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Thu May 26, 2022, 11:07 AM

Everyone is invited to the DMZ Circa 1970 [View all]

Last edited Sat Jun 11, 2022, 06:50 AM - Edit history (1)

First, a foundation

Our Company was all about command communications, radio, telephone, teletype, and satchel. My squad, which you will see repetitious photos of, among other things ran a courier service to Panmunjom daily and I was in charge of the Brigade switchboard and operators. The photos are not what one might expect from the DMZ. Photography was forbidden on the fence, so there would have been none of that anyway. (I did nab a couple of outpost photos)

Life only 17 years after cessation of hostilities was better than combat living conditions (we were paid hostile fire pay, same as my brothers that were dying in VN, $80/month as I remember). Barracks were single story fiberglass coated plywood with diesel space heaters, one big room with 100 bunk beds. We were allowed to wear civilian clothes ONLY after going south of the river, never in the DMZ. All dirt roads right up to the end of my tour when units rotated south of the river. I experienced 100 F and no wind during the summer, and -65 F wind chill during the winter (we had inflatable ‘mickey mouse” boots and warm parkas). When it was that cold, everyone relaxed because you knew NK diesels would not start either. You will notice in the barracks we each had a cabinet stuffed with as much personal items as it would hold. We never had “inspections”, really relaxed for grunt life. I guess being sacrificial had its benefits, had hostilities happened, the bridge would be blown and we would hang on as long as possible.

I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent cleaning and restoring these 52-year-old negatives and slides. A few at the end I left “as is” because it definitely fit the mood, BURNED OUT. I wasn’t sure what to expect emotionally with the project, a few tears and more than a few laughs for sure. Photographically, these are not the photos I would take today. This was my first SLR, with a barely 20-year-old brain, but I can see glimmers of composition forming. Today I would spend much more time south of the river photographing a very beautiful country and wonderful people.

I co-opted a sign photo to separate the sections, Bob Hope, JSA/Panmunjom, Freedom Bridge and south to Seoul, around the Company area, some fun stuff, switchboard, portraits (notice original minefields sign), and finally, what it was like after 12 months.

Enjoy would not be the correct term, but I hope you find it at least interesting. It is exactly like being there, except completely different. My final thought at completion was, “I can’t believe this actually happened”


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