NOTE: Personal Accounts of 16th Company, 7th Group & 14th RB&L are found in Main Menu.
Larry Hartley VUNC Okinawa 1961-62 Includes photos
Okinawa Experiences of Sp4 Larry Bullington Includes Photos
"The Rock" by James Brewer Submitted by Larry Bullington
VUNC Korea by Russell Kucharski (1961-63) Includes Photos
VUNC-A Kanghwa Island Korea by Richard Hardy Includes Photos
VUNC Korea by Jack Kellner 1960-62 Includes Photos
NOTE: Peter sent following e-mail on 6/4/2009
Hi Tim -
I was a member of the 14th PSYOP Bn on Okinawa from Oct 1961 thru March 1964. My principal assignment was in the Research Division of B&VA. However, like many others, I had off-island TDY stints including Thailand [non-PSYOP] and Taiwan. My grade at the time was Captain.
Following B&VA, I was assigned as an instructor in the PSYOPS Department of the Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg. I was there from April 1964 through June 1966. My next assignment was with USARPAC in Hawaii where I was promoted to Major, but I left there in October 1968 to join the J2 Section of the United Nations Command where I was the propaganda analyst. I returned to the States in November 1969. I retired medically in December 1972 based on injuries I incurred in Korea in 1959.
After the Army, I obtained an MBA degree [civilian basic training] and became an international banker specializing in letters of credit and trade finance. I moved to Seattle with my wife, Lois and daughter, Norma plus son, Donald in July 1981. I retired as a Vice President from Bank of America in May 1993. Donald, BTW was born on Okinawa.
You obviously have done a great job in collecting information on people involved with the unit. One possible correction is your note that Dave Underhill was seriously injured in Vietnam. I believe the person to whom you should refer is Captain Ray LeFebvre; he was seriously wounded in Vietnam. Ray experiences are recounted in the book, We Were Soldiers Once and Young, eventually becoming a movie starring Mel Gibson. Ray and Dave were good friends. Dave was a Korean linguist while Ray was a Vietnamese one.
Thanks for your efforts,
Editor's Note: The following is an e-mail account (10/04/05) from Larry Hartley who served in the 14th PsyWar from April 1961 to July 1963. Larry does not remember the original location of the first VUNC studio but indicated it was moved to Machinato Headquarters in 1961 or 62. Larry also provided photos of HQ sign showing that B&VA was under command of USARPAC (Hawaii) until reorganization to USARYIS/IX Corp in Sept 1961.
My military MOS was audio specialist and was trained at Fort Monmouth, NJ. From there I spent a year and a half at Fort Huachuca, Arizona when the orders came down telling me to report to the Ryukus Islands in April 1961. My first thought was "where the hell is that" and then envisioned I would be sleeping in hammocks and eating betel nuts. It turned out to be a bit better than that. It was raining when we landed at the Kadena Air Force base and that was pretty common. If memory serves, it was supposed to rain 360 out of 365 days a year somewhere on the island. After reporting to the 14th Psy War Bn , it did not take long to acclimate to the surroundings.
I was teamed with SP5 Ken Kelly to take care of the maintenance of the audio equipment for the VUNC (Voice of United Nations Command) group. The Korean and Chinese would be given scripts daily and they played the roles of whatever story line they were given. At some point these programs were broadcast to North Korea and Mainland China. I do remember that Mao Tse-tung was called the Mouse of Doom. Ken and I would occasionally be called on to provide sound effects for a program, such as walking in a box of gravel, when they needed help. One of us would walk while the other held the microphone close.
Miss Free China 1962 (from Miss Universe pageant) visited the studios for an interview and I have pictures somewhere. These folks were wonderful to work with and very friendly. One Chinese gentleman spent time with me and introduced me to real Chinese meals. He always would call the chef out and give him specific instructions on what he wanted fixed. Other people I worked with were Don RIggs, Richard Christian and Lester Blair. Don and Richard were both experienced in working at radio stations and worked off-site at a US run radio station as part time disc jockeys.
The 14 months spent on Okinawa created a lot of good memories. Being a Japanese island and working with Chinese and Koreans allowed me to interact with all 3 cultures and I took away a lot more for the experience than I gave. Tim Yoho described Typhoon Nancy in one of his posts. I did not remember the name of the typhoon but do remember the eye going over the island. Another fellow and I were assigned to the studio building to keep watch for problems. We slept on army cots and had maybe 3 - 6 inches of water come in. When the eye came, the winds stopped and a deuce and a half came to get us and brought us back to the barracks to eat something other than the WWII vintage C-rations. They still had the cigarette packs in them. As soon as the wind began to gust again we went back to the studio until the typhoon was over. One funny event during that time was as follows: the guy I was with was wondering how hard the wind was blowing, so he cracked open the door. The wind jerked the door out of his hand and ripped off the hinges. It then went bouncing across the compound until it lay flat on the ground. Now the guy decides he better retrieve the door so out he goes. When he gets to the door, he picked it up and tried to walk back to the building. The problem was he kept turning so the whole door faced the wind and for every step forward he took about 4 backwards. Eventually, he figured out how to turned the door so only the narrow edge faced the wind and made it back. It took me about 15 minutes to stop laughing.
A few other memories to share. How can anyone forget the house boys who made the beds, shined our boots and did all of the other grunt work for us. Worth every penny. Also, I clearly remember a couple of earth tremors while there. The first time found me in the day room watching television. Having never been through one of these it took me a while to figure out what had happened because it didn't last long. The other memory is walking to the Machinato PX at night and unavoidably crunching snails as one walked. There were times the sidewalk was just filled with them. By the way, anybody from the 1961-1962 time period remember the flying saucer scare that got some people worked up? The picture showed a number of saucer like objects in the sky over the water. Later it was discovered they looked very similar to the lights in the Machinato PX reflecting off the window. Well Tim, that's about it for now. Larry Bullington and I are planning on meeting for lunch in the near future.
Source: Larry Hartley
I was fortunate to leave for Okinawa from Travis Air Force Base California. I arrived on a beautiful Pan Am Boeing 707 in August 1961. I mention this being fortunate because some of the men I was in Psy War School at Ft. Bragg traveled on a U.S. Navy Troop Carrier taking as much as 30 days of travel time to arrive.
I think the first thing I noticed was the smell. Okinawa has a smell I never seemed to have forgotten. You get used to it, but it is always there. It's not really offensive but it's always there. I don't mean the smell that's close to the open Benjo Ditches; it's a smell of Okinawa .
A bus took Darrell Arnold, Cecil White, and I to the B&VA barracks at Machinato. We checked in and were told where to bunk, and that we could spend the day as we pleased since it was still early. Cecil White had been in the army for over six years and had been stationed in Korea prior. He was our guide to town, which turned out to be Naha . This was the first evening of a very interesting education for Arnold and I. Cecil White was only with us a few weeks and he went home on emergency leave. We never heard from him again.
We reported to the loudspeaker section under the supervision of a SFC Buxbaum. He put us to work getting to know the equipment that we would be using and maintaining. Darrell and I were Radio Repairmen. Cecil White was some kind of minor radio repairman. We were given tools for the repair of the equipment, which was mostly tools to repair the cables for the loudspeaker units. He really didn't know what to do with us, and didn't seem to know we were coming over. We were a little confused because we were on emergency orders to get us there. Oh well it was the Army and we had got to Okinawa on a 707 Pan Am Jet because of the emergency orders instead of the Troop Ship that some of the graduates of the PsyWar school from Ft. Bragg were required to endure.
One of our duties was to distribute a magazine. We had to go down to the Naha Shipyard and let them load a duce and half truck for us. Then we had directions and locations on the island to distribute these magazines. I liked this duty because I got to see the island. I don't remember the name of the magazine, but it was something to do with Psy War. (Magazine was "Veritas", Editor)
I remember assisting the 503 rd Airborne with an escape and evasion exercise, and another time with the 503 rd I was a referee for an assault on a hill. I evaluated the duties of a Mortar Team. Don't know how I got that assignment, because I had no experience with gunnery. I just filled in the blanks. Got to see the confusion of a live fire exercise in which some troopers were almost killed by accident that day; if not for a very aware 1 st Lieutenant From the 503 rd that was very good at his job and did not let his team fire his Mortars on a hill after he had permission because he has a “feeling” something wasn't right. He was right, the hill was occupied by a platoon of Airborne Troopers.
One of my other duties was instructing foreign troops at the 1 st Special Forces Counter Insurgency School. It was located north of Camp Swab up in the boonies. My course was “Tactical Loudspeaker Operations”.
While at one of the formations before reporting to work a Captain wanted to know if anyone of us had any small bore rifle experience. I told him I had and that started something that I seemed to be doing a lot of the time on the island. I ended up on both the small bore and large bore rifle team. Being on the large bore team I spent many weeks at Camp Swab , a Marine Camp on the far north part of the island where all the large bore rifle ranges were. Living with the marines was quite an experience but we all survived, barely. I enjoyed my experiences on the large and small bore rifle teams.
I was one of the lucky ones that got to go on exercise Aumee in 1962. The LST loading and ride was not pleasant but we learned a lot about loading an LST. We Landed at Kee Lung Port on the north part of Taiwan . We unloaded and proceeded to a Chinese Army Special Forces base where we were billeted. My team consisted of Sgt. Akira Moramoto, who was the linguist, and two Chinese Officers from the Chinese Army. We were sent out with orders to report to various Chinese Army Units. We were armed with Gasoline fill up points on the island and a first reporting area. Both of our Chinese Officers spoke English which was nice because Moramoto only spoke Japanese and English.
I later was very grateful that Moramoto was along since all the older people of the island spoke Japanese and not Mandarin. The younger Taiwanese spoke Mandarin but was sometime unreliable for information. I really enjoyed our trip south through the countryside. We at one time drove as far south of the island where the road ran out and the mountains went down into the sea. I can't remember the little village we stayed for around five days, but the people we very kind. Most of them had never seen a white American before so I got to be quite an attraction at times. We slept in a Buddhist Temple on the floor. Sometimes I would go to sleep with Taiwanese squatting nearby watching me and every morning when I would wake there were different people squatting next to me. One time a young man rode his bike many miles to come and see me. He wanted to know if I could read his English. We set on the concrete floor of the temple writing to each other with rocks on the concrete.
I had many very good memories of my time on Taiwan . I also found out later that one of my interpreters was the grandson of General Chang Kai Chek. During a Barbecue hosted by the Chinese Special Forces, Sgt. Burke and myself (with permission from Lt. Fletcher) went to where the Taiwanese carved woodcarvings. I don't remember the name of the village but it took us all day to get there and back so we missed the party. The only thing that I really missed was the pin that everyone else received from the Chinese Army. After boarding The LST Westchester County we left for what we thought was going to be Hong Kong R&R, but instead we went around circles in the East China Sea in the middle of a very large Typhoon. I have many more memories of the island but they will remain only with me.
After arriving back at Okinawa we went back to our daily routines.
Not to long after we returned from Taiwan some of us moved up to an Air Force Microwave base more to the north of Okinawa called Deragawa. We thought we had died and gone to heaven. Two man rooms, built in lockers. I had never been anywhere in the Army without wall lockers and foot lockers. I roomed with my friend Darrell Arnold all the time I was there. My memories were of eating on china, drinking from china cups, and having the food delivered to us without standing in line. Did I say heaven, for the Army it was for sure. My last few months in the Army at Deragawa was the best I had spent in the Army. We had good Non Coms and Officers, and the duty was good for Army.
I am sure that I could go on for hours about different things that we did. Being in the Loudspeaker Section afforded us the opportunity to travel to various Asian Countries. I really enjoyed my time spent in Okinawa , and treasured the experience, especially the people I served with.
My only regrets is not keeping in touch with friends that were made while serving on the “Rock”
Source: Larry Bullington
While talking to the boys one day, I heard this story told:
About a place out in the sea, a tiny desert knoll.
Where man and beast strive thru each day, Existing nothing more;
A hotter place, (its just like Hell) You've never seen before.
"Well I've been here for 18 months, for 18 months I've fried;
While waiting for my E.T.S., A Thousand times I died.
Just sixty miles from end to end, This place they call "The Rock";
A wall of sea around you, Much worst than chain and lock.
Its many miles from anywhere, With nothing much to do;
I really feel for you my friend, I'm glad my tour is thru.
Its quite the place this hole of holes, this rock out in the sea;
And buddy boy I'm really glad, You've come to replace me.
Now you may think that all of this, is talk and nothing more;
You've had it made, you've had the things, That I once had before.
For you just come here from the state, You've glad for something new;
But when they finally send you home, You'll know the story's true.
Yes I've been here for months on end, Not knowing, caring less;
How GOD on HIGH could ever find, A use for such a mess,
But now you're here, and I can go, I catch the plane at noon.
It won't be long, till I'll be gone, But it won't be to soon.
And as he slowly walked away, He held his head high;
And as he stepped aboard the plane, He turned and waived good-by.
Well I've been here for three days now, And I have learned a lot;
And I know that, I'll be glad to leave THE ROCK!
James Lewis Brewer II
Sp4 USA B&VA PAC
EDITORS NOTE: I was contacted simultaneously by Russell Kucharski and Richard Hardy whose accounts follow. Both served at the same time in Korea but Russell served mainly in Seoul and VUNC-B at its first site near Panmunjom. Richard Hardy served at VUNC-A on Kanghwa-Do Island. Neither knew the other during their tours.
Snapshots by Russell can be seen in Main Menu item "B&VA/VUNC Korea"
MEETING RICHARD HARDY: First let me explain how Richard (Hardy) and I met. I am listed on several military web sites in hopes of finding VUNC personnel. Richard responded to my notice and even though we were in the 14th at the same time, I don't remember him. I guess this is because he was at VUNC-A and didn't get to Seoul much and being married I went right home after work. I didn't have to go to VUNC-A much in those days.
DUTIES: My MOS was Power Generator Specialist (351.3). I was in charge of 14 generators, but started in the Seoul motor pool by helping to repair vehicles and was later put in charge. . I worked with a PFC Lackey and one Korean mechanic. My proudest moment came when the microwave towers were being built at VUNC-A on Kanghwa-do Island. We conveyed all the supplies to the island and then had to go up this steep road to the top of a mountain. All my vehicles made it up and back down with no breakdowns.
I was also a temporary supply man and was sent to Ascom City to find a junk generator that was in good condition for the NCO club as a backup when the city power went out. I was also a dump truck driver hauling stone for the roads on the compound and I guess a landscaper because I had to spread the stone too. I also hauled empty 55 gallon drums from VUNC-A to Inchon using an Army tractor and an Air Force trailer that I got from Osan Air Base. The second time we hauled the barrels in deuce and a half trucks. Funny, I had 2 less barrels when I got to Inchon then when I started!
I was also the fire marshal for the compound and personnel hauler to and from Kimpo Air Base. I also had to pick up the locals that stayed over night and deliver them back to Etai Won. We had many, many different jobs to do in Seoul as we were down to 24 men and were supposed to have 48. I was even the taxi driver and used a 3/4 ton truck, after work to drive individuals where they wanted to go for 0.15 cents. This was sanctioned by the C.O.
In addition to the above, I also had to record programs sent by shortwave from Okinawa and had to log how many different frequencies came in. I'll say one thing, the Chinese sure knew what frequencies we were broadcasing. You could hear them tune in their jamming equipment. I guess this is why our unit decided to use Microwave for more secure communication. I also operated the radio station for 3 months at the old VUNC-B site near Panmunjom. We played music followed by a scripted play list for Korean and Chinese programs. We were off the air during day time. I also had to deliver the tapes to VUNC-B for the next weeks schedule. I liked this job because I could travel to VUNC-B. There was a bit of danger in these trips especially during and after heavy rains. We had to be on the look out for land mines that washed out on the roads.
VUNC-A: I did not get up to the Kanghwa-do Island site very often but it was a nice ride when I did, especially going across the bay on the military ferry, when it was there. Some times it was gone because the North Korean gunboats would come into the bay. I never knew Richard Hardy when I was there, although I probably saw him a few times.
I had to sign out for the 4 100 KW generators that supplied power for the broadcast station as well as the entire 226th ASA compound where VUNC personnel were housed. The generators were run and serviced by the Vinnell Corporation but belonged to VUNC. (A picture of generator building and Vinnell Sign can be seen in VUNC-A pics). The broadcast station had a 50 KW transmitter with directional antenna which made it the Cadillac of radio stations.
VUNC-B: The original VUNC-B site was located in the Panmunjom area. There were only 2 bridges to get acorss the Imjin River. We were located in between the two bridges. After crossing, it took 15 minutes to drive to the site. It was located across from CC3, a recreation area for the guys on the DMZ. The bridges had explosive charges and were to be blown if the North Koreans came. We were told we had 5 minutes to cross. We had one carbine for 3 guys, all PFC's. I once asked how we would get out if it took 15 minutes to drive. We were told they would send a helicopter to get us out. (Sure they would!)
We were in an area called the "spoonbill" because if you looked at a map, the river surrounded us, as well as Panmunjom. The two bridges across the Imjin were called Liberty and Freedom. I believe they are still called this today. The only Koreans allowed in the spoonbill were the ones with passes that worked there, like cooks, houseboys, and the ones at CC3. They were all bused in every day. There were no Koreans in the site at night except for an occasional floor show from Seoul.
Our station was just a hut, generator shed, antenna and 5 KW transmitter in a trailer parked along side the hut. We were on a side branch of the Imjin and once in a while you could see a small boat with lanterns come down the river, just before the firing would start. We had a lot of edgy guards. You could usually hear the machine gun fire at night. The radio station made so much interference it came in over the telephones and every speaker for radios, movie theater, etc. Many a drunk GI threatened to wipe us off the air. One time an armored personnel carrier plowed through our little front gate.
I was at the site for 3 months in the early part of my tour, but the site was shut down in Fall of 1961 and all equipment was moved to Seoul. When you (Tim Yoho) came, you were part of the process to locate a new site which was then set up in the Chorwon Valley. There were no other American personnel in that part of Korea except for the ASA compound where you stayed. North Korea was to the front and left of you with mine fields and wild boars setting off some of those mines at night.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: I have a really good memory of my time in Korea because it was a high point of my life and I loved it there. I would take a truck and just drive around to find out where a road went. I saw a lot of the country this way and found it to be very beautiful. I actually took steps to stay when my tour was up and worked out a deal with Vinnell Corp to supervise a site, but then the North began getting too active and I got nervous for my family and just wanted to get them out of there.
I hope others like the pictures I submitted because they are in my head for life. I went back to Korea in 1986 and found it to be a mad house. Twelve million people lived in Seoul alone. When I was there in the 60's there were about a million. If the North ever starts a war, there would be 1 to 2 million dead because the entire city is now composed of sky scrapers.
Source: Russell Kucharski
Some Photos by Richard can be found in Menu Item "Kangwado Island"
My first duty in Korea was with the 44th Engineers (1959-1960) in Waegwan. In my second tour I was first stationed (July & August) at a Signal Group transmitter site on Okinawa in 1962 but can't remember the name or specific location. I then transferred to USA B&VA Korea Det. VUNC-A on Kanghwa Island. I was NCOIC in part of 1962-1963. My MOS was 272.1 Radio Transmitter Repairman but like many of the personnel had many other duties including running the radio station.
I think my time at VUNC-A was pretty normal with not much happening except the daily activities of running the station. There is one experience I do remember concerning the generators in the ASA (226th) compound. We supplied the generators for use by the ASA and to power our station that was located a distance away from the compound. Once during the winter we could not get our fuel for the generators across the river because the ice was too thick. We had to take the 55 gal drums of fuel oil up the mountain above the fuel tanks for the generators and feed it into a 2 inch hose down the hill to supply them the fuel. It was freezing cold and the hose would keep freezing so we had to go up and down the hill squeezing the hose to keep it flowing. Other than this incident, I had a nice time in Korea. I would love to go back just to see the changes. I don't know anything about VUNC-B at Panmunjom or Chorwon since I was never at either location.
Source: Richard Hardy
A few snapshots by Bob can be seen in Main Menu Item "B&VA/VUNC"
NOTE: Bob Richards served as Company and Mail Clerk in the KD of B&VA from Jan 1960 to Feb 1961. Bob said he was undergoing OJT at Ft. Bragg Hq & Hq Company of the 1st RB&L (Radio Broadcasting & Loudspeaker) Battalion when he received orders assigning him to the 107th RB&L Battalion in Korea. He was first sent to AFKN (Armed Forces Korea Network) who had not heard of the RB&L. When he finally arrived at his new home he was told the name had been changed to B&VA, VUNC Radio.
I had not been in Korea too long before this incident happened and it was a little scary. I was the Company Clerk with the Korea Detachment, U.S. Army Broadcasting and Visual Activity, APO 301, VUNC Radio.
One afternoon in April 1960, we received a phone call from Paul Carolan from the downtown office. Paul said something was going on and could hear gunfire all over the city and that he and the others were laying on floor and under desk afraid to look out the windows. We could hear the gun fire when First Sgt. Grizznick held the phone out. They were instructed to stay in building and away from windows until we found out what was going on. Needless to say, the others and myself were about to get nervous. I thought, “I have been here since January and now they have decided to start an incident”.
The First Sgt. received word to lock down the compound, no one in or out. (Silly, because we had a wire fence around the compound that was not going to stop anyone that wanted in). My post in this type of emergency was to guard the front gate, they gave me an empty .30 Carbine, no rounds on my person. BUT, made sure I had a full canteen of water. Water was only a few steps away in an lister bag. But as the first day wore on we could hear gun shots in the villages around the compound and became more nervous. Finally word reached us that the rioters had send word that no US Troops would be harmed and for all troops to stay in their compounds, this was a matter between the people and Syngman Rhee.
This lock down continued for about 17 days, more or less. Then about the 2 nd or 3 rd day several men dressed in civilian clothes arrived and took over the Orderly Room, they were GS 17 rank and I was told that this was a very high rank. The two that I remember was a Mr. Ed Masters and a Mr. Judson and others. They begin to write reports and were on phones all day, do not know who they were talking to. Then late in the afternoon, Mr Masters would give me several hand written notes, I had to type a master copy and give back to him to re-read and make changes. Then he would give me the copy back and wanted 6 copies of each page. This was the days of putting carbons between the pages, make one error and had to take out error on all six pages, and I typed so fast that I made lots of errors because of fatigue, I typed until about ll pm and started out again the next day after doing morning reports.
Finally, after several days and nights I figured out a way to get out of compound. I got a clip board put papers on it and a Secret cover sheet, got a driver and we went down to the Yonsan Compound and I held up the clip board to MP, he waved up in. We went to the EM club to eat and relax. Went back and found out the Supply Clerk Bland was typing the reports, hunt and peck, he about went berserk at me because I had disappeared !!
The rumor came down that the US had flown Syngman Rhee and wife out of Korea to Hawaii and the Rhee had taken the Gold Bullion from the Treasury with him. The Students were very angry with the US . I then was called to the Com Center to deliver a Message from President Eisenhower to some high up official up in the mountains north of Seoul, Bland drove me up there in a Jeep and we came to a fort looking compound with guards at gate, an ROK Officer came out and saluted and took the message after signing for it.
Things calmed down after awhile, the DACs finally left things went back to normal. I have read some “official” reports of this time frame on internet, and they do not resemble what I have just written.
Source: Bob Richards
I enlisted in the Army in June of 1962 and served until June of 1965 achieving the rank of Sp4. I served at Fort Knox, Fort Chaffee, Okinawa, Korea and Fort Sam Houston.
In the Spring of 1963, I traveled from Oakland Army Terminal to Okinawa aboard the USS General JC Breckenridge. I spent three days in the Brig on bread and water for throwing a cigarette overboard. I must have boarded the ship soon after your arrival for its return trip to Okinawa. (After reading my (Tim Yoho) account of the same ship, I think Glenn topped my experience aboard that Hell Ship)
I served with the 14th in the Machinato Service area (HQ Company) until the Fall of 1964. My MOS was 814.10 - Illustrator. I worked with a Lt. Gooch on leaflets, page layouts and anything of a print nature, including VERITAS. We had two local Okinawan artists working in our section, a Mr. Huehura and a Mr. Nagasone (Phonetic spelling).
While on Okinawa, I made two TDY trips to Seoul and the VUNC. The only other name I can remember from that time was Sp5 (I think) Carlos Alphonso Cheriboga (spelling?).
I can remember sitting in the rafters of an empty warehouse dropping various sizes and weights of paper to study leaflet drop times and distribution patterns.
Other memories include arguing the value of capitalism vs communism with the Okinawan artists in our section. I beleve Okinawa had a large communist party at the time.
My off duty time was spent for the most part at the EM Club. We had a small group of guys who liked to play board games like Tactics II and Risk.
We trained with the M14. It was brand new out of the box. I also remember that we went on a number of 20 mile hikes with combat gear. In the summer of 1964 the powers that be decided that the company was going Airborne. They added "Advisory and Support, Airborne" to the company designation. I was given the option of taking the training or transferring. So, I took jump school and one of my proudest possessions is a graduation certificate from the 173rd Airborne Brigade signed by General Williamson.
Currently I am employed as a Programmer/Analyst. My beautiful wife Sandy and I have just celebrated our 38th year together. We have tow great kids and two beautiful granddaughters.
Thanks again for bringing back some memories and a time that I had not thought about in ages.
Source: Glenn Kump
See Jack's Photo's at "B&VA/VUNC Korea"
After 7 months at Fort Bragg at the 4th Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Bn. I managed to bribe a personnel sgt. to get me shipped out to KD. I was a draftee, Pfc. 703 (Broadcast Specialist) and arrived at KD in the fall of 1960. I worked with a wonderful bunch of Korean nationals, most of them announcers and writers and developed some good friendships with them as well as many of the GIs in the unit. Ed Masters was the DOD civilian and was later replaced by another civilian, Lynne Morrow. The CO was Col. Jody Stewart and the company dog was named "Greyboy". The supply sgt. was Sfc. Mikuchonis and Sfc. Charles Baxtresser was a part of our section.
My scheduled departure from Korea and discharge was delayed by the 'Berlin Crisis', when the wall went up and the tour was extended by three months. I didn't mind because I was truly enjoying it and hesitant to get back to the business of 'real life' where getting serious about career and responsibility was waiting for me.
I left Korea in April of 1962 as a Sp/4 and mustered out of the army at the Presidio of San Francisco.
My time in Korea allowed me to see much of the country with regular visits to Panmunjom as well as every nook and cranny of Seoul. During subsequent visits to Korea I've been able to see much progress there. My last visit was during the 1988 Olympics.
I'm still in touch with just a couple of the guys as well as Bogie Kim who was the senior KN civilian at KD.
Source: Jack Kellner (Deceased 2012)
By Chris Battis
Editor's Note: Chris Battis was a member of the Korea Detachment from 1961-63. Although I don't remember Chris, our paths most likely crossed during my TDY to Korea from April to June 1962.
I enlisted in 1960 and after basic at Fort Dix, went through the enlisted intelligence analyst (then called "Order of Battle Analyst") course at Ft Holabird, then completed the PsyWar Basic course at Ft Bragg. From there I shipped out for Korea, by way of a miserably uncomfortable three-week ocean voyage on the USS General Gaffney. I had placed high in my class and requested an overseas assignment, for anything seemed preferable to remaining on Smoke Bomb Hill and spending the rest of my enlistment policing up pine cones and painting rocks white.
I was assigned to 8th Army Hq G-2 in Seoul, which was an unhappy arrangement from the start, since I was already something of a chronic malcontent and was rapidly becoming a pain in the ass to my superiors. A bottom-of-the-foodchain PFC with an attitude was not a good fit in a building full of field grade officers and I sensed that unless I found a way out I would soon be freezing my butt up on the Imjin River with the 1st Cav.
My savior appeared one day during a trip to the px in the form of SFC Valentin Pavlov, a native Russian-speaking Broadcast Specialist who had been one of my instructors at Bragg and was now NCOIC of the KD broadcast studios. To make a long story short, Sgt Pavlov very adeptly pulled some strings and within two or three weeks I had orders cut reassigning me to B&VA, Korea Det, just across the MSR from my old home at EUSA HQ.
KD was already up to strength in my primary MOS, 962, but had a vacancy for a writer in their Visual Section, where they produced "Friends of Freedom", a monthly Korean-language magazine. The writing was routine feel-good pieces about Korean culture, US forces and non-profits like Save the Children. In those days the US troops were viewed by the Koreans as heros and saviours, so it wasn't an especially difficult selling job.
Our section operated under the supervision of an essentially worthless GS-11 who shall remain unnamed, an NCOIC and a fairly colorful succession of poets, slackers and even a few actual journalists. We had a staff photographer, the very able Mr Ahn, and a few KATUSA (Korean Army Something US Army) enlisted men who'd go out on assignments with us and interpret.
The mysterious status of KD/VUNC and the class-conciousness of Korean culture worked wonderfully our advantage; I almost never wore rank insignia when out on assignment, just a nametag, Torii patch and "US" collar brass. This was a great help when interviewing ROK officers and US diplomatic types and certainly added to my feelings of uniqueness.
I don't think anyone outside our compound knew who or what we were, or where we fit in the chain of command, so we were generally left alone. I recall driving a KD jeep in downtown Seoul with my girlfriend in the passenger seat (very bad idea) and encountering a jeepload of MP's--they gave me the hairy eyeball for just a moment and then saluted as they passed by.
Speaking of MP's, KD was located right on the edge of Itae-won, which was off-limits, and our front gate was manned by ROK soldiers with submachine guns. One day at morning formation and in full view of the entire unit, we watched Eddie J., one of the det's few real bad boys, doing an olympic sprint toward the front gate with an MP jeep hot on his tail. The gate guard stepped out from behind the barrier with his weapon pointed at the MP's. Whatever it was the guard said to them, it was enough to make them turn around and drive off, as the bad boy stood on the other side of the barrier, shouting obscentities.
I could write MANY more anecdotes about KD and how we operated outside the laws of gravity. Our CO, Lt Col Creselius, was a gentleman of the old school and seemed content to let his EM do their thing as long as the mission was carried out and there wasn't any negative attention directed at him from above. We were truly sorry when he left, but I doubt that field grade officers had the option of declining an assignment and extending to stay at KD, as so many of the EM did.
My sweet assignment at KD changed for the worse right after I'd extended for the second time. We got in a new XO, an airborne infantry Citadel grad who saw it as his personal duty to make us into real soldiers. Before he appeared on the scene, a number us who had girlfriends and apartments out in the "ville" would show up at the compound in time for morning formation and go to our jobs, not enirely unlike the real world. Suddenly everything changed and it was Ft Bragg all over again, with PT, uphill runs, inspections and, needless to say, no laissez-faire overnight pass policy. By this time I'd pretty well convinced myself that I was a civilian journalist who only wore a uniform as a favor to the Army, so I spent my last six months at KD simmering with anger at the injustice of it all.
Things gradually went downhill for me during those last few months: I married my Korean girlfriend without bothering to get the Army's permission and lost a stripe AND my proficiency pay in an Article 15. Instead of being one of the stars of the Visual Section, in the new CO's eyes I was a troublemaker, a bad boy without the proper Respect for Authority. I was told they were going to TDY me to the Vietnam Det for the last 90 days of my enlistment, but it never came to pass and in the end I said a few goodbyes and headed for Ascom City for another long ride on a troopship, back to the Land of the Big PX.
Source: Chirs Battis
Editor's Note: The following is an e-mail from Russell Kucharski to Tom Pry both of whom served in the Korea Datachments but at different times. Tom's tour was earlier (58-59) while Russell served from 61-63. Both Tom and Russell have other accounts on this page.
I really enjoyed your story about Blackie. It refreshed my memory of a few things. With your permission I'd like to tell you my story and how things changed and not changed at VUNC.
I was at Fort Carson, Co. when I got my orders to go to B&VA Pac Okinawa. I took a 30 day leave, my last one ever, and went home. While home I got a change of orders sending me to Korea Det. I went to the local
recruiter to see what this unit was and he had no idea. I was a school trained generator man. When I got
to Oakland they put up the shipping schedule. I was listed on a ship going to Okinawa. I told them I had a
change of orders so they told me to sit tight. This kept me off extra duty because my name was on a ship
so it was listed as shipped and not on any duty roasters.
They flew me to Korea which I thought was great. No 30 day ship ride. I was at Travis early as they bused us there. There was a plane leaving for Korea 4 hours before mine. Same type Mats plane. It was delayed about an hour for engine trouble. It finally left headed for Hawaii. We finally left 3 hours later. From Travis to Hawaii we got sliced
Pineapple as a snack. When we got to Hawaii we were restricted to the airport and could not leave. The
plane that left before us was there and it was delayed with engine trouble. It finally left and then it was
our turn. We had some pineapple juice as a snack to Wake Island. When we got there they pointed out the
attractions, the rusted Japanese ship that tried to sink the island in World War II. At least that is what
they said. We finally left Wake ahead of the plane in front of us because it was delayed with engine
trouble. I don't know if it ever made it. Meanwhile they gave us chunked pineapple for a snack. I don't
think I have eaten pineapple since then.
I got to Kashiney Barracks in Japan. This is where all transient passengers were sent. You could not
leave the post because your flight could be scheduled at any time. So unlike you guys, we never met the
locals. When we left, we too took a Crashmaster to Korea. That is what we called them in 1961 because
they had a good record of doing just that. In fact a few months later one went down on it's way to Okinawa
with all aboard lost. I should tell you that I was at VUNC from May 1961 until Sept 1963.
You mentioned the unisex bathroom. The Koreans had the same setup in all there clubs and restaurants downtown.
We got to Kimpo air base and saw the same shot up terminal. Maybe this was to show you that you were in
a war zone, even if the shooting had stopped somewhat. I say somewhat because while I was there many boys
lost their lives on the DMZ. From Kimpo we went to Ascom City (YOU GOT THE NAME RIGHT). It was evening and all the girls were standing out side in their sleepwear. Of course once again we were confined to
the base because we could ship at any moment. The next day we had formation. Our formation was next to a ROK
formation where their new recruits were being assigned. I saw an officer just slapping the crap out
of one recruit.
They shipped me and another guy that was going to VUNC, up to 8th Army section. His name
was Roy Rogers,but not the cowboy. He was the new company clerk. We got picked up from 8th Army by a
Vunc jeep. I stayed in Seoul about 2 days, seeing as how they had 2 generator men who were leaving in 4
months. They sent me to VUNC B on the DMZ in the first Cav area, down the road from Panmunja. There were 3
PFC's. We slept in the building with the messhall personnel so we made a few raids to the messhall in
the middle of the night. There were no passes or anything to resemble the military accept for the
shooting at night. We stayed in what they called Recreation Center #3. We had no vehicle so we had to
take the bus everywhere. We only had 1 carbine and 1 clip of ammo for 3 guys. They said they would send a
copter for us if hostilities broke out. Sure they would.
It was a real party up there. You worked your shift and you were off. We got some coolers once from
the messhall and some ice and pooled our money and said we would keep it full of beer the whole month. It
lasted 3 days and the money and beer were gone. After 3 months they sent me back to Seoul, against my
wishes. A few months later they tore down that site and moved it to the DMZ in the middle of the country.
Operating the station was different in our days. Everything was on tape or picked up for retransmission
from Seoul. We had a schedule of what to play when. It was a 1 man job as well as Seoul. Only 1 man was
The 8th Army Stockade was no longer across from the MSR. Only the ville was there. Of course it was
off limits. At this time the officers had their own latrine so they did not have to come out in the cold
and use the brick building. There no longer was anything from our unit downtown. Everything was right
on base except for printing the magazines. I don't know where they did that but we had to deliver them.
It was a laid back time and the only time we went military is when we got a XO who was airborne ranger.
Then we got the PT, including running up the hill to the NCO club, bedchecks, formations, etc. This only
lasted about 4 months then I can't remember if he transferred out or what. But soon all resemblance of
the military disappeared. It's like you said, you were expected to do a job and if you did it, fine.
I can remember one time we were in the barracks drinking beer and playing cards when the exec officer walked
in. Well what could we do. I asked him if he wanted a beer and he said no thanks, he was trying to walk off
an overhang already. Rank was still the same. Not much going around. Once to Okinawa, then to Japan, then to
Korea. I got my E5 because it was my turn. I would have left before it was our turn for an E5. But then
some guy on Okinawa got busted, bless his soul. This meant free transport for the family to the states.
The only other things are that they changed Korea to a 13 month tour of duty. With my extensions I was
there 27 months. As for dummy, he worked in supply when I got there and left. You know they had manditory
military service, but if you couldn't talk or hear you didn't have to go. Well the supply clerk used to tell
us how they would drop something in back of him that made a loud noise and watch him jump.
Source: Russell Kucharski
My name is John Toothaker. I was assigned from Ft Bragg to Hq Company USAB&VAPAC in December, 1963. I remained there until May, 1965. After 26 days on a troop carrier ship, I arrived in Naha as a Pfc and left Okinawa 18 months later as a Sp5. My MOS was Crypto Equipment Repairman. I was responsible for the operation of the Com Center. I reported directly to Sgt Griffith and Lt. Lamb.
This time period included the Bay of Tonkin incident which launched the official War in Viet Nam. Field reports came through our com center and were forwarded to Ninth Coupe Headquarters in Kadena. B&VA was heavily involved in Viet Nam before and after Bay of Tonkin. Jerry Stringer (Stinger?), who you list on your site, served in Saigon and shuttled between our compound and the British Embassy. At that time, all in-country personnel were considered civilians. Some stayed at the Brinks Hotel, which was bombed during one of Bob Hope's trip.
We had a broadcast station outside of Hue, where we braodcast into North Viet Nam. In addition, we had 3/4 ton vehicles outfitted with recording and amplification equipment including rooftop speakers for local information dissemination. Our printing and leaflet drop operations covered most of the country and responded to constantly changing political and military changes.
Weekly Test of Emergency Broadcast System from Communication Center (BC-610 Transmitter? )
PT Testing North of Communication Compound. Note B&VA Sign David Langdon with Camera, 2nd from left on bars is Eddy Spencer
Ray McCoy On Horse at Ishikawa (Horses Could be ridden anywhere for $25/hr )
Source: John Toothaker