Chilling account of violence at JSA By Stan Suit
I was stationed at PanMunJom, Korea from Dec '69 to Feb '71 as a Security Guard. I authored the web site dedicated to veterans of JSA-PanMunJom which receives thousands of visitors, many of whom contribute pictures and stories about their tour of duty there. The pictures of the hand to hand fighting are authentic and tell the story of how dangerous the truce village can become.The incidents depicted in these pictures centered around a time of particular tension and violence resulting in the injury of several JSA guards, including myself. I was scheduled off duty at PanMunJom when I heard the sound of yelling coming from the center of the truce village. I looked out of a window and saw that two of our guards were being attacked by 3 North Korean guards, including an officer. I shouted to the other off-duty guards that a fight was in progress and ran to the melee, directly confronting the NK officer. I tried to get him to stop his men, but he punched me directly in the face. I hit him in return, and by then the other American guards arrived on the scene. One American came to my aid (Michael Bashore) and hit the NK officer so hard that it broke his own wrist, and sent the NK officer to the ground. The last I saw of him he was crawling away to safety. By now more NK guards and Americans were involved and our own officer, Lt. James was in the center of it all. He ordered us to back off to the headquarters office, but by now all was in chaos. I and another American were separated from the rest, and barely made it to the back door of the HQ which was fortunately left unlocked. We made it inside as NK guards chased us in. Once inside the building, we turned over a table and got behind it for protection as the NK guards were throwing large rocks and construction materials at us through a window. I don't remember the other American's name, but I do remember it was his first day on duty at PanMunJom! What a way to break in a new troop! The hardest part was maintaining the situation after the violence subsided. NK guards began throwing construction materials and rocks at us again from what we called the NK "Ice Cream Parlor". After several minutes of this, our officer ordered a group of us to attack them, which we did. As we charged up the hill to the NK guard post, two NK guards ran out of the back brandishing AK47 rifles. As we got almost to one of them he swung his AK around and planted his feet firmly in the ground. Since automatic weopons were not allowed in the area, this caught us totally by surprise. As he stood there pointing the gun at us, we made a hasty retreat back down the hill to our headquarters building. Miracously, not a shot was ever fired in spite of the fact all of us were armed with 45 cal pistols, and the NK with their pistols and AKs. One of our guards (PFC Vinderslev) was almost killed during the fighting when some NK guards dragged him off between two UN buildings and beat him with a shovel, and tried to decapitate him with it. A Swiss or Swedish officer saw what was happening and dragged him into a UN building to safety and thereby saving his life. While my nose was bloodied, the doctor said it wasn't broken. Several Americans received the Purple Heart for their injuries and PFC Vindersleve was sent back to the US. The hardest thing of all was returning to duty facing these same NK guards with whom you were fighting and trying to maintain security.
"In Front of Them All"
Stan Suit,Security Guard Dec '69-Feb '71