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Old 08-19-2017, 07:57 PM
John_W's Avatar
John_W John_W is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Tamarind Grove
Posts: 3,839
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I spent 13 months in South Korea in 1970 thru 1971 and at that time the ROK Army (Republic of Korea) was gun ho, or crazy in layman's terms. I remember reading in the Stars & Strips (military newspaper) about a ROK officer committing suicide because his orders for Vietnam were denied. They actually had quite a few ROK soldiers in Vietnam during the war.

I remember on one occasion we had North Korean infiltrators come across the border. I was stationed at an airfield in the DMZ about 4 miles from Panmunjon, and the infiltrators were actually in a location that was an artillery impact zone, where practice shooting would go on. Rather than just let the zone go hot, the ROK solders decided to go in and fight the infiltrators in ground contact. I never understood that unless they just wanted to fight them or capture them.

I was a controller in the airfield tower and we have 50 helicopters based that flew up and down the DMZ everyday patrolling the 18 miles of the 38th parallel the USA was responsible for watching. Our helicopters never flew above 500 so they couldn't be tracked by North Korean radar, in fact they usually flew down rivers and streams at whatever altitude they could get away with, sometimes 10 feet.

We also had 5 ROK birddogs stationed at our field, that's something like a Cessna 150, a small lightweight single engine aircraft capable of about 90 kts. I use to talk to their commander all the time. He was a ROK Major who had come to America and learned to fly helicopters at Ft. Wolters Texas and Ft. Rucker Alabama and then when he finished, he rented a car and drove from one end of America to the other before returning to Korea. He got addicted to American cheese burgers and at the airfield snackbar, Koreans were not allow to enter. He would come by the tower and hand me a couple of dollars and ask if I would get him a cheeseburger and fries at the snackbar.

One day the ROK Major called me on the radio while in the air with a flight of all 5 of his bird dogs in formation flying down the 38th parallel. He said I am unable to contact Warrior Control, that is our radar facility that tracks our aircraft while in the DMZ. I asked his position and altitude and he said 4,000 feet. I said, you're a formation of 5 bird dogs at 4,000 flying over the DMZ, he said, that is correct. I don't know if you can imagine how suicidal that seemed, but 5 planes in formation even without transponders turned one, would be a large primary target on North Korean radar, especially flying at maybe 80 or 90 Kts. That's just my story of how crazy the Korean military can be.
 

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