Category Archives: From James

June 2016


Dear 1970’s decade JSA veterans:
Following my last JSA vet information email with news of Wayne Johnson’s plans for a 40th anniversary gathering of veterans at the Columbia, South Carolina grave site for JSA first platoon leader Lt Mark Barrett, I was contacted by Don Plunkett with his plans to organize a similar gathering of veterans at the US Military Academy, West Point, New York grave site for JSA Joint Security Force Commander Maj Arthur Bonifas.  Barrett and Bonifas were killed by North Korean guards in the August 18, 1976 axe murders incident at Panmunjom.  Johnson and Plunkett are planning  grave site gathering/receptions to take place on Sunday, August 21, 2016.
Contact:  Wayne Johnson,               
               Don Plunkett, Windsor, NY   845-224-6345
Some additional film of the August 1976 axe murders incident at Panmunjom was recently found on the Internet.  This ITN news report contains film of the memorial service for slain officers CPT Bonifas and LT Barrett at Kimpo International Airport, Timothy Gray’s home movie of the North Korean guards attack on JSA soldiers at the poplar tree taken from his position at checkpoint #3/Bridge of No Return, still photographs of the June 30, 1975 North Korean guards attack on JSF Executive Officer Major William Darryl Henderson during the 364th Military Armistice Commission meeting, and a subsequent 1976 interview of Henderson.  Below is a link to this ITN Source news clip entitled, “First Film of Operation Axe.” (2 minutes 10 seconds in length).
The following is a partial transcript of a August 20, 1976 telephone conversation between then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and General Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Affairs, which would have taken place just hours after the completion of Operation Paul Bunyan in the Korea DMZ.  In this newly released US Department of State document, Kissinger expresses his opinion that the United Nations Command should have retaliated to the axe murders incident with a strike on the military barrack for the North Korean guards at Panmunjom.  This option was eventually rejected by Washington because the barracks target was at the extreme range of US Army artillery and nearby the Czechoslovakia and Poland Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission camp.  The “Habib” mentioned in the transcript is Philip Habib, then Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and former US Ambassador to Republic of Korea.
Kissinger: We are shipping home those two guys (Bonifas and Barrett) in a coffin made out of that tree.
                We are also doing a systems analysis study of how many Americans they have to kill before we
                deforested them and changed their climate.
Scowcroft: It is a great success.
Kissinger: They can’t stop us from pruning trees for Christ’s sake.
Scowcroft: I am sorry they didn’t make a challenge out of it.
Kissinger: I am sorry we didn’t decide to hit the barracks.  I am not sure we still shouldn’t do that.
Scowcroft: I am not sure we need to stop and say it is all over now.  It is a little more puzzling what really
                  they had in mind.
Kissinger: The North Koreans?
Scowcroft: Yes.  They were apparently quite docile when we cut the tree down.
Kissinger: Which means they were scared out of their minds.
Scowcroft: Yes.
Kissinger: I am worried about how the other countries assess us.  When you look at the Soviet and
                 Chinese reaction it is very mild – you have to assume they thought we would do something
                 drastic.  Now they see us just chopping down a tree – which looks ridiculous.  Habib tells me
                 it was illegal to fire across the zone.
Scowcroft: God Henry.  So it is not illegal to murder people.
Kissinger: No, that was wrong but not illegal.  They were doing it in the JSA where they had every right
                 to be.  They were illegally killed but two wrongs don’t make a right.  If you are not a Mormon
                 you won’t understand that.  You can’t build justice on two wrongs.  You can’t build justice on
                 two wrongs.
Scowcroft: We are trying to keep them in their cages.
Kissinger: Scowcroft you are getting to literal – I am being sarcastic.
Scowcroft: I know, I know.
To review the complete telephone conversation transcript, go The DMZ War – 1953 to Today website link below:
For more information about the planning of Operation Paul Bunyan, please read the 1986-87 Research Paper, MURDER AT PANMUNJOM: The Role of the Theater Commander In Crisis Resolution, by USMC Colonel Conrad DeLateur.  This document can be found on the Internet.
As I mentioned in my last two JSA vet information emails, following the recent death of my father and cleaning out of his home, I discovered a cache of my letters written from Korea to my parents and brothers.  I had no idea my parents saved these letters, and I am sharing in my emails a few of the more interesting letters.  Here is are some excerpts from several letters.  Again, I hope you enjoy them.
Tuesday, August 14, 1973
… Up here on the DMZ, there are no weekends since most everyone works everyday- only a few of the office personnel have weekends off.  This, I guess, seems to blend one day into another.  I had yesterday off so I rode down to Seoul.  Transportation here is not too much of a hassle.  There are Army vehicles leaving the compound for other Army camps and Seoul every couple of hours.  Also, there is a military bus which runs from our compound stopping at many other compounds as it goes to Seoul.  However, this military bus is very slow because of all the stops, and is constantly breaking down.  I have been stranded somewhere now three times.  If you are in no hurry, it is kind of fun to “gamble” and take the military bus.  Odds run about 30% of a breakdown – Ha!  Also, there is the Korean bus – cost about 80 cents, but it is a gamble also getting the right bus since I don’t read or speak Korean, and the bus station in Seoul is not near the Army compound or center of Seoul.  The train is very good – 20 cents cost, and it takes you to the center of Seoul – only a few blocks from Army compound. The train is really an experience – reminds me of our trains around the turn of the century in the west.  It’s very old, the cars have two long benches running the length of each car.  Also, everything rides in the cars – people, produce and sometimes animals (chickens and pigs).
… I really enjoy the Korean soldiers called “Katusas.”  Yes, they speak English, but I am also picking up some Korean.  We converse in a language made of of 3/4 GI slang and 1/4 Korean – kind of interesting at times!
Monday, October 15, 1973
… This last week there has been some racial trouble in two of the local villages.  It has involved soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division mostly.  There were numerous fights, beatings and a few stabbings.  Also, I guess, the nearby Army compound is missing some fragmentation grenades.  To help cut down on the disturbances, all wearing of civilian clothes in these villages was prohibited – you must wear dress uniforms, and there is a 10 o’clock curfew.  I guess this has helped because things have been pretty quiet these last few months.
Sunday, November 04, 1973
… Yesterday, Bill Gauger, this kid from Iowa and myself went biking along the DMZ.  It was really interesting as up until several years ago US soldiers manned most of the DMZ around this area.  The last couple of years has seen the Korean army replacing the GIs until now where we are just manning the area south of the Panmunjom area.  We would come upon these deserted American compounds where a few buildings remained.  Some of the bigger compounds were still being used by the Koreans.  It was kind of strange seeing these old Army compounds now setting abandon along the DMZ.  Perhaps someday our compound will see the same faith.  We pedaled up to Libby Bridge, another crossing of the Imjin River just east of Freedom Bridge about 10 miles or so away.  We tried to bluff out way across the bridge so we could visit  Chang-pari, a village once frequented by the GIs along that part of the DMZ.  Korean soldiers manned the bridge, and wouldn’t let us across.  Gauger, who has been here now almost two years, put on this big act of indignation and threatened to see their superiors about this.  However, the bluff didn’t work, although we think the soldiers said in Korean that a little money could get us across.  But we didn’t feel like buying them off, so we kept on biking along the DMZ.
Tuesday, November 27, 1973
… About a month ago, a 2nd Infantry Division soldier was killed by a mine.  He was walking along the Imjin River (just south of here) looking for firewood, and he found a wooden box.  It turned out to be an old Russian made mine, which had been washed out of the ground by the river.  It exploded as he picked it up.  You have to be careful about what a person picks up around here as there is a lot of unexploded ammunition laying around from 20 years ago.
…  As of last week, we stopped using the military payment currency money, and changed over to regular American dollars.  It was kind of a hassle as the Army would only change money in the possession of a GI.  Any Korean with the money was out of luck unless he could get a GI friend to convert it.  A lot of black market people in the villages had a lot of money become useless.
… We have had two snows so far – both lasted a couple of hours and melted within a day or two.  Korea, and especially up here in the hills, sure looks pretty when covered with snow.  So far we are keeping  fairly warm.  We are rationed 5 gallons of kerosene each day – this is about enough to heat the hooch in the  evening, at night and part of the morning.
What was previously located on the grounds where the North Korean Panmungak building now stands at Panmunjom?
2nd Infantry Division veteran Chris Murphy is organizing a reunion of Cold War Veterans of Korea (1946 to 1991) to be held August 26-28, 2016 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  For more information, contact: Chris Murphy at or 828-216-4347.
According to the Global Slavery Index published by the Walk Free Foundation, North Korea leads the world with the highest percentage (4.4%) of its population living in modern day slavery.  Walk Free Foundation, founded by Australian mining magnet Andrew Forrest, defines slavery as someone who is held against his or her will or otherwise forced to work through violence or threats of violence or abuse of authority.   Welcome to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea!
Hugh S. Boyle Jr of Rockford, Illinois died on May 03, 2012.  He served in the unit in 1967.
CPT Rodger L. Hoff of Fairfax, Virginia died on November 03, 2001.  He served as MP security officer during 1964-65
SSG Michael L. Platt of West Kendall, Florida died on 11 April 1986 in a shoot-out with Miami FBI agents.  He served in 3rd platoon in 1977.
Elvis M. Rohne died April 08, 1992 in Texas.  He served in the unit in 1967.
William E. Sausen Jr of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho died on January 23, 2006.  He served in the unit in 1967.
In Front of Them All.
Jim Mazour, JSA 1973-74
Dexter, Iowa

Trivia Question Answer:  A park with pagoda called Peace Park by the North Koreans, and “Propaganda Park” by the United Nations Command.   The Communists constructed this park in 1964. The two-story Panmungak building was built on the site in the fall of 1970.  A third floor to the building was added later.