August 16, 2011
As I write this, the 35th anniversary of the Panmunjom Axe Murders is but hours away. 10 years ago, a few of us met at the grave of Mark Barrett to remember the events 25 years prior.
For some reason, I became “The Keeper”; the keeper of photos, and email addresses. There have been several contacts by newspapers for interviews, a Korean film crew looking for OPB Vets for a documentary and a History Channel program called Running the DMZ that was first broadcast in late 2004. Becoming the webmaster of the 2nd Indianhead Division Association (www.2ida.org) in 2008 has helped.
I am never surprised by who contacts me and for what reason. But one man sent me an email I was never expecting.
Have you ever wondered just who took the photos of the fight that we see so often; the photos which were labeled and displayed during the MAC meeting? The photographer found me and we have had quite the discussion over what he saw and photographed. With his permission, I introduce you to Larry Shaddix. With his personal Pentax 35mm SLR camera, a 135mm lens and a roll of Kodachrome film, he recorded the events that took place that day. Below is a Question and Answer session between Larry and me and several unreleased photos. (US copyright laws state that photos taken by “employees” of the US Government in the performance of their duties (with few exceptions) are part of the public domain.)
Do you have a complete set of photos in your possession still? If so, how many are there? Yes, the Army returned them to me as soon as they developed the roll. 35 (slides) taken on 18 August of the fight and recovery of 1LT Barrett.
ALSO, we have heard that there was an 8mm film of the event also. True? If so, what happened to it? True, the JSA Guard in CP3 had a US Army movie camera. He got so excited he was panning very fast and there was little detail. The movie did allow military intelligence to time the events as they occurred. The film is either still at Camp Bonifas or 8th USA. I did not personally view the movie film as I was told it was of little value.
Not trying to open a can of worms but I would like to know. The JSA website has a photo of Eugene Bickly being attacked and has it labeled as Barrett. It is obviouly not correct, Bickley is black. Barrett is not visible in any of the photos. One account says he is seen jumping over the concrete block wall where he was recovered from down in the bushes, depressed area behind the wall. Some believe he was standing next to the wall, and when the fight broke out he was accidently pushed over the wall, then the KPA Guards pounced on him. None of the pictures clearly show what happened to Barrett. Attached are the photos after the 2 ½ ton vehicle exited.
An official story I have seen states that the fight was broken up when a truck was driven over Art’s body. I have a photo of the fight just winding down and there is no truck. Art is laying out there alone. I took three photos of a North Korean guard clubbing Bonifias after the 2 ½ ton truck drove away, and two photos of Bonifas lying in the open after the guards retreated back to their vehicle, and just before CPT Kim recovered Bonifas. These photos were never released to the public. I spoke with Marsha Bonifas immediately after I returned to Fort Sill and she asked for a set of the photos, which I provided to her.
(These photos are entitled #11, #12 and #13 which is how
Shaddix describes them below)
#11 shows KPA guard clubbing Bonifas after 2 ½ ton left. Two guards (lower left from Bonifas) are at wall where Barrett was killed down in the brush.
#12 shows KPA guards assembled at their truck. Note KPA guard standing at concrete wall without a hat. He walks back out to Bonifas’ body.
#13 shows KPA guard kicking Bonifas. Other KPA guards retreated back to their vehicle. (KPA reinforcements are in route as is the JSA Quick Reactionary Force (QRF))
These three pictures show a large number of JSA Guards grouped at CP3 watching as KPA Guards club/kick Bonifas. There are KPA reinforcements approaching from the right across Bridge of No Return/Freedom Bridge. Also, both officers were kicked in the groin repeatedly. After 18 Aug, all JSA personnel wore sports cups that I obtained from Rec Services. I drove to Seoul Rec Services and picked up their entire supply of sports cups.
#16 – Everyone evacuates CP3 and CPT Kim recovers Bonifas as the KPA Guards arrive shown in #16. Sorry for the blurry picture of #16, but we were becoming concerned for our safety at this time with the 3 KPA Guards standing outside of OP5 shown in #14 in previous e-mail.
These pictures were all taken just seconds apart, not minutes.
I took a work crew back up a couple of weeks after the tree was cut down on 21 August and recovered the entire tree back to Camp Kitty Hawk. I climbed down in the area where 1LT Barrett was recovered from and found Barrett’s sunglasses and a KPA hat, maybe the hat was from the KPA Soldier standing at the wall in #18. LTC Vierra was with me and I gave him the hat. Not sure what he did with it.
Most everyone else has gone to CP3. Yes, the 2 ½ ton truck was parked with Bonifas lying just in front of the vehicle. Art’s body was cross-ways to the long-axis of the vehicle. He was a tall person. The vehicle would have run over him to pull over him. The KSC workers panicked, jumped in the vehicle and drove away leaving Bonifas lying on the ground. Why they did not recover him, we never found out, other than they were scared. There was a lot of resentment with the JSA Soldiers towards the KSC workforce after that because they left Bonifas laying there.
I knew there were men at OP5 but you are the first that I have had the chance to chat with AND I always thought that they were enlisted only. Then I find out that Shirron was there and now you. Were there others? Enlisted? There were two officers and two enlisted in OP5. I rode up with Bonifas and he dropped me off at OP5. Ed Shirron and his driver in a sedan arrived shortly thereafter. There were two officers and one enlisted soldier in OP5. When Bonifas arrived at CP3 we established communications because I was keeping Bonifas informed of the trimming progress and was to tell him when visibility to the area behind CP3 was good. We only had 1-2 more branches to cut when the fight broke out. Three North Korean guards did come to OP5 during the fight. (see attached photo) We barricaded ourselves, Ed Shirron picked up the fire extinguisher to use as a weapon if the guards attacked us. We made a brake for the sedan, leaving the OP5 Guard behind. Not sure why he did not come with us because the 3-NK guards were standing just outside. That always bothered me, but he was not harmed. One of the North Korean guards started after us, but one of his comrades grabbed his arm and restrained him. We drove back to the rendezvous point just outside the JSA where a muster was taken to account for everyone. That is when it was discovered Barrett was unaccounted for. We had two camera’s in OP5. One was an Army black and white which OP5 JSA Guard was shooting with, and which ran out of film before the fight broke out and the Guard did not have any extra film. I was using my personal camera with a 135mm telephoto lens shooting Kodachrome 35mm slide film. It could not be developed in Korea, so 8th Army flew the film to Japan on the afternoon of 18 Aug, developed it, and returned immediately. Those are the pictures released to the media and used in most published reports of the fight.