Fire and Fury

My Tiger Airlines flight landed at Osan Airbase, South Korea at the beginning of February 1972.  Previously known as Flying Tiger Airlines (FTA) they were a favored acronym of Soldiers leaving their 13 month tours and heading home.  From there, I was bussed to the ASCOM replacement depot.  Interestingly, I arrived there about the same time as a couple of plane loads of Soldiers diverted from Vietnam and arriving in February wearing jungle fatigues.  I was there for a couple of days before some Soldiers from my new unit picked me up in an M151A1 quarter ton (jeep) for the ride back to Camp Red Cloud located in Uijeongbu (wee-jon-boo). Uijeongbu is just north of Seoul and sits in the Uijeongbu Corridor, a traditional invasion route from the north.

I was assigned to Headquarters I Corps (ROK/US) Group located at Camp Red Cloud.  Camp Red Cloud is named for Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for gallantry in action against the Chinese.   Camp Red Cloud is the current headquarters for the 2nd Infantry Division.

Kim Il Sung, the first leader and eternal president was the Soviet trained communist leader up north.  He was the leader that in 1950 invaded South Korea with the aim of unifying Korea under his communist leadership.  Had he not been bailed out by the Chinese Red Army, there would likely be no North Korea today.  Kim the elder was as vicious as they come as was his son Kim Jung Il, but neither were as dangerous to the world as is his nuclear armed megalomaniacal psychopathic grandson Kim Jung Un who has murdered members of his family.

In 1968, Kim’s navy captured the USS Pueblo a surveillance ship that was in international waters off the coast of Korea.  In the end, America admitted guilt in order to get the crew released.  Also in 1968, the north sent a commando team south that nearly pulled off an attack and assassination attempt at the Blue House (Korean version of the White House).  The attempt failed and all of the attackers except the one who made it back north, one that was captured, and a couple unaccounted for were killed. Four Americans also died hunting down those trying to escape.  Again in 1969, they shot down a US Navy EC-121 that was flying in international airspace with the loss of the 31 member crew.  There was no retaliation.

In 1976, I was in my second tour to Korea assigned to the 142nd Military Police Company located at US Army Garrison Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea.  One of my additional duties was as a member of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF).  In the event of hostilities, our mission was to make our way via an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) and M151A1 Gun Jeeps to the residence of the US Ambassador and return him to Yongsan.  We all joked about operation “Hot Apple.”  We knew that if the balloon went up nothing much would be able to move through the jam packed and panicked streets of Seoul.  However Kim the elder gave us cause to do needed route recon, develop alternate routes, and make multiple rehearsals minus the APC starting August 18, 1976.  On that date, two American Army Officers, Captain Arthur Bonifas and First Lieutenant Mark Barrett were murdered by North Koreans while leading a work crew to trim a tree inside the Joint Security Area (JSA) that impaired the view of an observation post.  Three days later an overwhelming force of US and South Korean Armies entered the JSA unannounced and cut down the tree.

Those were just three incidents of the type that make the world news.  If you care to look, there are a multitude of them from the 1950s right up to the present day.  The Kim clan is brutal to its people with evidence of hundreds of thousands held in concentration and forced labor camps.  They have but one aim, reunification of the Korean Peninsula under a Kim dictatorship.  In the past, their provocations were used as negotiating tools to get such things as fuel oil and food and even nuclear reactors.  Whatever they gained was diverted to feed and supply the military while the rest of the population in the countryside starved.  The previous three US administrations kicked this can down the road until it arrived at its current state.

I have extended family in South Korea, many of them in Seoul and Uijeongbu the cities most likely to feel the full brunt of any North Korean attack.  The landscapes of both of these population centers are dotted with many high rise apartment building complexes.  Seoul has a population of 20 million plus and is still growing.  It is in within artillery, rocket and scud range of the north.  For that reason, Kim is convinced we will do nothing.  China does not want a war because they would receive the refugees and they do not revel in the idea of a free Korea and US ally on their border.  So where does that leave our President?  Does he continue to kick the can or to the horrors of establishment Washington who are generally war hawks and the media who are generally the media declare unequivocally that if we or our allies are attacked by North Korea, “they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before?”  Sounds a little like Harry Truman when he warned the Japanese that, “They may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the likes of which has never been seen on this earth.”

Here is what everyone must understand.  From 1948 to the present day the people of North Korea have lived under the brutal and murderous dictatorship of the Kim clan.  The Kims consider themselves godlike and demand worship from the population.  As they have proven, no manner of negotiation, capitulation or appeasement will convince them to change or give up their nuclear weapons.  China has the leverage, but has proven in the past they are not willing to use it.  More concerning is that if North Korea has miniaturized nuclear warheads and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) technology and capability so does Iran.  And if the North has miniaturized nukes so does any terrorist organization like ISIS that has squirreled away billions in oil money, or even the Iranians who were bankrolled by the previous administration with $400 million in cash and $1.3 billion in interest.

© 2017 J. D. Pendry

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