times over and extended. The main entrance is in the same location.)Another picture is of the bus in the O-Club parking lot that transported the crews to the C-pad where the unit's B-57s were parked on nuclear alert. The individual in the photo with the crew bus is Jim Young, a nav/bomber in the 8th BS. The Officer's Club was the scene of the mandatory "hale and farewell" ceremonies for Col. Moench and Col. Feallock (his successor) were held there. Included in the guests were two members of the 3d Bomb Wing (from the nuclear alert facility) and ROKAF officers from the 103d Fighter Squadron (ROKAF) and 33d Air Rescue Squadron (ROKAF).
Next to the Officer's club, George had drawn the Airman's chow hall. (57a) He wrote, "There had been an Airman's chow hall right next to the airman's barracks and bakery, but it burned down just before I got there, so they gave the Airman the Officer's club as a chow hall and built a new Officer's club right next to it. .. We had to walk about a quarter of a mile to the Airman's chow hall. We used to take a Deuce and a half tractor out from under one of the refueling rigs and drive it to the chow hall. We could get 20 guys on it. It was a riot, there were guys on the fenders, running boards, hood, or any place else that they could hang on." (56) (SITE NOTE: By 1960, it was reported that the chow hall had been rebuilt. We believe that this structure became the commissary -- the main section. Later Red Horse would extend the structure for use as a commissary storage/offices in the 1970s.)
The NCO Open Mess would have been the "Airman's Club" marked on George's map. According to TDY personnel, there was a short order snack bar and restaurant there. On the drawing George shows the base bakery, that is now a long gone thing of the past. The base bakery had been in operation since 1952 when the 808th EAB in the Korean War taught Koreans to become the bakers for the base.
H. Service and Entertainment Facilities There was little in the way of entertainment on the base. Taking Command states, "And, except for booze, that was mostly it. There was not even an outside basketball court, no tennis court, no golf course, no pool tables, no swimming pool -- Kunsan Air Base had been shorted..." (59b) The location of the USO Club near Avenue C where the new barracks was being constructed in 2004. (SITE NOTE: This was the Airman's Club during the Korean War.) (57a)
Base Theater (1953)
John Moench stated that there was no movie theater in spite of the number of men on base -- but later he clarified this by stating that the theater existed, but the movies were periodically shown in the Officer and NCO clubs. (59a) He added, "As to the movie "theater" -- it depends on what constitutes a "theater." The building that served as a "theater" was a stretch of imagination. I guess any building with a projector can be a "theater" and, in that context, there was one." Al Schmitz in 1957 remembers using the theater for training with a projector, but admitted that films were shown at the O-club.
The movie theater that exists today appears to be the same basic structure -- in the same location and 1950s interior framing construction as the Invader Theater used in 1952-1954. This leads us to conclude that the movie theater existed as well -- though it may not have shown movies. There has been some significant interior upgrades done in 2000. (NOTE: The USAF building records of the movie theater shows construction after the Korean War, but there is a lot of uncertainty as no real property records were started in Korea until after 1957. For example, Bldg 1100 (demolished in 2000, the former NCO club in 1959, was most certainly a Korean War vintage building, but never listed as such in the base real property records.)
The base had a hobby shop located in Jamesway buildings. In was located near the USO Club next to Avenue C (Parts of the hobby shop would be incorporated into the present Son Light Inn.) The daily operations were run by a Mr. Young. He retired in the 1980s and now is an English Professor at Hwangwan University in Iksan. The head of the section was Mr. Don Buckley who has passed away. The facilities included a photo shop, lapidary facilities and arts & crafts. Model building was a popular past time.
The following is from The Defender, Vol. II. No. 14, 314th Air Division, Korea, December 9, 1959, "Hobbies at Kunsan Arts & Crafts Helping Airmen in Off-duty times." The photos accompanying the article show Mr. Buckley, the new Hobby Shop Director, who arrived in Sep 1959, an unspecified A3c assistant, and two Korean assistants, Mr. Young and "Mike" Yi (Yi Yong-ku).
KUNSAN, Korea -- "But there's nothing to do here."
This complaint, common to newcomers in Korea, was overheard recently by an ardent hobby shop fan at Kunsan Air Base. The hobbiest literally grabbed his unhappy friend by the hand and led him to the h9obby shop and now the questing man's attitude has done an about face. His big wish now is to have more time because "there are so many things to do."
Kunsan's shops offer leatherwork, photography, model aircraft building, art metal work and woodworking. In addition, there are facilities for persons who wish to paint and to draw and in the near future ceramics (the art of making articles of baked clay) and lapidary (the art of cutting stones) will be added to the offerings.
Direction of the Kunsna Arts and Crafts Hobby Shop Program is the responsibility of Don Buckley, a civilian with over 26 years service to the government. Before coming to Korea in September 1955, Buckley, a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, completed xis years of employment with the Los Angeles Verterans Hospital as supervisor of Manual Arts Therapy for Rehabilitation.
When talking about working in the hobby program, Buckley says, "experience is not necessary for participation. Any beginner can be well on his way to becoming an expert in one or more phases of the arts and crafts program during his Korean tour."
There is virtually no limit to the products that can be turned out in the shops. Under the direction of Buckley and his staff of comptetent Korean and military instructiors, airmen have displayed finely tooled leather purses, completed "hi-fi" sets that would make the best cabinetmaker take notice, flown model aircrt that look as realistic astheir operational prototypes, copper or brass art bieces that any decorator would be happy to use and painting in oil or watercolor which are fit to adorn any wall.
There is a wide variety of hand and power tools according to their need in each shop. In addition, a well stocked hobby sales store carries everything from model aircraft to blank belts.
Interest in arts and crafts is stimulated by various contests which reward the entrants for their outstanding handiwork. Model aircraft builders have formed their own flying circle and compete among themselves as a means of testing their aircraft and in some cases , original designs.
Shutterbugs participate in regtular tours of the local countryside and then dash back to the "lab" to process their film, print their pictures and compare their "shots."
Boat building recently sailed into the hobby shop picutre. Shop Director Buckley and Maj. Henry D. Gordon, 6175th Support Sq commander, purchased a sailboat kit and set to work on the project. Just last week the Air Force "sailors" launched their boat and successfully sailed it on a nearby reservoir.
An exciting part of arts and crafts interest is how a hobby can grow to become a profitable pastime. Starting as amateurs many hobbietests have managed to earn spending money and more through the sale of their products.
Whether it is a means of implementing an income or just a pleasant means of making time speed by, a hobby will pay off. The bobby program is not confined just to Kunsan but is available throughout Korea and wherever military personnel are assigned.
R: Hobby Shop Supplies L: Hobby Model Building
R: R-L Mr. Young, Mr. Buckley, Mike Yi, Unknown A3c L: Model Ship Building (Click on Picture to Enlarge)
R: Mike Yi with Unk A3c L: Model Building (Click on Picture to Enlarge)
EPILOGUE (November 2004): "Mike" Yi in 2004 was still working at the hobby shop (on his third extension to his retirement). A writeup on "Mike" Yi miraculously finding his benefactor can be found at Mike Yi of Kunsan AB Miraculously Finds His Korean War Savior. The possibility of things happening dealing with Mike Yi is almost miraculous in nature. In Sept 2004, John Moench, Maj Gen, USAF (Ret), and author of Taking Command, mailed Kalani O'Sullivan some old newsletters from the 314th Air Division at Osan in 1959 for archiving. In Nov 2004, Kalani relocated to Osan and located the 7th AF historian, "Jackie" Turner, to transfer the materials for archiving. Kalani opened the packet for the first time in Osan and began reading through the materials to excerpt any pertinent Kunsan facts. That is when Kalani came across an article on the Kunsan Hobby Shop back in November 1959. It had been almost 50 years since that article was published. In the article there were photos of a young man that resembled Mike Yi -- perhaps 17 years old at the most -- and an older Korean who must have been Mr. Young. Excitedly, Kalani contacted Mike in Kunsan and he verified that the time frame was correct and that the Director, Mr. Buckley, had passed away. The young man in the photos were Mike Yi. Mike also stated that he had never seen the article -- or at least he has forgotten it as it was over 50 years ago. This is possible as Mike entered the ROK Army in 1959.
The odds of all the circumstances coming together are mind-boggling. The chances of John saving the newsletters for 50 years; the chances of John sending them to Kalani in Korea for archiving; Kalani running across the article in the old newsletters of Mike Yi -- who he happened to know personally -- are numerically impossible. Statistically, the chances are not even fathomable. Kalani is becoming a believer that there has to be the hand of God involved in this matter.)
Mike Yi receiving his Honorary Membership Mosquito Association cap (July 2002)
There was the USO Club that was formerly the Airmen's Club in the Korean War. We know little of its interior. John mentioned that there were no pool tables on base, so we can only assume it was primarily a reading area with coffee and donuts. The Defender, newsletter of the 314th Air Division at Osan, carried news items that Kunsan's Service Club did hold such activities as 4th of July celebrations in 1959 with fireworks and meals in the Club.
The Kunsan gym had the standard sports programs of softball in Korea-wide competition. Individuals from the Kunsan team were selected to the Osan team to represent Korea in PACAF competition. In 1959, Kunsan added a weight lifting program to its athletic programs. Judo was also included in the activities. (NOTE: Taekwondo was many years away from being the recognized Korean sport. Football was a major sport in Korea with the Army fielding teams for each division and Osan having a team. Unfortunately, Kunsan was too small to field a team.)
George Rabe's drawing indicates that in 1959, the golf course area was nothing but an empty field. (The golf course was built around 1961.) John Moench mentioned that there was at one time a putt-putt golf course, but it was a failure.
John Moench brought to our attention how we were originally in error over a 9-hole golf course in 1959. George Rabe's drawing shows the golf course built in 1960 was still only an empty field in 1959. (57a) Gen Moench wrote, "Reading that during my stint at Kunsan there was a nine hole golf course with woman caddies behind the Officers Club, I called my Kunsan JAG (at 82 he is still an active attorney in the Washington, DC area -- he is covered by a false name in "Taking Command") and asked; "Ernie, have I lost my mind -- did we have a golf course hidden somewhere at Kunsan?" In sum, he simply laughed. In brief, he confirmed that there was no such facility in Kunsan at that time. So now you have a problem as to who to believe. There is no question about a golf course being established at a later date but not during the time frame of "Taking Command.". Incidentally, "Ernie" did organize a flying club but a crash brought that activity to an end -- this was before my arrival. "Ernie" also taught University of Maryland courses when at Kunsan. He was my right hand man during the months at Kunsan. " (60) Live Korean entertainment was periodically scheduled for both the officers and enlisted clubs. The "Airman's Club" on George Rabe's map was actually Building 1100 which had been the NCO Club from the times of the 3rd Bomb Wing in the Korean War. (See Building 1100 Demolished: The Old NCO Club (1952-1976) for details of its demolition in 2002.)
Al Schmitz said, "There was no golf course or driving range that I know of at Kunsan AB in 1957-58. I have no recollection of anyone even having clubs." The 9-hole golf course was built around 1961. Robert W. Koeser of the 3rd Bomb Wing mentioned that there was a golf course complete with women caddies. Jack Stoob, a navigator with the 3rd BW, confirmed this when he stated that towards the end of his tour in 1962 a nine hole golf course was made available at Kunsan.
The Base Exchange contained the barber shop, laundry shop and tailor shop. This building is what is now known as the "Food Court" and is one of the oldest buildings on base. The PX (Post Exchange) used the full length of the building. The exterior has remained basically unchanged since 1954 -- except for cosmetic upgrades -- became the Food Court. (57a) Prior to 1959, the PX chain of supply was from Japan to Osan and then to Kunsan. Therefore, one could expect the choice of goods to be siphoned off before it got to Kunsan. In 1959, the supply chain for the BX at Kunsan was changed to Japan.
The snack bar at Bldg 100 added an outdoor patio in May 1959.
(SITE NOTE: A snack bar was added by partitioning the building in 1971 after the 3rd TFW arrived and later the entire building became the Food Court. Next to the PX was a small building used as the Tailor Shop, Photo Shop, Watch and Camera Repair Shop (pg 330). This became the Korea Telecom building. The history of the building is unclear, but a slab for a latrine without plumbing was laid in the Occupation years in the approximate same location. The Food Court and Korea Telecom building are slated for demolition in 2005.) The Post Office was on Avenue C near the BX. Near the BX there is an empty field that would become the base golf course in 1961. The 6175th ABS headquarters building (the old 3rd BW HQ building) was located just down the street from the NCO Club. (57a)
The movie theater was located on Avenue C -- the old Invader Theater of the Korean War. According to John Moench, the movies were shown in the NCO and Officer Clubs in 1959 -- but Al Schmitz in 1957 does remember that he used it for training with films during his time at K-8, though he too stated that films were shown in the O-club.
Open House at K-8 (Courtesy George Rabe)
Click on photo to enlarge
George Rabe included a classic shot of an open house at Kunsan in 1959. He wrote, "'Open house day' at the base. The towns people came to see the aircraft on display. Some wore traditional Korean clothing; some wore "Western" clothing." The aircraft is the B-66 which filled many roles from weather to recon to electronic warfare.
The base chapel provided for the spiritual needs of the servicemen. The Catholic group -- and other interested airmen -- visited the Catholic orphanage downtown to spend time with the orphans. (NOTE: The catholic orphanage is still in the same location in Yahhwa-dong and caters to the needs of young orphans.)
An article in the newsletter of the 314th Air Division, seems to fit his description. Father Francis Leo Woods, who came to Korea in 1935, filled in as the on-base Catholic chaplain and was well-known to the Kunsan personnel. The servicemen of the MGCIS-1, Marine Corps Ground Control Intercept Squadron One, remembered a catholic priest who performed services on their hill just off-base from 1953-1955. From their description, there is a high probability that he was the same person. The Defender, Vol. II No. 10, 314th Air Division, Korea, November 11, 1959, contained an article "Chaplin Airs Woes" with a picture of the white-haired, but robust "Missionary Priest and 'Me Bike'."
KUNSAN, Korea -- Military personnel are encouraged to take their troubles and problems to the chaplain. The question of to whom does the chaplain take his problems has been heard but has, in the past, been considered just an academic query.J. Base Living Facilities In the most areas of the base, the grass in the low-lying areas was allowed to grow to 5-6 feet high. Then Korean nationals from the north of the base were allowed to come in and clear the areas squatting on the ground and using sickles to cut a swath. An airmen would be assigned to guard the crews with M-2 carbines and then escort them offbase with their prize bundles of grass. At the end of the day, the grass and crews would be loaded on a flatbed truck and hauled off base. The grass was used for fuel for fires; thatch for roofs or oxen feed.
To Father Francis Leo Woods, a veteran of 24 years of missionary service in Korea and well known figure at Kunsan AB, the problem of who a chaplain goes to see is more than academic. The missionary priest, who substitutes on occasions for the Catholic chaplain, described his problem recently.
Father Woods, a survivor of Japanese occupation and battles of the Korean conflict, recently obtained a motorcycle which he endearingly calls "me bike," and which is the center of his problem. Not even his arrival in Korea in 1935, after being ordained a priest of the St. Columban Order at County Dunleer, Ireland, with no knowldege of the country, its coustoms, or its language provided difficulties equal to obtaining a license for the "bike."
According to the jolly priest and his Irish brogue, "'Tis taken me a year and I still have not registered me bike, for if it isno't one thing 'tis another. Now hear this, mind you...To issue the license they want four pictures of me bike, four of meself, four of me passport, four of me residence permit, four of a diagram of me garage, plus four pictures of teh locality. I'm just about ready to give up and kee riding me bike without a license."
After 24 years of assiing the Koreans and ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination, Father Woods might be excused for his attitude regarding a license. He has become accustomed to the Korean way of life and has surmounted his language difficulties. On the language the priest said, "'Tis an endless vocabulary of words and varied pronunciations."
Father Woods has become well known to Kunsan personnel through more than his license and language problems. An interview of the Padre was taped and played at recent commanders' calls where the missionary told of his trials during World War II and the Korean fighting.
After World War II the Americans found him, his congregation suffering from malnutrition and all dubious as to what the "invading" troops would do. That was the first time the Americans helped the priest. The second came when U.S. forces drove off the communists in the Korean action.
Though the book is "faction," Taking Command tells of base areas were overgrown with grass that was "knee-high." (59) (See photos of the Airmen billets to see the grass growth.) The book comments that all lawnmowers were "reserved" for Osan use -- leaving Kunsan with a requisition only that would never be filled. John Moench speaks to a friend in Japan who sends a lawn mower -- to be used by the WHOLE base. Everyone took turns with the lawn mower.
(SITE NOTE: Though Taking Command is a "faction," this lawn mower fiasco could very well have been reality. In the 1950-1960s the supply system was "linear" and whoever was at the top of the supply chain got the cream of the pickings. This meant that those at Yokosuka, Japan or Osan, Korea would get "first dibs" on the items entering the country. What was leftover went to fill the supply requests down the chain. Another problem with the supply systems was that each service was operating their own supply warehouses to support their particular branch of service.) The housing situation is confusing. According to the 8th Fighter Wing history (1999), the 6175th ABG began to "upgrade base facilities and building new dormitories" during this time period. According to Moench's book, none of the facilities had been upgraded since the Korean War's end -- save for the base chapel which received a new coat of paint. (SITE NOTE: The chapel was built in the Korean War under the 3rd Bomb Wing.)
There was a change in 1959 that relocated the quonset huts nearer to duty sections. The Defender, Vol. II No. 10, 314th Air Division, Korea, November 11, 1959 shows a photo of an oversized flatbed trailer moving a quonset hut with an airmen sitting on top of the quonset hut. The caption read: "Moving? Take Your Hut. "KING SIZED "HOUSE TRAILERS" ....It was moving day at Kunsan last week as the Air Installations Roads and Grounds section moved quonset huts to allow airmen to live nearer their duty sections. A/2C Carlton Bennet did the driving while SSgt. Lawrence Canter was the walking guide and A/3C William Herlihy was the top lookout." Unlike the plywood Jamesway structures which could not be moved, the quonset huts did not require a concrete slab base and could be set up on concrete pylons as base pads.
The facilities on base could handle only about 900 personnel max. With 500 military on-base -- one-third of the USAF population in Korea at the time -- this meant transient quarters for only 400. From reports, no real improvements in the permanent party living quarters were done until 1964 when seven two-story cinder block barracks were constructed on the main base. Up to that time, the base facilities were slowly left to deteriorate. There was no substantive change in the base until after the Pueblo Incident in 1968 when massive amounts of personnel poured into Kunsan and prefab structures were erected.
Commander Billets on Signal Hill: 1959 (Gunsmoke Hill)
We are assuming that Col Moench's quarters was the same building presently used by the present day 8th Fighter Wing Commander. It is directly behind the Base Hospital on the lowest tier of the Senior Commander buildings along Avenue C and has been used by the various commanders since the 3rd Bomb Wing in the Korean War. In the book Taking Command, John's quarters are described as, "The bathroom has been giving us a problem -- the water pipes leak most of the time -- and the floor in the entrance way and bathroom is on the rotted side." His refrigerator barely worked and there was no air conditioning. This was the state of most of the BOQ billets.
The officer's billets in the BOQ area were normally four to a building and in dire need of maintenance. 3rd BW officer personnel complained that their BOQ billets had a hole in the kitchen floor that one could fall through. Even photos in 1954 showed these billets were deteriorating fast.
One major complaint was the rats that would climb down the stovepipe and make a hellatious noise that kept him awake -- if he didn't beat on the heater to clear the rats out before hand. (This was the summer months and later he organized a base rat killing contest that the men participated in with great enthusiasm.)
(SITE NOTE: During this time period, Korean students would be given a holiday in fall with a homework assignment to bring back 10 rat tails. This was a nationwide problem and we've seen black-and-white Korean propaganda films warning of the dangers of the rats -- with amateurish rat cartoons to incite the populace into dealing with the problem. A custom developed for youngsters in fall to put glowing embers into a can, spin it around and launch it into farm stubble to chase the hiding rats out into the open -- where they could be killed. John slept under a mosquito net because of the hazards from the pests that carried malaria and encephalitis. Moench was there during July-August, the primary mosquito breeding months. John stated that when he found out about the enlisted personnel not having mosquito nets, he placed an emergency requisition for nets to protect the troops. The mosquito nets were received in 1960 after he left.
In John's "faction" book, Taking Command, a rat-killing contest was held for the base. The following is from The Defender, Vol. II No. 9., 314th Air Division, Korea, November 4, 1959, "Rats to Pay Leave Price -- Unwittingly".
KUNSAN, Korea -- Rats will die to get four Kunsan Air Base airmen to Japan for an extra rest and recretion leave.
Not only will the destructive rodents provide free time off, but they will enrich Kunsan airmen to the tune of $90.
The R&R leaves and the cash will be prizes in the Kunsan "Pied Piper" contest. Announcement of the contest which is a followup to the work of a Fifth Air Force rodent control team, was made by Col. William J. Feallock, base commander, Oct. 20.
Airmen will be divided into two-man teams. The team bringing in the most dead rats will be rewarded with a seven-day R#R to Japan and $50 in cash. The second team will also go to Japan for seven days and will split $25. The individual bringing in the rat with the longest tail will collect $15.
Rules of the competition limit the ways in which the rats may be killed. Poison and firearms cannot be used on the rodents. Decisions on the authenticity of the kills will be made by base dispensary personnel.
The "Pied Piper" contest is designed to reduce the rodent population of the base. The rats, which are expected to leave the fields for sheltered areas with the advent of cold weather, were first attacked by the poisoning activities of the rodent control team.
The contest closes Dec. 20.
In the Jan 13, 1960 edition of The Defender, the article headline read, "Rat Contest Ends, Saves AF $13,000. Two man teams killed a total of 1,173 rats during the 60-day contest.Official figures placed a value of $11 on the damage done by a single rate during its life span. First prize went to A2c John N. Smith and Charles W. Skelton of the 6175th Support Sq were dog handlers in the Air Police section. They turned in 552 rats. Two more Air Police airmen turned in 343 rats for second place. The longest tail was 9 and 1/3 inches. The judges were the 6043d USAF Dispensary. Because of its success, a Pied Piper II was declared in March 1960.
Billets for Transient Crews
(Courtesy Jack Stoob)
Click on Photo to Enlarge
The picture is of the billets for the rotating crews of the 3rd Bomb Wing. The one pictured belonged to the 8th Bomb Squadron (L-NI) Commander during the Korean War and featured the "Wheel House" after-hours bar for the squadron. These billets had fallen into a state of disrepair. Jack Stoob of the 3rd BW complained that the billet had a hole in the kitchen floor that one could fall through.
Ambulance and Quonset Hut Structures
(Courtesy Jack Stoob)
Click on Photo to Enlarge
Another picture which we believe is of the clinic area with the ambulance out front. The Clinic at the time was simply a leftover of the quonset hut buildings from the Korean War.
Airman Transient Billets
Inside the Billets
Enlisted billeting (1959)
(Courtesy Larry Doyle)
George's drawing of the quonset huts for the enlisted personnel with the latrines at the end were typical of the Korean War leftover structures. The "40 man sandbag revetment" was something left-over from the Korean War days -- though the threat from the North did play a role in base defense. George's drawing shows some barracks, but he stated that there were many more than in the drawing. The drawing does show the standard configuration of two latrines at the end of a cluster of eight barracks. The old Jamesway huts housed 8 airmen.
The enlisted barracks and Airman Transient Billets were in the same area. They had not been upgraded since the Korean War. The enlisted quarters were in sad shape with sandbagged roofs to keep them from blowing off.
The cots used for the transient airmen were standard for that period -- air mattresses. Notice that the Transient Billets were not equipped with mosquito nets. Also note the lack of lockers and the makeshift clothes line to dry their towels. There were no frills.
Air Field Repairs The 8th Fighter Wing history (1999) stated that throughout this period, "improvements were made to the runway, taxiways and aprons." The major improvements were made during the Korean War, but after that the runway and taxiways were slowly left to deteriorate. (See 808th/841st EAB (SCARWAF) for details on the runway construction.) The taxiway lights were reportedly stolen and not replaced. Though the 8th Fighter Wing history stated that the runway was extended under the 6174th ABG, we contend that no extensions were done -- only repairs. The 1954 photos of the base by Pat Souders show the runway extended to the north end with the overrun extending up past the BOQ as it is today. We also know that runway extended down to between the two hills (Big Coyote/Little Coyote) at the end from Kiyo Noriye's 1958 photos of his aircraft F-100D 564 taxing for takeoff. Kiyo also sent a photo of the Yellow Sea taken from the "Christmas tree" area -- which is the overrun at the south end of the runway.
In 1958, the 802d Engineer Battalion (Heavy Construction), Company "C" was deployed to repair the expansion joints that caused the runway to buckle. These repairs are reported in July 1959. (8a) The 802d opened a quarry at the base (actually just outside the north gate) to obtain fill for road, runway and other improvements. A total of 18,000 cubic yards was removed between 1960-1961. (59c) This quarry -- which was previously used by the 808th/809th/841st EABs between 1951-1954 -- is still visible today as a big scar on the side of the hill.
The area for the Company C, 802d Engineering Battalion (Heavy Construction) appears to be to the east of the Base Ops. (8a) This would be the old area used by the Marine VMF-513 during the Korean War and still had its concrete hardstands in place that could be used for its heavy equipment parking. These hardstands would be demolished in 1965.
We are uncertain if they were housed in the base billets or in 12-man tents in their area. George D. Leible wrote, "I was a member of the 802nd Eng. Co."C" at Kunsan in l958 and l959." He stated that he was a cook at the NCO Mess where he worked with many Koreans that he thought highly of. Thus we conclude that the unit did not have a separate mess tent, but messed at the NCO Club. (SITE NOTE: It is normal even today on multi-service bases for cooks and medics for different military services to combine their personnel under the host group.)
The taxiways were still primitive in some areas with Korean War PSP over some of the taxiways into what is now the Arch area. In fact, the taxiway to the Base Operations (located near the present day tank farm) was still PSP as late as 1965 when they were removed. (See 1965 for details.)
Nuclear Tasking at Kunsan Nuclear Non-proliferation activist organizations claim that the nuclear alerts in Korea were in direct violation of Article 13d of the Armistice Agreement as it in effect introduced a new weapons system --- not a replacement -- in Korea without agreement of the signatories. (42) It does not take much intelligence to figure out that if you don't want a "no" answer, you don't ask the question. This is the path taken by the USFK dealing with nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula in 1959.
To put the use of nuclear weapons against China in perspective, remember that three developments in 1953 brought peace to Korea. (1). In March 1953, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, a major obstacle, died. (2). In May 1953, Air Force bombers increased the frequency of their attacks again, striking North Korean irrigation dams that, when breached, washed away railroads and highways and threatened the nation's rice crop. (3). At the direction of President Dwight Eisenhower, Secretary of State John Dulles asked Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to warn China that the United States intended to use tactical and strategic nuclear weapons and might unleash SAC against Chinese cities if a settlement was not forthcoming. (50a/b/c/d/e) On May 27, 1953, China agreed to an armistice in Korea. It went into effect on July 27. (50a)
But Kunsan was just one piece of a much larger puzzle dealing with atomic weapons on the Korean peninsula. Korea was ear-marked for nuclear weapons starting in August 1957 when the Eisenhower administration approved provisions for the deployment of nuclear weapons to South Korea with NSC 5702/2. (50) On 24 December 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower issues the order to deploy 280mm nuclear artillery and Honest John nuclear rockets to South Korea. (51) In January 1958, the United States deploys 280mm nuclear artillery and Honest John nuclear rockets to South Korea. (52) In early 1958, the United States deploys nuclear weapons in South Korea for the first time. The weapons are in the form of "atomic artillery, Honest John rockets, bombs, and atomic demolition munitions." (53) But there was also a change in strategic thinking after the Korean War. An extract from "Air Force History Part 2, Limited Warfare":
The Korean War should have taught the United States that nuclear weapons had limited use in conventional wars, but the appeal of the new hydrogen bomb, first tested in November 1952, and plans for a new all-jet intercontinental bomber, the B-52, continued to dominate strategic thinking. TAC sought a new generation of fighters (the "century series," including the F-100 Super Sabre, F-101 Voodoo, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief, and F-106 Delta Dart) with supersonic speeds, but also adapted them to carry tactical nuclear weapons. The Air Force realized that while turbojet technology was the future, it alone was no substitute for good training, tactics, and aggressiveness. Military casualties in Korea of over two million for both sides, including more than 54,000 dead Americans, belied the judgment that this was a "limited" war-Americans learned firsthand the costs of war in Asia. Air Force aircraft had dropped 476,000 tons of explosives to achieve a standoff. Korea exposed the Air Force to the reality of post World War II warfare, where conventional (non-nuclear) air power would be used to "influence" an enemy, not to destroy it." (50a) After President Eisenhower unilaterally decided to "forward position" units with LIVE nuclear weapons in Korea in 1957 (51), there was no need to ask anyone at the Panmunjeon Armistice table. The decision was made. As nuclear weapons could not be stored in Japan they were only based in Korea and Okinawa (plus Iwo Jima and on carriers). The military back in 1959 considered nuclear weapons forward positioned essential in their battle strategies against the Chinese, North Koreans -- and Russia if necessary. Besides, Korea never raised any objections to the stationing of the weapons on Korean soil. The corrupt Korean government of the Syngman Rhee was being underwritten by U.S. to the tune of 40-50% of its Gross National Product (GNP) so the Korean government made no protests. To do so would have been tantamount to biting the hand that fed them.
However, though the government was corrupt, there was strong popular support amongst the general populace -- but there are indications that the popular turnout during his visits to various cities were staged. One photo of his visit to Taejon shows a sign where school children were to assemble. There was a certain amount of fear as Rhee operated an anti-communist arm patterned on the war-time OSS that later became the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). People would simply disappear if accused of being a communist. President Rhee visited the cities that were near USAF bases with runways for his personal DC-3 (C-47) aircraft to land and then he would proceed with motorcade to the various public sites. According to The Defender, Vol. II No. 17, 314th Air Division, Korea, December 31, 1959, during his visit to Kunsan in October 1959 drew 25,000 people to greet him. Like previous visits, he landed at Kunsan AB (K-8) and then proceeded to Kunsan and Chonju -- the provincial capital. In November 1959, President and Mrs. Rhee appeared at Taejon, and were greeted by 30,000 people. Again he landed his aircraft at Taegu AB (K-2) and proceeded by motorcade to his receptions. The runways at the various bases developed by the USAF during the Korean War -- some turned over to the ROKAF -- were used. It was only later when his health started deteriorating and senility caused him to lose grip on power that the public started to turn against him. In his later years, corruption grew worse and the people were suffering from the abuses done in his name. Rhee had lost complete control of the government and anarchy ruled. The press turned against him and popular support for toppling his regime would explode in the "Righteous Student Uprising of April 19th" that is much revered in Korea today. On April 19, 1960 thousands of university and high school students, as well as professors, teachers, parents and others, staged one of the most spectacular demonstrations against the government. April 26 when President Syngman Rhee tendered his resignation and the First Republic collapsed in a violent uprising.
Even after Park Chung-hee took over as the Korean strongman with dictatorial powers, the nuclear alerts continued...simply because their was no options under the Japanese anti-nuclear hysteria -- that is still present today. In 1958, the tensions on where nuclear weapons could be positioned changed. Nuclear weapons could not be stationed in Taiwan because of China which had just entered into the initial stages of becoming a nuclear power in 1958. Nuclear weapons could not be present in Japan because of the violent anti-American/anti-nuclear sentiment. Any of the countries in Asia were too far away to respond quickly to a Chinese threat -- though the Philippines did have nukes positioned there. This left only Okinawa and Korea. (SITE NOTE: The Matador missiles of the 58th Tactical Missile Squadron were stationed in Korea and capable of tactical nuclear responses. The first overseas deployment of the Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile system was in Taiwan in September 1958 during the Quemoy Crisis. In 1962, a Nike Hercules battery was moved into Kimje about 24km away.)
Remember that in the 1950s, Japan had to be protected at all costs from the perspective that it was cornerstone of democracy in Asia. Based upon this strategy, the concept of the "nuclear umbrella" was formulated. For many years to come, Korea at Kunsan and Osan AB would have nuclear alert facilities manned by units from Japan. The backup nuclear force was in Okinawa until it was returned to Japan in the 1970s. It was a rather simplistic shell game that if someone asked, the military could state we have "no nuclear forces stationed in Korea" (as they were in Japan) -- and at the same time could say, "we have no nuclear weapons in Japan." Then later they would institute the "neither confirm nor deny" policy when it was recognized that there were nuclear weapons in Korea. The Japanese understandably had an abhorrence to nuclear weapons on their soil, but it was the new reality -- Nuclear Deterence.
Kunsan's 6175th ABG realistically had very little to do with the nuclear operations -- if anything. However, John Moench was worried about it from another aspect in that the Base Commander would be held responsible if there was a nuclear incident on Kunsan AB. Thus he exhibited a great interest in the nuclear alert facility. However, he immediately ran into resistance. John said, "In not too long a time, I was faced with "you are not my commander" and "you cannot tell me what to do" assertions by some tenant and rotating individuals ?officer and enlisted. I quickly made it known that I didn't care who the commander of the individual was but that, so long as the individual was on my base, he would conform to my directions. Most of the time that ended the issue." (40a)
The nuclear alert facility or "Green House" had a dedicated tactical line to their home bases (18th TFW and 3rd BW) and one from 5th AF at Fuchu just outside Tokyo. (57a) The operational orders came directly from 5th AF in Japan.
During 1959, the "tactical fighters" were F-100s with nuclear loads from the 18th TFW from Okinawa. Larry Doyle stated, "I do not know what the status of the B-57's was but they were flying every day, the shotgun starters would drive us up the wall. How crude! We F-100 types use real engine starters!!" The other unit handling the nuclear alerts was the B-57s from the 3rd Bomb Wing. The 3rd Bomb Group from Yokota AB, Japan were directly controlled from their home station under 5th Air Force direction. (See 3rd Bomb Wing (1958-1964) for more details.)
SITE NOTE: The 3rd Bomb Wing is not mentioned in John Moench's "faction," Taking Command. John's reluctance to comment on specifics of the nuclear alerts at Kunsan is reasonable considering his position as a retired USAF general officer. On the area of nuclear alerts, John stated that the material was intentionally vague in this area. He stated "I remain sensitive at revealing full truth when it comes to military things and still sit on a text about Kunsan that may never get released..." This is understandable. Those who over the years have maintained the "silver bullets" at Kunsan have had to sign non-disclosure statements making this a very touchy area -- and one in which the USFK maintains a "neither confirm nor deny" policy. Regardless, some of the potential Chinese targets back in the early 1960s were revealed through slips of the tongue by some old vets on internet bulletin boards. However, in the 2000s these are nothing more than historical footnotes -- though years ago, it would have been politically explosive. In 1958, the shooting war between Taiwan and China heated up. War looked imminent as the PRC set up blockades of Quemoy and Matsu. U.S. Forces were deployed to Okinawa and Taiwan. (53a) In August of 1958, Mainland Chinese forces began bombarding the Nationalist-held island of Quemoy. There were also fierce dog fights between the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF) armed with AIM-9 Sidewinders and Chinese (PRC) MiGs. (53a) The lopsided battle accounted for great losses to the PRC aircraft.
This action in Taiwan, plus China's announced intent to become a nuclear power, decided on the 3rd BW being "permanently TDY" to Kunsan in Aug 1958. The 3rd BW first started non-nuclear training at Kunsan in 1957, but switched to a permanent nuclear alert with B-57s that operated with monthly squadron rotations in late August 1958. The reason is that with the tensions in Taiwan, the 345th BG from Japan sent a detachment of B-57Bs to Okinawa to stay on alert just in case mainland forces tried to invade Taiwan. The 3rd Bombardment Group from Yokota AB stood by in a nuclear-strike role aimed at strategic targets in China, North Korea and possibly even the Soviet Union should the crisis escalate out of control. In July 1959, the 345th BG was still in Okinawa and, of course, the 3rd Bomb Wing -- which could NOT stand nuclear alert in Japan -- still stood their alerts at Kunsan. (7)
The U.S. strategy was simple. Any incursion by the Chinese would result in the U.S. to reacting immediately with their "forward positioned" aircraft. Remember that U.S. had changed its strategy to allow the use of tactical nuclear weapons early on in a conflict. Thus it was reasonable that the 18th TFW would send up its F-100s with Mk-27 nukes to Kunsan to sit in a contingency role whenever the Chinese would stir up the pot over Taiwan -- such as its blockades in 1959.
F-100D/F on K-8 flightline
F-100D rolling on takeoff
F-100F two-seater on K-8 flightline|
Notice on the photos that there still were extensive PSP (Pierced Steel Plate) that had been laid down during the Korean War. Also other areas were simply dirt roads -- unlike Osan where all the base roads were paved. The 18th TFW was parked in the contingency parking area (C-pad).
According to John, there were eight F-100s in the alert area -- six of them had nuclear weapons -- though they could have been dummy "silver bullet" units. Though we will never know if live nukes really were at Kunsan in the 1960s, it seems that it would be on the top of the probability scale. Let's look at the possibility of these being dummies.
(1) We have the Eisenhower policy to "forward position" ASSEMBLED nuclear weapons. Why would you have such a policy if you weren't going to implement it? (2). There was the decision to forward position AIRCRAFT WITH NUCLEAR LOADS. How much deterence would there be if there were no live nuclear munitions involved? Deception with practice munitions may work on a short TDY, but the nuclear alert was long term and the deception couldn't have lasted long without leaks occurring. You don't threaten unless you have a stick. (3) Then we consider the change in nuclear attack strategies at the time. The decision was made to use of tactical nuclear artillery munitions in the initial stages of a North Korean attack. Though nukes are not mentioned, it is a logical conclusion that they too would be unleashed early on in a conflict with China, North Korea -- or possibly Russia. (4) Then we have the fact that the U.S. moved a Nike-Hercules battery (1962-1977) into Kimje to cover what? Then a Hawk battery (1968-1980) moved into Kunsan. You don't protect something (Kunsan was the only U.S. military installation within 120 km) with airburst capability unless there's something of high value to protect. There would be a lot cheaper ways to deceive the enemy. (SITE NOTE: After the Nike-Hercules was turned over to the ROK Army in 1977, it continued in operation in the same location. In the 1990s, the ROKAF took over and still remained as of 2002, but was rumored to be deactivated soon.) All six aircraft were on the described ten minute alert. However, Larry Doyle of San Pablo, CA then part of the 18th TFW stated that only two aircraft were "hot". This would have been standard practice for nuclear alerts with two "hot", two "cocked" spares and two in maintenance. Larry stated, "When we went to K-8 almost the same drill around the clock two of the six A/C were hot! and they did have Mk-27s, sidewinders and the cannon were charged and we guarded them with our little 30 cal Mk2 carbines!!!!" Larry's statement marks the absurdity of the situation as a carbine would hardly stop any sort of attack. This is why Larry said SIX of his F-100 aircraft were "hot." From personal experience, we know that there would be no nuclear stores in the pile that Larry guarded. The Mk-27s were on the aircraft. Larry was guarding a pile of maintenance materials -- and his presence was just to keep the honest people honest -- and to keep the "slickey boys" at bay. (55. Personal Observation Note.)
Mk-27 Nuclear Weapon
(SITE NOTE: Mk-27s were the nukes. (61c) During the 1960s, it was common for short notice TDY's to have security forces arrive with the follow-on recovery crews after the initial deployment on C-124 "Old Shakeys." Remember that manning throughout the world was being decreased with RIFs (Reductions in Forces) affecting everyone. The F-100s could have been sent up without security forces as the 3rd BW security forces was already on the Contingency Pad (C-pad) area. The C-pad security forces would handle the close-in security, while the 6175th Security Police would handle the perimeter defense. See 18th TFW Deployment (1959) for details.) According to a map drawn by George Rabe, the secure area of C-pad consisted of one entrance off the taxiway into the C-pad area with the other opening for the aircraft to exit from the parking ramp directly onto the runway. The F-100s that George drew would be facing each other with the "Green House" to the ammo dump side. The reason George knows the pattern in the secure area was that he was a POL driver to refuel the jets. (57a)
The alert facility "Green House" on the C-pad had a dedicated tactical line to their home base in Yokota and one from 5th AF at Fuchu just outside Tokyo. The pilots and maintenance crew chiefs on alert resided in the the "Green House" towards the Ammo Dump side of the secure area. (57a)
In 1959, there was no double chain-link fence with K-9 dogs in between as seen in 1961. There was only a single fence/concertina wire. John Moench stated that he did have a walk-through of the facility accompanied by the deployment commander and was simply asked if he had a lighter or other flammable materials in his pockets by the security guards. There was no hassle over clearances or security badges. (61a) He said that he saw a nuclear device in the area under lock and key in a shed. He stated, "I fail to recall a double fence with patrol dogs between the fence lines. This "memory" has to relate to another time. Approaching the alert pad and passing to the rear storage area, the guards only looked at my ID and asked if I had any lighter or matches. I went where I wanted? As to dogs at the time, there was none other than as held by the 6175th. .."
There were some Quonset huts (often referred to as Nissan huts) that were used by the 77th Squadron RAAF when they stood alerts there in 1955. The Quonset hut skeleton was a row of semi-circular steel ribs covered with corrugated sheet metal. The ribs sat on a low steel-frame foundation with a plywood floor. The basic model was 20 feet wide and 48 feet long with 720 square feet of usable floor space. These structures were between the C-pad and the perimeter road towards the Ammo dump and remained in place until the late 1980s.
In addition there were open-faced sheds on the C-pad that had been used by the 8th FW during 1957 as a storage area. It is uncertain when these were constructed. (See 1957 Photo.)
(SITE NOTE: Later in about 1963, the alert aircraft would move down to the "Christmas Tree" bunker area a few hundred yards south. The aircraft were housed in small hardened aircraft shelters and the pilots/crew chiefs on alert continued to reside in the "Green House.")
90th BS B-57's on the Alert Pad at Kunsan AB, Korea, 1964.
According to the people from the 3rd BW alert units, their security units did not mess around. On one occasion, the Base Security Police was chasing one of the 3rd Bomb Group C-pad trucks which had taken a wrong turn and strayed onto the active runway. Instead of stopping, they attempted escape and got their truck into the secured area just in time. The Kunsan Security Police demanded entry -- and all that was heard was the chambering of rounds. These C-pad Security folks played for real and no one entered the secured area without proper authorization. Cool heads prevailed. (SITE NOTE: This story was intended to illustrate the difference between a NORMAL Security Police and the Security Police guarding nuclear weapons. John Moench felt that this incident was exaggerated and was a case that would have been best sorted out between the base commander and unit deployment commander later -- as it probably was the next day. However, Kalani O'Sullivan pointed out that "IF" the 6175th Security Police had attempted to enter, the standing orders for any nuclear protection force in the 1960s was to shoot first and THEN sort it out later. Kalani O'Sullivan based this observation on having served with the Special Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, NM and as a member of SAC in the late-1960s. He could attest first-hand how the Security Forces were trained. He had been face down in the snow with live weapons pointed at him because he had accidentally stepped over a painted "no lone zone" red line. It was the Security Police's job and they took it seriously.)
Though the following incident is NOT from 1959, it does give you a sense of the heightened security on the C-pad when the 39th AD took over in 1963. Lester G. Frazier, Col, USAF (Ret) of Georgetown, TX related another example of how the C-Pad Security Police handled their duties. He was then a young lieutenant with the 351st TFS, 39th Air Division flying F-100Cs. He wrote, "On another occasion, after running my airplane and shutting it down, I stopped to chat with my plane's guard. Greg Clarke, shutting down his own airplane in the space next to mine, noticed fuel leaking from my right wing inboard pylon station (a fairly common occurrence that Greg was not aware of). Without considering the "no-lone zone rule," Greg approached my airplane to examine the leaking fuel. My back was turned so I did not see him and several airplanes in the vicinity were running up. My guard shouted at him, but because of the noise, Greg did not hear him. The guard shoved me out of the way, and brought his shotgun down from his shoulder sling, pumping a round into the chamber as he leveled it at Greg. By this time, I came up to speed on that was happening and screamed, "It's okay! It's okay!" My crew chief and I ran to Greg, busily examining the leaking fuel, about five feet or less from my bomb, and dragged him away from the airplane. The guard's orders were to shoot anyone alone in the no-lone zone and since he didn't carry out his orders, he was trembling with fright and anticipation of dereliction of duty. The three of us assured him we would claim all three of us were in the no-lone zone if it ever came up - exposed as we were on the flight line. But if anyone else ever noticed it, we never heard about it. (61b)
Larry with F-100 (Larry Doyle)
Mk-28 Nuclear Weapon
(SITE NOTE: The aircraft carried the Mk-28 Nuclear Bomb. This "hydrogen" bomb was first produced in 1958. It was designed to be carried by various fighter and bomber aircraft. The "28" warhead was also used in Hound dog and Mace missiles which are now retired. This weapon is capable of a ground or air burst and may be carried internally or externally, with a free-fall or parachute retarded drop, depending upon its configuration. (61c) Go to 39th Air Division for details on the nuclear alert mission.)
Nuclear Weapon Storage The hardened igloos for "nuclear arms" were constructed (or under construction) in 1959. It appears that the construction was handled under a Corps of Engineers contract -- and again the 6175th probably had very little input into the construction. This would have been a higher headquarters funded initiative. Considering the shape of his base caused by upper echelon neglect, this "major construction project" highlighted the priorities that the higher headquarters viewed for Kunsan. An igloo was more important than providing proper living quarters for the base inhabitants.
This construction was part of a long-range plan for the storage of nuclear munitions at Kunsan. In 1959, the 3rd BW B-57s were scheduled to be phased out of service and the alert duties would be taken up by the 39th AD -- the 416th and 351st TFS with F-100Cs utilizing Mk28 free fall nuclear weapons. (61d) When the igloos were built, the maintenance and care of the special weapons would fall under the 6175th MATRON (Bomb Dump). (See 1965 for narrative.)
In front of Ammo Dump igloo (1965)
(Courtesy James Mitchell)
Click on photo to enlarge
John Moench reasonably complains about the lack of manpower to defend the base. These new igloos to house the nuclear weapons would require specialized 24/7 coverage to protect these nuclear igloos -- which in turn would stretch the limited Security Forces even more. Remember that in 1956, the Security Forces asked each unit to protect their own perimeter as a form of augmentation. Additional manning would be required immediately for Security Forces as well as special-duty munitions AFSCs to maintain the weapon. As this was a higher-headquarters mandated action, the paperwork for this action was most likely generated at the same time for emergency fills and changes to the UMD (Unit Manning Document).
Haje Fishing Village
-- Blackmarket center
Haje fishing boats
grounded at low tide
Haje Prostitute Hutch
Haje Village-Munition Dump Fence
Click on photo to enlarge
(From John Moench's book Taking Command)
John complained that Haje village was too close proximity with only an inadequate fence between. However, even today, houses from Haje are very close to the Ammo Dump storage bunkers. Al Schmitz commented on this problem in 1957 and how it resulted in the killings of two youngsters when the airmen guards got tired of repeatedly chasing them off, shot directly into the group. (NOTE: 1957 for details on this incident. This incident is still referred to by NGO activist groups in 2003 as "murder" illustrating how the Americans got off scot-free. In actuality, the individuals were court-martialed -- and as there was no SOFA agreement, the U.S. military took over jurisdiction.)
Col Moench's Insurmountable Problems Most of the changes Col. John Moench made were administrative and one wonders how many of the changes really stuck after he left. Col. William J. Feallock, who replaced John as the Base Commander, complimented John's efforts to improve the living conditions upon his assuming command but admitted the continued efforts would be an uphill battle. John wrote, "In spite of my every attempt to raise the "standard of living" at Kunsan Air Base, according to HRA files, after I left the support element of the 6175th Air Base Group still faced personnel shortages that 'plagued every operational section, and office personnel were working on desks and tables made from packing crates. The (offices) gave the appearance of a dirty, dingy warehouse waiting for the demolition team to arrive.' " In other words, it went back to business as usual.
As the focus was on Europe, there was inadequate funding for Far East military bases. Any funds allocated was going primarily to improve the "quality of life" of facilities near major headquarters in Japan. A little trickled down the USAF chain to Osan AB -- but very little reached backwater outposts like Kunsan. There were comments from a small USAF unit in Pyongtaek that basics such as toilet paper were an unknown luxury in 1959. In addition, the military morale world-wide was at an all-time low -- and an assignment to Kunsan would have been considered a punishment tour. The base slipped back into its old ways.
A good indicator was that the two "on-limits" bars (for 75-100 servicemen) that John tried to curtail in 1959 appeared to STILL have been in operation when the 4th TFW arrived during the 1968 Pueblo Crisis. (20) Major changes to the base did not occur until after the 1968 Pueblo Crisis. Haje is also still right up against the fence line of Kunsan. As Kunsan was a backwater base hidden from the prying eyes of the world's press, it was an ideal place to launch covert activities (like Taiwanese B-57 and U-2 flights over China) or positioning nuclear alert pads. It was also a base where you could simply forget that it existed.
It is no wonder that the former commander of Kunsan simply said to John, "go with the flow." The problems he faced were staggering -- and insurmountable for one man alone. No person could have made a dent -- faced with higher headquarters neglect and serious morale problems brought on by being stationed in a backwater hell-hole.
1960The 1960s began with France joining the nuclear weapons "club," testing an atomic weapon on February 13, 1960. President Eisenhower left office in January 1961, warning of the threat of unwarranted influence by the military industrial complex. The Cold War continued under President Kennedy, with an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba, the "Bay of Pigs," and the East Germans constructing the Berlin Wall.
The downfall of the corrupt government of President Syngman Rhee came about in 1960. The last straw was the New National Security Law which gave all power to Rhee's party, abolished the election of local officials, and appointment of Police Chiefs from Rhee's supporters. On April 19, thousands of university and high school students, as well as professors, teachers, parents and others, staged one of the most spectacular demonstrations against the government. This became known as the "Righteous Student Uprising of April 19th." Martial law was declared and troops were mobilized -- however, the troops remained neutral refusing to take action against the students. Riots continued every day until April 26 when President Syngman Rhee tendered his resignation followed by the members of his cabinet. The First Republic collapsed in a violent uprising. Rhee was sent into exile in Hawaii where he died in 1963. But instead of a rebirth of the nation in the Second Republic, it too spiralled downward and became mired in nepotism, corruption while crime grew out of hand. The police were powerless. This set up the military coup of Park Chung Hee in May of 1961.
The Defender, Vol. II, NO. 18, 314th air Division, Korea, January 13, 1960, ran an article "Base, Citizens Form Council To Blend Ideas."
KUNSAN, Korea -- The first meeting of a new Base Community Council was held here last week.Bill Cook wrote, "I was stationed at K-8 from January 1960 to May 1962. I was attached to the 6175th Air Group. My name and rank was A1C William A. Cook. While on K-8 I worked in base supply and my CO was Capt. Hurlbut. What I remember most about Korea was the real cold winters and really hot summers and the long rainy season. While there I lived in quonset huts. Just before I returned to the States we moved into nice dorms." These dorms were 2-story cinder block dorms located between Avenue C and Avenue B. These buildings were torn down in 2000 to make way for the new four-story 1x1 dorms. (2)
The council was formed to help maintain and promote friendly relations between the people of the area and the military personnel based at Kunsan and is composed of leading citizens and the base commander and members of his staff.
The Kunsan AB commander, Col, William J. Feallock, was host at the initial conference which met in the base headquarters and later dined at the officers' club. Kunsan City was represented by Chief Prosecutor Yi Keun Su, Mayor Kim Yong Chul, Ministerial Association President Reverend Yi Soon Yun and members of the police, fire and city health departments.
However, Donald Ward of Cibolo, TX wrote and stated that one of those "nice dorms" burned down soon after he got there. He stated, it was "very Hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. Wind blowing across the rice paddies toward the Dining Hall. Working the Main Gate as Air Policeman." He wrote, "I'm a retired USAF MSgt. I was stationed at Kunsan AB for 13 months in 1960-61. I made Airman First Class (E-4) while stationed there. I was an Air Policeman assigned to the 6175th Air Base Group. The day that I arrived at Kunsan AB there were three brand new permanent type buildings on base. One dining hall and two enlisted barracks. The day that I got there, one of the barracks burned down. I lived in an eight-man quonset hut. I still have some old black and white photos that I took while there. I will have to dig them out of a box in the attic somewhere and send them to you. I even have some 8mm home movies that I took while there. I took some of them when there was about 4 ft of snow on the ground." The "new" dining hall of cinderblock construction was on Avenue B and later became the Base Linen Exchange. (3) (NOTE: Two story cinderblock barracks would be built in the same location and remain until the late 1990s.)
The rat problems at Kunsan continued and the successful Pied Piper rat-killing campaign was followed by Pied Piper II. The following is from The Defender, Vol II. No. 27, 314th Air Division, Korea, March 15, 1960, "Rodent Derby Revived."
KUNSAN AB, Korea -- Pied Piper II, the second anti-rodent campaign that makes rat-killing competitive sport as well as sanitary necessity, was underway here last week.Bill Lambing of Greenwood, IN wrote about his time with the Air Force Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) at Kunsan. He was initially assigned to Osan, but with his broadcast background, was reassigned to AFRTS as Chief Engineer of the Kunsan (Radio Mercury) radio station. According to Bill, he ran 1Kw of power and carried most of the AFRTS programs from Japan. He wrote, "Well, I was with the AFRTS outlet AFKN, Radio Mercury. We lived at the station (at least the studio end of it). I was the Chief Engineer. A guy named Dave Burke was our NCOIC. Milt Fulcher was an Army guy, announcer. Two other announcers lived up the hill toward the water tower, in the transmitter building. Both were Air Force. Milt Fulcher was the only Army guy in our "group". We had a kimchi eating broad for secretary. Stunk like mad..! Henry was our "janitor". We had parties on weekends. The base CO would come over, drink and get smashed. We would dump him in the 3/4 ton and drive him back to his BOQ! His "maid" took it from there. We had a wash tub, we would fill with ice and "party"." (4)
A follow-up to last fall's drive -- in which 1,173 rates died in the interests of an estimated $13,000 saving to the Air Force -- Pied Piper II offers prizes to two-man teams turning the greatest number of rodent corpses in to the preventive medicine section.
Contest rules prohibit killings by poison, explosives or firearms. And only rats killed within the confines of the base will count toward the prizes.
The team turning in the most dead rats before noon, Mar. 26, will receive $50 and an extra seven-day R&R. Second-running team will earn $25 and an R&R, and the third-place pair will divide $15.
He added, "Another announcer, Bruce Card was an AP, who volunteered his time..and enjoyed it. Great guy, never heard from him since."
He went on to explain a little of the base. "Chow hall was "relatively new". PX was a modified Quonset hut. Bowling alley (as I remember was either 2 or 4 lanes) was the pits, but lots of guys bowled. The airman's club was another modified Quonset hut." The dining hall had been built in 1960. The Post Exchange (PX) was what is now the Foodcourt and had been in same place since the Korean War. A photo of the Airmen's club is above showing it certainly wasn't a well-kept up establishment.
(NOTE: The PX underwent many transformations and was still in use as the Burger-King/Anthony's Pizz/Cafeteria "food court" in the 2000s. (It is scheduled for demolition in 2004.) The Airman's club was located behind the current "Son-Light Inn" in the open area between it and the OMalley's dining facility. The Bowling Lanes were in the same basic location as it is today though modern and has 20 lanes.)
He mentioned the surrounding area as a bleak place. "Made 2 trips to Seoul to visit AFRTS Hq for training and BS..! Never liked it there, nor really enjoyed Kunsan. Glad to leave. I remember building the "new highway" from the base to Kunsan City...only to have most of it ripped up for fuel...embarrassing to the brass that came down to "open the highway"..!" This problem was Korea-wide in that the desperately poor farmers would rip up the macadam road and use it for fuel during the winters. Reports said that the two lane road to Kunsan became a one-lane road within days. His remarks of not enjoying Kunsan is understandable -- there really wasn't much in Kunsan in 1961 except a few sleazy bars. The hills were denuded -- simply dirt without any trees except for the few scrub pines on some hills. Kunsan was a very bleak place to be.
He concluded, "Rough life....only when the AF realized my career field did not fit with what I was doing. I arrived at Osan originally. With my broadcast background, someone was needed at Kunsan, thus I was "volunteered". Went back to Osan for about 2 months spending New Years eve with doctor care due to acute tonsillitis. In February '61 we (12 of us) were volunteered for Okinawa...thus ended my Korea adventure."
Special thanks to Mr. Cheol-Kyun Shin for providing the following photos of Kunsan from his archives. Go to Cheol-kyun Shin's Photos of Kunsan City for panoramic views of Kunsan City (1960s). (5) Go to Cheol-kyun Shin's Photos for photos of Kunsan's people in the 1960s.
Human Interest Story: Mr. Pyong-Han Choe There is a human interest story during 1960 related by Mr. Pyong-Hyan Choe (Johnny Choe) of the 8th SPS at Kunsan AB in 2002. (6) Johnny was searching for a Dr. Crawford (first name unknown), 121 Evac Hospital, Pupyong, March 1961. At that time Johnny was a "street kid" living a rough life after he left the orphanage in 1960. He also spoke "street English" and was able to communicate with the Americans.
In 1960, he was outside the Kunsan Main Gate when he noticed a blind kid -- about 5 years older than himself -- was being pushed away repeatedly by the ROK guards in his attempts to enter the base. He went up to offer his help and found out that the kid had learned that an operation done free by the US Army could return his sight. However, he had to first receive a letter of recommendation from the nearest US military base. He had traveled a long way from Chongnu only to be rebuffed at the gate. Johnny, the street-wise kid, took him around to the North Gate and snuck under the fence (barbed wire strands at that time). He took him to see the Base Chaplain and pleaded Noh Chin-Woo's case and received a letter from the Chaplain and Base Hospital.
However, because of the non-availability of eyes for transplants, there was a long waiting period. According to Mr. Choe, he offered one of his eyes and this act came to the attention of Dr. Crawford. He was stunned by this act of generosity and took action up the channels to make this a special case. Johnny didn't have to lose his eyesight as other "eye material" was used. On March 1961, Johnny was there when the bandages were removed from Mr. Noh's eyes and Johnny translated that he could see the 16 flourescent lights through the welder's glasses. The Doctor was overjoyed.
Later Johnny accompanied Mr. Noh returned to his village and everyone was stunned to see the blind-boy now sighted. A celebration was immediately held for the miracle. In 2002, Mr. Noh was 65 years old and lived in Chungno while Mr. Choe was 60 years old and resided in Kunsan City. After all these years, Johnny would like to thank Dr. Crawford for his kindness and humanity
Korea Military Situation According to the CINCPAC Command History, pp 124-128: "The U.S. Military enjoyed considerable prestige with the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and the Korean people in 1960. The Korean economy, though still weak, was improving in its own right and as a result of U.S. military procurement in Korea in connection with the military MA Program. The insistence on quality competitive merchandise improved the ability of Korea to compete in world trade. The internal political rearrangement was completed with minimal stir, and in general the new government was considered sound."
The Military Assistance Program was important because the ROK was fully sustained by the US at the time in the maintenance and support of its 600,000 man force. The CINCPAC Command History stated, "The main problems facing the MAP in Korea in 1960 were: (1) getting the Korean government to take a bigger share of the cost of the Armed Forces; (2) the high cost of maintenance of Korean military equipment; and (3) the long range problem of reducing Korean armed forces within the capability of the Korean economy." The US considered the maintenance of the ROK military at 600,000 troops and provided T-28 and T-6 aircraft to the military. The COMUS Korea (Commander US forces Korea) advised the opening of another base to support jet fighter aircraft in Southern Korea. Three sites were under consideration. COMUS-K also advised that the logistics and materiel facilities were completed in Taegu in 1960. (Source: 1960 Commander in Chief Pacific Command, pp124-128).) (NOTE: As the ROK were equipped with F-86Fs, there was no push to upgrade them to F-100s and F-104Bs as the Taiwan was doing under the MAP.)
In May 1960, US Special Forces from Okinawa were air infiltrated into the ROK and received by US/ROKA reconnaissance forces. In June 1960, SEA HAWK held amphibious forces landings in the Pohang area. Air support was provided by the Ist MAW from Japan. ROK accepted the invitation to participate.
Exercise COUNTER PUNCH (similar to Exercise STRIKE BACk) was held in Mar 1961 as a CPX/FTX to test the posture of the UN/USFK forces to defend Korea in case of resumed localized hostilities. (NOTE: This would become the USFK LENS Exericse and later joined with the ROK Ulchi Focus Exercise to become Ulchi Focus-Lens.)
In Feb 1960, CINCPAC concurred on the draft for use of facilities and areas by the USFK in Korea submitted to the State Department by the US Embassy, Seoul. In early March, the ROK pressed for an early settlement of the facilities issue and stated that they were under pressure to complete a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The Embassy stated to the ROK Foreign Minister that the US would only consider facilities and areas at this time. COMUS-K recommended that the ROK not be required to compensate for any improvements or construction by the US because no such provision was included in the Japanese agreement. In addition, the draft stated that the US would not be bound to restore the areas to their original condition upon release. COMUS-K was doubtful that the ROK would accept any demands for compensation of improvements. If the negotiations were successfully completed, the US would then discuss exit/entry, customs duties and taxation. However, criminal jurisdiction was NOT to be negotiated. (SITE NOTE: The issue of the return of the areas without restoring them to original condition would crop up 45 years later under the Land Partnership Plan (LPP) when camps were returned and the ROK claimed that the US should pay for pollution cleanup. The SOFA was negotiated in 1963 and jurisdiction did not become a major issue until 1991 when the SOFA was renegotiated for the first time since 1963. It was also the first time that the ROK agreed to contribute to its defense costs.)
1961In May 1961, a group of military officers carried out a coup and overthrew the ROK's Second Republic. On the morning of May 16, some 1,600 troops, spearheaded by the Marines, moved into Seoul and occupied strategic points after minor clashes at the Han River bridge. The revolutionary junta suspended the constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, forbade all political activities, imposed press censorship, and banned student demonstrations.
According to Bob Koeser, the ROKAF F-86D/Fs were lined up on the ramp. The large hangar -- originally built for the F-84s of the 474th FG in the Korean War -- dominated the flightline and there were still no other structures besides the Control Tower. The inside of the hangar had hooks along the sides which in turn has led to some persistent rumors of North Korean atrocities of USAF airmen being impaled on the hooks. This are completely false as there was no U.S. personnel at Kunsan when it fell. Most likely these hooks were for electrical cables. The ROKAF unit took over the northern end of the base above the old BOQ area as a training and housing area in the 1950s. Some of the USAF BOQs were turned over to the ROKAF. The enlisted barracks were Nissan quonset huts near the ROKAF flightline area. (1)
Republic of China C-47 at Kunsan (1959)
(Courtesy Larry Doyle)
The photo above looking towards the northeast is of a Republic of China (ROC) C-47. The aircraft is parked off the PSP and many of the roads were still dirt. The photo above may not seem significant until you consider what was going on. The Republic of Korea had always been a staunch supporter of the ROC. In fact, it was one of the last countries in the world to break diplomatic ties with it in order to open relations with Red China. In 1964, Kunsan was used for clandestine ROC U-2 flights over mainland China to monitor the Red Chinese nuclear program. (2)
The following photos were posted by Harold Fulkerson to the Classmates.com site. Our attempts to contact Mr. Fulkerson have failed. We wish to thank him for posting them to the site. He wrote, "Cold quonset huts in the winter, hot in the summer, seeing Danny Kaye live, and working in the TOF area.Weekend trips to a French orphanage in town. Overall an enjoyable assignment." (3)
The conditions of living in the Jamesway huts were confirmed by Morgan Terry when he stated on Classmates.com , "Crash/Rescue Fire Dept. So short of personnel we initially worked 72 hrs. on and 24 hrs. off. Lived in WWII Quonset Huts. Cold, primitive, but a great experience." (4) (NOTE: The "French orphanage" was the Kunsan International Orphanage run by Catholic nuns that still exists today in Yah Hwa-dong. There were two-types of "Quonset" huts on Kunsan. There were the plywood Jamesway buildings left over from the Korean War -- NOT WWII. Then there was the metal quonset hut. This quonset hut skeleton was a row of semi-circular steel ribs covered with corrugated sheet metal. The ribs sat on a low steel-frame foundation with a plywood floor. The basic model was 20 feet wide and 48 feet long with 720 square feet of usable floor space. )
Service Club; Old Barracks
Buddies: Mark White, David Pelletier and Barry Phillips; Harold Fulkerson (1961)
(Photos: Harold Fulkerson)
The Service Club is the same structure used in the Korean War. It was located in what is now the open field area behind the Son-Light Inn. Notice that the Korean War Jamesway structures were still in use as barracks. The structures were freezing cold in the winter and sweltering hot in summer. The picture of the "buddies" shows how they used lockers to create cubicles in the Jamesway huts. Also note the standard issue military cots of the era suitable for using an air-mattress on -- if no real mattresses were available.
"Chief" Harold Fulkerson's MSgt Boss; Sister and children at the Kunsan City orphanage
Harold Fulkerson stated that the "Chief" was his boss. As a catholic, the "Chief" supported the orphanage downtown and involved Fulkerson in the activities. The Catholic orphanage still exists in the Yahwa-dong area near Wolmyong Park.
New Barracks (Finished Dec 1961); C-130 landing
Harold stated that the new barracks was finished three months before he departed in Feb 62. This places the completion in Dec 61. These new barracks were the first construction since the Korean War. They were located where the new 1X1 Barracks are located near Avenue B. At that time, the barracks were to the left of Avenue B as you looked south. Notice the fire escapes on the construction. The construction was typical Korean-style work where the ends are higher than the roof line. Examples of these types of construction is still seen in the countryside in old rice warehouses.
Harold stated that the runway was separated from the barracks by a two-lane dirt road. The dirt road he referred to is the frontage road that is next to the present taxiway. However, we believe that he is mistaken in that a taxiway was between the runway and the main base. In addition, we believe the barracks were further east on the east side of Avenue B about a block away from the frontage road. In the area next to the frontage road, prefab barracks were built later.
Front Gate heading for Kunsan (1961)
(Photos: Harold Fulkerson)
The Main Gate has remained in the same location since the Occupation forces in 1946. The reason it has remained in the same location is simply that the road laid out by the Japanese in 1932 could not be feasibly moved. Note the Pass and ID structure. Later it would be replaced by a cinderblock construction on the same location as the present entry control point.
1962Between October 16-29, 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis pushes the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. It was described in Robert Kennedy's insider account, Thirteen Days, which ended in Premier Khruschev agreeing to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba. (1)
A hot line agreement between the U.S. and Soviet Union went into effect in June, 1963. In August, a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water, the Partial Test Ban Treaty, was signed. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas less than six weeks later. and Lyndon Johnson became the next U.S. President.
In 1962, Park Chung Hee attempted to extend the military junta for four more years. However, the direct opposition of the move by John F. Kennedy caused Park to back down. On July 27, he announced that the transfer of government to the civilians would be made within the year. At the same time, he made it clear that he would retire from active military duty and run for the office of president in the forthcoming election. In the election 84.9 percent of the 13 million eligible voters elected Park Chung Hee as president. (2)
1963Civilian constitutional rule was restored on December 17, 1963 upon the inauguration of President Park Chung Hee. With this, the Third Republic was born. Internationally, The "Profumo Scandal" of sex-for-secrets were revealed in 1963 when John Denis Profumo was forced to resign from the cabinet in 1963 after lying to the House of Commons about his affair with teen-age showgirl Christine Keeler, who was also involved with a Soviet naval attach? This type of spying seemed strangely out of place in the reality of Korea where infiltrators were known to use fishing boats to enter South Korea. (1)
Johnny Choe (Choe Pyong-Hyan) , interpreter for the 8th SPS then a "street kid", remembered that the Koreans leaving and entering the gate would be searched by hand as they left the main gate to ensure that none of the Korean nationals stole anything. Actually most of the goods left the base in A-frames on the backs of laborers or hidden in bundles of grass when "mowing" details were done by local nationals. (2)
Outside the gate were a lot of "street kids" as the conditions were still desperately poor in Korea. These were the bulk of the "slickey boys" who would steal anything that wasn't nailed down on base. The base perimeter was still only barbed wire strands nailed on 4x4 posts. Slipping under the fence was an easy proposition as the base was simply not manned to protect the perimeter and maintain aircraft and ammo storage protection. There was only one security policeman assigned per mile of fence line -- an impossible task to prevent the "slickey boy" entries.
1964In 1964 China became the fifth nation to possess nuclear weapons. Because of China's emergence as a nuclear power, it appears many clandestine operations may have originated from Kunsan flown by the Republic of China (ROC) U-2s -- especially after China exploded its first nuclear weapon at its nuclear weapon facilities in Shanxi. The following information is from ROCAF U2 Operations. The ROCAF first received two U-2s in July 1960. From 1961 to 1972, ROCAF U-2 had flown at least one hundred missions into Communist China. "Penetrating" flights ended in 1968, but operations continued until U-2 were withdrawn to the US. Some of these missions originated from Kunsan.
Two of the known missions from Kunsan:
March 28, 1963: "Tai-Yow Wang took off from K-8, ROK, for a mission over Paotow and Lanchow. The U-2 was tracked by SAM guidance radar. Wang took evasive maneuvers and escaped without harm."
December 19, 1964: "Shi-Jue Wang took off from K-8 (Kunsan), ROK, but aborted prior to penetration due to a failure of the ECM jammer self-test. Wang landed at Taoyuan and the support crew followed in a USAF C-130. This mission was to have flown Kunsan-Baotou-Lanchow-Taoyuan."
A later note added about the Dec 19 mission, "Chang took off from K-8 (Kunsan), ROK on a mission over nuclear weapon facilities in Shanxi. Correlated with Chinese sources, this was not true. There WAS a night mission attempted from Kunsan but this took place on or about Dec 19, 1964 and Shi-Jue Wang aborted prior to penetration due to a failure of the ECM jammer self-test." (1)
In 1964, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for opposing apartheid, and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.. received the Nobel Peace Prize. The next year U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced that the United States would rely upon the threat of "mutually assured destruction" to deter Soviet attack.
However, at Kunsan these historic events seemed light years away...except for China gaining nuclear weapons. The nuclear alerts continued at Kunsan AB. James G. Mitchell(MSgt, USAF, Ret) of Louisburg, North Carolina recalls his tour with the 6175th Air Police Squadron (Sept 64 - Oct 65) on his Geocities homepage. (2) In there he states, "It was one long flight from CA to Korea. Well, I arrived in Korea at an air base called Kimpo. This was the first time that I had ever been so far from home. The big plane that I came in on wasted no time on the ground at Kimpo. That crew had no intention of getting stuck in that place. My bag was put on a wagon with some other junk so I pulled it off. I watched the big plane as it went down the runway and leapt into the early morning sky, and there I stood with everything I owned in a bag, only to turn and see myself back in time. Since it was on the weekend and nothing was going on, I had to stay there until Monday. Monday morning I checked in at the terminal and they put me on the mail plane out to Kunsan. All the time every thing seemed like some kind of bad dream. Kind of like going back it time. The food tasted bad; eggs and milk were no good at all. It was powered stuff, but after a while I could handle it. They wasted no time in putting me to work. This was work I had only heard about before. Security. This was for real -- there was no joking around here. Instead of 8 hours standing on the front gate to an air base looking like Mr. Clean, it was 8 hours standing and walking in front of alert aircraft or something else. The weather had nothing to do with anything. It would get so cold that the heat from your body would melt the snow and the water would get into the weapon, freeze and you could not fire the thing. My thirteen months went by slow at first. I guess the kimchi kicked in and winter was back again and time to pickup that bag and go for another plane ride. This was not an uneventful assignment. I was standing on top of somebody's grave in the photo below."
Freezing in Korea (Feb 1965)
Click on photo to enlarge
In front of Ammo Dump igloo
Click on photo to enlarge
Standing on graves (1965);
In front of 6175th Air Police HQ Building
(Click on photo to enlarge)
Jim Mitchell in Kunsan (Oct 1964)
(Click on photo to enlarge)
1965In May 1965, President Park visited the U.S. upon President Lyndon Johnson's invitation, and soon after that the agreement between South Korea and the U.S. regarding the dispatch of Korean troops to Vietnam was concluded -- despite vehement opposition of a large number of National Assemblymen, students, and intellectual and political leaders in Korea.
Park agreed to send two Korean divisions to fight alongside U.S. forces in Vietnam, for which Korea was richly rewarded by Washington. In the mid-'60s, revenues from the Vietnam War were the largest single source of foreign-exchange earnings for Korea. These funds helped launch the country's transformation over the next two decades from economic basket case to world leader in iron and steel production, shipbuilding, chemicals, consumer electronics and other commodities. Korea's per-capita income increased tenfold during Park's tenure. (1)
The bottom line was that Korea was "blackmailed" into providing troops for Vietnam. If Korea refused, LBJ was willing to yank troops out of Korea, but if Korea acquiesced, then LBJ was able to sweeten the pot for Korea financially through loans and military hardware to upgrade its forces. (SITE NOTE: Later the 7th Infantry Division would be removed under the Nixon Policy in 1970 and the ROK took over all of the DMZ because Nixon needed troops in Vietnam. The 2d ID remained by in a support role on the DMZ -- and basically a tripwire to ensure the U.S. entry in case of an invasion.)
April 1965. Two North Korean MiG jet fighters "attacked and damaged" a U.S. RB-47 reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan, about 50 miles east of the nearest North Korean coast. (1a)
Gib Foulke, SMSgt, USAF (ret), wrote about his experiences at the "Koon" on his two tours (65-66 & 69-70). (Also see 1966: Gib Foulke for Gib's remarks on his tour.) (2) In 1965, Gib was known as "Skip" and was an A2C. He explained, "I arrived on the "Koon" in Sept '65, after a brief stop at Osan and a "visit" to "Chico (sp)" village". I had hooked up with an Air Force A1C who was returning from Japan. He got me a pass and introduced me to the fish market aroma and the fine bars, and their services, of Osan. I arrived in Kunsan about two days later."
He wrote, "Basically, the arrival on the "KOON" was via good 'ol reliable Air America on either a C-47 or the "luxury flight" C-54 from Osan. the "passenger terminal" was located on just off the "secondary east-west runway" (I believe it was the 7th Aerial Port Sq.) Once off the aircraft, each base Squadron had someone meet the flight and take whomever to their squadron orderly room. I was assigned to the 6175 Civil Engineers."
He continued, "One of my first memories was indoctrination ..... first at the base gym for a "gammogloblin" shot and to the base theater. I was then introduced to the "evils" of travelling downtown, how to get there, curfew (2400/in the main gate), uniform requirements (we had to at least be in a class B (khaki) uniform) and how to check in at the base clinic for any necessary meds ...." The gammaglobulin shots were supposedly for the prevention of Hepatitis, but the medics failed to say that it was only effective for a short time. It was simply eyewash to show the mothers back home that the USAF was protecting their kids. The wear of the uniform off-base while overseas was requirement dating back to WWII. It was rescinded in the 1970s.
Kunsan AB Aerial View (Aug 65) (Courtesy William E. Dickert)
Kunsan Main Gate (Aug 65) (Courtesy William E. Dickert)
He stated that the CES compound was just North of the Base Theater, basically in the same general location it is now, however, the CES compound extended all the way out to Avenue C. The main gate to the compound opened onto Ave C, directly across from the east-west street running out to the runway. The orderly room was located where the current Community Center is located on the corner.
He continued, "My first home was a cube in an "H" shaped set of quonsets on the South-center area of the compound. There was a 7 man NCO quonset next door to the East. My shop , Equipment & Pavements/Grounds was just inside the compound and to the North."
He went on, "As I mentioned, I lived in a quonset in the CE compound. The main base facilities were to the West (steam bath, barber, BX, airman's club). To the South west was the mail room ( a small, tin building)." The infamous steam bath became the base beauty shop in 1987. Both the Beauty Shop and Barber Shop -- which were structures from the Korean War -- were torn down in 2002. The BX was the current Food Court which had been in use as the Post Exchange since the Korean War. The entrance to the BX was on the east end. The Post Office he mentions had been in existence since the Korean War. It was torn down around 1967 and a new cinderblock structure took its place.
He later wrote, "Toward the end of my tour, CE troops were moved into a brand-new dorm immediately South of the then NCO club . The dorm was just Northwest of the current Laundry/Cleaners (that used to be a NCO dining hall). Anyway, my room was on the second floor, East-end/corner, North side. Two man rooms and after the quonset hut, it was "uptown". Walk out the front door, cross the street and into the South door of the NCO club. (not far to crawl to get home)." The NCO Club he mentions was Bldg 1100 which was the old AAFES Manager's office/Shoppette before it was torn down in 2002. The NCO Dining Hall is now the base Linen Exchange.
The military working dogs remained the backbone of the base defense as the perimeter was still undermanned and the fence line in poor condition. Franklin Lamca wrote on Classmates.com, "I remember how disappointed I was that I had to leave my six month old baby behind in the states while I was sent to Korea for 13 months. (3) I remember the thrill of becoming a dog trainer and how much that assignment helped the time to pass. I remember good friends like Giles W. Cox, Fred Barnes, Bob Columbe, Biliduex and others. I remember the pine covered hills and the low tide of the Yellow Sea. The gentleness of the Korean people and hundreds of orphans that seemed to be everywhere."
Kevin McQuade who was an A2c with the 6175th MATRON (Bomb Dump) between Feb 1965-Mar 1966 wrote about his experiences. (4) During that time the 39th Air Division handled the nuclear alerts out of the tree area. However, as far as munitions storage, we should point that the "special weapons" were stored in an extremely secure area off by themselves and should not to be confused with the conventional area of the bomb dump. Kevin makes a valid point that he is still bound by a document he signed to not talk about the nukes in specifics. Although the nukes were withdrawn from Korea in 1992, to this day the USFK will "neither confirm nor deny" anything about nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. He stated:
It's been so long that I would be hard pressed to fill you in from memory and it's unfortunate that I never really took many photos of the base! I wouldn't be at liberty to discuss nukes, but, hypothetically..., I would assume that they would be stored in concrete block houses, maybe two of them with eight bays, four per side. And..., maybe holding two weapons per bay. With the bays wired so that the weapons could be destroyed if the base were about to be overrun. Naturally, this would be a secure area where only a handful of personnel would have access. (NOTE: Kevin later wrote, "BTW, if the base were to be overrun..., the Munitions Specialists would have been the last to leave because it was our responsibility to blowup all munitions and the runway before exiting the base!")
And..., maybe they rolled out a few to be taken to the flightline to be loaded on F-100's when the Marines landed at DaNang in Feb/Mar of 65. And..., sat there at the end of the runway, prepared to rev up and taxi over to take off on a moments notice. They might even have sealed the base and waited to see what was going to happen. (SITE NOTE: The Nukes would have been aimed at China. When the Marines first landed in Vietnam, there was a great concern that the Chinese would enter on behalf of the North Vietnamese. Later the North Vietnamese stupidly "invaded" Chinese territory and were beaten severely which eliminated this worry of the Chinese entering the war. See Nuclear Alerts: 356th TFS for more details on the alerts in the "tree area" at the end of the runway.)
Well..., at least we know that F-100's out of Okinawa and/or Japan rotated in for 90 day TDY's to guard the Yellow Sea facing China during that time period!
Of course F-100's could also carry conventional munitions which were stored in igloo like structures or open revetments. The usual assortment of conventional munitions for its time. You know..., GP (general purpose) bombs, 20MM, rockets, napalm (which we mixed, before Dow Chemical ever got a contract). (SITE NOTE: When the Pueblo Crisis hit, the first thing the 6175th Tank Farm had to do was divert their crews to start mixing up napalm.)
When speaking about the nukes, Kevin used the wording about "assume" to "talk around" the point. We first thought it was from the nuke security being "beaten into their heads" of anyone associated with the "special weapons" so that talking about the nukes was a major "no-no." Kevin wrote to correct us that "it was not so much that it was beaten into our heads! Anyone connected with "Special Weapons" (which was their real designation) had to sign the standard form which bound them to NOT acknowledge anything with regards to their mission! Having never been released from that document, I can neither confirm nor deny any personal involvement or any information in my possession regarding "Special Weapons" in the Korean theater of operations!" After 1992 when they were pulled out, it has become an open topic -- but to this day, the USFK maintains a "neither deny nor confirm" policy on nuclear arms in Korea.) The last nukes left Korea in 1992 and the USFK still retains a "neither confirm nor deny" policy dealing with nukes.
Kevin continued, "It always was a kind of a small Air Base where you knew most of the personnel, sort of like a small town in America where everybody knows everyone else! BTW, the ROKAF guys had F-86's and we had the F-100 (Lead Sleds) at the time. It was a semi active base. I think that the main runway was concrete, but, I also remember landing on PSP that was leftover from the War. That was only 10 years later at the time! (SITE NOTE: Go to ROKAF: 1960s for more information on the ROKAF at Kunsan AB.)
Kevin continued, "At the time..., we lived in concrete cinder block barracks, 2 men to a small room. Better than the tent I lived in in Viet Nam and the Quonset hut I lived in when I came back to Osan when the Pueblo was snatched by the North Koreans!"
He went on to state, "If memory serves me correctly, our barracks were directly across from the main parking lot in front of the Base HQ. And, we needed access to our trucks because we were on the Alert Force every other night and had to respond to any base alerts. Whether they were real or practice alerts. Half of us on one night, half of us on the other. That meant you couldn't drink or leave the base, you had to be prepared..., for anything!" (SITE NOTE: The barracks that he speaks of were to the south of Avenue B between what was the now demolished NCO Club (Bldg 1000) and the post office. The parking lot he mentions still exists next to the NCO Leadership school next to the base library. See the photo above of the "New Barracks" in 1961. These structures remained until the late 1990s when they were replaced by the new 1x1 four story barracks.)
B Battery 44th ADA Site on Hawk Hill outside Kunsan AB (Aug 65) (Courtesy William E. Dickert)
Kunsan 44th ADA Hawk Billet Area next to the ROKAF Ramp (Billets transferred to ROKAF still exist in 2004) (Aug 65) (Courtesy William E. Dickert)
Demolition of Korean War Structures: Gib also talked about the demolition work to remove a "pillbox" bunker on the CES grounds. (1) This bunker was used in the Korean War by the 3rd Communications Squadron for it crypto work. It was located just west of his quarters, in what is now the Army Corps of Engineers building. It is on the corner of Avenue C and the road leading to the Civil Engineering compound. Gib wrote, "It had been pretty well demolished by '65, but still had 3 foot thick walls, approx. 7' high. Us equipment operators would beat on it with a crane "headache" ball for days, just to get a slight crack in it. Actually, it was not completely removed until I got back there in '69."
This structure was the old 3rd Communications Squadron, 3rd Bomb Wing "bunker". It was assumed that this was built by the Japanese and taken over for the Cryptography section and surrounded with a barbed wire fence. Gene Newman, a former 3rd Comm Squadron member, wrote, "I don't remember anything that looked like gun mounts . I do remember roof holes for our stove chimneys. One officer thought he could keep us from baking in summer by installing a rim around the roof and filling it with water, but it didn't work. It was still very hot and the water seeped down into the rooms. I assumed it had been some kind of command post or even a comm. center. But why would the Japanese make it so impregnable? Who was going to attack it?"
3rd Comm Squadron Bunker Area
Bunker is behind the barbed wire fence
(Courtesy Gene Newman)
Click on image to enlarge
Gib continued later, "I guess I left off with some of the airfield landmarks. About the cement pads I mentioned in an earlier message. They were located on the North side of the secondary runway/taxiway, East of the Base Ops/Weather Buildings and covered most of the area of what now looks like taxiways/revetments. I seem to recall each one being approx. 25-30 feet wide and 15-20 feet deep in a semi-octagon shape. The cement was only about 6 inches thick because I could bust through it with a single drop of a "headache" ball from 25 feet in the air. I probably broke up 20-25 of them." These pads were situated around the base ops area and in a "loop" that was used for the Marine VMF(N)-513 aircraft.
F3D being hauled out of the mud (1952)
Note the cement pad large enough for two aircraft
(Courtesy Jack Kio)
Click on photo to enlarge
He went on, "Another thing I seem to recall around the pads were several cement lined "ditches" about 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep and they ran in a North-South direction across the area." The reason for these "ditches" was the drainage problems. In the rainy season during the Korean War, any Marine F-3D that turned too wide and got off the cement pad would sink in the mud and have to be winched out with a crane.
He continued, "Another thing we spent a lot of time getting rid of was REAL "PSP' along the primary North-South taxiway, especially in the ROK hangar area. Tons of it, and as fast as we could cut it up, a "crew" from the village outside the North gate would hall it away on an a-frame." This was the PSP laid for the B-26 parking area. The ROK hangar area was where the 474th Fighter-Bomber Group parked their jets on the PSP (Perforated Steel Plate). NOTE: Gib's remarks about "REAL PSP" refers to what was used in the early days of the Korean War known as "Masden planking". It was thicker gauge steel than the PSP that was used later.
F-84 parked on PSP with sandbag revetment
In background is the F-84 quonset
maintenance hangar that became the ROKAF hangar
(Courtesy Dave Day)
Click on image to enlarge
Gib continued, "Speaking of those villagers. virtually all of the airfield "low grassy" areas were allowed to grow to a height of 5-6 feet. When it got to high, we would take a tractor and open trailer to the North village and pick-up about 20 of the villagers to come in and cut it. They would use hand sickles and squat as they mowed through a swath. Each villager would make their own bundles and identify them with different colored pieces of cloth. (all hell would break loose at the gate when they unloaded it and someone tried to take another's bundle.) Two of us GI's from CE usually watched over one crew, picking them up and then returning them to the gate. I was led to believe that the villagers were either North Korean refugees or related to North Koreans, therefore, each GI carried an M-2 carbine while pulling the duty."
It is very possible that they were North Korean refugees. Many of the refugees remained in Kunsan after the Korean War. It is also possible that if they did not have a farm -- as the North Koreans would be -- to get rice thatch, the grass bundles could be substituted for roofing materials on the mud wattle houses. The North Korean village was on the side of the hills in the present day Wolmyong park area. It should be mentioned here the favorite trick used by the "grass cutters" throughout Korea in getting bits-and-pieces of various items off-base. They were packed in the bundles of grass. This trick was mentioned in John Moench's book, Taking Command, of life at Kunsan in 1959. For example, after grass cutters cleaned near taxi lights, the taxi lights disappeared.
New SOFA: Gib continued, "Life at the "KOON" was a lot of pinochle, "sake" (rice wine) on cold nights , small "jeepster kimchi cabs" to town (max 3 passenger & driver, even though I can recall putting 6 of us in one in order to meet curfew). Until 01 Jan 66, we had a curfew of midnight, then the Status of Forces Agreement came into being. Before then, the main gate would open at 0800 and close at 2400. On the day the Agreement went into effect, the base commander had to close the base at 1000 and restrict everyone to the base, recall those who were in town and then bail at least 13 GI's out of the Kunsan jail. It was a couple of days before the gates reopened. No more "hell raisin', kick down the walls" parties." The curfew was not only for GIs. It was a nationwide curfew that applied to all of Korea under the National Security Act. This was part of the declaration of martial law under Park Chung-Hee's iron-fisted rule.
With his election, President Park became a virtual dictator -- though on paper the ROK was a democracy. Before Park Chung-Hee, the U.S. did basically as it pleased and treated Korea as its personal territory. However, with Park Chung-Hee, the situation was completely different. As a result, the U.S. saw the need for a Status of Forces Agreement to protect its political interests and military forces.
The SOFA was something that had NEVER been in existence in Korea. Unlike other countries where the SOFA document is one of the FIRST things negotiated, Korea had none until 1966. Before then, the Americans treated Korea as "their property" -- and in some sense, it was. If a GI got in trouble in Korea for a major crime, he was simply shipped out. In many cases, GIs got away with murder -- literally. The corrupt Korean government of Syngman Rhee (Lee Syng Man) never pushed for a SOFA agreement. Remember that the ROK government was at that time drawing 100 percent of its support from U.S. government funds. President Rhee didn't want to rock the boat. (NOTE: In Japan, the 1952 Administrative Agreement with the new Japanese democratic government under its Peace Constitution was implemented. This was the forerunner to the 1960 Japanese SOFA. However, Korea which held its first democratic elections in 1949 had nothing even started.)
However, in 1960, Syngman Rhee was overthrown in a student led demonstration that ousted him from office and sent him into exile in Hawaii. After that, Park Chung-Hee led the military overthrow of the Second Republic in May 1961. However, nothing could be done on the SOFA as the dictatorship of Park did not set well with the John F. Kennedy administration. After Park was elected as a "civilian" President and his agreement to send Korean troops to Vietnam "negotiated" by Lyndon Johnson, the SOFA issue was brought up. The reason was that the U.S. started on a course of improving the ROK military so that it could replace the U.S. forces -- thus releasing them for Vietnam duty. As such, the U.S. saw a need to delineate the cost sharing as the U.S. started to pour millions of dollars in direct monetary aid and equipment into the ROK to upgrade its forces. (NOTE: The end result was that the ROK in 1970 was able to take over full control of the DMZ except for Panmunjeon.)
However, in reality, the 1966 SOFA was a rather unsubstantial document as far as legal protection. (5) Basically codified America's continued use of Korea with impunity -- though it curtailed much of the destructive abuses by the U.S. military. The U.S. still retained custody of all USFK personnel -- even for serious offenses. In many cases, they were simply shipped out of country. Korea had little jurisdiction over GIs -- and what was stated was seldom exercised. It would not be until the late 1980s before the SOFA was renegotiated with substantive changes. The "official line" states the delay in signing a SOFA in Korea was because of "gaining experience" in Japan and Europe. It seems a little far-fetched.
The official statement on SOFA reads: "The US-ROK SOFA was signed in 1966 after the US gained experience with the 1960 US-Japan SOFA and the earlier 1952 Administrative Agreement upon which it was based, and with the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA provisions are modeled on various provisions of pre-existing agreements including the US-Japan SOFA and the US-Federal Republic of Germany Supplemental Agreement to the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA is not, nor was it ever intended to be, identical to the US-Japan SOFA. It is based on mutual accommodations recognizing different systems, some of which remain quite different today. The Japan labor provisions, for instance, recognize that in Japan there is an "indirect hire" system for local national labor (the Government of Japan is the employer for Japanese nationals who work for USFJ). In Korea, USFK has a "direct hire" system (USFK is the employer of its Korean employees)."
In the 1980s, the "Miracle of the Han" had arrived and Koreans could now pay more towards their "fair share." There is a balance here that is negotiated. If the Koreans wanted more control over the USFK forces, they needed to pay more of the defense cost share. The SOFA now states: "Under current burden sharing agreements, Japan pays virtually 100% of the cost of all USFJ local national labor, including non-appropriated fund organizations (clubs, military exchanges, etc.), while the ROK currently contributes approximately 70% only to USFK appropriated fund Korean national labor costs." (NOTE: There is a growing movement in the U.S. over the inequitability of the cost sharing as the U.S. spends the SAME amount as Korea (approx. $15B a year) on Korea's defense. Many feel the Koreans are getting a free ride.)
Ferry to Changhang 44th ADA (Aug 65) (Courtesy William E. Dickert)
Overview Footnotes:1. 3rd BW Brochure, K-8, 1954 shows Col Munson as the 3rd Air Base Group Commander
2. 8th Fighter Wing History, Appendix J, "Kunsan Airbase" (as of 2004): "6170th Air Base Group: 1 Sep 1954-8 Apr 1956; 6170th Air Base Squadron: 8 Apr 1956-25 Mar 1959; 6175th Air Base Group: 25 Mar 1959-1 Aug 1968" The lack of mention of the 6175th Air Base Support Squadron is discussed in John Moench's analysis in Footnote 6.
3. Discussions with John O. Moench, Major General, USAF in 2004. "On being assigned to the 6175th Air Base "Squadron" at Kunsan, I was offended. The grade of Colonel does not fit a squadron assignment which is usually that of Lt. Col. or Major and can go to lesser grade. As soon as I arrived in Korea and had audience at Osan, I raised hell about the "Squadron" designation -- my first of many encounters with the Wing Commander -- who came to hate my guts. I think the light dawned and the designation from Squadron to Group may have been made retroactive -- and that would describe the above history quote. But this would leave all existing record reading "6175th Air Base Squadron" and would confuse all record thereafter. My USAF bio reads that I was assigned to the 6175th Group."
4. History of the 6175th Air Base Squadron, 1-31 August 1958: "On 4 August, Colonel Edward A. Jurkens assumed primary duty at Kunsan Air Base as the Commander of the 6170th Air Base Squadron." We believe the 6175th ABS history listing 6170th ABS is a typo. Point remains that the unit was a SQUADRON in August 1958. (Reference: John Moench)
5. History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960: "The 6175th Air Base Group was organized on 25 March 1959." (Reference: John Moench)
6. Discussions with John O. Moench, Major General, USAF in 2004. The following analysis provided by John Moench:
A "History of the 6314th Air Base Group, 1 July 1958 ?1 December 1958" (this is the parent unit at Osan Air Base) reads "Prepared by the . . . 6314th Air Base Wing." Obviously, at some date after 31 December 1958, the "Group" was redesignated a "Wing." As a "Group," the subordinate at Kunsan had to be a "Squadron." An accompanying organizational chart shows the 6170th Air Base Squadron subordinate to the 6314th Air Base Group. Subordinate to the 6170th Air Base Squadron is the 6043rd USAF Dispensary at Kunsan. The unit at Taegu (Det # 1, 6314th Air Base Group) is shown directly subordinate to the 6314th Air Base Group.
The "History of the 314th Air Division, 1 January 1958 ?30 June 1958" reads: A letter was sent from this Headquarters to Headquarters, Fifth Air Force, proposing that the 6314th Air Base Group be redesignated as an Air Base Wing in line with the general reorganization of Division and lower echelons throughout Fifth Air force. This is still being studied in Fifth Air Force Headquarters. While additional record at AFHRA would provide insight into this organizational question, it appears that the redesignation of the 6314th Air Base Group to "Wing" status took place sometime in early 1959 and probably at the date affixed to the termination of the 6170th Air Base Squadron status (renumbered as 6175th). But what did not take place concurrently was the redesignation of the Kunsan Air Base Squadron as a Group. The causes for this could be many but, most likely, it was due to the constant change over of 6314th and 314th personnel along with lack of appropriate understanding and action at the level of the Fifth Air Force.
In regard to the latter conclusion, here is a cite from a page in the 314th Air Division history of 1 October 1958 ?1 October 1958.
We were informed by Headquarters Fifth Air Force that our request to redesignate the 6314th Air Base Group as the 6314th Air Base Wing has been favorably considered. Returned for further study and justification was our additional request to redesignate the 6170th Air Base Squadron as the 6170th Air Base Group. Action was taken to resubmit this proposal. Apparently, what took place was the redesignation of the 6170th Air Base Squadron as the 6175th Air Base Squadron ?not a concurrent rise to Group level. Comment: As far as I am concerned, this whole action should have been accomplished in no more than the time it took to type the order. Why something as minor and obvious an action such as this was would drag on, I have no idea. But to get something such as this done with expediency would take someone that could cut through the nonsense of regulations and bureaucracy.
7. 8th Fighter Wing History, Appendix J, "Kunsan Airbase" (as of 2004). An excerpt reads: "After hostilities ceased, the base began to draw down. The F-84 forces of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing left in November 1953, and by October 1954 the host unit of the base, the 3rd Bombardment Wing, also departed. This left the base with a much-reduced mission. From 1953-1954, the 808th and 841st Aviation Engineering Battalions constructed what is today's main runway. For the next several years Kunsan merely hosted periodic rotations of fighter and light bomber squadrons, with base facilities maintained and operated by an air base group. In 1957 and 1958, the 6170th Air Base Group began to upgrade base facilities, increasing the runway from 5,000 to 9,000 feet and building new dormitories.
Until the late 1960's, though, Kunsan remained relatively dormant, hosting temporary deployments of flying units and serving as a safe haven base for aircraft evacuated from Okinawa and Guam during typhoons. In 1958, the Republic of Korea Air Force assigned a squadron of F-86 fighters to the base. This ROKAF unit was the only permanently assigned flying contingent at Kunsan until after the Pueblo incident in 1968." (NOTE: The reference to the 6170th ABG between 1957-1958 is in error as it was in existence between 1954-1956.)
1954 Footnotes:1. 3rd BW Brochure, K-8, 1954 shows Col Munson as the 3rd Air Base Group Commander
2. 1954 Christmas Menu, Provided by Travis Hughlett, 2001
3. Korean War Anniversary Project, Raymond G Loynes entry. NOTE: The 6170th appears to be the cover group for other units in Korea under the 314th Air Division. In History of the 314th Air Division, 1 January 1957 - 30 June 1957 reads: "Reorganization was not restricted to (314th) Headquarters. Reorganization took place in the field as well when Detachments 1 and 2 of the 6170th Air Base Squadron were discontinued at Taegu Air Base and Pusan East Auxiliary Air Field and Detachments 1 and 2 of the 58th Air Base Group were formed in their places at the same bases effective date of 1 June 1957.
3a. Recollections of Pat Souders in Oct 2004 along with photos of base at the time. 4. Discussions with John O. Moench, Major General, USAF in 2004. Note that the History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 January 1955 ?30 June 1955 reads; "In February, two L-20As were assigned to the base" and "The total hours flown . . . are as follows: C-47, 238.35 hours; L-20A, 101.05 hours." John Moench stated, "From the limited record available to this writer, before that L-20 assignment and a later assignment in my time frame, the base aircraft was one C-47. When an L-20 present in my time frame was assigned to Kunsan is not in the records I hold."
According to Global Security.org: "The U-6A "Beaver" (designated the L-20A prior to 1962) was manufactured by deHavilland Aircraft of Canada, Ltd. Nearly 1,700 DHC-2 Beavers were built by DeHavilland Canada between 1947 and 1967; of those, about 970 went to the US Army and the US Air Force as U-6As. More than 200 L-20As went into USAF inventory between 1952 and 1960 to be flown in utility transportation and liaison roles. The principal mission of the USAF L-20a was aerial evacuation of litter and ambulatory patients. Other missions included courier service, passenger transport, light cargo hauling, reconnaissance, rescue,and aerial photography. The L-20A saw USAF service in both the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War."
5. Armistice Agreement, Vol I Paragraph 43
6. Spearhead of Logistics, A History of the United States Army Transportation Corps, p307 (Provided by Travis Hughlett, 2001)
7. On comments of Syngman Rhee's actions after the Korean War: John Toland, In Mortal Combat : Korea, 1950-1953, (June 1993), (?); T.R. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History, (March 21, 2001), (?); John R. Bruning, Crimson Sky: The Air Battle for Korea, (September 1, 2000), (?); On comments of Syngman Rhee's actions after the Korean War: Andrew C. Nahm, Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People (1994), (?);-- (NOTE: Reference books sent to Hawaii at this time; page number references to Syngman Rhee (Yi Syng-man) actions during Korean War require entry)
8. Hand-printed death notice by "Anti-Red Citizens," provided by Travis Hughlett, 2001
9. Personal interview with Johnny Choe (Choe Pyong-Hyan) in April 2002.
1955 FOOTNOTES:1. Narratives of Joseph Smuts, 2001 See Marine Ground Control Intercept Squadron No. 1 Marine Air Control Squadron No. 1 for details.
2. Narratives of Travis Hughlett, 2001 See 21st Transportation Port for details of unit.
3. Narratives of Kiyomi Noriye, SMSgt USAF (ret) who first visited Kunsan AB in 1955 with the 36th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter Bomber Group out of Itazuke AB, Japan with their F-86Fs. See 8th Fighter Wing History for details of this period.
4. Kiyo Noriye narrative of atrocity rumor that has existed since the Korean War. This rumor is debunked in the 8th FW history on 2002, but still persists. A variation is the 18th TFW of Okinawa deserted its troops at Kunsan in the Korean War and they were hung up in the hangar. Thus the unit could never return to the U.S. and earned the chicken symbol and yellow colors. This is completely ludicrous, false and illogical, but it persists till today.
5. Narrative of Dave Day, formerly of the 474th FBG at K-8 in the Korean War, 2001.
6. See 841st EAB for details of this unit which departed K-8 in 1954.
7. Haje, a small fishing village abutting the Ammo Dump fenceline still existed in 2004 as a small fishing harbor for shallow-draft fishing boats. Guarded by ROK Army sentries.
1956 FOOTNOTES:1. Narratives and photos of Kiyo Noriye, SMSgt, USAF (ret) in 2002. The 8th Fighter Bomber Wing was still flying the F-86F (1954-1956) from the Korean War and were still in the process of converting to the F-100s. (See 8th FW: Itazuke for details on the unit.)
2. Jamesway buildings were prefab structures constructed in Japan and shipped to Korea for hasty construction. The plywood buildings were left at the end of the war and remained the primary shelters until new cinder block structures were built for permanent party personnel in 1961. Additional Notes: a. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) NUMBERS
History, 314th Air Division, 1 July ?31 December 1956:
In August of 1956, . . . the section (unclear as to what section) was 82 percent manned. However, through the process of normal rotation, by the end of October, the section was scheduled to be only 52 percent manned, and there was no relief in sight. By September of this year, the officer vacancy condition in the General Supply Section, Services Section and POL Section was considered critical.
In August, there was no 46170, Ammunition Supervisor, assigned to any air base storage area in Korea, nor was there a qualified NCO in the ammunition field at any storage area.
Staff visits were made to 6170th Air Base Squadron (K-8) and Det # 1, 6170th Air Base Squadron (K-2) on routine supply matters. The overall problem was . . . the lack of qualified assigned personnel . . . .
History, 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1956 through 31 December 1956:
Food Service Section: An acute shortage of personnel was experienced during the reporting period, beginning in September and lasting through the month of December.
Materiel Section: A critical shortage of supply personnel was experienced in October 1956.
b. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) CONTINUITY History, 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1956 ?31 December 1956:
At the beginning of the reporting period, the base was under the command of Major Erwin J. Ludwig. On 19 August 1956, Major C. A. Jungman assumed command and on 25 November 1956, Lt. Col. J. M. Beall assumed command for the remainder of the reporting period. Comment: That is three commanders in six months. Nothing of depth can be accomplished with such turnover.
1957 Footnotes:1. The picture of the Headquarters building without the digit dated "1958" was provided by Jack Stoob who was TDY to Kunsan in support of the 3rd BW nuclear alerts. Jack was with the 3rd BW flying B-57s as a navigator from 1958-1962. The designator change from 6170th Air Base Squadron to 6175th Air Base Squadron is believed to be an administrative snafu. (See Overview: Footnote 1: Analysis by John Moench) The 6170th ABS was intended to be elevated to a "Group" when its parent unit the 6314th Air Base Group at Osan was elevated to a "Wing." Later it appears that the 6175th ABS was elevated to a "Group" retroactively which caused a lot of conflicting references in official histories.
2. 8th Fighter Wing History of Kunsan AB, Appendix J, as of 2004. There may be some errors in this short synopsis of 1954-1958 as no "new" buildings were erected, though the chapel was repainted in this time frame. The 802d Engineering Co. was sent to K-8 to repair the buckling of the runways.
3. Discussions with Al Schmitz of Alexandria, MN between 2003-2004. The discussions covered a gamut of items of base and off-base areas. The eye-witness accounts proved to be enlightening in covering previously unknown facts.
4a. On comments of Syngman Rhee's actions after the Korean War: John Toland, In Mortal Combat : Korea, 1950-1953, (June 1993), (?); T.R. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History, (March 21, 2001), (?); John R. Bruning, Crimson Sky: The Air Battle for Korea, (September 1, 2000), (?); On comments of Syngman Rhee's actions after the Korean War: Andrew C. Nahm, Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People (1994), (?);-- (NOTE: Reference books sent to Hawaii at this time; page number references to Syngman Rhee (Yi Syng-man) actions during Korean War require entry)
4b.Sources for Tokdo incidents: Website Territorial Dispute over Tokdo; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, "Issue of Takeshima", (March 2004))
4c.SOFA Documents. The first SOFA agreement in the ROK was SOFA: 1966-1991 which was revised in 2001.
5a. President Rhee had made previous visits to Kunsan being greeted with ROKAF honor guards. The reason that Rhee landed at Kunsan was that it was the closest airport to Chonju, the provincial capital, where he would pay periodic political visits. Roads between Seoul and the Cholla Provinces at the time were dirt -- dusty in summer and mudholes in the rainy months. (NOTE: Mrs. Rhee was Austrian. The Rhees had no children and had an adopted son who committed suicide after Syngman Rhee's death. Rhee was ousted in the famous April 19, 1960 "Student Uprising" and sent into exile to Hawaii in 1960. He died in 1963. Both Rhee and his wife are buried in the National Cemetary in Seoul.)
5b. Surprisingly, this incident surfaced in 2003 when a pro-North Korean website (http://ndfsk.dyndns.org/041503.htm) -- since removed from the internet -- used this 1957 incident as an example of "atrocities" where Americans "got away with murder" and escaped without punishment. This incident also mentioned by the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crime by U.S. Troops in Korea, a NGO civic activist group, in its drive to have the USFK withdraw from Korea completely.
6. In 2003, Mike aged 61 still worked as the manager of the base Hobby Shop -- now called "the skills center." He was on a three-year extension to his retirement in 2004. (See Mike Yi, Miraculous Reunion for his heart-warming story of being reunited with the airman, Ellis Forgy, who saved his life in Seoul fifty years before.)
7. Personal interview with Johnny Choe (Choe Pyong-Hyan) in April 2002 indicated that some squadrons had "mascots" in 1957. This was a common practice in the Korean War. He stated that he had been "adopted" by the Security Police Squadron, but discussions with Al Schmitz contradict this. However, it is known that many units did provide shelter to orphans would otherwise be living on the streets. Many times when these small orphans became teenagers, they became employed as the "houseboys" of the units.
At that time, the conditions were horrid and many orphans subsisted by culling through the refuse of the base. Later the base would start selling the refuse and the chowhall waste in many instances ended up on people's tables rather than slop for hogs.
In discussion with John Moench (2004), he provided the following information and insights. He said, "It might be illuminating for history to take note of the sale to the Koreans of everything including garbage. The Koreans bid on the stuff ?including the ROKAF. From the limited record I hold, read the following:
History of 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 January 1956 ?30 June 1956: Salvage property sold during the period under contract No. 62-(018)S-57 is as follows: Trash, 87 truckloads; Garbage, 163 truckloads; Lumber 30 ?- ton) truckloads. He continued, "This writer forgets the location of the dumping/sorting ground of the trash and garbage, but it was depressing. Nothing was thrown away and the use of the garbage was not only for animals!"
History of 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1958 through 31 December 1958: Salvage property sold during this period under contract number AF 62 (087) S-5 included 53 truckloads of trash at 159,000 Kwan, 150 barrels of Garbage at 48,000 Kwan, and 92 truckloads of lumber at 220,000 Kwan.
History of 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960: During this reporting period, 82 loads of lumber were sold on contract No AF62(087)S-12. Under other contracts, $21,703 in excess and surplus property was sold, and $30,446 worth of waste and salvage was sold.
8. This practice of cutting the grass on the base by villagers persisted well into the late 1960s. At that time, it was placed under contract. This practice of allowing villagers to come into the base to cut the grass was not without controversy. An armed guard was assigned to the group. Some reports that as the grass cutting crew would sweep an area, various objects would disappear. These items (such as taxiway lights) were claimed to be smuggled out in the grass bundles.
9. The Korean Police were not well thought of. Most believed the Korean Police were corrupt to the point of being in league with the "slickey boys" who raided the base. Those arrested by the base Security Police and turned over to the Korean Police would soon reappear on base. The Korean Security Guards were paid for out of base funds. They were referred to as "Pochos" (sentries or guards who watch). In 1957 according to Al Schmitz, there were approximately 20 such guards. Their primary duty was to keep the "slickey boys" from stealing anything that was not nailed down and guarded many of the key facilities where pilferable goods were stored. They also assisted in perimeter defense -- again mainly to keep the "slickey boy" intruders out of the base.
10. The Reduction in Force did not only impact officers. Promotions became very hard to come by for all personnel. Personnel with one stripe (A3c) would take up to four-years to attain three-stripes (A1C). In 1957, the A1C commanded much more respect in the enlisted ranks than currently seen.
11. This observation of the ROKAF increasing their personnel would indicate that the ROKAF on base making preparations in 1957 for the arrival of the F-86Fs that would remain at Kunsan AB until the late 1970s.
12a. John Moench (2004) wrote that he was certain that the island was "P-Y-do" (Paengyong-do).
12b. This is in reference to K-8 in 1959. Later information showed that two L-20As were used in 1957. However, we are wondering about the L-20As as they were shown to have flown 100+ hours in 1957 and were noted to be on Kunsan in 1959 -- where were they in 1958? The L-20A "Beaver" would later be redesignated as the U-6 in 1962.
13. 6. See 1959 year group for pipeline account. In John Moench's book, Taking Command, in 1959 the pipe line was described as being disassembled until ready for use. The fuel was off-loaded into fuel storage tanks at the harbor and then pumped from there via pipeline. At that time of pumping operations, ROK guards were posted in roving patrols along the complete length to prevent the tapping into the pipes. After the fuel transfer was complete, the pipeline was disassembled. Later in 1968 after the Pueblo Incident, portions of the pipe line were buried. The fuel is now off-loaded at Outer port (Waehang) and pumped from there.
See year group 1968 for the trip report of the 3rd Platoon, 697th Engineer Company (Pipeline) from Thailand which buried the pipeline during the Pueblo Crisis in Sept 1968.
14. The extent of clandestine operations of Taiwan using Kunsan is unknown. However, in later years, the base was used by the Taiwanese for U-2 flights over China. Korea remained a staunch supporter of Taiwan until the end and was one of the last nations in the world to continue its recognition of it over the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) in 1993.
15. The 3rd BW from Misawa started non-nuclear training at Kunsan starting in 1957. The photos below by Jack Tickle were during the 1957 non-nuclear training. In 1958, the 3rd BW started its rotations to stand nuclear alerts (1958-1964). (See 3rd BW: Nuclear Alert for details.)
The 35th FBS of the 8th FBW of Itazuke did NOT stand nuclear alerts at Kunsan, but rather staged at Kunsan for conventional training using the Kooni Range. (See 8th FBW: Itazuke for details.)
a. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) MANNING: History, 314th Air Division, 1 July ?31 December 1957: The following deficiencies and/or irregularities were found to be predominant in all organizations of the command during the last six months . . . . Shortages of qualified officer and airmen personnel in critical areas, i.e. Communications and electronics Officer, Supply Officers and radar equipment maintenance technicians.
1958 Footnotes:1a. 3rd BW Brochure, K-8, 1954 contains an entry of the ROKAF detachment started in 1953 and headed by a Captain Kim Chong-yul. The trainees were primarily Air Traffic Control and Weather Service trainees. According to interviews with those who had contact with the ROKAF, they were assigned to the 3rd Airfield Installation Operation (AIO) to learn how to maintain the base and to the 1973rd AACS (Aircraft and Airways Communications Service) to learn Ground Control Approach (GCA) methods and the use of the all-weather radar and navigational aids. The quality of the training received is unknown.
The first ROKAF units at Kunsan consisted of a ROKAF Detachment. The 1954 Welcome Brochure of the 3rd Bomb Wing read, "ROKAF DETACHMENT. The ROKAF has had personnel on K-8 since the fall of 1953. Under the command of Captain Kim Chong Yul, this Korean organization has been undergoing intensive OJT with various Air Force units, including the 3d AIO and 3d Air Police Squadrons, learning various Western techniques in installations and security. Too, they have worked with the 1973rd AACS receiving instruction in such aerial matters as The Ground Control Approach System and traffic control. To promote the learning rate of the Koreans, English classes have been started which have removed the language barrier somewhat. Continuing progress has been made, and the ROKAF personnel have been of great assistance to us. It has been another example of the close cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Korea which started in 1950 after the invasion, and has been growing since that time." During this period, ROKAF language proficiency was a serious problem. The problem dealt with the use of USAF fields and communication with USAF air traffic controllers. The use of Korean at the all Korean airfields in Sachon, Kangnung and Taegu was still practiced. (SITE NOTE: We remember seeing a 1960s Korean movie of the lives and loves of Korean F-86 pilots and noted that the English communications during GCI/GCA operations were so heavily accented that it was almost to the point of intelligiblity.) The following is from the History of the 314th Air Division, 1 January 1957 ?30 June 1957:
One of the problems that confronted the USAF during this period was the result of improper training in the past of ROKAF pilots and controllers. Bi-lingual pilots and controllers are required for safe operations. . . . ROKAF pilots were failing instrument checks because of language difficulties . . . . Someone suggested researching the reports of the 6146th Advisory Group history at AFHRA. Originally organized as the 6146th Air Base Unit in July 1950, the organization elevated to group-level in August 1952; redesignated to 6146th Air Advisory Group (ROKAF) at that time, and finally redesignated to 6146th Air Force Advisory Group (ROKAF) in July 1953. This is the famous "Bout 1" group headed by Major Dean Hess who flew the F-51s with the ROKAF in the initial days of the Korean War. After the war, the 6146th Air Force Assistance Group had detachments throughout the country to assist the ROKAF up until the late 1960s at major ROKAF bases such as Sachon (K-4), Suwon (K-13) and Taegu (K-2). However, we feel it would not be useful for the type of operations at Kunsan AB (K-8) immediately following the Korean War. The 6146th AFAG never had a detachment at Kunsan, though it may have trained some of the airmen at one of its other locations.
1b. Personal accounts found on the internet of teaching ROKAF airmen off-duty. The individuals commented that the ROKAF airmen were eager to learn English from the permanent party personnel despite sitting on floors in dimly lit rooms.
1c. Kalani O'Sullivan observation (2004). The two 1947 construction quarters in the ROKAF area still existed, but had been extensively modified. The chimneys for the hondol (charcoal floor heating system) were removed. The siding had been replaced with modern materials. The buildings are next to the ROKAF training field and are presently vacant. They were used by ROKAF NCO families up to the late 1980s. These buildings used as BOQs during the Korean War were mistakenly identified as Japanese-built up till 2000. They were actually the dependent quarters built by the 3rd Battalion, 63rd Infantry Regiment, 6th Infantry Division of the Occupation forces in 1946.
1d. 8th Fighter Wing History of Kunsan AB, Appendix J, as of 2004, states: "In 1965, the Republic of Korea Air Force assigned a squadron of F-86 fighters to the base. This ROKAF unit was the only permanently assigned flying contingent at Kunsan until after the Pueblo incident in 1968." This is in error. The F-86s were verified to have been at Kunsan starting in late 1959 by eyewitness accounts. (See Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) for further details on assigned a squadron of F-86 fighters.)
According to the 8th FW History Appendix J: "In 1957 and 1958, the 6170th Air Base Group began to upgrade base facilities, increasing the runway from 5,000 to 9,000 feet and building new dormitories." As the only Engineering unit was Company C, 804th Engineering Battalion, this was impossible. The 6175th ABG history (1957) states the Company C, 804th Engineering Battalion was sent to repair buckling of the runway at the expansion joints by direction of 5th AF. The North-South runway started by the 808th EAB in 1953 and completed by the 841st EAB in 1954 was 9,000 feet. (See 808th EAB/841st EAB)
1e. "North Korea: Chronology of Provocations, 1950 - 2003" This chronology provides information on selective instances of North Korean provocations between June 1950 and 2003.
2. John O. Moench, Taking Command, (1996)
3. Though Kunsan was used as a typhoon evacuation base, it did suffer its share of floodings. Whenever a typhoon brushed inland, the effects is that heavy rains cleared the mountains and deluges occurred in Kunsan. The floodings would occur about every five years. Though infrequent, the base's low-lying areas would flood because the drainage canals would overflow. As a result, over the years most of these areas have been built up. For example, in 2004, the Food Court in 2004 entrance is about three feet below the level of the road. The reason is that the Food Court is one of the oldest buildings on base and was the old BX in 1958. But because of its low-level condition and it continues to flood whenever there are heavy rains and flooding.
4. Dick Seely gave permission to use materials from his website at USAF Memories in 2002. 5. Al Schmitz provided a photograph taken in 1957 that shows the location of this crash. (See for photo.)
6. Baugher site: B-57: The deactivation of the 345th BG was further delayed by a crisis in the Taiwan Straits. In August of 1958, Mainland Chinese forces began bombarding the Nationalist-held island of Quemoy. In late August, the 345th BG sent a detachment of B-57Bs to Okinawa to stay on alert just in case mainland forces tried to invade Taiwan. The 3rd BG stood by in Japan to strike strategic targets in China, North Korea and possibly even the Soviet Union should the crisis escalate out of control. Fortunately, the crisis soon cooled and hostilities were averted, and the 345th BG returned to the USA to begin deactivation. This was completed in June of 1959.
This left the 3rd Bombardment Group based in Japan as the sole active B-57 USAF unit. Since nuclear weapons could not be stationed in Japan, in August of 1958, the 3rd BG set up a rotation of crews to stand nuclear alert at Kunsan (K-8) air base in Korea. This rotation continued until April of 1964, when the 3rd BG returned to Yokota to begin the process of inactivation. 7. Discussion with John Moench (2004). History of the 314th Air Division, 1 January 1958 ?30 June 1958: re transient load:
Operation "Big Nickel" [would] redeploy 20 F-100 aircraft and 90 personnel from K-8 to K-55. (SITE NOTE: This was the move of the 8th TFW from Kunsan (K-8) to Osan (K-55) in 1958. Dick Seeley stated, "Later in the year we moved our detachment operations to Osan AB, Korea and we took on a more serious mission." (NOTE: Though Osan AB was much more "civilized" than Kunsan, it had no real alert facilities. Later the 8th TFW would move their alert operations to Kadena, but in 1960 would move the alert back to Osan AB after the alert facilities were built.)"
1959 Footnotes:1a. On 27 March 1959, the "6170"numerical designation was changed to "6175" and the 6175th Air Base Squadron was born. However, discussions with John O. Moench, Major General, USAF in 2004. "On being assigned to the 6175th Air Base "Squadron" at Kunsan, I was offended. The grade of Colonel does not fit a squadron assignment which is usually that of Lt. Col. or Major and can go to lesser grade. As soon as I arrived in Korea and had audience at Osan, I raised hell about the "Squadron" designation -- my first of many encounters with the Wing Commander -- who came to hate my guts. I think the light dawned and the designation from Squadron to Group may have been made retroactive -- and that would describe the above history quote. But this would leave all existing record reading "6175th Air Base Squadron" and would confuse all record thereafter. My USAF bio reads that I was assigned to the 6175th Group."
1b. History of the 6175th Air Base Squadron, 1-31 August 1958: "On 4 August, Colonel Edward A. Jurkens assumed primary duty at Kunsan Air Base as the Commander of the 6170th Air Base Squadron." We believe the 6175th ABS history listing 6170th ABS is a typo. Point remains that the unit was a SQUADRON in August 1958. (Reference: John Moench)
1c. History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960: "The 6175th Air Base Group was organized on 25 March 1959." (Reference: John Moench)
The 8th Fighter Wing History, Appendix J, "Kunsan Air Base" lists the major organizations with inclusive dates: "6170th Air Base Group: 1 Sep 1954-8 Apr 1956; 6170th Air Base Squadron: 8 Apr 1956-25 Mar 1959; 6175th Air Base Group: 25 Mar 1959-1 Aug 1968" This listing does NOT include the "6175th Air Base Squadron" which came about on 27 March 1959. As was stated, the confusion in dates could have been because of the retroactive changes.
However, the fact that when John Moench arrived in July 1959, the unit was still the 6175th Air Base Squadron contradicts the above references that the unit was the 6175th Air Base Group. (Ref: Discussions with John Moench (2004).)
1d. Discussions with John O. Moench, Major General, USAF in 2004. The following analysis provided by John Moench:
A "History of the 6314th Air Base Group, 1 July 1958 ?1 December 1958" (this is the parent unit at Osan Air Base) reads "Prepared by the . . . 6314th Air Base Wing." Obviously, at some date after 31 December 1958, the "Group" was redesignated a "Wing." As a "Group," the subordinate at Kunsan had to be a "Squadron." An accompanying organizational chart shows the 6170th Air Base Squadron subordinate to the 6314th Air Base Group. Subordinate to the 6170th Air Base Squadron is the 6043rd USAF Dispensary at Kunsan. The unit at Taegu (Det # 1, 6314th Air Base Group) is shown directly subordinate to the 6314th Air Base Group.
The "History of the 314th Air Division, 1 January 1958 ?30 June 1958" reads:
A letter was sent from this Headquarters to Headquarters, Fifth Air Force, proposing that the 6314th Air Base Group be redesignated as an Air Base Wing in line with the general reorganization of Division and lower echelons throughout Fifth Air force. This is still being studied in Fifth Air Force Headquarters. While additional record at AFHRA would provide insight into this organizational question, it appears that the redesignation of the 6314th Air Base Group to "Wing" status took place sometime in early 1959 and probably at the date affixed to the termination of the 6170th Air Base Squadron status (renumbered as 6175th). But what did not take place concurrently was the redesignation of the Kunsan Air Base Squadron as a Group. The causes for this could be many but, most likely, it was due to the constant change over of 6314th and 314th personnel along with lack of appropriate understanding and action at the level of the Fifth Air Force.
In regard to the latter conclusion, here is a cite from a page in the 314th Air Division history of 1 October 1958 ?1 October 1958.
We were informed by Headquarters Fifth Air Force that our request to redesignate the 6314th Air Base Group as the 6314th Air Base Wing has been favorably considered. Returned for further study and justification was our additional request to redesignate the 6170th Air Base Squadron as the 6170th Air Base Group. Action was taken to resubmit this proposal. Apparently, what took place was the redesignation of the 6170th Air Base Squadron as the 6175th Air Base Squadron ?not a concurrent rise to Group level. Comment: As far as I am concerned, this whole action should have been accomplished in no more than the time it took to type the order. Why something as minor and obvious an action such as this was would drag on, I have no idea. But to get something such as this done with expediency would take someone that could cut through the nonsense of regulations and bureaucracy.
1d. Discussions with John O. Moench, Major General, USAF in 2004. Note that the History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 January 1955 ?30 June 1955 reads; "In February, two L-20As were assigned to the base" and "The total hours flown . . . are as follows: C-47, 238.35 hours; L-20A, 101.05 hours." John Moench stated, "From the limited record available to this writer, before that L-20 assignment and a later assignment in my time frame, the base aircraft was one C-47. When an L-20 present in my time frame was assigned to Kunsan is not in the records I hold." 2a. We greatly appreciate Major General John O. Moench's contribution of the historical research material he had compiled for this period. We are especially grateful for his insights into the particular problems faced by a base commander fighting an uphill battle against complacency, low personnel morale, lack of funding, low manning, and high personnel turnovers. These inputs were incorporated as much as possible into the text or footnotes.
For the official bio of Major General John O. Moench, go to http://www.b26.com/html/people/john_moench.htm.
2b. Discussions with John Moench (2004). The following is from "A REFLECTIVE ANALYSIS OF KUNSAN AIR BASE AND SURROUNDINGS 1954-1965" (May 2004), Background Written for Kalani O'Sullivan, By Major General John O. Moench, USAF (Ret).
The described date is a half century ago. Yet the events of that time continue to resurface, but with more and more inaccuracy surrounding the assertions and analyses. 2c. Napsnet has been a primary source of on-going information. (See Nuclear Alert for further discussion of nuclear alerts.)
I served as the commander of Kunsan Air Base in the Republic of Korea (ROK) for a brief period before being reassigned to the 314th Air Division at Osan Air Base. Subsequently, I was compelled to follow developments relating to the ROK (and Kunsan Air Base) from successive positions at PACAF, the Joint Staff of the JCS, CINCPAC, PACAF again, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
While there were some parallels to the environment of Kunsan Air Base during the described dates, that environment stuck in my mind as a learning lesson which, if studied and understood, provided a background for future perspectives. On occasion, I urged that this Kunsan Air Base scenario form the basis of group study at USAF officer schools. The problem was that the associated environment, when relayed to those in charge of officer education, was rejected with the asserted environment set aside as being (1) invented or (2) if true, not worthy of exposure and, if exposed, to be counterproductive.
With one disgruntled exception stemming therefrom, I think coming from an ingrained hatred of officers (something that arises periodically, e.g. "you would be a great guy, if you were not a general" or the simple assertion "I hate all officers"), reader comment on Taking Command was favorable and many purchasers returned to order additional copy for friends. The desired employment of Taking Command for educational purposes, however, did not materialize.
As time moved forward, as a part of the improvements at Kunsan Air Base, staff support began to focus on the history of the base ?a long neglected subject. In connection therewith, several copies of Taking Command were donated to the base library. Then, in 2004 it was discovered that the content of Taking Command had been melded into the development of the history of the base (your project). An apparent and fundamental reason for this was the paucity of historical information covering not just the associated time frame set forth above but the entirety of history.
Taking Command was not an historical writing. Nonetheless, it was strongly based on and reflective of historical fact. In sum, it was neither historical fiction nor an historical writing supported with documented references, bibliography, etc. Stated otherwise, it was "faction." This may be difficult to rationalize.
An explanation of the inclusion and limitation of the factual content in Taking Command was set forth in the Foreword. When written, it was realized that readers would have to wonder just how much of what they read was truth and how much was modified truth ?or even fiction. The treatment of names was clearly described. In general, those with extended military background were able to make the distinction.
In the your developed history of Kunsan Air Base, the use of Taking Command as a source has led to commentary and comment that (1) does not properly reveal the nature and purpose of the writing in Taking Command and (2) raises specious and often uninformed comment on particulars. Unfortunately, no prior attempt was made to examine particulars with the author of Taking Command.
(SITE NOTE: We had previously been in contact with Gen Moench at the start of this project approximately four years ago (2000). At that time there was NO information on the post-Korean War period at Kunsan that was available to us. We were struggling to find anyone who would give us details. Whether we contacted him or he contacted us slips our memory and due to the multiple computer crashes, we have no documented records. We received one email and then contact was broken. Approximately a year afterward, a notice was posted on a B-25 Marauder group bulletin board requesting prayers for John in what appeared to be a deathbed notice. We erroneously assumed that John had passed on. Happily he had not passed on and contacted us in 2004 after stumbling across our comments. We have attempted to incorporate the commentary and suggestions he provided within the text.) Words, once written, have the capacity not only to linger on but also to be quoted by following authors as researched truth. Thus, your history of Kunsan Air Base can lead to successive historical errors with stimulated commentary based on recollection leading to confusion and other undesired ends.
As stated in the Foreword to Taking Command, considerable documentation resided behind the words written ?but not stated was the fact that the text was reviewed by several significant individuals "who were there" at Kunsan Air Base or in the 314th Air Division at Osan Air Base during the time frame of the account ?along with others that served before and after. This does not guarantee complete accuracy, for all such individuals could be influenced by a similar error of history as was the case regarding the origin of the "officer" buildings which, by word of mouth (no record then found) had been built by the Japanese. Later your research revealed that these buildings had been constructed "by the 3rd Battalion, 63rd Infantry Regiment for Camp Hillenmeyer's dependents in 1947."
Good historians reach for historical accuracy ?poor historians simply copy from available sources as a matter of convenience. Typically, historians are confronted with conflicting information ?not just two variances of a single event, but often many. Determining which source is valid can be very difficult. Often the variance(s) is described in footnote with the preferred "fact" set forth in text ?but always with the sources stated.
Due to the variances set forth in your current Kunsan Air Base history and the assertion by some of erroneous and misleading writing by the author of Taking Command, selective comment relating to specific presentations and assertions in the Kunsan Air Base history follow.
Preceding that analysis, this writer finds it appropriate to set forth a personal philosophy that served to guide what others may view as unusual personal actions taken by him as illustrated in Taking Command. In connection with this portrayal, a reader of this Reflective Analysis is reminded of the words set forth in the Foreword of Taking Command:
The world of today is not the world of yesterday and any attempt to mimic my actions of those earlier times here illustrated could prove to be most harmful. I wish I had the time and energy to write more but I do have to face reality.
2d. Go to 63rd Inf Reg: Officer's family for details of an officer's family tour (Captain Robert and Betty Grenig) at Camp Hillenmeyer and pictures of these structures.
2e. Taking Command, (1996), p. 112. Rumor of North Korean village massacre.
2f. ibid., p. 116. North Korean execution pit.
2g. Verbal recollection in guest book October 2004 by Jim Gehlin. 3. Discussion with John Moench (2004). The following illustrated how confused the organizational structure was with mismatches in the organizational chart -- and some organizations not even listed. Excerpted from John Moench, "Analysis -- Unit Designation" (2004):
The influence of the circa mid 1950s object of "leaving Korea," the short Korea tours which led to personnel juggling (often with specific assignments being in months or even weeks), bad communications, lack of continuity, indifferent personnel selection and assignment, assignment of unqualified individuals, mis-match of specialty to job assignment, focus on warm bodies rather than need (e.g. converting communications or other specialties to Air Police, etc.), lack of interest at the Fifth Air Force level (other than for the Cheju-Do hunting situation ?see separate quotes on this), long logistics and personnel pipelines (most often well over a year from date of requisition of personnel or materiel), terrible logistic support, limited budget, poor morale (the FIGMO syndrome ?along with a lack of understanding of WHY the men and units were in Korea ?something increasingly pronounced as the grades of individuals decreased), confused lines of authority, lack of host-tenant and joint use agreements, lack of records, the Korea environment, and more created a nightmare situation. In that regard, the VD statistics were terrible (typically 900+ per thousand ?the figure raised by repeats) as were the general and summary courts martial (and other punishment) data. Too many individuals felt dumped on and simply did not care. After the armistice (my assessment), the unity created and motivated by combat disappeared. Coincident, the policy of leaving Korea and the related termination of financial and other support was devastating. Then there was the vast (demoralizing) discrepancy between the "poor" environment in Korea vice the "rich and comfortable" environment (and narrow, self-serving interests) in Japan. 4. John O. Moench, Taking Command, (1996), p. 34 (SITE NOTE: The long road that started at the levee of Okku Reservoir and goes straight until it meets Wolmyong Mountain and veers left was built by the Japanese in 1932. It was actually part of the tidal reclamation project by the Fuji Co. of Japan.) (See Kunsan City (1945-1960s) for photos of the city during the Korean War and post-war period.)
Proceeding with a select reading of the 6170th Air Base Squadron's January-December 1956 history:
In January, a conference was held with the Personnel Section pertaining to personnel reporting procedures for the forth-coming assignment of K-2 and K-9 air bases as detachments of 6170th Air Base Group. During the course of this conference, it was decided that the best reporting procedures for separately located detachments would be through preparation of separate Morning Reports. This information was submitted to Fifth Air Force and was denied. N.B. Commander of the 6170th Air Base Squadron during the reporting period was Colonel Roger W. Page. Shortly after the end of the reporting period, on July 16, 1956, Major Marvin A Ludwig, USAF, assumed command. This quoted history report was the fourth such report made (giving you a time frame of reference) following the activation of the 6170th Air Base Group ?which became the 6170th Air Base Squadron during this reporting period. "This organization is essentially the same except for the reorganization of squadrons to flights." The "Flights" were: Operations Flight, Transportation Flight, Communications Flight, Food Service Flight, Service Flight, Installations Flight, Personnel Flight, Supply Flight, Provost Marshal Flight. The Base Chapel was not under any flight, but the enlisted personnel billeted with the Service Flight. Apparently, the Base Exchange (responsible for the snack bar, sales store and concessions) was not under any flight.
In June, 314th Air Division established the policy whereby the various unit commanders under the 314th Division's jurisdiction were required to submit a letter explaining all delinquent RCS reports. This resulted in a suggestion from the organization commander, 6170th Air Base Squadron, to 314th Air Division that they (314th) assume full control over the detachments due to superior communication there. At this date, the decision is still pending . . . .
Comment: Downward designation of an organization has a demoralizing effect on assigned personnel. With no change in responsibility, changing from a Group to a Squadron and a Squadron to a Flight, implies diminished status. A similar change (politically motivated) of the Ninth Bomber Command to the Ninth Bomber Division in WW II (with no change in assigned units and responsibilities) did not go unnoticed by those assigned. Keep in mind that the change in individual personnel records (a key to promotion) was significant, i.e. the promotion board operates on the basis of the record and when it reads command of a Squadron vice command of a Group ?or command of a Flight vice command of a Squadron ?implications are drawn. Thus, a bad situation probably became a worse situation. In equivalence, such downgrading in status would be the changing of the nomenclature of cruiser to be a destroyer or a bomber to be a transport aircraft.
4c. Discussions with John O. Moench, Major General, USAF in 2004. Note that the History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 January 1955 ?30 June 1955 reads; "In February, two L-20As were assigned to the base" and "The total hours flown . . . are as follows: C-47, 238.35 hours; L-20A, 101.05 hours." John Moench stated, "From the limited record available to this writer, before that L-20 assignment and a later assignment in my time frame, the base aircraft was one C-47. When an L-20 present in my time frame was assigned to Kunsan is not in the records I hold." 5. (See Nuclear Alert for further discussion of nuclear alerts.) The following was excerpted fromNRDC Bulletin (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists):
In mid-1952, the deployment of nuclear and non-nuclear components to "forward areas" was considered essential for war-fighting if hostilities were to break out. Military leaders believed that a communication breakdown might make emergency transfers difficult, if not impossible. 6. The 18th TFW at Kadena maintained a standing nuclear alert. In times of increased vigilance, the 18th would deploy some of its alert aircraft to the "forward position" of Kunsan. (See 18th TFW Deployment (1959) for details.) (6)
Deployment of complete weapons and components coincided with the U.S.-China crisis over the Taiwan straits in 1954-55. The Eisenhower administration, worried that Chinese forces might attack the offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu or even Taiwan itself, made nuclear threats and developed contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons against China. Complete nuclear weapons were deployed to Okinawa in December 1954. That same month, the nuclear-armed aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway deployed to Taiwanese waters. 13. (For nuclear threats and planning during the first Taiwan threats crisis, see essays by Gordon Chang and H.W. Brands, in Lynn-Jones, Nuclear Diplomacy.)
In an extraordinary development, in December 1954 the Eisenhower administration approved the transfer of non-nuclear components to U.S. bases in Japan. Japan would be used for nuclear operations against China or the Soviet Union in the event of war.
5a. (For Japan as a nuclear base, see Hayes et al., American Lake, p. 76. Hayes and his colleagues correctly inferred that components, not complete weapons, were stored in Japan.) The History reveals that non-nuclear components remained in Japan until June 1965. The U.S. government has never acknowledged their presence given the sensitivity of the issue in U.S.-Japan relations.
5b. (The initial deployment was first declassified by the Defense Department in 1992. See Institute for Defense Analyses, The Evolution of U.S. Strategic Command and Control and Warning, 1945-72, p. 33, reproduced in William Burr, ed., U.S. Nuclear History: Nuclear Weapons and Politics, 1955-58, A National Security Archive Special Collection (Alexandria, Va.: National Security Archive/Chadwyck-Healey, 1998).)
A wide variety of nuclear weapons and delivery systems began arriving in the Pacific region starting in 1956. Army, air force, and navy nuclear weapons were deployed to Guam, Okinawa, and Hawaii. From 1957 to 1958, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines became new locations for President Eisenhower's nuclear weapons dispersal policy. Beginning in January 1958, U.S. nuclear-armed Matador cruise missiles were deployed on Taiwan, less than 200 miles from mainland China. Also, in early 1958, the United States deployed atomic artillery, Honest John missiles, bombs, and atomic demolition munitions to South Korea. Matador missiles were also sent to South Korea, a development that the compilers of the History mistakenly overlooked.
At the end of the Eisenhower administration, U.S. nuclear deployments on shore in the Pacific �t Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, Korea, and Taiwan (but not Hawaii) ?totaled approximately 1,600 weapons. There were about a dozen weapons on Taiwan, 60 in the Philippines, 225 on Guam, and 600 in Korea. The lion's share�early 800 weapons�ere located at Kadena airbase, Okinawa, the location of SAC's strategic bombers.
New dispersals to the Pacific region began with the Kennedy administration. By the beginning of 1963, on- shore deployments�o Guam, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Taiwan?grew to about 2,400, a 66 percent increase from 1961 levels. The on-shore stockpile in the Pacific peaked in mid-1967 at about 3,200 weapons, 2,600 of which were in Korea and Okinawa.
Several unusual deployments, which have yet to be fully explained, took place in the South Pacific during the mid-1960s. From 1963 to 1966, the army stationed a Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile system with W50 nuclear warheads on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Also, from 1964 to 1971, nuclear-armed Thor intermediate-range ballistic missiles were deployed on Johnston Island in support of "Program 437," an anti-satellite system based on the island.
Beginning in 1967, Pacific on-shore deployments began to decrease. By the end of the Nixon administration in 1974, the total was cut to half of peak levels�rom 3,200 to 1,600. By 1977 it had fallen to about 1,200 warheads. Politically sensitive warheads were withdrawn from Japan, and the Philippines was denuclearized, virtually in secret. SAC reduced its presence in the Pacific and U.S. warheads were withdrawn from Okinawa soon after it reverted to Japan in 1972. By the end of the 1970s, only South Korea remained a forward base for U.S. nuclear weapons. (The last weapons were withdrawn from Korea in 1991.) (SITE NOTE: The last atomic weapons were withdrawn from Korea in 1992.)
The reason the 18th TFW was sent to Kunsan was the on-going problems in Taiwan with fierce air-to-air battles and the shelling of Quemoy and Matsu island. According to Baugher site: F-86: "Sabres and MiGs were shortly to battle each other in the skies of Asia once again. In August of 1958, the Communist mainland tried to force the Nationalists off of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu by shelling and by blockade. Nationalist F-86Fs flying top cover over the islands found themselves confronted with Communist MiG-15s and MiG-17s, and there were numerous dogfights. During these battles, the Nationalist Sabres introduced a new element into aerial warfare--many of them were carrying a pair of early model AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared-homing air-to-air missiles on underwing launching rails. The Sidewinder proved to be devastatingly effective against the MiGs. In one air battle on September 24, 1958, Nationalist Sabres succeeded in destroying ten MiGs and scoring two probables without loss to themselves. In one month of air battles over Quemoy and Matsu, Nationalist pilots destroyed no less than 29 MiGs and got eight probables, against a loss of two F-84Gs and no Sabres. The Nationalist pilots had far more flying experience than did their Communist opponents. Many Nationalist victories were often against straggling MiGs left without wingmen. There have been some reports that US Navy pilots were flying many of the Sabres that participated in these battles." 7. The 3rd Bomb Group started standing nuclear alerts at Kunsan in Aug 1958. The alert was set up with monthly rotations between the 8th, 13th and 90th Bomb Squadrons with their B-57s. (Go to 3rd Bomb Group: Nuclear Alert (Aug 58 - Apr 64) for more info.)
Baugher site: B-57: The deactivation of the 345th BG was further delayed by a crisis in the Taiwan Straits. In August of 1958, Mainland Chinese forces began bombarding the Nationalist-held island of Quemoy. In late August, the 345th BG sent a detachment of B-57Bs to Okinawa to stay on alert just in case mainland forces tried to invade Taiwan. The 3rd BG stood by in Japan to strike strategic targets in China, North Korea and possibly even the Soviet Union should the crisis escalate out of control. Fortunately, the crisis soon cooled and hostilities were averted, and the 345th BG returned to the USA to begin deactivation. This was completed in June of 1959. Also Global Security.org: "First Taiwan Strait Crisis: Quemoy and Matsu Islands"
This left the 3rd Bombardment Group based in Japan as the sole active B-57 USAF unit. Since nuclear weapons could not be stationed in Japan, in August of 1958, the 3rd BG set up a rotation of crews to stand nuclear alert at Kunsan (K-8) air base in Korea. This rotation continued until April of 1964, when the 3rd BG returned to Yokota to begin the process of inactivation.
8. The squadron of ROKAF F-86Fs were part of the 10th Fighter Wing (ROKAF). These are believed to be the batch received in 1958. The following is excerpted from Baugher site: F-86
"The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) received its first Sabres when five F-86Fs were turned over to ROK pilots on June 20, 1955. Korea received 85 ex-USAF F-86F-25 and -30 fighters between June 1955 and June 1956. These replaced the F-51D Mustang fighters used previously, equipping units of the RoKAFs 10th Wing. In 1958, 27 more F-86Fs and ten RF-86F reconnaissance aircraft were delivered. Many of the ROKAF ex-USAF Sabres were retrofitted with the "F-40" wing with extended tips and slats. Many were modified to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile. These ROKAF Sabres were replaced by Northrop F-5s beginning in 1965. At least three F-86Fs survived until 1987." (SITE NOTE: Kalani O'Sullivan saw these fighters on the flightline at Taegu (K-2) during a Staff Assistance Visit from the 8th TFW in 1987.) 8a. Korean War Project: 802d EAB (SCARWAF) After WWII the 802d Engineering Aviation Battalion (SCARWAF) was stationed in Okinawa. ("SCARWAF" means Special Category Army With Air Force.) The 802d EAB (SCARWAF) was sent from Okinawa to the Pusan Perimeter in 1950-1951. After the breakout, it was sent to build Suwon base from 1951-1953. After the armistice, it remained in Korea until 1954 when it was sent to Itazuke AB, Japan up till 1956. The unit then moved to Camp Zama, Japan. The unit was redesignated the 802nd Engineer Heavy Construction Battalion and had regional responsibilities for heavy construction in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. In 1957, the unit relocated to Camp Drake (K-55), Korea but relocated to Osan AB for construction projects in 1957-1958. (NOTE: They were building up Osan AB alert facilities and installing aircraft shelters at the time and had set up a rock quarry about ten miles from the base with a huge rockcrusher.)
Gordon W. Calderwood wrote on Korean War Project: 802d EAB (SCARWAF) in 2002 that "he was with the 6123 AC&W Squadron at Pyongtaek in 57-58. He said, "I was stationed at K-6 Korea. I was a draftsman. When the 802nd Combat Engineers arrived from Japan, I was loaned to them and worked as a draftsman for about 6 months. It was a great outfit to be associated with. They actually brought toilet paper with them. We had forgotten what it was. Frank Maceko from Youngstown, Ohio is the only name I remember. They were all proud of being U.S.`s. They had a huge rock crusher. At Osan AFB, 10 miles away there was an old papasan sitting cross legged on the ground breaking up rocks (1 foot in diameter) with a 2 pound hammer. The rock pile was 2 stories high. When I returned from R&R 2 weeks later he was still there breaking up those rocks. I always wondered if he ever finished that job. " Under the 1903d EAB, he wrote, "I remember no toilet paper my whole stay in Korea. No running water. No linen exchange for 6 months. When they finally had linen exchange it was dirtier than we turned in. The generator for the base blew up. They had sent the extra to Japan to be rebuilt. They finally found it in the Osan AFB junk yard. No power for 6 months. The only concern our base commander had was the VD rate."
In 1958, the Company C, 802d Engineer Battalion (Heavy Construction) was sent by Fifth Air Force to Kunsan to repair the runway which had buckled. According to a list of "Attached Units," "Company C, 802d Eng BN" is listed. In commenting on the book "Taking Command" dealing with Kunsan AB in 1959, George D. Leible wrote, "I was a member of the 802nd Eng. Co."C" at Kunsan in l958 and l959. I have and have read the book "Taking Command" by Col. Moench and must admit while reading it, was a little confused by it all -- meaning the things he mentioned seemed somewhat removed from what I witnessed. I was a Cook at the NCO mess and worked with the Korean people on a daily basis and saw no hint of disloyalty to the U.S. As a matter of fact, I still correspond a Korean friend who is now in Seoul. I must admit the base seemed a little short on conveniences at the time but we made it thru. I could go on and on but will end here."
The unit headquarters relocated to Camp Humpheries, Korea in Pyongtaek in the 1970s, but the companies were stationed at various camps throughout Korea. The unit was redesignated as the 802nd Engineering Battalion (Combat, heavy) and operated heavy equipment in Korea from the DMZ to Pusan. The unit did projects throughout Korea from Osan AB to Cheju Island. The unit was inactivated in Feb 1992.
9. Discussions with John Moench (2004). Excerpted from John Moench, "Analysis -- Unit Designation" (2004):
Comment on morale: The troops have to believe in the importance of that which they do. In wartime, it is relatively easy to set forth purpose. In Korea, following the Armistice, setting forth purpose in the USAF structure was not easy. For one thing, the USAF policy was to pull out. Anything left in Korea was, in a sense, tied down and not available for deployment elsewhere ?this was not the case of Japan, Okinawa or Philippine depoyments. Look at the two ground divisions left on the line ?now one. For another thing, the USAF was determined not to get its forces tied down to USFK or UNC command ?both commands headed by an Army four-star. (Keep in mind that the USAF had split off from the U.S. Army with lingering concerns.) Then there was the matter of nuclear control ?which in the USAF was a single top-to-bottom structure keyed to the SIOP ?Single Integrated Operational Plan. Control was not about to come under UNC (United Nations) auspices nor USFK. Keeping the combat units in Korea on rotation, kept control out of the hands of the 314th Air Division and its Korea USFK ?UNC command! The three-hat command situation in Korea was really muddy. (In illustration, I may quote to you from my research files but this takes you far beyond "Kunsan" and I don't know how far you want to wander.) Finally, when we get down to the Osan, Kunsan and other levels, classification kept those who knew from revealing "purpose" to the men who labored under austere and seemingly meaningless conditions. Adding to the view of "lack of purpose" was the lack of support. Logic would say that, if the job was important, the support would be important. With little attention given to support, it tended to seal in the minds of the men down the line that the job was not important. Telling the men that they were "on the front line of defense" had little impact when they looked around at the conditions at hand. Thus, too many men remained unmotivated, gave up, "went native," turned to drugs, simply no longer cared, felt cheated and dumped on, focused on personal enjoyment and survival, simply wanted to get out of Korea, lost "team motivation," etc. In total, "morale" was a hard nut to crack and, for many, the enemy became each other, the officers and especially the commanders, and, eventually, the entire service. Some enlisted men elected to extend their tours in Korea but, in too many cases, the reasons therefor were highly suspect, e.g. "in love" with a Korean, family problems back home, black market connection, etc. That, when I cracked down on the josans, prostitution and black market, I would learn of talk (in, of all things, the Air Police Section) of getting rid of me, illustrates the depths that can be stimulated by such an environment. 10. Discussions with John Moench (2004).
11. Taking Command, p. 41
11a. Discussions with John Moench (2004). (SITE NOTE: We accept General Moench's account as fact. However, for the action of the previous commander to simply shrug his shoulders when told by someone "up the line" that they were not in the budget for the base and to place it in the coming year's budget was simply unacceptable. We have never been to an American base without a U.S. flag flying. It is the symbol of our nation and the rights and freedoms the military man fight and die for. We have personally had state flags made in Thailand, Vietnam, Korea and Japan before, and though not suitable for outdoor use, they would atleast have been suitable for indoor display. Kunsan had NO flags. We do not apologize for our anger at all the people in the chain of command at the time over this one item.)
12. Narratives of Robert and Betty Grenig of Scottsdale, AZ (1999). In 1947, Robert Grenig, Lt.Col, USA (Ret) was a Captain who served as S1 and later as S5 for the 3rd Battalion, 63d Infantry Regiment. (See Camp Hillenmeyer: Officer's Family Tour (1947).)
12a. James Wade, One Man's Korea, (1967), pp 105-107. Common feelings of Koreans by the military in mid-1950s.
13. Andrew C. Nahm, Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People (1994), p (?)-- (NOTE: Reference books sent to Hawaii at this time; page number references require entry)
14. Narratives throughout this history describing Korea during the Korean War. The universal comment was that Korea was a "hell-hole."
15. Up until the 1970s, even the cultural treasures fell into a state of disrepair. The change came about during the time of Park Chung-hee who sought to attract tourism dollars from Japan. The first major attraction to undergo rehabilitation was Pulgok-sa (Bulgok Temple) in Kyongju in the 1970s. The success of this project spurred other similar projects especially the palaces (Tonguk Palace and Secret Gardens) and city gates of Seoul (Namdae-mun and Tongdae-mun). However, the comparison between Japan and Korea remained like night and day. A GI could speak of positive elements of the Japanese culture, but found very little to say that was good in Korea. Korea remained the "baby adoption mill" for the world and poor people still tore up the macadam roads for heating fuel. Unfortunately, it would not be until the 1980s when the Miracle of the Han started to turn Korea into one of the "four dragons of Asia" that things started to turn around for Korea. It would take many years before Korea would reach anything near a scale of what would be considered "world standard."
16. Taking Command, p. 84 (SITE NOTE: The bribing of government officials, police and even teachers with "gifts" became customary. In politics, it was "customary" to hand out envelopes with money to voters. Police visited bars and other establishments under their "protection" during holiday seasons to collect "gifts" from the owners. In order to get anything done in government, one had to treat the official to a meal and a "gift" to get any action. This practice had become engrained in the society as a "custom." The multitudes of ills that come from this attitude that money can buy anyone compounded itself when Korea became a G-12 nation and went forth into the global society. The bribery scandals in the U.S. in the 1990s of U.S. congressmen are just one example. It was worldwide. These same attitudes were still causing major problems in Korean society in 2004. It still struggled to come to grips with political corruption and abuses of power by politicians, conglomerates and wealthy families. In 2003-2004, the daily headlines were filled with one after another of politicians being indicted for obtaining cash from the conglomerates illegal slush funds.)
17. Taking Command, (1996), p.
17a. See http://kalaniosullivan.com/KunsanAB/OtherUnits/Howitwasb.html#Shin for Cheol-hyun Shin's photos of Kunsan in 1960 to get a perspective of the conditions of poverty in Kunsan City. Also visit the selected photos of Cheol-hyun Shin for a perspective on the daily lives of the common people in the Cholla provinces from the 1960s on. Also visit Kunsan City: 1945-1960s for pictorials of the conditions in the city.
18. Taking Command, (1996), p.
19. Narratives of individuals who performed train guard duty: George Grabe (1960), Steve Foulke (1963) and Philip Han (1970).
20. Taking Command, (1996), p. Reminding ourselves that the book was "faction," John Moench writes about a visit to one of the clubs at night and watches as GIs jump out the windows to escape. In the 1950s, they were simply the two downtown bars and "50-won hill" (the Korean red-light district) that the commanders had to contend with.
Narrative of Dan Decker (2000). Dan Decker of the 4th TFW stated, "There was no American City (A-town) outside the gate while we were there in 1968, and there were only two night clubs providing service to Americans, the Roman Club and the Venus Club (I think that was the name of the second one.) They permitted only 100 personnel a day to go to the city. I never even bothered to ask for a pass."
Narrative of Jack Wilkinson (2000). Jack Wilkinson of the 6175th ABG stated, "However, prior to A-town, there was only the downtown bars. He added, "As far as Kunsan City there were more than two watering holes. In Young Hwa Dong there was the Venus, Roman and Stork Club also a place called Papasan's Store which was frequented by mostly the blacks/African Americans (at that time the entertainment areas were mostly segregated)."
Recollection of Kalani O'Sullivan (2004). The Romans and Venus were still in operation in 1987 in the Young Hwa-dong shopping district. The bars turned into Korean clubs in the 1990s when GIs became "cheap trade." The Miracle of the Han meant that Koreans had more money than GIs and the term "rich American" disappeared from us in Korea.
The problems with the prostitutes continue till the present day. The rise of A-town, a ROK "Special Entertainment Zone," which was actually a cordoned off bar row for GIs in 1969 made it easier as most of the GIs would "sleep over" in this area...and it had a claxton alert system with a 24-hour town patrol and a dedicated bus for transport back to the base. However, this problem still plagued commanders until recent years when there was finally enough housing on base to move all enlisted -- with the exception of married personnel -- on base in 2000 under the "force protection" campaign.
However, the problems with the bar girls being brought on base still remains a problem. The problem in 2004 is with third-country nationals, Russian bar girls, being discovered on base for the purpose of sex. Filipina bar girls are allowed, but a growing problem is ethnic-Koreans of Chinese (PRC) nationality who look like Koreans. (See A-town and Prostitution for details of the problems associated with combatting prostitution in a country that has been identified internationally as a major trafficker in human flesh both domestically but internationally.)
21. Discussions with John Moench (2004).
21a. The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 18-29, 1962.
21b. Richard Fieldhouse, "China's mixed signals on nuclear weapons," (1991) states, "The Sino-Soviet ideological rift grew so wide that the two nations entered what the CIA called "their own 'cold war," (6) and the Soviets reneged on their promises in June 1960. (7) By August 24 all Soviet aid to the Chinese nuclear program was over, and all Soviet advisers had left China. Nonetheless, the Soviet help saved China years of effort and incalculable cost, and permitted China to advance far beyond its existing indigenous abilities." In other words, China was on the road to becoming a nuclear power.
24. Chinese nuclear devices covers the nuclear missile capability. The Chinese Nuclear Weapons Program: Problems of Intelligence Collection and Analysis, 1964-1972 discusses the nuclear program of China. China's first nuclear test on 16 October 1964 at Lop Nor. Richard Fieldhouse, "China's mixed signals on nuclear weapons," (1991) states:
The United States had considered using nuclear weapons against China on several occasions during and after the Korean War, and even deployed nuclear-armed B-29 bombers to Guam in 1951 for possible use against targets in China. This was the first time since 1945 that the United States gave custody of complete nuclear weapons (nine bombs) to the military, and also the first time they had been deployed outside the United States. (5) The United States also deployed nuclear-capable weapons systems, presumably with nuclear warheads, on Taiwan in the 1950s and early 1960s. The first overseas deployment of the Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile system was in Taiwan in September 1958; likewise with the Improved Nike Hercules, which became operational in Taiwan on December 2, 1962. 6 At least one squadron of nuclear-capable Matador surface-to-surface missiles (the 17th Tactical Missile Squadron) was apparently deployed at Tainan Air Base, Taiwan, in 1958. Nuclear-certified F-84 and/or F-86 aircraft were also apparently deployed on rotation from the Philippines to Taiwan during this period. Thus China had every reason to fear the threat of U.S. nuclear weapons. 27c. Discussions with John Moench (2004) and from "Analysis -- Unit Designation" (2004):
The Soviets designed and built China's aircraft industry and its initial nuclear weapons infrastructure, including equipment, plans, and training. On October 15, 1957, the two nations signed the New Defense Technical Accord in which the Soviets promised, among other things, to supply China with blueprints for, and a working prototype of, an atom bomb, as well as missiles.
Proceeding with Soviet assistance, China began the process of building nuclear weapons by searching for uranium deposits. This massive effort led to substantial finds and opened the way for research on extracting, concentrating, processing, and enriching uranium for bombs. Having learned from U.S. and Soviet experience and having Soviet design help, China chose the gaseous diffusion method of enriching uranium to weapon grade.
28a. Andrew C. Nahm, Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People (1994), p (?)-- (NOTE: Reference books sent to Hawaii at this time; page number references require entry)
30. Interviews of Kalani O'Sullivan (2000-2003). See Mr. Yi Yong-Ku (Mike Yi) story in AF Times of his being reunited with the airman, Bill Fogey, who pulled him from the snow back in Seoul just as the Chinese were ready to overrun the city. (See Mike Yi Reunited with Benefactor
30a. See Kunsan City: (1946-1969)
30b. Interview with Mr. Pyong-Hyan Choe (Johnny Choe) (2003). Kalani O'Sullivan personal contacts.
30c. Interview with Mr. Yi In-so (2003). Kalani O'Sullivan personal contacts.
33. Taking Command, (1996), p. (?)
33a.Taking Command, (1996), p. (?)
33b. Discussion with John Moench (2004) -- Transferring people without detrimental ratings.
34. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004)
History of the 314th Air Division, 1 January 1957 ?30 June 1957: "If there are two things necessary to run an organization, they are money and personnel. During the latter part of 1956 and the beginning of 1957, both of these highly necessary items were curtailed, not just in the 314th Air Division but service-wide.
34a. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004)
LEGAL (These data tend to reflect discipline and related problems. But to give it a measure, comparative data in locations outside Korea, even in the U.S., are needed. When at Osan, I was President of the Court on a lot of cases ?all drugs. As I recall, the common sentence in my court was dishonorable discharge and one year. This may sound lenient but, in the long range, it is not. What was sad to observe were those with multiple stripes, and often family men, that got into trouble. It was the Korean environment and the pressure of the surroundings. A look at Chaplain counseling is a clue ?and that is covered in the history documents.) 36. Discussions with John Moench (2004). We had used the term that the ROKAF was "subservient" to the U.S. as it was there base. John replied, "The ROKAF was a "tenant" of a base commanded by a USAF officer. This does not equate to "subservient." The ROKAF "occupied" their portion of the base. 37. Andrew C. Nahm, Korea: Tradition and Transformation: A History of the Korean People (1994), p (?)-- (NOTE: Reference books sent to Hawaii at this time; page number references require entry)
History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1958 ?31 December 1958:
Summary courts martial totaled 23 for this period.
FOR COMPARISON ?6314th Air Base Group (Osan) for 1 July 1958 ?31 December 1958:
General Courts Martial ?11
Summary Courts Martial ?92
Special Courts Martial ?15
Article 15s ?113.
34b. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) NUMBERS:
History, 314th Air Division, July-Dec 1958:
All Air Force units in Korea for the reporting period were handicapped by personnel shortages, turnover, and by personnel with low experience levels. Material shortages and maintenance problems in most cases were a direct or indirect result of personnel shortages in supply and maintenance areas, and such problems were made more severe by the long supply line ?time and distance.
6314th Supply Squadron had] an averge shortage of 11 key NCO's -- for some months they were short 22 key NCO's.
The 6167th (this number may be in error ?I don't have time to go back and check it out) Support Squadron had a variation of almost 30 percent in strength figures for the six months ?511, 520, 456, 447 and 365 in December.
At Seoul, Korea, the 6146th Air Force Advisory Group [had] four of five staff Materiel officers transferred.
History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1-31 August 1958:
The organizational strength of the 6170th Air Base Squadron was below the number of personnel authorized for the month of August. . . . The squadron is undermanned in the airmen authorization slot. There are 558 airmen assigned to the squadron with a total of 585 authorized.
History of the 6170th Air Base Group, 1 July ?31 December 1958:
The Finance Office and the Statistical Services Office have been 50 percent under authorized strength during this six-month period.
Materiel Section: On July 2, 1958, this section was visited by the manpower survey board and 12 slots were removed from the authorization. This left a total of 50 personnel authorized, but as of that date the total assigned strength stood at 41. (By extrapolation, this would be 41 versus the existing UMD of 62. Refer to other comment on how the UMD would be cut based on the unit "surviving" with a manning less than the UMD authorized. This was all a numbers game unrelated to need. And it was demoralizing.)
Office of Information Services: On August 28, 1958, the KING 8 COURIER, Kunsan's base newspaper, ceased publication. The cause was a personnel shortage. . . . . AFKN-Kunsan operated during this period under a critical shortage of engineers and announcers.
314th Air Division History, 1 July ?31 December 1957:
Transportation . . . properly trained personnel were in short supply.
Communications and electronics . . . A scarcity of qualified five and seven level personnel seems to be wide spread . . . three level personnel cannot handle it properly . . . .
Comment: An extensive on-the-job training program was carried out but such training, in a short tour area, should be accomplished before assignment ?not after. Assigning untrained, unqualified men to the Korean environment simply made matters worse. Refer to the 314AD commander's letter/speech in Taking Command ?the commander was Brig. Gen. Jim Tipton and the quoted speech is real ?and it can be quoted by you with the source being the files and records of the General (now deceased) ?I obtained it from his wife (Ann) who was present at Osan at the time and who reviewed Taking Command for associated accuracy. She holds Taking Command as a treasured item ?she knows the fact and less-that-fact contained therein. And this leads me to suggest that, as a good source, you ought to locate some wives that were present in Korea and obtain their input.
History, 314th Air Division, July-Dec 1958:
[6314th Supply Squadron] Their history indicates nine commanders in 18 months.
35. Discussions with John Moench (2004). References from John Moench, "ANALYSIS "BASE POPULATION," (2004).
History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1956 ?31 December 1956:
On August 31 1956, this organization had 597 personnel assigned. This included 20 officers and 437 airmen assigned to the 6170th Air Base Squadron at this station, one officer and 70 airmen at Detachment # 1 . . . and 2 officers and 67 airmen at Detachment # 2. During the next two months (September and October) three officers and 93 airmen were processed into the organization, while three officers and 159 airmen were lost through normal rotation to the ZI.
History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1-31 August 1958:
The number of officers authorized was maintained for the month, with 30 officers authorized and the same number being assigned. The squadron is undermanned in airmen authorization slots. There re 558 airmen assigned to the squadron, with a total of 585 authorized.
Comment: Not included in the cited population are the attached, tenant, temporarily deployed and transient figures ?nor the non-Korean civilians. Per the cited history, units of the 90th Bomb Group and the 45th Tactical Recon Squadron were on TDY to Kunsan during this month. (SITE NOTE: 90th Bomb Squadron of 3rd Bomb Wing out of Misawa, Japan flying F-100s; 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron out of 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing of Misawa, Japan flying RF-86F.)
ATTACHED UNITS (1958)
Det # 1, 6123 AC&W
Det # 2, 8 OSI Dist.
1246-5 AACS Det
Det # 1, 6303 A&E
Company C, 802 Eng BN
Det # 6, Postal Squadron
Det # 27, 30 WEARON
Det # 7, 7 APRON
Normal alert force from Japan or Okinawa.
10 ROKAF Squadron
U.S. and other civilians would run about 6 ?10 ?The would include Special services, U.S. Army Engineers, BX Manager.
The alert force might run from 30 to 60.
The above listing does not seem to account for the ROK AAA units.
As to the personnel assigned to the ROKAF Squadron, I recall a formation (parade) that I would estimate at about 350+ personnel.
Then, in terms of ROK workforce (organization employees, clubs, maids and grass cutters), there could be from 100 to 200+. This workforce came from off base.
Hired guards would add about 20+.
ROK contractors might run from a score upwards ?billeted off base.
Transient aircraft and visitors via ground transport ?spasmodic Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and ROKAF ?some ROK Army ?some U.S. civilians such as aid, religious and local employees. Usually no over night stays ?impact mostly on daytime use of mess and officer club facilities.
38. USFK: SOFA reads:
"The US-ROK SOFA was signed in 1966 after the US gained experience with the 1960 US-Japan SOFA and the earlier 1952 Administrative Agreement upon which it was based, and with the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA provisions are modeled on various provisions of pre-existing agreements including the US-Japan SOFA and the US-Federal Republic of Germany Supplemental Agreement to the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA is not, nor was it ever intended to be, identical to the US-Japan SOFA. It is based on mutual accommodations recognizing different systems, some of which remain quite different today. The Japan labor provisions, for instance, recognize that in Japan there is an "indirect hire" system for local national labor (the Government of Japan is the employer for Japanese nationals who work for USFJ). In Korea, USFK has a "direct hire" system (USFK is the employer of its Korean employees)." 38a. Global Security.org Definition of SOFA.
SITE NOTE: Unlike other countries where the SOFA document is one of the FIRST things negotiated, Korea had none until 1966. Before then, the Americans treated Korea as their "property" -- and in some sense, it was. Compensation for unlawful death or other "civilized" means of expressing regret for accidental or intentional death was non-existent. In some cases, GIs got away with murder -- literally as the Koreans had no real method for redress or Korean authorities would not listen to their complaints. There was no mechanism for an American accused of a civil crime (murder, rape) to be tried in the Korean court system as no SOFA was in place.
The problem for negotiating a SOFA in Korea was that the Korean legal system is based on the needs of society rather than individual rights as is seen in the American system. This leads to all kinds of conflicts dealing with jurisdiction, pre-trial confinement, and sentencing/imprisonment. If for example, a U.S. soldier killed a civilian will performing guard duty, he was involved in a line-of-duty incident and the U.S. military had jurisdiction. However, if a U.S. soldier murdered a prostitute, he would tried in the civilian court. However, without a SOFA in effect, there were no guidelines on how to interface with the civilan courts. Thus prior to 1966, all cases were handled by the military.
This leads to some serious public relations problems as some Koreans view it as the Americans "getting away with murder." In a sense, the Korean view might be valid. In many cases, the GIs with less serious infractions were simply shipped out to another duty station without disciplinary actions. John Moench talked of this when referring to NCOs with families and years of service who ran into problems at Kunsan. This is a commander's judgement call. Even airmen with serious infractions such as drug use prior to 1966 was normally administered a relatively minor punishment. For example, in 1959, John Moench mentioned sitting on General Courts at Osan AB and individuals charged with mainly drugs were given a relatively minor, bad conduct discharge and one year jail time. The intent of course was to get these troublemakers out of the military as soon as possible. For high-profile cases where the Korean community was incensed, great care was taken to not incite stronger outbursts. Such a case would be the 1957 killing of two Korean nationals at Kunsan by airmen guarding the ammo dump. The individuals were a line-of-duty case as they were standing guard duty, but the Koreans probably were incensed that their day in court was refused. Koreans viewed this as the U.S. forces rigging the decision. Years later in 2000, the North Koreans would use this example as proof that the U.S. forces had perpetrated injustices on Koreans since the earliest days.
So why didn't the Koreans try to demand a SOFA treaty? Unlike Japan or Germany, the ROK was a free-nation with a democratic Constitution already in place since 1949. Part of the fault lies with Rhee himself. Rhee's aim was simply to perpetuate his hold on power -- and his corrupt regime was supported by the U.S. to the tune of $200 million a year...almost the entire GNP for the country. Rhee's inability to work with others and his lack of concern or understanding for economics, however, retarded the progress that the people expected; opposition grew and public support diminished. Rhee's supporters resorted increasingly to coercion and fraud to keep him in power, thus losing for him much of his deserved place in history. South Korea's citizens, particularly the urban masses, had become more politically conscious and the press frequently exposed government ineptitude and corruption and attacked Rhee's authoritarian rule.
By 1959, Rhee was 84 years old and showing signs of senility. For fear that Rhee's health might be impaired, he was carefully shielded from all information that might upset him. Thus, the aged and secluded president became a captive of the system he had built, rather than its master. There was no one at the helm of state and the vultures were jockeying for power. In this atmosphere, there was no way that major international issues could be resolved.
However, in 1960, Syngman Rhee was overthrown in a student led demonstration that ousted him from office and sent him into exile in Hawaii. After that, Park Chung-Hee led the military overthrow of the Second Republic in May 1961. However, nothing could be done on the SOFA as the dictatorship of Park did not set well with the John F. Kennedy administration. After Park was elected as a "civilian" President and his agreement to send Korean troops to Vietnam "negotiated" by Lyndon Johnson, the SOFA issue was brought up.
In September, 1964, when the situation in Vietnam became worse, ROKA dispatched a medical force and a Taekwon-do (Korean traditional martial arts) Instruction force to Vietnam. In February 1965, engineers and transportation forces were sent to Vietnam. Those forces were named "Dove Troops". ROKA also established ROK Military Support Group in Saigon. In October, 1965, ROKA dispatched Capital Division(Brave Tiger Division) to Vietnam as a combat unit and in September 1966, the 9th Division (White Horse Division) was also dispatched. A total of 50,000 ROKA soldiers were sent to Vietnam during this period and ROK Military Support Group was renamed Vietnam ROKA Command. (Global Security.org: ROK Army History.)
The reason was that the U.S. started on a course of improving the ROK military so that it could replace the U.S. forces on the DMZ -- thus releasing them for Vietnam duty. In 1966, the war in Vietnam was starting to heat up dramatically. The SOFA was a way that the U.S. could pump money into Korea by retaining its presence in Korea, while at the same time upgrading the ROK military. The U.S. started to pour millions of dollars in direct monetary aid and equipment into the ROK to upgrade its forces. (NOTE: The end result was that the ROK in 1970 was able to take over full control of the DMZ except for Panmunjon.) The money also was used by Park Chung-hee to kick off the industrialization of Korea with "seed money" to the "chaebols" (conglomerates) in a protectionist economy.
However, in reality, the 1966 SOFA was a rather insubstantial document as far as legal protection. Basically codified America's continued use of Korea with impunity -- though it curtailed much of the destructive abuses by the U.S. military. The U.S. still retained custody of all USFK personnel -- even for serious offenses. In many cases, they were simply shipped out of country. Korea had little jurisdiction over GIs -- and what was stated in the SOFA was seldom exercised. It would not be until the late 1980s after the Miracle of the Han had arrived that the SOFA was renegotiated with substantive changes. The main item -- though much simplified was that the ROK wanted changes to the jurisdiction of soldiers crimes while the U.S. wanted the ROK to pick up its "fair share" of its defense. In essence, since 1980, the ROK had dropped its defense spending from 8% of GDP to about 3.2%. Grumbling loudly, the ROK increased its share, but has been crying ever since. In fact, its spending by 2003 had dropped to 2.8% of GDP. (See Korea Marches to Its Own Drum for details on the irritation.) The SOFA has been revised to include environmental concerns, but there still is the hassles between Article 5 and Article 23 dealing with environmental damages that have been assessed against some of the bombing/live fire ranges. (See Protests: Environmental Damages Assessed for details.)
38b. "BACKGROUNDER: STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENTS (A summary of U.S. foreign policy issues)," (April 12, 1996)
38c. National Catholic Review Online, (Feb 28, 2003) -- Information typical of that found on Korean NGO anti-USFK activist sites.
39. Lee Wha Rang, "Who Was Rhee Syngman," (February 22, 2000). The article is biased against Syngman Rhee, but most modern histories/articles find it hard to justify the "myths" that the popular histories attempted to construct at the time.
In October 12, 1945, Gen. MacArthur ordered Col. Preston Goodfellow, former Deputy Director of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), to fetch Syngman Rhee from America. Rhee owed this fortune to Chiang Kai Sek. MacArthur was looking for a Korean leader he could count on and asked Chiang Kai Sek for a recommendation. Chiang came out with two names: Kim Ku and Rhee Syngman. MacArthur ordered Gen. Hodge (in charge of Korea) to treat Rhee with respect and do whatever in Hodge's power to anoint Rhee as the chosen puppet to control the 'Korean mobs'. In 1948, Rhee was 'democratically elected President of the First Republic of Korea." 39a. Country Studies: The Syngman Rhee Era, 1946-60 .
The Postwar Economy39b. Wikipedia: Syngman Rhee On January 18, 1952, Rhee declared South Korean sovereignty over the waters around the Korean Peninsula, in a concept similar to that of today's Exclusive Economic Zones. The maritime demarcations thus drawn up, which Rhee called the "Peace Line", included the uninhabited islets of Dokdo ("Takeshima" in Japanese). This led to protests from the Japanese government, which claimed that the islets should be considered Japanese territory. Minor clashes followed, but the islets have thereafter been under South Korean occupation. (NOTE: Korea seized the island in 1954 and sunk a Japanese boat with a mortar in 1954.)
The war had destroyed most of South Korea's production facilities. The South Korean government began rehabilitation as soon as the battle zone near the thirty-eighth parallel stabilized in 1952. The United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency and members of the UN, principally the United States, also provided badly needed financial assistance. Seoul depended heavily on foreign aid, not only for defense, but also for other expenditures. Foreign aid constituted a third of total budget in 1954, rose to 58.4 percent in 1956, and was approximately 38 percent of the budget in 1960. The first annual United States economic aid bill after the armistice was US$200 million; aid peaked at US$365 million in 1956 and was then maintained at the US$200 million level annually until the mid-1960s.
The scarcity of raw materials and the need to maintain a large army caused a high rate of inflation, but by 1958 prices had stabilized. The government also intensified its effort to increase industrial production, emphasizing power generation and textile and cement production. In order to reduce dependence on imports, such principal items as fertilizer and steel began to be produced domestically.
The average rise in the gross national product (GNP) was 5.5 percent from 1954 through 1958. Industrial production led the advance, growing by nearly 14 percent per year. The tightening of fiscal and monetary policies in 1958, coupled with the phasing out of the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency program and the reduction in direct aid from the United States in 1957, caused a shortage of raw materials for import-dependent industries and led to an overall economic decline. By 1958 Liberal Party leaders paid more attention to political survival than to economic development. The government adopted a comprehensive Seven-Year Economic Development Plan in January 1960, but before the plan could be implemented, the student revolution brought down the government.
39c. Fact Index: Syngman Rhee Rhee became greatly unpopular with his allies when he refused to agree to a number of ceasefire proposals that would leave Korea divided. His hope throughout the war was that with UN help he would be made leader of a united Korean peninsula, and tried to veto any peace plan that would not eliminate the north completely. He pushed for stronger methods to be used against the People's Republic of China and was often irate at the US reluctance to bomb Mainland China.
39d. Wikipedia: Syngman Rhee He was an anti-communist and his rule was autocratic. His government oppressed dissent and ruthlessly treated captured communists. He was reelected in 1952 and 1956. He engineered a change in the constitution to run for another term in 1960, and his victory seemed assured when the main opposition candidate died shortly before the March 15 elections. The real contest was in the race for vice president (a separate one under the law of the time), and Rhee's heir-apparent Yi Gi-bung won in a blatantly rigged election where Rhee calimed he won by "90 percent of the popular vote." This sparked off anger in the Korean populace, and the student-led April 19 Movement forced Rhee to resign on April 26. Rhee fled to Hawaii a month later. (SITE NOTE: Rhee lived in a $1 million+ home at Black Point, Oahu in an exclusive area of the power brokers of Hawaii.)
39e. Asia Source: Syngman Rhee Rhee was reelected president in 1952, 1956, and 1960. His control involved a skillful blend of political strategy and coercion. The Korean public respected his age, status, and nationalist credentials. They also admired his manipulation of Americans, such as his unauthorized release of twenty-eight thousand prisoners of war in June 1953 to frustrate negotiations for an armistice in the Korean War, and his successful bargaining for massive American economic and military support as his price for acquiescence in the truce.
39f. The Library of Congress Country Studies: Syngman Rhee
Because Rhee's four-year term of office was to end in August 1952 under the 1948 constitution, and because he had no prospect of being reelected by the National Assembly, he supported a constitutional amendment, introduced in November 1951, to elect the president by popular vote. The proposal was resoundingly defeated by a vote of 143 to 19, prompting Rhee to marshal his supporters into the Liberal Party. Four months later, in April 1952, the opposition introduced another motion calling for a parliamentary form of government. Rhee declared martial law in May, rounded up the assembly members by force, and called for another vote. His constitutional amendment to elect the president by popular vote was railroaded through, passing with 163 votes of the 166 assembly members present. In the subsequent popular election in August, Rhee was reelected by 72 percent of the voters. The constitution, however, limited the president to only two terms. Hence, when the end of Rhee's second term of office approached, the constitution again was amended (in November 1954) by the use of fraudulent tactics that allowed Rhee to succeed himself indefinitely. 39g. Asia Source: Syngman Rhee Rhee's inability to work with others and his lack of concern or understanding for economics, however, retarded the progress that the people expected; opposition grew and public support diminished. Rhee's supporters resorted increasingly to coercion and fraud to keep him in power, thus losing for him much of his deserved place in history. In April 1960 blatant election fraud, popular demonstrations, and police violence led to his resignation. Rhee, by now verging on senility, went into exile in Honolulu where he died five years later.
In the meantime, South Korea's citizens, particularly the urban masses, had become more politically conscious. The press frequently exposed government ineptitude and corruption and attacked Rhee's authoritarian rule. The Democratic Party capitalized on these particulars; in the May 1956 presidential election, Rhee won only 55 percent of the votes, even though his principal opponent, Sin Ik-hui, had died of a heart attack ten days before the election. Rhee's running mate, Yi Ki-bung, fared much worse, losing to the Democratic Party candidate, Chang Myon (John M. Chang). Since Rhee was already eighty-one years old in 1956, Chang's victory caused a major tremor among Rhee's supporters.
Thereafter, the issue of Rhee's age and the goal of electing Yi Ki-bung became an obsession. The administration became increasingly repressive as Liberal Party leaders came to dominate the political arena, including government operations, around 1958. Formerly Rhee's personal secretary, Yi and his wife (Mrs. Rhee's confidant, and a power-behind-the-scenes) had convinced the childless Rhee to adopt their son as his legal heir. For fear that Rhee's health might be impaired, he was carefully shielded from all information that might upset him. Thus, the aged and secluded president became a captive of the system he had built, rather than its master.
In March 1960, the Liberal Party managed to reelect Rhee and to elect Yi Ki-bung vice president by the blatant use of force. Rhee was reelected by default because his principal opponent had died while receiving medical treatment in the United States just before the election. As for Yi, he was largely confined to his sickbed--a cause of public anger--but "won" 8.3 million votes as against 1.8 million votes for Chang Myon. The fraudulent election touched off civil disorders, known and celebrated as the April 19 Student Revolution, during which 142 students were killed by the police. As a result, Rhee resigned on April 26, 1960. The next day all four members of the Yi family died in a suicide pact. This account has been challenged by some who believed Yi's family was killed by his bodyguards in hopes of enabling Rhee to stay on.
Lee Wha Rang, "Who Was Rhee Syngman," (February 22, 2000). Rhee was removed from power by the Korean people in 1960. On April 28, 1960, a DC-4 belonging to the Civil Air Transport (CAT was operated by the US CIA) spirited Rhee out of Korea barely one step ahead of a lynch mob. Kim Yong Kap, Rhee's Deputy Minister of Finance, revealed that Rhee took $20 million of the government fund. Rhee, his wife and an adopted son lived at 2033 Makiki St., Honolulu, Hawaii. Rhee died on July 19, 1965 at the age of 90 of a stroke. His 65-year old wife Francisca and adopted son Rhee In Soo were at his bedside. A US Air Force plane carried his body to Seoul for a family funeral. Park Jung Hee, who had plotted to topple Rhee, planned a state funeral but decided against it in face of mounting opposition. Rhee's body was interned at Dougjak-dong National Cemetery near Seoul. (SITE NOTE: There is some confusion here as Rhee In-soo committed suicide. Francisca Rhee returned to Austria and lived out her tragic life with a relative. Upon her death she was interned beside her husband.)
40. Discussions with John Moench (2004). John Moench, "Analysis -- Mission," (2004). (SITE NOTE: The following modified from the original sent by John Moench in format only.
The 6175th "mission" was essentially support, but the inherent responsibilities of "command" were broader. 40a Discussions with John Moench (2004). John Moench, "Analysis -- Mission," (2004).
As to the "mission" statement as extracted from history statements:
History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 January 1956 ?30 June 1956: The mission of the Air Base Squadron has been set forth as maintaining K-8 in an operational status, providing base support for fighter and light bomber squadrons that will rotate to the base periodically, and providing support to tenant units.
History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1956 ?31 December 1956: The mission of the 6170th Air Base Squadron is to maintain Kunsan Air Base in an operational status, providing logistical support for fighter and light bomber aircraft units that rotate to this Base periodically. The 6170th Air Base Squadron also provides support for tenant organizations which furnish Air Weather Service, Airways and Air Communications, Aerial Port facilities, Post Office activities and Army engineer units assigned to Kunsan Air Base for construction purposes, and the Office of Special Investigations.
History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1958 ?31 December 1958: The mission of the 6170th Air Base Squadron is to maintain Kunsan Air Base in an operational status, providing logistical support for tactical units that rotate to this base periodically from other components in the Pacific Air Forces. The 6170th air Base Squadron also provides for support for tenant and attached organizations.
History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960: The 6175th Air Base Group has the mission of maintaining Kunsan Air Base, Korea, in an operational status to provide logistical support for tactical units from components of the Pacific Air Forces which rotate to the base periodically. The Group provides support for tenant and attached organizations, also.
6314th Support Wing, Directorate of Information, FACT SHEET, circa 1965: The mission of Kunsan Air Base is to support tactical units from other components of this command, and to furnish complete facilities for the operation of the airstrip.
COMMENT 40b. Discussions with John Moench (2004). "Analysis -- Cheju-Do" (2004).
In brief, the above mission renditions tend to sound like the running of a hotel along with an airfield for visiting traffic. In amplification, various solid and dotted lines are drawn on organizational charts. Beyond that, authorities of the commander over the activities on the base would be contained in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and host-tenant agreements ?virtually none of which existed and those that did exist were inadequate. The need for such agreements was recognized, but giving the task of formulating such items (authorities and terms of reference) to inexperienced and transitory individuals (keep in mind that few on a one-year tour served the full year in one location ?often only months and more often on more than one job) hardly led to a worthy product. Issuing an order to inexperienced individuals may have the sense of relieving the higher command, but it accomplished little. The recorded history repeats directives to establish host-tenant and joint use agreements, but, as a practical matter, few were generated, e.g. in October 1957 "a letter was sent to the Commander, 6170th Air Base Squadron, Kunsan, requesting him to draw up a joint use agreement between his organization and the tenant ROKAF organization." (314 Air Division History of 1 July ?31 December 1957) Colonel Edward A. Jurkens assumed command of the 6170th Air Base Squadron on 4 August 1958 ?prior to that, lesser-experienced officers commanded the unit. Try to keep in mind that the formulation of host-tenant and joint use agreements are legal documents that require extensive and specialized knowledge (often legal knowledge) not present in a run of the mill officer ?especially a junior officer. These agreements should have been formulated under the detail of standard language and expertise managed by at least the 314th Air Division but, more appropriately, the Fifth Air Force.
To examine "authority," it is well to assess who will be blamed if things go wrong? Begin by examining the operation of the control tower by a tenant unit ?that being a detachment from a distant parent organization. The commander is responsible for maintaining the base in operational status. Can he be responsible for the control tower function without the equivalent of command (or operational control) of those running the control tower?
Take this a step further. Can, as one individual commented, the commander be responsible for the operation of the base if a tenant has the right to deny entry to any part of that base? And, if the commander cannot enter any and all parts of the base, what then governs fire, security, service and maintenance capability ?and law enforcement ?and defense? If the commander is not watching the total store, who is?
Certainly, all relations require governance, guidelines and protocols. But, when they are absent or the situation exceeds those parameters, what then prevails?
In the case of a ship, the Captain is the law. The same used to apply to aircraft.
In the absence of a limiting mission statement or other authority, on assuming command of Kunsan Air Base, I took the view that I was the law on Kunsan. And I proceeded accordingly until I found resistance and then "sorted out" the boundary. In most cases, the resistance wilted. Almost everyone was happy to allow some other individual to be responsible and to avoid personal responsibility.
Resistance began shortly after I stepped onto the air base. Demanding to look at the base's war and base defense plan, a young officer stated that he could not reveal it to me in that he had not been furnished a Fifth Air Force security clearance in my name ?which was true. Actually, until I late reported in to the 314th Air Division, neither the 314th of 5AF knew I was there. I quickly reminded this officer that I was the commander and he would produce for me anything I asked for or he would not be eating in the officer's club that night. Technically, the officer, by regulations, was correct.
In not too long a time, I was faced with "you are not my commander" and "you cannot tell me what to do" assertions by some tenant and rotating individuals ?officer and enlisted. I quickly made it known that I didn't care who the commander of the individual was but that, so long as the individual was on my base, he would conform to my directions. Most of the time that ended the issue.
One day, on entering the officer's club, I found a table of Army Officers (a few senior types) that had flown into the base for refueling and lunch. I walked over and introduced myself. I then reminded the senior officer that the protocol was to make known his presence on the base ?preferably with a visit to the commander. The word spread and, on my watch, it did not happen again! On the side, I raised hell with my own and tenant (tower) people for not advising me (in-coming aircraft were always to be asked for highest rank on board) or via the entry gate.
There is a fundamental rule that one gets crapped on to the extent he allows himself to be crapped on.
A difficult problem emerged when the visiting/rotating officers on the base exceeded the inventory of the assigned officers. The assigned officers (by dues and assessments) supported the officer's club. When the visiting/rotating officers (who always complained about the food, service, etc. at Kunsan as compared to the bases they came from ?which home bases, typically in Japan or Okinawa, were well established and financed) descended on the facility and came to outpace the capability of the small Kunsan officer's club, I proposed an assessment on individuals (via higher meal prices for non-assigned officers) or supplemental/subsidized support from the home bases ?and all hell broke loose. I was transferred to Osan before I got this situation under control. I don't know how my successor handled the situation.
"In startling contrast to the disinterest of Fifth Air Force in Japan relative to the problems of Korea was the interest in Cheju-do for recreation (hunting and fishing) purposes. The following extracts come from the History of the 314th Air Division, 1 July ?31 December 1956." 41. "History of the Custody and Deployment of Nuclear Weapons July 1945 through September 1977," Prepared by the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Atomic Energy), (February 1978) Top Secret document: declassified.
Then there is the 6314th Support Wing "Fact Sheet # 1" provided to newly arriving personnel:
- Projects on two hunting lodges have been finished; completed plans are being forwarded to Headquarters, Fifth Air Force.
- The FEAF Hunting and Recreation Lodge on Cheju-do was completed on the 30th and, previous to this, on the 21st (month not stated), the Commander of the Far East Air Force with his party and the Chief of Division Recreation and Entertainment visited the lodge.
- The Hunting and Fishing season opened at Cheju-do on the first of October and a party of VIPs from Headquarters FEAF made reservations for the first ten days of the month. One lodge is used for housing the hunters and a second lodge building is scheduled for completion on or about the 20th of November.
- A visit was made from Hq. 5th Air Force to (314th) Division Personnel Services to coordinate plans for FEAF Hunting and Fishing Site, located at Cheju-do Island. SOP and policies governing use of this facility were formulated by the 314th air Division Personnel Services.
- A representative from the 314th Air Division Personnel Services visited Cheju-do Island on the 31st (month not stated) to coordinate activities in regard to the newly assigned hunting and fishing project at that location.
"The disparity of FEAF and Fifth Air Force focus on Cheju-do and the rest of Korea is obvious. In many cases, the only visitation of personnel, especially senior personnel, of those organizations to Korea was to Cheju-do ?not to the operational units in Korea. As to actual use of Cheju-do, while many from Japan would go to Cheju-do, few Korean assignees would be afforded the opportunity. Regarding visit of Japan based FEAF/Fifth Air Force personnel to P-Y-Do, it was about as rare as hen's teeth. While Cheju-do was further support of the good Japan environment, it was a thorn in the side for those suffering through the Korea environment. For myself, while I made it to P-Y-Do (where one landed on the beach when the tide was out ?and damn well took off before it came in), I never visited Cheju-do."
- OTHER SITES: The facilities will not be quite so complete but your mission will be just as important if you are assigned to one of the many small sites scattered through-out Korea. Notable among these are the islands of Pyaengyang-Do and Cheju-do. The first, known as P-Y-Do for short, is located only 400 yards off the cost of Communist North Korea. Cheju-do is just the opposite. It is a hunter's paradise lying off the southernmost tip of Korea.
"Appendix B: Chronology--Deployments by Country, 1951-1977" NOTE: Curiously, this same document has a chronology of deployments broken down by country -- in alphabetical order. "South Korea" is not listed...though there are blacked out entries that could possibly be the country.
42. Armistice Korean War The following is Para 13c and 13d of the Korean War Armistice agreement under "Article II, Concrete Arrangements for Cease-Fire and Armistice, A. GENERAL" The interpretation of Napsnet authors is that the U.S. bringing of nuclear weapons into Korea was not a "replacement" and therefore, in violation of the Armistice. As the last weapons were removed in 1992, the debate can continue on in the history books over whether the weapons were REALLY there or were simply "silver bullets"or training munitions.
c. Cease the introduction into Korea of reinforcing military personnel; provided, however, that the rotation of units and personnel, the arrival in Korea of personnel on a temporary duty basis, and the return to Korea of personnel after short periods of leave or temporary duty outside of Korea shall be permitted within the scope prescribed below. "Rotation" is defined as the replacement of units or personnel by other units or personnel who are commencing a tour of duty in Korea. Rotation personnel shall be introduced into and evacuated from Korea only through ports of entry enumerated in Paragraph 43 hereof. Rotation shall be conducted on a man-for-man basis, provided, however, that no more than thirty-five thousand (35,000) persons in the military service shall be admitted into Korea by either side in any calendar month under the rotation policy. No military personnel of either side shall be introduced into Korea if the introduction of such personnel will cause the aggregate of the military personnel of that side admitted into Korea since the effective date of this Armistice Agreement to exceed the cumulative total of the military personnel of that side who have departed from Korea since that date. Reports concerning arrivals in and departures from Korea of military personnel shall be made daily to the Military Armistice Commission and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission; such reports shall include places of arrival and departure and the number of persons arriving at or departing from each such place. Then Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, through its Neutral Nations Inspection Teams, shall conduct supervision and inspect of the rotation of units and personnel authorized above, at the ports of entry enumerated in Paragraph 43 hereof. 43. Taking Command, (1996), p. 375. Though the book is a "faction" this illustrates the attitude in 1959 of the base being a US possession.
d. Cease the introduction into Korea of reinforcing combat aircraft, armored vehicles, weapons, and ammunition; provided, however, that combat aircraft, armored vehicles, weapons, and ammunition which are destroyed, damaged, worn out, or used up during the period of the armistice may be replaced on the basis of piece-for-piece of the same effectiveness and the same type. Such combat aircraft, armored vehicles, weapons, and ammunition shall be introduced into Korea only through ports of entry enumerated in Paragraph 43 hereof. In order to justify the requirement for combat aircraft, armored vehicles, weapons, and ammunition to be introduced into Korea for replacement purposes, reports concerning every incoming shipment of these items shall be made the Military Armistice Commission and the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission; such reports shall include statements regarding the disposition of the items being replaced. Items to be replaced which are removed from Korea shall be removed only through the ports of entry enumerated in Paragraph 43 hereof. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, through its Neutral Nations Inspection Teams, shall conduct supervision and inspection of the replacement of combat aircraft, armored vehicles, weapons, and ammunition authorized above, at the ports of entry enumerated in Paragraph 43 hereof.
44. ROKAF at Kunsan in 1960s. Short synopsis of ROKAF in 1960s.
45. Andrew C. Nahm, A History of the Korean People, Tradition and Transformation, (1994), p 505
46. Global Security.org, "The 4th FIS moved to Misawa Air Base, Japan, where squadron members flew F-86 Sabres and F-102 Delta Daggers until 1965. During that period, the unit participated in air defense of Japan; trained pilots of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, the Republic of Korea and the Royal Thai Air Force; and flew combat missions over Korea and Vietnam."
46a. Narratives of Robert W. Koeser (2002). Robert W. Koeser of Wheaton, Illinois, at the time a Comm/Nav specialist, contributed his special insights of life on the K-8 "C-Pad" (Contingency Pad) and life in general at Kunsan in 1960-1964. See 3rd BW Nuclear Alert
46b. Discussions with John Moench (2004). According to John Moench, "...as an intermediary with the ROKAF, I used a ROKAF "Captain Lee" whose English was reasonable. He flew the ROKAF helicopter. He was a slight built individual. His use of "as a matter of fact" in his conversation was monumental -- almost every other sentence. My observation was that he was a "manipulator." Had he worn a USAF uniform, I could have used his skills. My Air Police advised me that the helicopter was used to lift out materials that would not make it past the gate guards." (46a)
46c. Baugher site: F-86 Foreign Service for ROKAF F-86Fs. Canadian Aces Homepage tech data F-86F. Photo from Duncan's Sabre Site
of F-86F Inchon. 46d. PAF Museum photo and specs of H-19. 47. Taking Command, (1996), p. 375. Though the book is a "faction" this would be a reasonable description of the time as to ROKAF dependents.
48. The 1954 Welcome Brochure of the 3rd Bomb Wing read:
"ROKAF DETACHMENT. The ROKAF has had personnel on K-8 since the fall of 1953. Under the command of Captain Kim Chong Yul, this Korean organization has been undergoing intensive OJT with various Air Force units, including the 3d AIO and 3d Air Police Squadrons, learning various Western techniques in installations and security. Too, they have worked with the 1973rd AACS receiving instruction in such aerial matters as The Ground Control Approach System and traffic control. To promote the learning rate of the Koreans, English classes have been started which have removed the language barrier somewhat. Continuing progress has been made, and the ROKAF personnel have been of great assistance to us. It has been another example of the close cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Korea which started in 1950 after the invasion, and has been growing since that time." (48)48a. Brig.Gen. Chon Sang-hwan, ROKAF (ret), wrote (2000) that he was stationed with the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Kunsan in 1975. He stated he had many good memories of his time at Kunsan. From photos of In 1975, the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was the F-86F unit. The ROKAF flightline location remained unchanged with the F86Fs being maintained out of the same ROKAF hangar built in the 1950s. The enlisted men lived in Nissen quonset huts near the flightline area.
48b. Narrative of Bruce Charles, an F-4C Phantom II driver with the 67TFS between 1968-1970 said, "Yes, the 67th, and two other squadrons were "sitting" at the 475th in '68, '69 and '70. I suspect they hung around there for a number of years thereafter, but I do not know. All SIOP/GWP alert." He recalls being taught the Korean drinking art of "topshida" (bottoms-up) at the ROKAF Officer's Club. This involved drinking a shot of whiskey and placing the upturned shot glass on one's head.
48c. Source: Observations of 1960s Korean movies of life in the ROKAF. The ROKAF Officer's Club were normally rather stark surroundings with enlisted men serving as the Club Manager and staff. The standard floorplan was a bar with bottles of liquor displayed on shelves with a mirrored back along the rear. Some private booths would off to the side and tables in the center. Following the prevailing Korean custom that socializing together builds upon team spirit, social drinking was considered a mandatory element of leadership. Officers drank the more expensive beer or whiskey, while enlisted men drank the cheaper varieties of soju or makoli (rice wine).
49. Observations of Kalani O'Sullivan (2004). Kalani O'Sullivan has resided at Kunsan for over a decade and has watched many changes take place. The ROKAF structures on base are slowly being demolished to make way for new construction.
Over the years, Kalani has watched a few 1960s era Korean movies about ROKAF life. Normally they were patriotic varieties of "peacetime" exploits of the ROKAF with their fighters. Much like the US genre, the fighter squadrons had all the glamour. Usually there is one sequence of the fighters being scrambled against a North Korean bogie. Kalani didn't remember any of the titles. Usually the plot was of mix with one for comic relief, a handsome hero, and various supporting roles. Typically one of the supporting characters is killed in an aircraft mishap involving some heroic self-sacrifice. The films always starred the officers -- with perhaps a cameo role for a popular comedian in a speaking part. For the most part, the enlisted were seen, but not heard. The films were all stock black-and-white films typical of the era. The squadron commander usually has a pretty daughter or niece as a love interest. All the girls sport beehive hairdos with scarves and white gloves that were popular at the time. The standard transportation is a jeep.
49a. Observations of Kalani O'Sullivan. Kalani O'Sullivan has a certificate from a Thailand Air Marshall in 1968 for his work with the Royal Thai Air Force NCOs using this modified OJT method. In the 1980s, Kalani saw the same OJT method used in a 8th TFW shop at Kunsan for ROKAF welders' certification on special metals.
49b. Paul S. Crane, Korea Patterns, (1978) provides excellent examples of this Korean "trait" during Korea's days of poverty. At times this trait could be downright dangerous. In the 1960s, Koreans would replace blown electrical fuses by substituting a length of bailing wire. Wires were strung haphazardly and many buildings were destroyed from electrical fires. Electrocutions were common. Farmers would throw wires over electrical lines to tap off electrical current through induction...but many a farmer ended up electrocuted instead.
49c. Observations of Kalani O'Sullivan: In 1972, Kalani observed a pilot after landing his F-4 at Taegu, get out of his aircraft, strike the crew chief who recovered the aircraft and start to kick him as he lay on the ground. This type of behavior was common if the aircraft had a major problem that could be attributed to the crew chief. Other USAF veterans have also witnessed this behavior.
Having dealt with the ROKAF over the years up to the late 1980s, the ROKAF warrant officers/senior NCOs were constantly looking for "exceptions" to technical data to get around grounding conditions. However, they always wanted the USAF technician to make the determination to make an exception. Read between the lines of how they wanted to shift the responsibility -- but also remember how the ROKAF treated its airmen if the aircraft crashed.
50. Bruce Cumings, Korea's Place in the Sun (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997), p. 478. The Eisenhower administration approves NSC 5702/2, which includes a provision for the deployment of nuclear weapons in South Korea in August 1957
50a. "Air Force History Part 2, Limited War In Korea"
: "Three developments in 1953 brought peace to Korea. In March Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, a major obstacle, died. In May, Air Force bombers increased the frequency of their attacks again, striking North Korean irrigation dams that, when breached, washed away railroads and highways and threatened the nation's rice crop. At the direction of President Dwight Eisenhower, Secretary of State John Dulles asked Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to warn China that the United States intended to use tactical and strategic nuclear weapons and might unleash SAC against Chinese cities if a settlement was not forthcoming. On May 27, 1953, China agreed to an armistice in Korea. It went into effect on July 27.
The Korean War should have taught the United States that nuclear weapons had limited use in conventional wars, but the appeal of the new hydrogen bomb, first tested in November 1952, and plans for a new all-jet intercontinental bomber, the B-52, continued to dominate strategic thinking. TAC sought a new generation of fighters (the "century series," including the F-100 Super Sabre, F-101 Voodoo, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief, and F-106 Delta Dart) with supersonic speeds, but also adapted them to carry tactical nuclear weapons. The Air Force realized that while turbojet technology was the future, it alone was no substitute for good training, tactics, and aggressiveness. Military casualties in Korea of over two million for both sides, including more than 54,000 dead Americans, belied the judgment that this was a "limited" war-Americans learned firsthand the costs of war in Asia. Air Force aircraft had dropped 476,000 tons of explosives to achieve a standoff. Korea exposed the Air Force to the reality of post World War II warfare, where conventional (non-nuclear) air power would be used to "influence" an enemy, not to destroy it." 50b. John Foster Dulles: May 20-22, 1953, New Delhi, India, John Foster Dulles met with Prime Minister Nehru and senior Indian officials.
Dulles: Summary Guide "Together, Eisenhower and Dulles pursued a policy of containment towards the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Their 'New Look' defence policy sought to project a credible deterrent against communism through a combination of fiscal moderation, heavy reliance on nuclear weapons and a foreign policy based on threats of 'massive retaliation' in the event of a Soviet first-strike."
50c. China: Korean War FAQ
Korean War FAQ
Copyright(C) Dongxiao Yue, 1998, All rights reserved.
31. What did Mao say about US after the Korean war?
"American imperialists are very arrogant, they are very unreasonable whenever they can get away with it, if they became a little bit reasonable, it was because they had no other choice."
32. Did US consider the use the A-Bomb in Korea?
US generals actively considered the use of Atomic Bombs from the very beginning, even before China intervened. US presidents considered the use of the A-Bombs after PVA entered. [From Blair]
On June 1950, Eisenhower met with Collins, Haislip, Ridgway, Ike suggested use of two atomic bombs in the Korea area. In July 1950, MacArthur suggested plan to use atomic bombs to 'isolate the battle fields". [From Hastings]
On November 30 1950, President Truman said in a press conference: "There had always been active consideration of its[Atomic Bomb's] use...".
On December 24 1950, MacArthur submitted a list of 'retaliation targets' in China and North Korea, requiring 26 atomic bombs.
In January 1953, US tested its first tactical nuclear weapon, and the JCS considered its use "against military targets affecting operations in Korea."
In February 1953, in a NSC meeting, President Eisenhower suggested the Kaesong area of North Korea as an appropriate demonstration ground for a tactical nuclear bomb--it "provided a good target for this type of weapon".
On May 19 1953, the Joint Chiefs recommended direct air and naval operations against China, including the use of nuclear weapons. The National Security Council endorsed the JCS recommendation the next day.
Dulles, the Secretary of State was visiting India and told Nehru to deliver a message to Zhou Enlai: if peace was not speedily attained, the United States would begin to bomb north of Yalu, and US had recently tested atomic shells.
33. As a side question, did US threaten China with nukes after the Korean war? Yes.
US threatened China with nuclear weapons again in 1959.
From recently declassified documents, President Kennedy considered using nukes to bomb Chinese nuclear facilities in early 1960s , when China was on the verge of exploding its own bomb, but JFK was assassinated and the plan was dropped by President Johnson.
Facing nuclear threat, Chairman Mao said:"we need to have some atomic bombs too".
In 1964, China exploded its first A-Bomb, 30 months later, in 1967, it exploded its first H-Bomb, since then, China has developed a variety of strategic and tactical weapons, China also produced missiles of various ranges, initially targeting US bases at Japan and Philippines, and eventually the North America continent. Mao also said:"We must have nuclear submarines even if this would take us ten thousand years". China tested its nuclear subs in early 1970s and tested SLBMs later. The exact size of PLA nuclear stockpile is unknown, but reasonable estimate put it in the range of 2000-4000 warheads.
In March 1996, PLA conducted an exercise in the Taiwan Straits, President Clinton sent two carriers to the straits, PLA responded by dispatching its nuclear attack submarines and the US fleet stayed 300 nautical miles off Taiwan, in the meantime, PLA SAF (Secondary Artillery Force) conducted exercise to retaliate against enemy strategic strikes, PLA Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Xiong Guangkai reportedly hinted that US cares more about LA than Taiwan.
34. How many civilians were killed by US forces in Korea?
About 3 million. (To be detailed)
35. What was the lesson China learned from the Korean war?
Chinese learned that united as a nation, they can defeat any enemy.
36. What is the future outlook of Sino-US relations?
China and US historically had fewer and less severe conflicts during the humiliating 100 year Chinese history since the Opium war. Chinese and Americans need not and should not be enemies, they should cooperate with each other to build a world of peace and prosperity.
[Marxism] The American imperialist mentality: the Iran story fromHarry Truman to modern Neocons
"...Plans were actually laid to use nuclear bombs in Manchuria, the Korean peninsula and China, but Truman desisted. In June 1950, Eisenhower suggested use of two atomic bombs in the Korea area. In July 1950, MacArthur suggested plan to use atomic bombs to 'isolate the battle fields". On November 30, 1950, President Truman said in a press conference: "There had always been active consideration of its use". On December 24 1950, MacArthur provided a list of 'retaliation targets' in China and North Korea, requiring two dozen nuclear bombs. In January 1953, US tested its first tactical nuclear weapon, and its use against military targets "affecting operations in Korea" was considered. In February 1953, in a NSC meeting, President Eisenhower suggested the Kaesong area of North Korea as an appropriate demonstration ground for a tactical nuclear bomb-- it provided, he said, "a good target for this type of weapon". 50e. Kim Byong-kuk, Korea Times, "[New Horizon] Chronicle of the Korean War," Nov 22, 2002
On May 19 1953, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended direct air and naval operations against China, including the use of nuclear weapons. The National Security Council endorsed the JCS recommendation the next day. John Foster Dulles, visiting India, told Nehru to deliver a message to Zhou Enlai: if peace was not quickly reached, then the US armed forces would begin to bomb north of Yalu, and US had recently tested atomic shells. US forces threatened China with nuclear weapons again in 1959. President Kennedy likewise considered using nukes to bomb Chinese nuclear facilities in early 1960s, when China was on the verge of exploding its own bomb, but JFK was assassinated and then the plans were dropped by President Johnson. Facing nuclear threat, Mao Tse Tung argued China must have its own nuclear weapons, and in 1964, China exploded its first A-Bomb. In 1967, it exploded its first H-Bomb, since then, China has developed an arsenal of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. This is just to say that the United States itself bears chief responsibility for nuclear proliferation. But what about the imperialist attitude towards Iran ? In reality, American corporate interests were behind Truman's rhetoric. It was the voice of Capital talking. ..."
"President-elect, Dwight D. Eisenhower flew to Korea in November 1952 to fulfill his campaign pledge. On June 8, 1953, president Rhee Syngman released the prisoners of war, apparently to obstruct the truce negotiations. After the U.S. committed that the Mutual Defense Treaty would be signed in due course, president Rhee decided not to obstruct the peace negotiations between the United Nation Command and China. 51. Nam Ch'an Sun, "Mihaek 57 Nyon Han'guk Ch'ot Paech'i/Ike Kunbujujang Pad'adur'yo," Donga Ilbo, 29 April 1993, p. 2, in KINDS -- On 24 December 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower issues the order to deploy 280mm nuclear artillery and Honest John nuclear rockets to South Korea.
In May 1953, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles mentioned in a conversation in New Delhi with Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru that Chinese premier Chou En-lai be warned that failing an early settlement, the U.S. would bomb Manchurian sanctuaries and might use nuclear artillery shells in North Korea. This warning eventually led to the armistice agreement on July 27, 1953.
President Rhee told the U.N. that Korea would honor the armistice but would not sign the agreement reached between the UNC and the so-called Chinese Volunteer Corps commanded by Peng Teh-huai. So, Korea is technically in a state of war. From the standpoint of the U.N., Korea is still in a state of truce, perhaps the world's longest truce, and the U.S. presence in Korea is primarily to deter violations of the 1953 armistice. "
52. Bruce Cumings, Korea's Place in the Sun (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1997), p. 479. In January 1958, the United States deploys 280mm nuclear artillery and Honest John nuclear rockets to South Korea.
53. Robert S. Norris, William N. Arkin and William Burr, "Where They Were," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 55, No. 6, November/December 1999, p. 30; Michael J. Mazaar, North Korea and the Bomb (New York: St. Martin's Press, May 1995), p. 20. In early 1958, the United States deploys nuclear weapons in South Korea for the first time. The weapons are in the form of "atomic artillery, Honest John rockets, bombs, and atomic demolition munitions."
53a. Baugher Site: F-86 Foreign Service: Republic of China --
"The Chinese Nationalist Air Force on Taiwan was one of the first recipients of these surplus USAF Sabres. During December 1954 to June 1956, the Chinese Nationalist Air Force got 160 ex-USAF F-86F-1-NA through F-86F-30-NA fighters. By June of 1958, the Nationalist Chinese had built up an impressive fighter force, with 320 F-86Fs and seven RF-86Fs having been delivered. All of these aircraft had the "6-3" wing and most were upgraded to F-86F-40 standards. Sabres and MiGs were shortly to battle each other in the skies of Asia once again. In August of 1958, the Communist mainland tried to force the Nationalists off of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu by shelling and by blockade. Nationalist F-86Fs flying top cover over the islands found themselves confronted with Communist MiG-15s and MiG-17s, and there were numerous dogfights. During these battles, the Nationalist Sabres introduced a new element into aerial warfare--many of them were carrying a pair of early model AIM-9 Sidewinder infrared-homing air-to-air missiles on underwing launching rails. The Sidewinder proved to be devastatingly effective against the MiGs. In one air battle on September 24, 1958, Nationalist Sabres succeeded in destroying ten MiGs and scoring two probables without loss to themselves. In one month of air battles over Quemoy and Matsu, Nationalist pilots destroyed no less than 29 MiGs and got eight probables, against a loss of two F-84Gs and no Sabres. The Nationalist pilots had far more flying experience than did their Communist opponents. Many Nationalist victories were often against straggling MiGs left without wingmen. There have been some reports that US Navy pilots were flying many of the Sabres that participated in these battles. 54. Chronology of Nuclear Events in South Korea (1950-1979) -- Chronology of nuclear power and weapons in South Korea.
A sort of urban legend has sprung up surrounding these air battles. According to a widely-reported story, during one of these air battles, one of the Sidewinders failed to explode when it struck the tail of a MiG. The MiG pilot managed to stagger back home, and found upon landing that the unexploded Sidewinder missile was still jammed in his tailpipe. This Sidewinder missile was passed along to Soviet intelligence, and the Soviets promptly proceeded to copy the design virtually bolt-for-bolt, producing the K-13 (AA-2 "Atoll") air-to-air missile.
55. Discussions with John Moench (2004). John Moench, "Analysis -- Base Defense Ground" (2004)
This is a difficult subject for most individuals, even most military individuals, to grasp. General Virgil L. Zoller was Commander of the 314th Air Division when I was ordered to Kunsan Air Base ?he left just prior to my arrival. But, reading the History of the 314th Air Division, 1 July ?1 December, 1957, I think we had a similar appreciation of the issue of base defense. I quote:
By policy then in effect governing "roles and missions," the USAF was responsible only for defense within its perimeter. Defense outside the air base perimeter was the responsibility of the Army. But, in Korea, the Army was on the DMZ ?well removed from the Kunsan area!
Begin this reading by noticing that I have limited the scope to "ground." Air defense (including missile defense) was another parameter. Base defense in such instance was really recovery from damage (individual casualties, buildings, etc.) rather than defense. Camouflage was an appropriate consideration but, other than in the front line DMZ area, was mostly ignored in Korea. Dispersion was simply not considered ?instead aircraft were grouped on the ground (the air bases) to facilitate human guarding. (Keep in mind that this was a major criticism of "scapegoat" commanders at the time of Pearl Harbor.) Here and there revetments, blast walls or shelters were built ?as time went on the focus would be more and more on concrete aircraft shelters. Fences (varying from a roll of concertina or a few strands of barbed wire to, here and there, a chain link fence) did exist ?but were regularly subject to theft by the Koreans.
Regarding a chemical or biological threat ?fundamentally, it was ignored. Memory tells me that at Kunsan (and then at Osan) there was no inventory of gas masks. And, of course, defense plans, while having a chemical and biological annex, provided for no clean up and/or casualty handling.
(SITE NOTE: Chemical warfare was not considered important until the Russians demonstrated their capability -- and active intent -- to use their potent chemical attack strategy on the battlefield. By the Vietnam War, most soldiers were issued a gas mask, but no one really paid attention to it in the Asian environment. Kalani observed that when he reported to Thailand in 1968, he was issued a gas mask, but when he was to depart he found that mice had built a nest in it. No one used or even practiced with it.) In a parallel situation (Vietnam), the Army (ground forces) was off fighting its war and, for all intent, the air bases were wide open. As a result, the USAF built a significant ground/air attack defense force (as I recall, the total manpower, if combined, amounted to about two divisions in strength ?but it was deployed incrementally over many bases ?along with outposts and quick reaction mobility with on-call (often circling) air support, it ended up as a good defense ?and, thanks to it, I was spared assassination on one occasion) to reach inside and outside its perimeter. This force embodied men, gunships, armored vehicles, fence lines, sensors, mines and more ?little of which the Air Force elements in Korea possessed.
(SITE NOTE: In 1959, the modern aspects of base defense were completely lacking in Korea. The experiences of the Vietnam conflict "taught" the USAF about base defense. During the conflict, the inner perimeter was handled by the USAF, while the outer perimeter was handled by the Army. AC-47 Spooky and AC-130 Spectres were added later, but only at the major bases.) All air bases are required to have a base defense plan. But to defend against what and how? The single duty soldier is always permitted to defend himself ?although policy (rules of engagement) may get in the way ?which leads some that would prefer to be alive than dead to say: "I'd rather be court martialed than dead."
(SITE NOTE: During the Korean War, the "line of duty" determination absolved most deaths of Korean infiltrators who most likely were simply scavengers attempting to steal food or things that could be sold. The incident in 1957 where guards shot unarmed Koreans attempting to break into the ammo dump resulted in court martial.) The base defense plan emerges from the threat assessment. The threat against a base inside the U.S. and one distanced from the U.S. is quite different. The variables in any defense plan can be wide. As example, consider the handling of casualties ?the medical annex. Kunsan had one doctor ?sometimes none. And it had only a small dispensary/hospital. How would significant casualties be handled? And that is only one problem to consider. In the end, most things simply were not considered. And the inspectors (as well as much of command) did not know the difference or did not care. In that regard, in my view the inspectors should be top notch and, frequently, those assigned to inspection duty were not.
(SITE NOTE: Kalani O'Sullivan having assisted on TAC Inspection teams to Reserve/ANG units agreed with Gen Moench's comments. However, he also remembered the reality of Vietnam/Thailand where inspection teams arrived, were presented a bottle of whisky on arrival, shown where the best clubs were, adjourned to the NCO club -- and next seen at the outbrief. Were these real inspections? No...but they were realistic. Under NO circumstances could an inspection team shut down a combat unit -- the upper echelons knew what was going on, but the only pass/fail of a unit was its ability to complete its frag missions. Likewise in Korea, if an inspection team failed a unit, what was the result of the recommended action? They knew -- as did everyone on base -- that the neglect was going to continue. If they recommended actions, all that would result was wrath from above -- but no action in the end. The easiest way is to give a unit a "satisfactory" rating and move on. Besides if one looks at the 6175th ABG mission statement, there really isn't much to inspect.) Kunsan was wide open to infiltration/attack from the sea, over land and (not considering air or missile attack) air landed forces. (Keep in mind that infiltration of the air base was a daily event.) As stated, normally, a defense plan begins with a threat assessment (intelligence) and expanded on by operations.
(SITE NOTE: During the Korean War, this site has photos of the barbed wire that surrounded the base. Along the seaward side, there was a fence and concertina wire with only one entry point into the sea for amphibious "ducks" which would make trips out to ammo ships. After the war, there were large gaps in the perimeter and most of the fence line was only two or three strands. (See photos on this page). It was very easy to get onto the base.) I did not need a 101 primer lesson to assess the threat. In overview, I was not so much concerned about a general attack across the DMZ as I was about a more probable, narrow operation against the base ?an operation that could be mounted by a relative handful of enemy (much as we now encounter in relation to terrorist activity). And, as set forth in Taking Command, I brought in a Marine from USFK to give me some counsel on ground defense. As to air attack, it was beyond my purview. But, in assessment, the Korea air defense as the time was near to worthless ?radars were left over equipment of the conflict in Korea, equipment was often out of service with whole sectors uncovered, while the command and control was primitive. Read "No Margin for Error" ?coming to you later.
(SITE NOTE: There was NO air defense at Kunsan except for the ROK Army 40mm Bofors that were left over from the Korean War/WWII. The air defense would rely on GCI identification of a "bogie" and then ROKAF F-86F aircraft to scramble to intercept. The GCI control was not at Kunsan but from stations near Inchon. Till today the primary role of the F-5Es at Kunsan is that of fighter interceptors and the Early Warning radar stations are still in the same areas near Inchon. In relation to the above concern, was there a concern about imbedded enemy on the base or in the neighborhood ?the so-called spies? Just think what one individual could do to the water system or via the icehouse. The reader comment re spies included in your current coverage comes across (to me) as totally uninformed and lacking of essential background on which to make judgement. But that is a norm.
Because the nuclear alerts had started in Kunsan in Aug 1958, a Nike missile battery was moved into Kimje (about 22 km from Kunsan) between 1962-1977. (Go to Nike Missile Battery (Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 44 Air Defense Artillery) for details.) The Nike-Hercules was designed to be used with air-burst explosives to knock out incoming enemy bombers. Later close-in air defense was handled by a Hawk Missile Battery (Battery B, 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery and later Battery B, 6th Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery) from 1964-1980. The Hawk battery was situated on a hill about 3 miles to the north of the base.
Once the Hawk battery was in place, the Quad-50 was relocated to Little Coyote hill at the south end of base as part of the perimeter defense. (Go to ROKAF: 1970s for photos of the Quad-50s in 1975 as ground perimeter defense assets.) The Quad-50 would be replaced later by a 20mm Vulcan cannon operated by the ROKAF.)
The withdrawal of the Hawk Battery in 1980 was tied to the downgrading of the nuclear alert missions after 1974 at Kunsan. By 1980, the standing "hot" alerts was eliminated, but there was on-going training on the handling, storage, uploading, and use of nuclear weapons.)
(SITE NOTE: We have completely rewritten the section, noting that Taking Command is "faction" -- and eliminated it as a source. Instead we keyed in on trying to explain the historical perspectives of the spy situation as it deals with 1959. We also tied in the historical perspectives of the communist spies/insurgents in the Cholla area from the Occupation period and throughout the Korean War. These were covered in other parts of the site. For contrast we added material of the American scene which was fascinated with spies because of real-life situations with Julius and Ethel Rosenburg's trial/execution in 1951; the moles in the British Intelligence in 1951; McCarthy hearings' "witchhunt" in 1953). But in Kunsan, no one really cared -- it was too foreign to what was around the permanent party folks. It is kind of hard to worry about spies, when you're more worried about somebody stealing your watch. Yes, the nukes were in town, but few had access to them and were secreted away on the C-pad -- away from the main base. Though there are numerous examples of spies that have been reported over the years -- North Korean infiltrators and deep cover spies -- we chose instead to focus on two examples of spies that STARTED OUT as spies in the late 1950s or early 1960s and were captured in 1996...35 years later. We have attempted to explain the situation in Korea that Gen Moench may not have been aware of, that relates directly to the time when he was in command of the base -- and at Osan AB. We have tried to explain how the Special Operations Forces (SOF) of the North ties in with the spy situation. We had covered the spy and infiltrator issues in other areas of the site dealing with the current state in Korea citing these same sources. We have covered the change in Korean attitudes towards these infiltrators. We have also briefly covered how the methods for infiltration have changed. This section is simply an overview and not a point-by-point treatise on spy operations in Korea. We have just stated what is public knowledge -- and attempted to relate it to 1959 and from a historical perspective.) As to the objectives of an enemy attack against the Kunsan Air Base, of my primary target concerns were (1) nuclear theft and (2) causing a nuclear incident ranging from a simple attack, to an induced fire that could lead to a single point nuclear detonation. Both possibilities, if they were executed, had enormous national and international military and political implications. And, in my mind, both possibilities seemed within reason of execution. If they took place, the one that would be called on the carpet and crucified (the public scapegoat) would be the base commander for not having prepared for the event. This is just the way things happen. Just think about the witch hunt that is now taking place with respect to 9-11 or that which took place after Pearl Harbor. In that regard, the tradition of our Congress is to avoid and under fund the military equation prior to a war or related event and then, after the unfortunate invent takes place, to "investigate" why the military forces failed to deal with the military situation.
How experienced was I in these matters? Considerably. As example, with the organization of U.S. EUCOM in 1952, as a Lt. Col. and along with three other officers (and no direction from on high), we initiated on our own and conducted a paper war game ?and then, by ourselves, wrote, presented and defended the first joint U.S. EUCOM defense/war plan. This war plan for Europe should have emerged from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and been passed down to U.S. EUCOM for detailed war planning and exercising. But, in the cited case, the strategy and tactics came from the bottom up ?from junior officers!
In this first plan, the non-nuclear scenario involved an enemy push across the frontier coming from an enemy exercise and without warning. The U.S. and allied forces, too weak to hold the line, had to engage in a fighting, fall back withdrawal ?the withdrawal in two directions ?one across the continent to Spain and the other (mostly combat air) to England. The eventual defense line was the Pyrennes. By then, the first reinforcements from the U.S. were arriving (primarily the U.S. Marines). A great problem in the fighting withdrawal was the projected flow of the civilian population ?refugee road jamming. Command was also a major issue. And side considerations included the effect of whether or not the Allies would fight or surrender. When the plan was completed and made known to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, there was the usual "Monday Morning Quarterback" commentary and, on occasion, General Handy (CINC U.S. EUCOM) called me in to defend the strategy before high ranking and disagreeing Washington visitors. Fortunately, I always came out the winner!
(SITE NOTE: The scenario that is mentioned here is exactly that which is postulated for Korea if the North breaks through under Oplan 5027. The plan is to fall back to Taegu then Pusan as the North consolidates around Seoul. The Marines will be up from Okinawa within 24 hours with their "fast boats." In the meantime, Pyongyang will be rubble from cruise missiles and the DMZ will be under B-52 saturation bombing. The intent is to wait for the follow-ons to arrive. All the follow-on heavy armour is still there in Kim Hae and immediate Reserve/ANG recalls will be underway.) The backward step from developing strategy and tactics for a major confrontation such as described above to developing a base defense plan embodying not hundreds of thousands of combatants and a continent but that of a single base and less than 1,000 participants was a big one ?essentially the equivalent of moving from managing the King Ranch to taking care of a rabbit hutch. Prior to being assigned to the "rabbit hutch," I had been able to orchestrate major numbers and solve situations such as were present at Kunsan simply by "rounding." But that capacity was now removed from my hands and there was a frustrating limit as to how far I could go in the manner of shortcut, e.g. the simple flags issue. Further, while in the past I could overcome or work around senior echelons and individuals, this was now exceedingly difficult.
While my time at Kunsan was short, I passed my thoughts on base defense to my replacement, Colonel William J. Fealock, and I note that, in the History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960, a line reading: "publication and exercise of a new Security Operations Plan." I did not learn of its detail as, following my assignment to Osan, my time was fully involved in upper level planning, programming and policy ?a terrible void in the system that, frankly, I never fully overcame before the year long tour was up and I was transferred to PACAF in Hawaii. You might note that when at Osan my personal interface included the Commander of UNC, USFK, Fifth Air Force and even ROK President Syngman Rhee. As to my staff ?none was experienced with the level and complexity of work to be done and one, my number two officer, especially was deficient to the point that he picked up a derogatory title keyed to his inability to recall and act. Those that were rated (pilots and navigators) had no prior experience other than flying aircraft ?one pilot assigned from the U.S. reported in to me on a crutch ?following his reassignment after an aircraft accident and release from a hospital. Remarkably, this individual, still ambulating on a crutch, was on active flying status and, to fly an F-80, had to be assisted into the cockpit! IN KOREA ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE!
(SITE NOTE: Possibly the new Security Operations Plan was the building of the double fence mentioned with dogs for the nuclear alert facility in 1960.)Page 23 of 53 ?a Larry Doyle is quoted as saying that "when we went to K-8 almost the same drill around the clock. Two of our six aircraft were hot! And they did have Mk-27s [nuclear weapons] . . . . We guarded them with our little 30 cal Mk 2 carbines!!!!"
Comment: Not only was that a ludicrous defense against even a small attack force but, as I recall, to avoid harm to nuclear weapons, the rule was that hard ammunition was not allowed in proximity to nuclear weapons ?only shotguns for close in defense. In any event, defense at the position of the aircraft is a failed "cow boy" defense from the git go. If an enemy is that close to the target, defense has failed and the battle is lost. Defense has to be well (distanced) before the enemy gets to the aircraft location ?at least distanced in consideration of mortar fire. And, on Kunsan Air Base, what was a prime target other than the aircraft and the nuclear weapons? Fuel storage and the ammunition supplies were a target of interest, but at a lower level.
(SITE NOTE: Kalani O'Sullivan was first stationed at the Special Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, NM. ("Special Weapons" means nukes) He remembers being in an unspecified location as a two-striper back in 1966, handed a 45 caliber pistol in a holster with a clip of ammo and told NOT to load it under any circumstances. He was then posted alone to guard/sleep with AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) equipment in a roach-infested bunker inside of a secured area. Point is that protecting the stuff was ridiculous if someone wanted it. In other words, like all these situations Kalani has seen over the years in different parts of the world, these "guards" are only to keep the honest people honest. Nothing more...as guards they are as John mentions -- "ludicrous." Also having served in SAC with hot B-52s, Kalani agrees with the point of the shotguns. But also having been TDY with some special fighters, Kalani also knows that "payloads" are on the hot jets and spares because their launch window is 15 minutes or less -- not stacked in a pile of hardware.)
In many cases, base defense plans have been considered impractical and ineffective. Units are not fully utilizing all resources available to them. . . . Action has been taken to cause commanders to review all resources, i.e., tenant organizations and nearby friendly forces, and to direct all effort towards a common cause. . . . Frankly, during my time in Korea, I found the approach to base defense to be focused on police considerations and curtailment of "slicky" operations (mostly individual intruders) more than a focus on real base defense in the environment in which the USAF had to live, i.e. an environment in which exterior defense by the U.S. Army, while that being its responsibility, was a myth. As an example, the History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1956 through 31 December 1956 reads:
Inspections have revealed that many units and staff security officers are not familiar with their responsibilities. . . . The greatest fallacy in this has been the assigning of young and inexperienced officers to these responsibilities without the benefit of supervision and the assistance of qualified supervision and assistance of qualified supervisors.
(SITE NOTE: Brigadier General Virgil L. Zoller is well-remembered as the commander of the 3rd Bomb Wing at the onset of the Korean War. According to his bio, he was promoted to B/Gen on July 1957 and on August 1957 he assumed command of the 14th Air Division and U.S. Air Forces Korea.)
During the remainder of the reporting period, the Security Section was charged with the development of a Base defense and Passive Defense Plan. Comment: The words indicate that no plan was present at the time of the directive. Further, would the officer in charge, as of 25 November 1956: 1st Lt. John L. Fletcher and immediately prior from 19 August 1956: Major C. A. Jungman, possess the know-how to do the job? Refer to General Zoller's statement of need and scope. 55a. Taking Command, (1996), p. 96. One man per mile for ten miles of perimeter was just too large to cover effectively and the base had to rely on augmentation forces from other agencies. 56. Go to Korea Marches to Its Own Drum: Order of Battle for a general idea of the ROK Army/Navy/Marine/Air Force organizational structure. This information is culled from various sources but prmarily from Keith Rowe's Order of Battle. The Ministry of Defense releases NO INFORMATION on its units to keep any list like this current requires full-time attention which we do not have. Thus it may have some errors. 56b. Taking Command, (1996), p 64.
An acute shortage of personnel (in the Security Section) developed during the month (of October) when 11 Security Section Personnel rotated to the ZI and were not replaced. November showed a loss of our personnel and a gain of only two men. Comment: At the end of December, the total base population was Officers: 36 authorized vice 30 assigned; Enlisted: 584 authorized vice 547 assigned. History reads of continued augmentation of the Air Police (Security) by drawing on personnel from other activities. With about 160 bodies in the Air Police make up, to assess the situation, first consider that many of those bodies came from supply, administrative and other skills ?anyone one available ?some came from the turnover of AC&W activity to the ROKAF. Now consider three shifts or about 50+ men per shift. Now spread those 50+ to (1) front gate, (2) point guard at POL, water and other sites, (3) Kunsan patrol, (4) rescue boat security, (5) the Air Police command location, (6) base roving patrol, (7) in training, e.g. qualification fire, (8) pad C, (9) weapons storage, (10) perimeter guard, (11) quick reaction team and (12) special assignments. Add to this the dilution of sick call, protocol formations, convoy guard, investigations, etc. and then realize how thin the line of defense was and how difficult to mount a reaction to any incursion ?or even come up with any sensible base maneuver and defense plan!
(SITE NOTE: The augmentation forces became known as "auggie doggies" in the 1960s after a popular cartoon. In the 1960s they were armed with an 30 caliber M2 carbine and told to guard the fence line. (See photo in 1960). These augmentees were not given advanced training on 50 caliber machine guns or other weapons. Basically it was as John Moench mentioned, simply guarding against "slickey boy" infiltrators.) How vulnerable was the base? Reading from history, "In one month, 69 Korean personnel were apprehended for illegal entry to the Base [for] prostitution and theft of government property, among other things." That is an average of 2+ a day. Comment: How many were not apprehended is an obvious question.
What was the "fence" situation? Apparently nil for the history notes that during the period a fence was constructed around Base Supply and another around AIO machinery and warehouse area. This means that, up to that time, there was no fencing or, if there had been some, it had been stolen. Let me assure you that what was constructed was not a chain link fence ?it was a fence using "anything that was available." Most fences were simply strands of barbed wire that could be cut with ordinary pliers ?and were. Most property lines (indistinguishable) had no fence at all.
To bring uncooperative (I am my own boss or don't work for the base commander individuals) tenant and other organizations into the base defense spectrum would take authority (or hard-nosed leadership) not then present. Further, to extend the base defense outward would violate the unfilled Army jurisdiction and would end up, if known, to criticism for exceeding authority. Also, any emergency moving of defense outward would require mobility (vehicles) that was not available.
The History of the 314th Air Division, 1 July ?31 December 1956 reads: "The base defense plans for K-2, K-6, K-8, K-14, K-18 and K-53 were approved by the Air Division Provost Marshal during August ." Comment: But what were they in content?
The History of the 314th Air Division, 1 July ?31 December 1957 reads:
The overall effectiveness of the base defense plan for this command was considered satisfactory.
The security of Category I elements guarded by Air Police was satisfactory. At some bases, it has been necessary to augment the security forces with base personnel. This was found to be a weakness in the security of the Category I elements. Penetration teams found these to be most vulnerable. Augmentation personnel are now being attached to the Air Police for a tour of two weeks.
The main deficiencies noted in security operations were the inadequacy of communications equipment and . . . .
Comment: The cited conclusion of "satisfactory" followed by a rendition of unsatisfactory findings is a non sequitur. To me it reflects a common failure of simply "filling squares."
A base defense plan has to consider:
>Referring to the History of the 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 January 1956 ?30 June 1956, following are some quotes and comments:
- The threat (intelligence) in size, weaponry, etc. ?both strategic (distanced) and proximate.
- Friendly forces ?internal and external.
- Priority of targets to be defended.
- Command and control. N.B. No defense can be mounted without central command.
- Personnel and training.
- Communications. N.B. Command and control cannot take place without communications.
- "On 7 January, the town of Kunsan went back On-Limits, and a town patrol of one AP and one MP was dispatched daily, plus a two man guard to maintain watch at the Crash Boat site." Comment: The AP (Air Police) and MP (Military Police) nomenclature is not understood in that the presence of an Army Military Police unit is not found in the 6170th record. In any event, this deployment is a "police" and "behavior" operation ?not base defense. And, as far as can be determined, they had no means of radio communication.
- "In February, the guard house was put into operation for two prisoners, then was shut down after the prisoners had completed their sentence." Comment: This may have been the PSP jail I found when arriving at Kunsan.
- "At that time, the Air Police personnel situation was becoming critical, as many personnel were rotating to the Z. I. before March." Comment: It takes seasoned manpower to mount a good defense.
- "Due to the lack of personnel in the Air Police, airmen from other sections on base were removed from their normal duties temporarily, to stand flight line and guard for the mobility units." Comment: Guard duty is no true base defense. Duty performed by untrained individuals is near to worthless. Consider in the WW II Battle of the Bulge time frame when the USAF sent thousands of airmen forward to serve in the ground units ?a disaster due to lack of appropriate training.
- "In May, the flight still operated below the Unit Manning Document Authorization. The frequency of mobility operations has necessitated the continued use of squadron personnel for flight line guard, and to establish their own security in order to provide the minimum security requirements." Comment: Base defense is make shift, obviously inadequate and now we see the call on the mobility units to protect themselves, e.g. the untrained man with a carbine to operate without central command. As to the Unit Manning Document (UMD), for reasons of economy (unrelated to need) it was constantly being lowered via so-called manpower studies. Of interest, when a unit continued to exist on an under-manned basis, the manpower economy trick was to lower the UMD to the level of personnel assigned! The argument would be that, if the unit had got along without the missing personnel, then they were not needed!
(SITE NOTE: We believe there may be a slight disparity about how John and we understand the UMD and Manpower Branch (usually a detachment of one worker) worked in the 1960s. Normally manpower studies would be only upon request of a using agency either in hopes of increasing its manning (authorized) or to transfer/convert authorized manning to other operations or specialties. If new taskings were levied on a unit, it could ask for a manpower study to increase manning if it felt it was being short-manned. Manning was controlled by a manhour utilization process. All user agency workers were required to fill out the time-accounting forms for manhour time accounting. The forms were tallied and sent to manual keypunch where the keypunched cards would then be forwarded off-base to tabulations. Compilations of the figures from these cards would then be used to justify future manning. Over-simplified, the process was a "use-it or lose-it" situation where you would either "use" (account for) all the manhours of your shop, or you would "lose" your manning.)
"In the latter part of the report period, the Air Police personnel completed their annual firing requirement of all weapons. These weapons include the 50 calibre machine gun, the Browning automatic rifle, the carbine and the 45 calibre pistol." Comment: When I arrived, I seem to recall there was one 50 calibre machine gun and only a couple Browning rifles. Ask yourself what the training was for the men requisitioned from the Squadron to serve with the Air Police? Then, note the lack of mention of shotguns. Apparently, it was thought that anyone could employ a shotgun.
In total and in relation to base defense, to me the above rendition is frightening ?but, apparently, it was generally satisfactory and acceptable to others.
56c. History, 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1956 ?31 December 1956: "Approximately 1,400 pounds of goods were lost to spoilage during the month of July." John Moench Comment: One could conclude that part or all of this was due to refer shut down as a result of loss of electrical power. However, in all fairness, 3,435 gallons of ice cream were turned out in this reporting period ?the ice plant furnishing about 75,000 pounds of ice a month.
History, 6170th Air Base Squadron, 1 July 1956 ?31 December 1956: "Approximately 1,400 pounds of goods were lost to spoilage during the month of July." John Moench Comment: One could conclude that part or all of this was due to refer shut down as a result of loss of electrical power. However, in all fairness, 3,435 gallons of ice cream were turned out in this reporting period ?the ice plant furnishing about 75,000 pounds of ice a month.
56d. History of 314th Air Division, 1 July ?31 December 1957: "There is a definite lack of primary power. Most of the power requirements in Korea are met with power units designed to furnish auxiliary power and were not designed to furnish steady power. . . . Outages are frequent . . . . In spite of usage of larger diesel units, power failures still account for a large percentage of equipment outages."
History of the 6175th Air Base Group, January 1, 1960 ?31 June 1960: "As a result of a survey of the electrical distribution system, the Electric Shop effected considerable improvement by changing and/or eliminating a number of transformers, thereby increasing efficiency while decreasing the electrical load requirements.
The current contract with the South Korea Electric Company provides for a maximum of 500 KWH. However, due to increase in base requirements, peak demands of as high as 680 KW have been experienced . . . in the near future, the demand will be still greater. . . . The company does not presently have the facilities to provide for this without a new generating plant. However, it is understood [that] construction is planned, with completion expected in 1963. It was on this basis that FY-1961 Military Construction Program for a new 700 KWH Emergency Power Generating Plant on base was deleted by higher headquarters. . . . [These] conditions have resulted in an average of 24 power outages a month, with these outages varying from five minutes to as long as five and one-half hours." 56e. Discussion with John Moench (2004). John Moench, "Analysis -- Electrical Power", (2004)
57. Narratives of George Rabe of Cincinatti, OH. George was in POL at Kunsan from Dec 1958- Jan 1960. He wrote:
I have tried to piece together a map of the Kunsan Airbase as it was in 1960. I was there from Dec 1958 through January 1960. I have a lot of photos that I have to scan and send you. ... 57a. Hand-drawn map drawn by George Rabe. George admits the map is very crude and not drawn to scale. He stated, "I know that this map is crude and not proportional. It shows the areas of the base I was personally familiar with. George Rabe"
Rank was hard to come by in those days, I was in POL, (refueling). I can't remember when I got A/2nd, but I got A/1st after I reenlisted and cross trained into the "Hound Dog" missile program in mid 1962. I was still A/1st when I got out in oct of 1965.
We were still driving the old deuce and a half, rag tops, to pull most of our refueling rigs. There were no private cars, with the exception of a few converted jeeps that became taxi's. The "Kimshee busses" still had the fifty gallon drum ridges on the side of them.
The one photo, with the M-2, was taken during a base alert. The photo on the train is also the M-2. The map that I drew is very disproportional and doesn't include some areas that I never got to. The were many more airman's barracks than I show in the map. There had been an Airman's chow hall right next to the airman's barracks and bakery, but it burned down just before I got there, so they gave the Airman the Officer's club as a chow hall and built a new Officer's club right next to it.
We had to walk about a quarter of a mile to the Airman's chow hall. We used to take a Deuce and a half tractor out from under one of the refueling rigs and drive it to the chow hall. We could get 20 guys on it. It was a riot, there were guys on the fenders, running boards, hood, or any place else that they could hang on.
To this day I still use the pigeon english phrase, when I have to do something really hard. "Maky doo". I couldn't wait to get back to the land of "multi colored staff cars, BIG BX's and non folding nickels."
Now I realize that the time at Kunsan was the best time of my life. Some day, some way, I want to go back and see what it is like now.
57b. Frank Gallardo wrote on Dec 2003 on the Korean War Project, "I have noticed several references to the 6132d. Who or what were they. I arrived at K-6, Pyong-Taek in Aug 0f 1958, and stayed until Jul of 1959, when the ROKAF took over operations. The unit I was assigned to was the only Air Force unit on an otherwise Army post, and it was called the 6123rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron. I still have copies of orders/PAM's, etc with the squadron letterhead. Just nit-picking, sorry" 58. Go to 3rd AOI (1951-1954) for details on the 3rd Airfield Installation Operations.
59. Taking Command, (1996), p. 76.
59a. ibid, p. 294.
59b. ibid, p. 287.
59c. ibid, p. 479. -- 802d Engineer Battalion (Heavy Construction), Company "C" was deployed to open a quarry. 60. Discussions with John Moench (2004).
61. Taking Command, (1996), p. 134 & p. 217 - The base was fed by a tactical pipeline run by the USAF. (However, we have a question over USAF control as the POL pipelines were run by the 8th Army from the Korean War until 1992, when most of the substations were turned over to ROK Army control. According to John Moench, the largest problem was that Koreans would line up to pilfer the fuel in the pipeline whenever it was in operation.
61a. ibid, p. 144
61b. Narrative by Lester G. Frazier, Col, USAF (Ret) of Georgetown, TX. (2002) The article "THE LABS MANEUVER or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Idiot Loop" found at http://www.lesfrazier.com
61c. Go to Nuclear Bombs for brief specs on Mk-27 (Navy TN bomb; This UCRL design was a competitor with the LASL Mk-28 to satisfy the Class "D" light weight TN bomb requirement; 3 mods) and Mk-28 (Multipurpose TN tactical and strategic bomb; longest weapon design in U.S. (33 years); 2nd largest production run of any U.S. weapon design; Y4 was fission only; 20 mods and variants; PAL A (Y1), B (Y2), D (Y3, Y5); replaced by B-61 and B-83 bombs; 1-point safety problem with primary discovered after start of initial manufacture, halting production for 5 months) nuclear weapons.
62. (Go to 6175th ABG (1966-1969) for the trip report of the 697th Engineer Company (Pipeline) -- September 1968.)
1960 Footnotes:1. Asia Source: Syngman Rhee Rhee's inability to work with others and his lack of concern or understanding for economics, however, retarded the progress that the people expected; opposition grew and public support diminished. Rhee's supporters resorted increasingly to coercion and fraud to keep him in power, thus losing for him much of his deserved place in history. In April 1960 blatant election fraud, popular demonstrations, and police violence led to his resignation. Rhee, by now verging on senility, went into exile in Honolulu where he died five years later.
Lee Wha Rang, "Who Was Rhee Syngman," (February 22, 2000). Rhee was removed from power by the Korean people in 1960. On April 28, 1960, a DC-4 belonging to the Civil Air Transport (CAT was operated by the US CIA) spirited Rhee out of Korea barely one step ahead of a lynch mob. Kim Yong Kap, Rhee's Deputy Minister of Finance, revealed that Rhee took $20 million of the government fund. Rhee, his wife and an adopted son lived at 2033 Makiki St., Honolulu, Hawaii. Rhee died on July 19, 1965 at the age of 90 of a stroke. His 65-year old wife Francisca and adopted son Rhee In Soo were at his bedside. A US Air Force plane carried his body to Seoul for a family funeral. Park Jung Hee, who had plotted to topple Rhee, planned a state funeral but decided against it in face of mounting opposition. Rhee's body was interned at Dougjak-dong National Cemetery near Seoul. (SITE NOTE: There is some confusion here as Rhee In-soo committed suicide. Francisca Rhee returned to Austria and lived out her tragic life with a relative. Upon her death she was interned beside her husband.)
(See 1959 Footnotes: 39-39g)
2. Narrative of Bill Cook (2002). Stationed at Kunsan Jan 1960 - May 1962.
3. Narrative of Donald Ward of Cibolo, TX (2002). 1960-1961 at Kunsan. 4. Narrative of Bill Lambing of Greenwood, IN. AFKN announcer.
5. Photos provided by Mr. Cheol-Kyun Shin of Kunsan from his archives. Go to Cheol-kyun Shin's Photos of Kunsan City for panoramic views of Kunsan City (1960s).
6. Discussion with Mr. Pyong-Hyan Choe (Johnny Choe) of the 8th SPS at Kunsan AB in 2002.
a. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) LEGAL History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960:
[The Staff Judge Advocate] participated in two General Court-martials; one Special Court-martial, 19 Summary Courts-martial, 15 Article 15 reductions, 24 Article 15 non-reductions. . . .
b. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) NUMBERS History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960: [The Information Office] was somewhat hampered by the lack of an official photographer on the base. Comment: And no camera. Eventually, a small camera was purchased through the use of welfare funds. WHAT A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD!
Vehicle Maintenance: At the beginning of the period, the shop was only 40 percent manned against authorized strength. Comment: And there was only one tool box for the entire Section!
c. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) QUALITY History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960:
Vehicle Maintenance: Throughout this period, a lack of qualified personnel hampered efficiency.
d. Discussion with John Moench (2004) - John Moench, "Analysis -- Personnel Problems -- Legal -- Numbers -- Quality -- Continuity" (2004) CONTINUITY History of the 6175th Air Base Group, 1 January 1960 ?30 June 1960"
Air Police: During the period covered by this report, Captain H. L. Davis was Officer in Charge until March, when he was relieved by Captain L. Barr. Captain F. J. Petkevitz was assigned as Air Police Officer until May, when he was replaced by Second Lieutenant J. J. Sheridan. Comment: That is four commanders in six months!
e. "MSc in Development Studies: Industrialisation Strategies," South Korean Industrialisation; Lecture Notes -- Industrialization History (Chaebols, sectors of industry)
1961 Footnotes:1. Narratives of Bob Koeser. (2000). Bob TDY with 3rd BW. 2. Photo by Larry Doyle of 18th TFW (1959) Comment on ROK being last "friend" of Taiwan.
3. Photos and Narratives of Harold Fulkerson. (2002) Attempted to contact Harold Fulkerson through email address and Classmates.com, but no response. (2002/2003)
4. Morgan Terry comments on Classmates.com. No response to email for contact. (2002)
1962 Footnotes:1. Cuban Missile Crisis
2. Park Chung-hee history.
1963 Footnotes:1. John Denis Profumo. After studying at Harrow and Oxford, he entered Parliament as a Conservative member in 1940 and left in 1945 for an appointment as chief of staff in Japan. Returning to Parliament in 1950, he held several posts, becoming (1960) Harold Macmillan's secretary of war. He resigned from the cabinet in 1963 after lying to the House of Commons about his affair with teen-age showgirl Christine Keeler, who was also involved with a Soviet naval attach? Thereafter dedicating himself to philanthropy, he was named Commander of the British Empire in 1975 for his charitable work.
2. Johnny Choe (Choe Pyong-Hyan) , interpreter for the 8th SPS. Street kid who became the "houseboy honcho" in 1970-80s.
1964 Footnotes:1. U2 Flights by Republic of China (Taiwan) from Kunsan monitors the nuclear sites in China. Information is from ROCAF U2 Operations.
2. Narratives of James G. Mitchell(MSgt, USAF, Ret) of Louisburg, North Carolina recalls his tour with the 6175th Air Police Squadron (Sept 64 - Oct 65).
1965 Footnotes:1. Park Chung-hee history.
1a. "North Korea: Chronology of Provocations, 1950 - 2003" This chronology provides information on selective instances of North Korean provocations between June 1950 and 2003. 2. Narratives of Gib Foulke, SMSgt, USAF (ret) (2001). He wrote about his experiences at the "Koon" on his two tours (65-66 & 69-70). (Also see 1966: Gib Foulke for Gib's remarks on his tour.)
3. Franklin Lamca comments on Classmates.com. (2001) Attempted contact through Classmates.com but no response.
4. Narratives of Kevin McQuade who was an A2c with the 6175th MATRON (Bomb Dump) between Feb 1965-Mar 1966 wrote about his experiences. (2002) Important statement of disclosure statement signed by all personnel during "debrief" of tour.
5. SOFA reads: "The US-ROK SOFA was signed in 1966 after the US gained experience with the 1960 US-Japan SOFA and the earlier 1952 Administrative Agreement upon which it was based, and with the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA provisions are modeled on various provisions of pre-existing agreements including the US-Japan SOFA and the US-Federal Republic of Germany Supplemental Agreement to the NATO SOFA. The US-ROK SOFA is not, nor was it ever intended to be, identical to the US-Japan SOFA. It is based on mutual accommodations recognizing different systems, some of which remain quite different today. The Japan labor provisions, for instance, recognize that in Japan there is an "indirect hire" system for local national labor (the Government of Japan is the employer for Japanese nationals who work for USFJ). In Korea, USFK has a "direct hire" system (USFK is the employer of its Korean employees)."
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