Category Archives: Reunion

Reunion ReCap

 Dear 1970’s decade veterans:

CHICAGO JSA REUNION REPORT
“Organize it, and they will come” is a fitting description for the Fifth JSA/Panmunjom Veterans Reunion held on April 24 & 25, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.   The Hilton Garden Inn O’Hare Airport hotel in the suburban community of Des Plaines was the site for this two-day reunion that drew 108 veterans and 46 spouses/companions.  They came by airplane, train and automobile from 31 states across this great country.  Six decades were represented with JSA unit veterans from the 1950’s through the 2000’s in attendance.
The list of registered JSA veterans and Second Infantry Division Association guests attending this reunion is as follows:
Dale Alexander (62-63), Castaic, California
Quincy Auburn Allen (90-92) Bronx, New York
Michael Arett (73-74) Minneapolis, Minnesota
Claude Assante (69-70), Brooklyn, New York
Carl Bandy (68-69) Denton, Texas
Walter “Bobby” Barr (69-70), Greenville, Mississippi
James Barrier (69-70), Nicholasville, Kentucky
John Batty-Sylvan (66-67), San Francisco, California (2ID Association luncheon speaker)
Jon Beck (71-72), Jacksonville, Oregon
Robert Becker (74-75), Dixon, Missouri
John Bednar (81), Indianapolis, Indiana
Michael Bilbo (76-77), Ft. Stanton, New Mexico
Charlie Blackmon (68-69), Newnan, Georgia
William Boston (70-71), Southport, North Carolina
Robert Bruno (59-60), Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Robert Burke (83), El Cajon, California
Richard Burnette (83-84), Brownwood, Texas
Ed Burningham (69-70), Freeland, Washington
John Bush (83-84), Nashville, Tennessee
Dave Byerly (73-74), Lewistown, Montana
Paul Cantrell (66-68), Calvert, Texas
Paul Carlson (78-79), Wadena, Minnesota
David Chapman (83-84), Clarksville, Tennessee
Richard Corrigan (70-71), Conesus, New York
Ross Cox Sr (78-79), San Saba, Texas
Jack Coyle (71-72), Orland Park, Illinois
George Creznic Jr (69-70), Prospect, Kentucky
Russell Dawes (80-81), Dumfries, Virginia
Bud DeArvil (72-73(, Salina, Kansas
Dennis Dee (70-71), Michigan City, Indiana
Jerry DeFrance (69-70), Jackson, Wyoming
Dan Dietz (69-70), Fargo, North Dakota
Dave Dillman (69-70), Citrus Heights, California
James Dovel (83-84), Edison, New Jersey
Dean Entzminger (69-70), Gackle, North Dakota
Dennis Forester (83-84), Grayson, Georgia
Dave Fransen (71-72), Springfield, Oregon
Peter French (68-69), North Olmsted, Ohio
Donald Gabel (68-69), Greenup, Illinois
John Gnajek (74), Hammond, Indiana
Terry Griffith (72-73), Soddy-Daisey, Tennessee
Frank Haggerty (68-70), La Grange, Illinois
Jeff Handy (83-84), Zionsville, Indiana
John Haslem (59-60), Lansing, Michigan
Carl Hedleston (69-70), Charleston, South Carolina
Robert Hood (84-85), Indianapolis, Indiana
James Hopkins (72-73), Townsend, Tennessee
Richard Howard (83-87), Orange, Texas
Michael Impagliazzo (84-85), Hastings, Minnesota
Jim Isabell (69), Proctor, Minnesota
Chad King (03-04), Skokie, Illinois
Terrance Kranitz (70-71), Fremont, California
Roger Kress (78-81), Hazel Green, Wisconsin
Frank Kuennen (73-74), Solon, Iowa
Chung K. Lee (86-87), Upper Arlington, Ohio
Randy Mann (73-74), Kenyon, Minnesota
Joseph Marcil, Burlington, Wisconsin (2ID Association guest)
Frank Marckese (69-70), Crown Point, Indiana
Dan Marks (69-70), Tinley Park, Illinois
Jeffrey Massey (82-83), Goldsboro, North Carolina
Tom Massingham (76-78), Prineville, Oregon
Jim Mazour (73-74), Dexter, Iowa (reunion organizer)
Jim McKinney (69-70), Medina, Minnesota
Perry Mitchell (69-70), Atlanta, Georgia
Bert Mizusawa (84-85), McLean, Virginia (dinner speaker)
Jim Molnar (69-70), Center City, Minnesota
Robert Moneypenny (69-70), Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Pat Morrissey (70-71), Grand Rapids, Michigan
John Myers (69-70), Indianapolis, Indiana
Don Neufarth (70-71), Lebanon, Ohio
Howard Nigh (89-90), Shullsburg, Wisconsin
John Novey Jr (68), Glendale, Arizona
Brady O’Brien (90-91), Phoenix, Arizona
James Ogle III (70-71), Glenview, Illinois
Bill Poncia (68-69), Sebastopol, California
Eldon Powley (71-72), Klamath Falls, Oregon
Ron Purviance (70-71), Leadville, Colorado
Greg Reuscher (70-71), Blue Ash, Ohio
Roger Ritter (64-66), Clements, California
Owen Roberts (69-70), Sulphur, Oklahoma
Douglas Salyer (71-73), Harper, Texas
Keith Samson (69-70), Placentia, California
Kent Schmieding (74-75), North Augusta, South Carolina
Richard Schnabel (59-60), Portsmouth, Virginia
Charles Senor (85-87), Springfield, Virginia
Scot Sinn (84-85), Milaca, Minnesota
Lou Smith (83), Hudson, Ohio
Donald Steadman (83-84), Harviell, Missouri
Michael Stovall (67-68), Bentonville, Virginia
Roy Stranahan (69-70), Brentwood, Tennessee
George Strejcek (67-69), Downers Grove, Illinois (2ID Association guest)
David Thornton (72-74), New Marshfield, Ohio
Dan Tolbert (69-70), Highland, Illinois
Charles Trump (72-73), Columbia City, Indiana
Stephen Tryon (84-85), Salt Lake City, Utah
Nicholas Vonada (71-73), Zanesville, Ohio
Lewis Voorhees (61-62), North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Ron Walker (70-71), Willowbrook, Illinois
Dave Wallace (70-71), Naples, Florida
Michael Walz (72-73), Billings, Montana
Tasker “Mike” Warden (85-86), West Des Moines, Iowa
Garry Don Wehr (71), Azusa, California
Don Whitfield (69-70), Gig Harbor, Washington
Bart Womack (84-85), Gahanna, Ohio
Larry Woody (71-72), South Bend, Indiana
Kevin Young (86-87), Canal Winchester, Ohio
David Zilka (75-76), Valrico, Florida
Hank Zilm (69-70), Toluca, Illinois
William Boston was the reunion’s official photographer, and he did a great job of capturing the event in photographs.  110 of the best photos have been forwarded to Wayne Johnson who is reposting them in increments of 25 photos on his website:   www.JSAvets.org  Thank you Wayne for your continued support of our JSA veterans group by promoting this Chicago JSA Reunion and posting its photographs on the website.
The reunion hospitality room opened early on Thursday evening to greet the arriving veterans and their spouses/companions.  Thank you to all the vets who brought a cooler/ice chest for the beverages and ladies who helped set up the room.  The 2007 Las Vegas and 2011 Orlando reunion banners were hung along with a memorial display to remember the seven JSA soldiers killed in action at the Korea DMZ.  They are:
Sergeant James L. Anderson (age 20) of Camp Springs, Maryland – KIA 14 April 1968
Specialist Fourth Class Larry M. Wood (age 20) of Barstow, Illinois – KIA 14 April 1968
Corporal Lee Son Kyoo of Republic of Korea – KIA 14 April 1968
Private First Class Kim Ik Hong of Republic of Korea – KIA 14 April 1968
Captain Arthur G. Bonifas (age 33) of Newburgh, New York – KIA 18 August 1976
First Lieutenant Mark T. Barrett (age 26) of Columbia, South Carolina – KIA 18 August 1976
Corporal Jang Myung Ki of Republic of Korea – KIA 23 November 1984
These men will forever be In Front of Them All, and they will not be forgotten by JSA veterans..
Marsha Mazour and Barbara Novey manned the registration desk Saturday morning to greet attendees and pass out reunion packets and the official reunion polo shirt – a UN blue colored shirt with silver embroidery lettering – “JSA Panmunjom, Korea” over the left breast.  This shirt proved to be very popular with 126 shirts pre-ordered by veterans.  And a dozen 2011 Orlando reunion shirts – a Khaki brown colored with black embroidery lettering  over the left breast, also soon sold out. A special thank you goes to Douglas Salyer who donated a diamond shaped JSA sticker and decal included in each attendees’ reunion packet.
The 2015 Chicago reunion banner was hung, but the organizer was unsuccessful in arranging for a local color guard to open the reunion as has been the practice at previous reunions.  After welcoming remarks, announcements and introductions by all the veterans, the reunion began with the showing of JSA vet Dante Rossi’s 1969-71 JSA/Panmunjom photo DVD.  This incredible photo and music production features aerial photographs of the camp and Panmunjom, a Bob Hope Christmas show, Military Armistice Commission meetings, North Korea’s release of US Army pilots, JSA dogs, daily life in the camp, partying at the NCO/EM club, USO shows, Korea village life, bullet ridden US Army vehicles and storms and weather over the Korea DMZ.  It has now led off the last three reunions – Las Vegas, Orlando, and now Chicago, and never fails to set the mood and tone for the two-day reunions. As one vet commented in Chicago,  “This one DVD captured everything that a JSA soldier experienced while serving on the Korea DMZ.”  Thank you Dante Rossi of Gardena, California for this incredible JSA/Panmunjom DVD.
Other videos shown included a Korean documentary about the mysterious 1969 hijacking of a Korean Airlines aircraft to North Korea and subsequent release of all but 11 members of the crew and passengers at Panmunjom in early 1970, and a short Universal International News clip of the 1958 return of the American crew and German passengers following another North Korean hijacking of a Korean National Airlines aircraft
Friday presenters included Richard Schnabel who shared a photo presentation of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) camp in 1959-60 where he lived and worked as the diesel generator operator and photos of a recent 2014 return trip to Korea.  Ron Purviance’s recreated his 1970 time period VIP tour briefing including original slides that he gave to dignitaries such as the president of Mexico, a Miss America USO group, and bus loads of Japanese tourists. Ross Cox Sr. presented a practical explanation of the Veterans Administration claims process to include chemical defoliant “Agent Orange” exposure to soldiers on the Korea DMZ.  And, Dan Dietz brought 50 Vietnam Veterans of America Agent Orange Education Campaign folders.
The Friday luncheon speaker was John Batty-Sylvan, a retired college professor and current vice president with the Second Infantry Division Association who spoke about his experiences as a young US Army soldier patrolling the Korea DMZ during the 1966-67 time period.  He shared firsthand information about his unit’s involvement in the November 1966 North Korean ambush of one of its patrols that marked the beginning of a three year long period of low-intensity war along the DMZ that some have characterized as the Second Korean  War.
Friday afternoon saw a visit to the reunion by representatives of Nongshin America to present attendees with a gift of 47 cases of Korean processed food, which included Kimchi flavored ramen noodle soup packages, Shin cups of noodle soup and colorful red food tote bags.  Nongshin Co. Ltd is South Korea’s largest processed food manufacturer and now sells its products worldwide.  It was founded in 1965 as Lotte Industrial Company and changed its name to Nongshin in 1978.  If you served in Korea after 1965 and had a bowl of ramen noodle soup, chances are it was a Lotte/Nongshin product.   A big thank you to Jay Lee and Anderson Park with Nongshin America’s Chicago office for arranging this most generous gift to the JSA reunion.
An eclectic collection of gifts was raffled off to vets during the reunion, and included copies of Wayne Kirkbride’s books, PANMUNJOM and THE AXE MURDERS INCIDENT, Dante Rossi’s 1969-71 JSA/Panmunjom and 2007 Las Vegas JSA Reunion DVD programs, black MP birdhouses handcrafted by Lewis Voorhees, John Sammon’s book, FREEDOM PAGODA, JSA ballcaps collected from a DMZ gift shop and brought to Chicago by Patrick Morrissey, member pins and commemorative coins from the Korean JSA Old Boys organization, a movie poster for the controversial 2015 Sony movie, THE INTERVIEW, and a copy of Matt Bissonnette’s (pen name Mark Owen) book, NO EASY DAY, a firsthand account of the US Navy Seal mission into Pakistan that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
A big thank you goes to Colonel Thomas Hanson of Leavenworth, Kansas and Matt Seelinger with the Army Historical Foundation for donating 37 complimentary copies of the Spring 2015 issue of ON POINT magazine – the journal of Army history, containing Colonel Hanson’s outstanding article entitled, “A Forty-Minute Korean War: The Soviet Defector Firefight in the Joint Security Area, Panmunjom, Korea, 23 November 1984.” Copies of the magazine with this article about a very important event in JSA/Panmunjom history were given away as raffle gifts and a magazine was presented to each participant of this incident attending the Chicago reunion.  Colonel Hanson served as the JSA unit’s executive officer during the 2005-06 time period, and is the author of COMBAT READY?, a book that takes a second look at the preparedness of the Eighth US Army on the eve of the Korea War.
Friday evening’s activities were on your own.  The hospitality room was open until 11:00 PM for attendees to socialize.  Some people went out to dinner at the many nearby restaurants, others went to gamble and dine at the next door Rivers Casino, and some relaxed over a drink at the hotel’s lobby bar.
Saturday morning had the attendees viewing the movie, “Crossing the Line,” which detailed the story of the four US Army soldiers who defected across the DMZ to North Korea during the 1960’s decade.  This British documentary did an excellent job of trying to explain why any American soldier would leave their unit to join the Communist hermit kingdom and what happened to these four American defectors in the subsequent 50 years.
Other videos shown included Fred Caton’s 1970 home movie of 1970 JSA camp life, gun jeeps and firing range exercises.  John Novey again shared his 1968 home movie of the village of Yong-ju-Go, which had a lot of people laughing and a few guys squirming in their seats. Stan Suit’s 1970 US Army film of the 301st Military Armistice Commission (MAC) meeting brought back memories of the pomp and ceremony involved in these old meetings.
Saturday presenters included Perry Mitchell and John Myers who narrated a presentation of photographs from their 1969-70 time period intermixed with their 2007 VIP tour of Camp Bonifas and Panmunjom.  Bud DeArvil gave a presentation with ideas about organizing our JSA veterans group and moderated a group discussion with vets offering suggestions and support for taking our now informal group to a more formal veterans organization
The ladies also got into the act, and Kathy Morrissery organized a shopping trip to the nearby Chicago Outlet Mall.  Following the reunion, Patty Sinn created a Facebook page for JSA veterans’ spouses entitled, “JSA Wives Group.”  To join this group, please go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1572282449700483/
George Strejcek sold copies of his book, 91 BRAVO MEDIC, his story of serving as a medic with the Second Infantry Division on the Korea DMZ during the 1967-69 time.  George donated a copy of his book for the reunion’s raffle drawing.
Bart Womak sold copies of his book, EMBEDDED ENEMY, a firsthand account of the 2003 attack of a US Army sergeant on his fellow soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait as it prepared for combat in the early stages of the Iraq War.  A portion of the sales was donated by Bart to the JSA reunion fund.
JSA trivial questions tested the knowledge of attendees during the reunion.  For example:  Who is the first US president to visit the Korea DMZ?  (Answer found at end of this report).
The Saturday banquet dinner speaker was General Bert Mizusawa who spoke about the November 1984 Soviet defector and firefight incident at Panmunjom.  Then Captain Mizusawa was the Joint Security Force commander at the time, and led soldiers in perhaps the JSA unit’s finest hour when they engaged the attacking North Korea guards, bloodied them, out flanked them, and captured them – only to then have to release them.
General Mizusawa, who had the opportunity to meet the Russian defector Vasili Matuzok years later, offered firsthand information into circumstances of the defection, the 40 minute firefight within the Joint Security Area/Panmunjom that brought the two Koreas to the brink of another war, and the international politics which came into play to downplay this major armistice agreement violation by North Korea.  And, he was asked the most often asked question about this incident – Was infamous North Korean guard Pak Chul “bulldog” one of the two guards executed by a senior communist officer behind the Pan Mun Gak building minutes after the end of the firefight incident?  General Mizusawa responded that as a trained lawyer he could not say definitively Pak Chul was one of the executed guards because he did not witness the execution, however he did offer that Pak Chul was never seen again at the Joint Security Area in the months following this incident.
Five other members of JSA’s first and fourth platoons involved in this Soviet defection/firefight incident attending the reunion included Robert Hood, Richard Howard, Scot Sinn, Stephen Tryon and Bart Womack.  They and other members of the unit at the time were presented with complimentary copies of the US Army Historical Foundation magazine,ON GUARD, containing Colonel Thomas Hanson’s article about this incident.
Nine gray colored “JSA big sticks” axe handle awards were presented to the reunion speakers/presenters and other vets who made significant contributions to the planning and execution of the Chicago reunion.  And, a vintage Panmunjom ball cap and JSA unit medallion was awarded to Dan Dietz who is our group’s godfather and the man responsible for starting it all by organizing the first two reunion – 1996 in St. Louis and 1999 in San Antonio.
The Chicago veterans showed their appreciation by presenting organizer Jim Mazour with a framed “Top Sarge” certificate of appreciation signed by all the attendees.  Marsha Mazour and Barbara Novey were recognized with a round of applause for their work manning the reunion registration desk, and the Hilton Garden Inn hotel staff were also recognized for their excellent service to our reunion.
Brady O’Brien concluded the evening’s activities with a brief report on the status of the Army’s Combat Infantry”s Badge (CIB) award for service on the Korea DMZ post Korean War time period. For more information, vets should refer to Military Personnel (MILPER) Message 11-268, Approved Changes to Army Regulations (AR) 600-8-22, Military Awards, dated 2 September 2011
It was then time to pose for reunion photographs, and squeeze in a few more hours of socializing in the banquet dinner room or at the hotel’s lobby bar. For reunion organizer Jim Mazour, the two martinis never tasted better knowing that this Fifth JSA/Panmunjom Veterans Reunion in Chicago had been a success.
On a sad note, Thomas “Mike” Wolven (67-69) of Grand Ledge, Michigan was looking forward to attending the reunion.  He registered, purchased four reunion shirts and reserved a hotel room.  Unfortunately, Mike died of health complications just five days before the reunion.  He served in the Joint Duty Office (JDO) and was there during the time of the USS Pueblo incident – from its capture by North Korean naval forces to the release of its crew across the Bridge of No Return at Panmunjom.
A special thank you goes to Sales Coordinator Laura Furmanek with the Hilton Garden Inn O’Hare Airport hotel.  Her father is a Vietnam War era veteran, and Laura made sure our reunion group was well taken care of during the two-day visit to her hotel.
And lastly, thank you to all JSA veterans and their spouses/companions and our Second Infantry Division Association guests who made the trip to Chicago to make this fifth JSA/Panmunjom Veterans Reunion a big success.  See you at the next reunion!
Trivia question answer:  President Ronald Reagan in November 1983.
Jim Mazour, reunion organizer
Dexter, Iowa