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1963_07_27--024_SP Lonely Line of Armistice

UN officials (at left) meet with Communists in Panmunjom to demand the return of two American officers whose "If Joe spits in your eye, don't do nothing." Army says it does not know. An orphan from Glenallen, Virginia, 20-year-old Dresnok was married but estranged from his wife back home when he met "Shirley" Kim, a "hostess" at the New Star Club in a village near the Imjin River. Dresnok forged a pass to visit her one night, and for that he faced a summary courtmartial on August 16. And perhaps he had tired of Shirley. So, on the 15th, Dresnok walked north. When the men on Outpost Susan spotted him and called out, he just turned and waved. He was already too close to the line to be caught. After that, the Army started screening men assigned north of the Imjin. Instead of considering zone duty a punishment, the Army specifically kept soldiers with court-martial records south of the river, and no one withotit some high-school education was considered fit for the zone. (Dresnok had gone only as far as the eighth grade.) And in the units of the 9th Cavalry, only one man in six is now a draftee, while the overall proportion in Korea is one in three. Then came the attack on Susan. "I believe that son of a bitch who went across from A Troop led that patrol back in there," says First Sergeant Kenneth Lovett. The command didn't think so, but it knew that something had to be done. While the protests were made at Panmunjom, the outposts themselves— "they used to look like hot-dog stands," says one officer—were completely rebuilt. The new shacks, now called guard posts instead of outposts, have thicker walls capable of stopping small-arms fire, and plate-glass windows have been replaced with shatterproof safety glass. Around each outpost, men of the 9th Cavalry laid a double fence of barbed wire, with trip flares to illuminate intruders and tin cans tied on to jangle when disturbed. Col. Stanley Kennedy, CO of the 9th, increased the size of the outpost detail, decreed that every outpost building must be just like every other, with everything located in the same place. So precise and detailed were his instructions that they even specified where a man should place his gloves if he had to take them off while on duty. "There's so much chicken," says one enlisted man, "that some guys are more afraid of who's coming out behind them than who's coming out in front. You can get chewed out good if the colonel comes out and finds your gloves on the map board." Late one afternoon recently, some 20 men of the 9th Cavalry gathered in the operations room of C Troop, ready for six hours on guard-post duty. Most were men of the troop, and it was old stuff to them. But some were TDY personnel, nervous, silent, fingering their M-14 rifles, staring at the sign on the wall behind the lieutenant: "Halt, or I Fire. Chong-gi Chong Sonda . . ." Second Lt. Thomas Gamble, a 22- year-old from Buffalo, New York, stood at the counter and briefed the men in flat, staccato bursts. "Your mission" he told them, "is to observe the Demilitarized Zone in visible areas of North Korea, to report all activity in this area, to report all violations, friendly or enemy, of the armistice agreement, to give early warning in case of hostilities, to adjust artillery fire in case of hostilities, and to apprehend all unauthorized persons. . . . "Let the persons who are to be apprehended get as close as possible. 'Halt, or I fire. Chong-gi Chong Sonda.' Fire a warning shot, fire to wound. . . . "Apprehended personnel are referred to as 'packages.' Unauthorized persons spotted but not yet apprehended will be referred to as 'crackers.' . . . "Stay out of mine fields. . . . If there's any doubt about an area being mined, stay—out—of—it.... Ahh, on December twenty-fourth, Christmas Eve, we lost a man over in Bravo Troop. He walked in where he shouldn't have." Pause. "He got his head blown off. He was dead." Longer pause. "It was a Merry Christ- mas. . . ." The men shifted, and looked at each other. "Now, pyrotechnics. Red (flare) means enemy attack. Green, you need assistance, you can't continue your mission. Your communications are out, you need assistance, send up a green flare. Yellow, is a warning to aircraft, friendly or enemy, that they are over the DMZ. "The challenge is Pat, P-A-T. The password is Tab, T-A-B. Pat, Tab. . . ." Lieutenant Gamble swept his eyes around the room, scanning the white name labels each man wore on his field jacket, watching the men write the password on the backs of their hands. Many wrote "PATH" instead of "PAT." "Jordan, what's the red flare mean?" Jordan, a big Negro, stammered nervously. "That's the—er—the enemy in trouble ... on account of the enemy "No, red means an enemy attack. We're the ones who are in trouble. . . ." The men filed out, on their way to a night on guard posts Pansy, Barbara, Laura, Dot, all named after officers' wives. During the war, outposts and hills were named for women that any man would like to spend the night with: Marilyn, Hedy, Ava, Jane Russell. In the back of the truck on the way to Guard Post Laura, PFC Robert J. Evangelista, a TDY "augmentation" from 12th Cavalry, chatted with two men from C Troop. Evangelista, a tall, thin youth with a toothy smile, was a "short-timer," nearing the end of his Korea tour, and he had been up to the DMZ on guard post and patrol duty before. But to the other men, PFCs Donald E. Hyndman and Irwin Carroll, Evangelista was clearly an outsider, a neophyte. After hashing it around a bit, the three men agreed on one thing: this DMZ duty was better than being in an infantry battle group to the rear. Evangelista had a simple explanation: "The work is easier here." The other men looked at him but said nothing. He would learn. Guard Post Laura sits on the brow of a sandy hill, overlooking the green valleys of the DMZ and North Korea. It is well within the DMZ itself, just about 250 yards south of the Military Demarcation Line that runs through the center of the zone. Specialist 4/C Harry Oliver, of Colton, California, GP leader, had been riding up in the cab with the driver of the truck. Now he took over. He was a short-timer, and he knew the area well. "About two ridges out in front, there's a North Korean OP. That's Taedok-san, 26


1963_07_27--024_SP Lonely Line of Armistice
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