DMZ Flashpoints: The 1983 Hijacking of CAAC Flight 296 to Camp Page

Introduction

There has been some strange incidents over the years involving the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), but one of the weirdest was when a hijacked Chinese airliner crossed over the DMZ on May 5, 1983 and landed at the US Army base Camp Page.  This was the first successful hijacking of a Chinese plane that ultimately ended up leading to the thawing of relations between South Korea and China.


Example of a CAAC Trident Jet that was hijacked. 

The Hijacking

The hijacked plane was a British made Trident jet that was part of China’s state owned airline called the Civilian Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).  The plane CAAC Flight 296 was making a routine domestic flight between Shenyang in northeast China and Shanghai with 96 passengers and 9 crew members on board when it was seized by 6 hijackers.  The hijackers were composed of five men and one woman who were armed with pistols and led by a man named An Weijian.  They used their weapons to blast open the door to the cockpit where during a skirmish for control of the plane a total of eight shots were fired wounding two crew members in the legs.  After successfully taking control of the aircraft the Chinese hijackers demanded to be flown to Taiwan where they hoped to defect.

Possibly fearing retribution from the Chinese government if he complied with the hijackers demands, the pilot did not fly the plane towards Taiwan, the pilot instead flew the plane towards Pyongyang.  1983 was during the Cold War when tensions were high and the pilot deciding to fly the airliner into North Korean airspace was a risky move.  He had no way of knowing how the North Koreans would react to an unannounced aircraft suddenly flying over their country.

The North Koreans initially reacted by monitoring the aircraft by radar.  However, since they were informed that it was a Chinese civilian airliner they took a wait and see approach with the aircraft.  The North Korea ground controllers may have even been working in concert with the pilot to dupe the hijackers since the North Korean Air Force did not dispatch any planes to intercept the airliner.  As the airliner approached Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport one of the hijackers noticed a big picture of North Korea’s leader, Kim Il-sung which tipped them off that they were being fooled by the pilot.  The hijackers forced the plane to divert the landing and instead head to South Korea.

After the aborted landing this is when the people on the airliner got very lucky.  It is likely that the North Korean government would want to stop this airliner from crossing the DMZ and entering South Korea.  However, the North Korean air defense authorities could not get a hold of the Kim Il-sung to authorize the shoot down of the aircraft.

Then, one of the hijackers detected something amiss when he saw a North Korean sign _ a big portrait of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the North and its then leader _ as the plane was approaching Pyongyang airport. The hijackers threatened the pilot at gunpoint, forcing him to abort the landing and head to the South. It landed at U.S. Camp Page in Chunchun, in the South’s Gangwon Province. Now, it took about 20 minutes for the the British-made HS121Trident aircraft to fly from Pyongyang to Chunchon with the North Korean air defense all but paralyzed.

The North Korean air defense commander was reprimanded for his failure to respond according to the manual for such an emergency. But he was spared from a firing squad because he tried without success to locate Kim Il-sung to gain his clearance to go after the aircraft as the regulations stipulated. Kim was out of touch and nobody except for him could make a decision about such a situation.  [Korea Times]

Due to the command paralyzation in North Korea, the Chinese airliner was able to safely cross the DMZ where it landed at the US military base of Camp Page outside the city of Chuncheon:

Hijackers Give Themselves Up at Camp Page

After the plane crossed over the DMZ it was intercepted by ROK Air Force fighter jets.  The pilot moved his wing left to right which is a signal of defection.  The ROK fighters escorted the plane towards the military airfield at Camp Page.  Once the plane landed at Camp Page negotiations with ROK authorities began with the hijackers to release the crew and passengers.  The hijackers eventually agreed to release the hostages where the two wounded crewmen were immediately taken to a hospital in Seoul for medical attention.  The remaining crew and passengers were put up at a luxury hotel in eastern Seoul.  Shortly after releasing the hostages the hijackers were taken into custody by ROK authorities without incident after requesting political asylum in Taiwan.  The Taiwanese government responded by saying they welcome “anyone aboard who desires to come to our home country.”

After taking the ROK authorities took the hijackers into custody, the Chinese government demanded the plane, passengers, and hijackers all be returned to China.  This is where things were tricky because at the time time South Korea and China did not have official diplomatic relations due to its decades long animosity of Chinese support to North Korea during the Korean War.  South Korea responded to the Chinese demands by saying they would respect the “spirit” of the 1970 Convention of the Hague which outlawed skyjackings without saying what they would do with the six hijackers.

Negotiations

Two days after the hijacking a 33 person Chinese delegation arrived in Seoul led by the CAAC Director Shen Tu. Through negotiations the Chinese and the ROK agreed to the return of the plane, its crew, and all Chinese passengers back to China.  The hijackers however would be subject to Korean law.  At the time it was a good compromise to resolve the dispute.  While negotiations were going on the passengers were warmly received by the Koreans.  During their time in South Korea the Chinese passengers were put on a sightseeing tour, received lavish meals, gifts, and entertainment.  The overall bill came up to over $28,000.  The three Japanese passengers on the plane however did not get to enjoy the lavish treatment, there were immediately returned to Japan the day after the hijacking.

Five days after the incident on May 10, 1983 all the passengers and crew were returned to South Korea and two weeks after the incident the Trident plane was returned as well:

A Chinese passenger plane hijacked to South Korea two weeks ago left for home Wednesday, ending an incident that led to the first official contact between China and South Korea.

The British-made Trident jetliner of China’s state airline, CAAC, left Seoul’s Kimpo International Airport at 10 a.m. with 13 people aboard.

Among the passengers was a radio operator who was one of two crew members wounded May 5 when five men and a woman armed with two pistols hijacked the plane to South Korea in the first hijacking of a jetliner out of China.

The plane’s 96 passengers and eight other crew members returned home May 10.  [UPI]

The crew and passengers when they arrived in China were greeted with the same type of welcome they received in South Korea.  Approximately two hundred weeping well wishers were present for their arrival and presented them with flowers.  They then met with politicians and then attended a reception to welcome them back to China.

Punishment

The return of the plane and passengers officially ended the dispute between the ROK and China, however the South Koreans still needed to prosecute the six hijackers they held in custody.  The hijackers received incredibly light sentences by receiving less than a year in jail before being resettled in Taiwan to a heroes welcome:

In 1983, six Chinese hijacked a plane to South Korea. They were imprisoned for less than a year and resettled in Taiwan, where they received heroes’ welcomes.  [Deseret News]

The punishment for the hijackers is probably what bothers me the most about this story.  They hijacked a plane, put the lives of the 96 passengers at risk, and shot two crew members, but their punishment was receiving less than a year in jail.  The political situation should have been put aside at the time and these hijackers should have been harshly dealt with to prevent future hijackings.

Conclusion

The aftermath of the CAAC Flight 296 hijacking did have some important ramifications.  First of all is that the hijacking showed how initiative within the North Korean military is held back because of the centralized control of the regime.  This incident also proved how North Korea did not have an adequate system in place to contact the top leadership in case of an emergency.  I would not be surprised if initiative in the North Korean military even today is still stifled because of the extreme controls the Kim regime needs to keep in place to control the country.  However, with the modern technology available today it is likely that the North Koreans have quicker access to its top leadership to make decisions if needed.

This hijacking also became a turning point for ROK and Chinese relations.  After the hijacking the two countries who had long been suspicious of each other, began a series of exchanges in sports, industry, and international conference attendance.  These positives events eventually led to South Korea severing relations with Taiwan in 1992 and officially establishing diplomatic ties with China on August 24, 1992.  Since then China has gone on to become South Korea’s #1 trade partner.  It is interesting to think that modern Chinese relations with South Korea began with a botched hijacking.

GI Flashbacks: 1973 Camp Page Helicopter Crash

A comment I recently received discussed a helicopter crash that occurred back in 1973 at Camp Page.  What was strange about this helicopter crash was that it involved family members of the pilot.  Digging through the Stars & Stripes archives I was able to locate the details about this crash.  The crash happened on April 7, 1973 when the pilot of the UH-1 Huey helicopter from the 55th Aviation Company crashed into the Han River near Camp Page:

The above article is from the July 12, 173 edition of the Stars & Stripes newspaper.

Inside of the helicopter was the pilot, his wife and son, and two soldiers.  Tragically the pilot’s 18 month old son died in the crash along with one of the soldier crew members.  The two bodies were recovered by two USFK personnel who happened to be scuba certified.  Talk about a horrible tasking to be stuck with:

 

The above article is from the April 11, 1973 edition of the Stars & Stripes newspaper.

The pilot who survived the crash would go on to be medically retired and wrote a book about his helicopter flying experiences in Vietnam.  He then became an ordained minister and currently lives in Nebraska with his wife that survived the helicopter crash.  I could not find anything that said what caused the crash, but regardless a pretty sad story that fortunately the pilot and his wife were able to rebound from the loss of their son.

Note: You can read more GI Flashbacks articles by clicking on the below link: 

A Profile of Camp Page, South Korea

Plenty of veterans of Korea have left comments here on the ROK Drop about their experiences while stationed in Korea.  However, one camp seems to continuously have very fond memories about it and that is Camp Page in Chuncheon:

That is why I have decided to create a “Profile” dedicated just to Camp Page.  I was never stationed on Camp Page so it was interesting to research and learn more about this camp that many have told me was the best kept secret in Korea.  Camp Page was one of the oldest facilities in USFK before it was closed down since construction of the runaway occurred back in 1951 when the city was recaptured from the Chinese and North Koreans. Here is a picture of the old K-47 airfield from Dave Kowalsky’s website:

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However, the airfield was not called Camp Page until 1958 when the 100th Field Artillery Rocket Battalion arrived from Japan. The name of the camp is in honor of US Army Lieutenant Colonel John U.D. Page who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross for Gallantry for combat heroics while serving with US Marine Corps units during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign. LTC Page died after only being in country 12 days.

Here is LTC Page’s Medal of Honor citation:

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Lt. Col. Page, a member of X Corps Artillery, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in a series of exploits. On 29 November, Lt. Col. Page left X Corps Headquarters at Hamhung with the mission of establishing traffic control on the main supply route to 1st Marine Division positions and those of some Army elements on the Chosin Reservoir plateau. Having completed his mission Lt. Col. Page was free to return to the safety of Hamhung but chose to remain on the plateau to aid an isolated signal station, thus being cut off with elements of the marine division. After rescuing his jeep driver by breaking up an ambush near a destroyed bridge Lt. Col. Page reached the lines of a surrounded marine garrison at Koto-ri. He then voluntarily developed and trained a reserve force of assorted army troops trapped with the marines. By exemplary leadership and tireless devotion he made an effective tactical unit available. In order that casualties might be evacuated, an airstrip was improvised on frozen ground partly outside of the Koto-ri defense perimeter which was continually under enemy attack. During 2 such attacks, Lt. Col. Page exposed himself on the airstrip to direct fire on the enemy, and twice mounted the rear deck of a tank, manning the machine gun on the turret to drive the enemy back into a no man’s land.

On 3 December while being flown low over enemy lines in a light observation plane, Lt. Col. Page dropped hand grenades on Chinese positions and sprayed foxholes with automatic fire from his carbine. After 10 days of constant fighting the marine and army units in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir had succeeded in gathering at the edge of the plateau and Lt. Col. Page was flown to Hamhung to arrange for artillery support of the beleaguered troops attempting to break out. Again Lt. Col. Page refused an opportunity to remain in safety and returned to give every assistance to his comrades. As the column slowly moved south Lt. Col. Page joined the rear guard. When it neared the entrance to a narrow pass it came under frequent attacks on both flanks. Mounting an abandoned tank Lt. Col. Page manned the machine gun, braved heavy return fire, and covered the passing vehicles until the danger diminished. Later when another attack threatened his section of the convoy, then in the middle of the pass, Lt. Col. Page took a machine gun to the hillside and delivered effective counterfire, remaining exposed while men and vehicles passed through the ambuscade.

On the night of 10 December the convoy reached the bottom of the pass but was halted by a strong enemy force at the front and on both flanks. Deadly small-arms fire poured into the column. Realizing the danger to the column as it lay motionless, Lt. Col. Page fought his way to the head of the column and plunged forward into the heart of the hostile position. His intrepid action so surprised the enemy that their ranks became disordered and suffered heavy casualties. Heedless of his safety, as he had been throughout the preceding 10 days, Lt. Col. Page remained forward, fiercely engaging the enemy single-handed until mortally wounded. By his valiant and aggressive spirit Lt. Col. Page enabled friendly forces to stand off the enemy. His outstanding courage, unswerving devotion to duty, and supreme self-sacrifice reflect great credit upon Lt. Col. Page and are in the highest tradition of the military service.

Over the years Infantry, Engineer, Signal and Supply units would also call Camp Page home, but the major tenant unit would eventually become the 4th Missile Command with their Honest John rockets.  This 4th Missile Command,Camp Page website has a number of photographs posted from the 1964 time period that are quite fascinating to view.  More pictures were taken by Dave Kowalsky during his tour in South Korea.  Here is the link to Dave’s webpage.  Here is what the front gate of the camp looked like in 1964:

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The 4th Missile Command would remain on Camp Page until 1978 when it was deactivated.  You can see more of Dave’s pictures at this link.

After looking at the historical pictures of USFK installations, I always find it interesting to then go back and look at how the camp looks in modern times.  Here is a nice series of aerial photos of how Camp Page looked just back in 2010:

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Camp Page was closed out in 2005 as part of the USFK transformation plan that will have the US military consolidating forces into major hubs at Osan AB, Camp Humphreys, and the Daegu area.  The last major tenant unit to call Camp Page home was the 1-2 Aviation Battalion that flew Apache helicopters from the base.  It took years of negotiations before the Korean government accepted the transfer of Camp Page back to the Korean government due to pollution concerns.  Those pollution concerns included allegations of Agent Orange dumping on Camp Page that have yet to be substantiated.  Even more troubling if true is that there was supposedly a nuclear accident that happened in 1972 as well.  The nuclear incident appears to have little creditability, but the pollution concerns are legitimate though nothing in regards to Agent Orange has ever been proven.  Even without Agent Orange there is still plenty of other pollution over the years that has accumulated on the base that this veteran actually has a picture of where they used to dump battery acid at on Camp Page:

 camp page battery acid

Here you can see my buddies (1972-1973 tour) making pollution. Digging weeds and spreading Viet Nam Era Herbicide by hand with the help of coffee cans was a high tech operation and the disappearing battery acid trick was great. The orange Acid barrel had no bottom and was full of rocks.

It is stuff like this that I think is the biggest pollution hazards with USFK facilities in Korea, but the Korean media and anti-US groups in the country would rather sensationalize claims about Agent Orange and nuclear incidents to create further animosity between USFK and the Korean public.  However, two years ago the US and South Korea have worked together to develop a way ahead to address the environmental issues with the US paying the bulk of the clean up for the vacated bases even though the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two countries says the US only needs to return vacated property in a “as is” condition.

Anyway back to more pictures of Camp Page, there were still a few quonset huts that were in use when the base closed, but most of the buildings on Camp Page were of modern vintage in 2010:

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The now densely populated Chuncheon is built up all around the camp so it really was only a matter of time before USFK would have to shut down this camp:

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Like the other camps that have been vacated by the US military Camp Page this year has been pretty much leveled and redevelopment to use the land by the local community has begun.  Here is a passage and picture from the 4th Missile Command, Camp Page site that describes recent developments on the old Camp Page:

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Pam Austin, the photographer, wrote: “There is almost nothing left — the entire air strip has been torn up. The walls around the camp remain, as does the water tower, although the words ‘Camp Page’ have been whited out. The picture of the parking lot shows the new subway station across the street from the camp — the parking lot was built on what was part of the camp. I went through a year ago, and they still had the road signs up that pointed to the base. Those have now been removed. There appear to be some kind of warehouses on the ground, but they are made of really flimsy material. The whole site is fenced off — either with the original camp fence (still with rusting concertina wire on top), or with chain link from a construction company.”

The city of Chuncheon has plans of buying the land from the Korean government to use for a park, additional apartments, or a shopping mall.  Here is what the city is currently using the land for:

What used to be the main street on post is open to the public and links Chuncheon’s central business district to a new rail station where people can ride a bullet train to Seoul. The trip, which used to take two hours, takes only an hour these days.

Faster transport means more tourists, drawn by the area’s lakes, rivers and mountains to hike, ski and golf. Visitors can also check out some of the places where the hit soap opera “Winter Sonata” was filmed.

Since helicopter flights ended, restrictions on land development in Chuncheon have eased and most of the 173 buildings that were on Camp Page have been demolished.

Officials plan to consult the public before devising a long-term plan for the 145 acres of bare land that remains, according to Soon-mu Park, an official with Chuncheon City’s Urban Improvement Department.

About half the site has been earmarked for commercial development and the rest as public space. It’s possible that a park, local government buildings, a fire station and court house will be built there, officials said.

In the meantime, workers are turning one large hangar, once used by the U.S. Army, into a sports complex and another into a gymnasium for disabled people.  [Stars & Stripes]

Camp Page physically is mostly gone now, buried by the rapid development of South Korea.  Like other USFK camps that have been demolished and redeveloped, the memories of the US servicemembers that served on Camp Page will live on.

camp page google earth
Current Google Earth image of Camp Page in Chuncheon

Note: You can read more from the ROK Drop featured series “A Profile of USFK Bases” at the below link:

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Note: Below are comments from the original www.rokdrop.com site that did not import correctly to the latest www.rokdrop.net site.  So I copied and pasted them into this posting for everyone to read.  Leave new comments down below.  If you served on Camp Page please share your memories of the camp in the comments section.

 

In the summer of 1980, my unit (332nd ASA) was kicked off Cp Humphries and someone had the bright idea of sending us to Page. 4th Missile had been gone a couple of years, so we took over their old quonset huts and motor pool. Page made no tactical sense, as the units we supported were pretty far away to the west, and across two sets of pretty high ridges. Not many units on post, WSD-K, an ammo accounting unit, an aviation company, maybe 300 GI’s, tops.

The city of Chuncheon was a revelation after the squalor of Anjeongri. I think Page was one of the few camps that was located right in a big, normal city. The Koreans treated us very well, and for our part, I don’t think we acted too badly.

There were some GI clubs, but not many, and not very wild (the 21 club in the pic above was still open). The only weirdness happened during Team Spirit, when 25th ID staged a few BN’s there. Got to know what a boom town looked like when it happened.

Chuncheon “chicken rib” places were very popular, and it was possible to date and marry normal Korean girls, and many guys did.

All-in-all, the nicest place to be stationed in Korea.

Why was it called Mt. Useless?

I always thought of Camp Page as an old friend. I had a great time there

Why was it called Mt. Useless? American flyers, annoyed by the way this lump lay across their approaches to Chuncheon’s airfield, called it “Unnecessary Mountain.” By the time we got to Chuncheon -1964-65- the mountain was called “Mt. Useless.”

i was shocked in a good way to see club “21″, there was another one called the “rainbow club” i would love to see a photo of that. how well i remember the 21 club. a perfect place for a 17 year old boy with 124 dollars a month and nothing to spend it on.

As a 18 yr old from South Carolina, I was awstruck from the time I left SC, on my trek towards ChunChon via Alaska, Japan, and Korea. I was there as an MP from Oct 1975 until Nov 1976. Had a ball, met many new folks from all over the USA and Korea. I stayed in the Q. Huts some but mostly lived off post. So sorry to hear of its closing. Camp Page was a great place, and the page on Facebook is very good. Appreciate this site too!

I was stationed at the 226 in 1977/78. I remember running past the binjo carts during the morning pt, a smell i will never forget.I had a great time while I was there. Bought a killer stereo from the main px.

Great site. I was there for about two weeks of 1951.

  1. I think it was known as K-47 then.

K-47 was the air strip, the base was still Camp Page.

I was stationed at Camp Page from 1985 to 1987, assigned to the Weapons Support Detachment (WSD-K) as its communications officer. During my time there, the Camp Page Consolidated Club was transformed into the Page II Club — same Quonset hut structure on the outside but completely renovated on the inside. Many of the Quonset huts used for barracks were gutted and renovated as a transitional move to permanent buildings. The first permanent barracks building was completed near the south end of the post in 1986, and it housed enlisted soldiers. The big red and white water tower that still stands on Camp Page in the 2011 pictures was constructed during that time on the site of what used to be a snack bar. It was a marvel of construction, as the tank and the structure supporting it were built from the ground up, piece by piece. They drove piles into the ground to support the foundation, built the foundation, and then built the supporting structure a few feet at a time, constructing a scaffold around it as the structure grew. When the tank itself was built, it was done plate by plate – lots and lots of welding done by workers who were precariously perched on the scaffolding and sometimes hanging on swings strung from the scaffolding. The permanent barracks and the new water tower were the beginning of a major capital improvement project for Camp Page that really changed the look of the post in a lot of ways (based on the pictures I’ve seen).

Regarding units: In my time on Camp Page (1985-1987), the largest units on post (excluding USAG CP) were the 128th Aviation BN (Blackhawk), a ROK aviation unit (Huey), and WSD-K. Just before I arrived, WSD-K administratively changed hands from 19th Support Command to Eighth Army Special Troops (EAST). According to my fellow WSD-K officers, the detachment held a transition ceremony during which they fired their obsolete 19th SUPCOM “flower” patches from their 75mm ceremonial cannon. Anyone who was stationed on Camp Page during this period knows which cannon I’m talking about, as it was fired every afternoon at retreat.

Regarding Chunchon: The clubs mentioned by others – “Club 21” and “Rainbow” – were there in the ‘ville, in addition to three other USFK-sanctioned clubs (their names escape me at the moment). Directly across the street from the main gate, on the right corner, was an excellent tailor shop. Up the sidewalk from that was the Charlie Shop, where they would embroider literally anything you wanted onto anything that would fit into their sewing machines. They could also make trophies and commemorative items. On the left side across from the main gate was a Tae-Kwon-Do studio and a small mom-n-pop restaurant that made the best yaki mandu (fried dumplings) – 10 dumplings in a bamboo box for 1000 Won ($1.19 — the exchange rate was 843 Won to the dollar when I arrived). The city itself was alive and bustling, the resort areas were nice and accessible, and for anyone looking to explore it, there was plenty to see and do in Chunchon.

Regarding Camp Page: USAG CP did a great job in making the post as pleasant as possible. Along the main streets there were several trees which really greened up the place during the warm months. We had a nice movie theater (“Top Gun” was shown in first-run when I was there). The consolidated clubs – the original, the transitional, and the Page II Club – were all well-run and welcoming. We had a crafts center, multiple snack bars, an education center, a small PX, American Express Bank, a gym, baseball diamond, and a swimming pool (at least for a while). There was a gravel perimeter road around the airfield that, combined with the paved roads inside the fence lines on the rest of the post, made a great 2.25-mile running track. Even when the capital improvement projects started up, the folks running the post did everything they could to keep the construction from being too disruptive. Given that Camp Page was considered to be a hardship post (unaccompanied assignments), and that most of the buildings were the original “T-“ temporary structures, we still had it pretty darned good compared to many other posts in the country (and I visited a lot of posts while I was there). I have some very good memories of Camp Page, and it makes me feel a bit old that the post and almost all of the “future” construction that was done there has since been wiped out by the bulldozers. Time marches on…

I have fun memories of that are especially outside the gate. Going to the restaurants the college playing basketball and the underground mall. But while I was there on Camp page I did develop skin problems and I have a large tumor like cyst that on my left hand between my thumb and index finger.

Served at Camp Page ITO from 1998-99. Miss Dak Kalbi, Yaki mandu at the KSB, and the city of ChunCheon. Had a great time and thoroughly loved that area of Korea.

very interesting…

I served at the MSA. Spent lots of time at Camp Page and the city. Great times.
tbodura@aol.com

I was stationed at Camp Page from Jan 75 – April 79. I had loved both Korea and Camp Page.i miss the place and the people. Was thee any body there during my time. I spent the first 2 1/2 years in the 1st/42nd FA and than went down the street to WSD/K until April 79.I’ll get back on here to check other comments. Glad I ran across this site.

Stationed at Camp Page 86-88 hq battlion 128 ahb. The clubs; 21,king,ranibow,flamingo,seven and cafe parking were and always will be (if only in memories) great places to just hang out with fellow soldiers and friends. There was a DJ @ the Rainbow named Mr. Pak and two girls named Sunnya and Myungha I will never forget. The camp itself was ok, I stayed off post for the most part. The night life was always wild and the redzone was something else. I would love to go back there sometime.

I forgot OB beer and Jungle juice….

oh and oscar and sonjo and Yaki mandu at the jinhe house

I was stationed at Camp Page the entire year 1968, assigned to the 4th Support Co. Many good memories of the people I met and worked with there. Also many good memories of the Korean people.

At Page Jan’72 – Feb ’73. In the aviation section, ‘Rocket Airlines’. Great memories.

At Camp Page from Oct 70 – Nov 71 As a UH-1 Crew Chief assigned to Rocket Airlines. I had a lot of great times. However when it came time to go home I didn’t let the door hit me in the ass!

I was stationed at Camp McCullough (MSA) north of Camp Page in 1970 and guarded who knows what for 1/42 artillery. I cannot find one thing about it anywhere on the net. Does anyone know how to find something about it?

Bill I was at MSA 42, Camp McCullough from Aug 1969 to Oct 1970.
Email me.
tbodura@aol.com
Tony

Cousin Bruce! Those were the days my friend!

#26 – Yes, cousin Greg, indeed they were. Did I get the details right? Did I miss anything worth posting in this thread about the old post?

I serve in the 1/42 field Artillery from January 1976 til December 1976, and I serve with William Abell. Members of the unit called me Hero. Our first Sgt. was Albert Mack. I still have fun memories of my stay at Camp Paige and would love to visit Chuncheon. Good to hear from a old soldier.

hello was there 1965 to 1966 4th missile command as a pfc wire section loved south korea had a good time.

I served three tours at Camp Page between June 1970 and Mar 1977. I also served as Det Sgt of Camp McCullough with 1/LT Richard A. Ward in 1970 and 8 months in the EAF at Camp Colbern in 1973. My last duty asgmt was Op Sgt, 4th USA Msl Comd in 1977. I went back on a visit in 1980 and there were Korean Contract Police on the gate.

I was stationed at Camp Page from July 1970 to August 1971 and served in the 161st Engineer Co. I was an explosives/demolition specialist although I ended up working as the company clerk. When I arrived our CO was Cpt. Jerome Darga and when he rotated out the new CO was Cpt. Charles J Mills. Mills was an amazing young officer a genuine Airborne Ranger but was totally approachable and well liked by the officers and men. We had a large KATUSA compliment and some of us became friends with some of the KATYSAs and went out into the local community with them and saw a much different side of Chunchon than that presented in the usual GI hangouts. Our company area was directly across the street from the water tower and actually included the water tower because we had a water purification platoon in the 161 Engineer Co. We also had an ADM(Atomic Demolitions Munitions) platoon and I was briefly assigned there when I first arrived. But I was scarfed up by the CO when he found out I could type because his company clerk was leaving in a couple of weeks and he was not getting a replacement. The orderly room was a very tense place at first because the Cpt. Darga and 1st Sgt. Eugene hated each other. It got so bad that the 1st Sgt. was actually courtmartialed and got reduced in rank and reassigned to another post. The next 1st Sgt. was Sgt. MacLaughlin and he was a genuine good guy and very interesting person. For the most part Camp Page was a good post. There was a nice movie theater right on the post and I still remember the day that the movie M*A*S*H came to town. We really hooted and hollered at that one as you can well imagine. For the most part I have good memories of my time at Camp Page

I was stationed at camp page May 1969 to June1970 as SP5 company clerk for 7th batallion, 5th artillary under First Sergeant L.C.Woods and Captain John C Taylor. I felt very lucky to be assigned there instead of Vietnam Nam. With the exception of the snow it was great duty. Spent a ton of time in the NCO club perfecting my pool game. Often visited the Hawk missile sites with the CO and first sergeant as well as the DMZ. Still wonder about the agent orange exposure at the sites and DMZ.

Camp Page in Chuncheon Now Closed

It has been coming but now Camp Page has officially been closed.

Citizens from the South Korean city of Chunchon said goodbye to U.S. soldiers serving at Camp Page in a ceremony last week marking the end of a 54-year mission.

The base, it’s major feature an airstrip built after Chunchon was recaptured from communist forces in March 1951, is due to close by the end of next month, officials have said. The U.S. 8th Army announced this week that one of the Camp Page units, the 542nd Medical Evacuation Company, including about 120 soldiers and their equipment, will move to Fort Campbell, Ky., by April.

Another Camp Page unit, the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, will move to Camp Eagle, near the South Korean city of Wonju, about an hour’s drive south of Chunchon, according to an 8th Army statement.

Some people are happy about this:

People living near the base, some of whom have filed a lawsuit seeking damages for severe noise from U.S. aircraft, will be happy about the base closure. So will landlords who have faced height restrictions on buildings near the base, he said.

However, others are not:

U.S. Forces Korea Korean Employees Union Kangwon chapter representative Yi Un-song said the ceremony was nice, but that it was not a good feeling to see the city spend $30,000 on a party when it had done nothing to help South Korean employees losing their jobs at the base.

Only 80 out of about 270 Camp Page South Korean base workers have had job offers from USFK so far, and all those offered jobs will have to relocate, he said.

Kim Yong-bak, a chief of the planning section for Chunchon City Hall, confirmed the cost of the ceremony but said it is not the city’s responsibility to help laid-off base workers.

Most Chunchon locals will miss Camp Page, which contributed greatly to postwar restoration in Chunchon during the 1950s and 1960s, Kim said.

Maybe the 8th Army worker that defected to North Korea was one of the guys who got layed off? Who knows? But it was time for Camp Page to close though. Camp Page is actually a good place to be stationed because it is located so far away from the rest of 2ID and is in a great area of Chuncheon. However, the base is located in the middle of the city near the river which has become a burden on the city with the continued development of Chuncheon. The noise of the helicopters, on this former aviation base, coming and going every day from this location in the city probably does get annoying after a while for nearby residences. Expect more base closures to come.

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UPDATE:  For those interested I have since published an up to date profile about Camp Page at this link