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1963_07_27--024_SP Lonely Line of Armistice

9licopter was shot down over the truce zone. The Reds took them prisoner and charged spying. Talks deadlocked. that big hill to our front, and you can see all kinds of bunkers and emplacements, trenches down there. . ." It was late afternoon and the sun was sinking. Oliver and the other men scanned the valleys in front of them, for it would be dark soon and they would then have to depend on their ears. Far down to the right, in a deserted rice paddy, two deer grazed. "This used to be a pretty jumpy place, people always hearing a lot of noises. Generally they were caused by animals," said Oliver. "Sometimes you'd get people throwing rocks. Probably they were North Koreans, sometimes it might have been imagination. It gets windy up here, and these big leaves of these bushes make a lot of noise, sounds like something's coming up." PFC Hyndman, 18, has been married 8 months and has spent five of those months in Korea, but he likes the Army, and has "no serious gripe." Now he was staring out at Route 4 with the binoculars. "I got a G.A.Z. (a Russian jeep) goin' west, 011ie." Oliver picked up his phone again. "Dayton? This is Laura. I've got a G.A.Z.-51 going west on Route 4 at 1859." PFC Carroll, 19, a driver of one of C Troop's seven M-41 tanks, was stand- ing behind the shack, looking north. "You lose a lot of sleep on this G.P. duty," he complained, rubbing the stubble on his boxer's face. "One day you're on at 12, and the next day at six. I'm glad when I can get back to my tank." In a foxhole a few yards away from the shack, TDY man Evangelista watched the sun go down. Unlike most of the men of the 9th, he doesn't like the Army, although he enlisted and is R.A.—a regular. "I was young and didn't know any better," says short-timer Evangelista. "We believed too much of what we seen in the movies. . . . It wouldn't be so bad if you weren't a private, let's put it that way. . . . If you're lower than a sergeant, you're treated like dirt. . . . But I guess what makes it so hard over here is being away from home." Allies but not friends Inside, after dark, Oliver talked of the KATUSAs, the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army. Ten percent of the U.S. ranks in Korea are filled out by ROK Army personnel. The KATUSAs eat and live with the troops, stand GP duty, and join the GIs on the "stakeouts" and patrols. "We get along pretty well," says Oliver. "It's pretty hard to communicate, but it works out pretty good. Most of 'em work hard, and we get along. . . . It's better to learn about Korea from them than to go out to the village and learn it from the prostitutes and Mama-sans and Actually, there's really not a close association between the GI and the KATUSA. They don't go on pass together. I'm not sure there's any regulation against it, you just don't see it. Mainly, it's the language. . . ." Suddenly there came a shout—the challenge—and the thunk of an M-14 rifle shot. Oliver grabbed his rifle and hurtled out the back door. Two more shots. Crouching low, he zigzagged down the slope. Quiet. He called softly. Evangelista's voice, then Hyndman's. "Something moved down there. A light. We fired." Then two more shots. "I saw it," said Carroll. Oliver crashed back into the shack. "Before they fire, they're supposed to tell me." He cranked the field phone. . . Would you get Lieutenant Gamble out here right away. I think we've got a cracker. We fired a few shots at it. . . ." Then he was out again, circling out behind the outpost. Clearly, on the night air came a whistle, a human whistle. Minutes went by while the four men searched the darkness. Then, from the foxhole to the left of the outpost shack, Hyndman noticed something: "There, do you see that faint light? Moving a little. And another one.... Looks like lightning bugs." On the other side Oliver was coming to the same conclusion. There was no other sight or sound of movement. Oliver stumped in, picked up the phone again. Apologetically he said, "Disregard that other thing. The boys got a little excited. We jumped the gun, I guess. I think it was probably lightning bugs." Then he muttered, "Ever since Susan, some of these TDY boys are a little trigger-happy." Evangelista was the man who fired first. "I feel kinda foolish, shooting at lightning bugs. But I sure thought I saw something move." Nobody ribbed Evangelista. All three men had fired, and they seemed to feel that it made them safer, even though the target was fireflies. But at the next night's briefing, something new was added. "If you shoot," Sgt. 1st Class Donald R. Smith drawled at the men of the first platoon, "make sure you know what you're shootin' at. Don't start blasting away at any lightnin' bugs like happened t'other night at Laura." Some of the men started to laugh. "Don't laugh, that's what happened.... Make sure it's a human being." On the morning after that there was gunfire again at Laura, and this time the target was human. In the dawn fog, Specialist 4/C Henry R. Buyny, a 22- year-old from New Castle, Pennsylvania, spotted "a Korean man sneaking through the woods right in front of us. I yelled at him to halt but he turned and ran down a draw. I fired twice and thought I hit him but he kept on going." Summoned by radio, 2nd Lt. Robert E. Rintz, a new West Point shavetail, dashed out to the GP and found the intruder hiding in a clump of bushes. "We searched him and found only personal effects . . . (but) with him was about a month's supply of food, plus some water. We brought him back to the jeep, tied his hands and feet with our belts, and took him to the S-2 (Intelligence) at squadron headquarters. He was a small guy with a heavy beard, long hair and was really dirty, but when I first saw him all huddled up and pointed my pistol at him, I was scared. It's a good thing for him that he didn't try to run because I probably would have pumped every round into him." To the veterans, Regular Army sergeants on their third or fourth tour of duty in Korea, "Joe" is a personal enemy. First Sgt. Kenneth C. Lovett, 30, and Sgt. Glen Mizer, 31, are two such veterans now leading the kids of Charley Troop. One night recently they sat together in the mess hall, reminiscing. Mizer's boots and uniform were splattered with mud. He had just come off a "stake-out"- with five other men he had lain for four hours in the rain near the demarcation line in an unsuccessful attempt to ambush a North Korean agent. A taciturn man with blue eyes and thinning, sandy hair, who thinks a lot about his 14 head of Black Angus cattle back in Cumming, Georgia, he listened to talkative Ken Lovett, a shrewd, impish West Virginian. 27


1963_07_27--024_SP Lonely Line of Armistice
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