US, South Korean troops rewarded for DMZ rescue

| November 24, 2017 | 35 Comments

Stars & Stripes reports that US and South Korean soldiers were rewarded in record time for their rescue of the North Korean soldier who defected last week;

Two South Korea soldiers who are part of the JSA security battalion crawled across the leaf-strewn ground to recover him, then dragged him to safety as other members of the battalion monitored the situation.

Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea, awarded the soldiers an Army commendation medal “in recognition for their efforts” in rescuing the defector, during a ceremony at Camp Bonifas, a statement said.

The awardees were Sgt. 1st Class Noh Yeong Soo, Sgt. 1st Class Song Seoung Hyeon, Sgt. Robert Hartfield, Maj. Jeffery Schmidt, Lt. Col. Kwon Young Hwan, and Lt. Col. Matthew Farmer, USFK said on its Facebook page. It didn’t provide more information.

“Your actions resulted in saving the defector’s life and de-escalating an incident that threatened the 64-year-old armistice,” the citation said.

The award process isn’t usually so quickly completed. I checked my award for securing an East German soldier. The incident happened on April 15th and the award is dated the 13th of July and that was only an Army Achievement Medal, a step below the ARCOM. I guess when two Lieutenant Colonels and a Major are up for an award, the processing time is faster. All I had with me was a stinkin’ 1st Lieutenant.

Stars & Stripes also reports that the North Korean guards at the DMZ have been reassigned;

Yonhap news agency cited an unnamed intelligence source saying there were “signs” the North had replaced its entire security force of 35 to 40 men at the Joint Security Area. South Korea’s Defense Ministry and the U.S.-led United Nations Command said they couldn’t confirm it.

The source also told Yonhap the North seems to have temporarily closed a bridge over which the defector drove a military jeep to reach the border before his dramatic escape on foot last Monday. The source said the North could be preparing to install a security gate at the bridge for strengthening its screening of personnel coming in and out of the area.

North Korean troops also appear to be digging a trench by hand at the point Private Oh ran across the South Korean frontier.

Category: North Korea

Comments (35)

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    “…an unnamed intelligence source saying there were “signs” the North had replaced its entire security force of 35 to 40 men at the Joint Security Area.”

    If ‘replaced’ means sent to an undisclosed area with deep ditches and a waiting bulldozer, that would not surprise me, except that they don’t have bulldozers in Norkiland.

  2. Hayabusa says:

    Stars & Stripes also reports that the North Korean guards at the DMZ have been reassigned

    I’m guessing that they’ve been “reassigned” to the gulag, or maybe a shallow grave somewhere…

    • UpNorth says:

      Perhaps, they’vE been reassigned to the 1169th Anti-Aircraft Target Battalion as targets for NDtBF? He gets off on using AA guns on people.

      • Berliner says:

        I’ve read quite a few books from escapees from North Korea. Only family members of the most trusted Pyongyang residents serve along the DMZ. Standard procedure for failure or embarrassment to Fatty da Turd dictates harsh action. They will be “reassigned” along with 3 generations of their family to hard labor camps. There will be some apartment vacancies in Pyongyang.

    • Sonny's Mom says:

      … along with the standard 3 generations of family members.

  3. Ozzie says:

    Okay, folks; we all know what ‘replaced’ means in this context.

    Personally, I’m just going to offer my congratulations to the fine folks that did this rescue and move on.

  4. OldManchu says:

    Colon Cale A Dick should spend some time near the DMZ flagging down all future defectors and warning them how horrible it is in our Country and the countries of our allies so they don’t make the mistake of leaving such a fine place such as Norkland.

  5. CCO says:

    Wow. Those guards gave it their best shot, and reports are the defector was hit five times. IF they were being logical, it’s not poor marksman ship has consequences, but letting him get close enough to run across the DMZ.


  6. USAF E-5 says:

    To be fair, yours was a EUCOM Award. They grow bureaucratic layers there, don’t they?

  7. Thunderstixx says:

    At least you had a 1Lt and not a 2Lt with a compass, you probably would have ended up in Siberia…

  8. Green Thumb says:

    Surprised they did not get a JSCOM.

  9. mr. sharkman says:

    A sturdier gate on the bridge would do it.

    The multi-story white blockhouse seen in the video covers the surrounding terrain just fine.

    I imagine there were/are bolt and belt guns ready for use there, but they weren’t ‘ready enough’.

    You can just barely see, for a fraction of a second, a guard running from the blockhouse past the guard shack towards the bridge in question as the jeep makes its unauthorized dash across the bridge.

    Anything that would slow transit onto and across that bridge for only a few seconds would turn the bridge and the surrounding countryside (to someone on foot) into a deathtrap overseen by the windows on the upper floor of the blockhouse.

  10. FatCircles0311 says:

    Called it.

  11. Stephen McCartney says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if “Fat Man” didn’t have the press say “Our brave soldier of the PDRK excelled in bravery to the country by successfully and single-handedly infiltrating into South Korea under the watchful eyes of the enemy while being with wounds. His intelligence gathering information for his great country will be forthcoming”…

  12. RM3(SS) says:

    You get a medal for “monitoring” the situation aka watching? Wow.

    • Just An Old Dog says:

      I saw two South Korean Soldiers risking their asses to get the guy to safety.
      I guess there COULD have been something the two O’s did that perhaps falls under some classified shit.
      But I doubt it. Maybe they were the docs who treated him initially?

      • Mason says:

        BZ to the guys who made the rescue. Anyone that helps with that sort of thing SHOULD have a medal to remind them of it.

        However, I have a purely academic question about this. I was thinking the ROK guys would rate a soldier’s medal or the ROK equivalent. Then I started to think, since the war has never been officially ended, and since the Norks were firing towards them, would they be considered, or even eligible, for combat awards?

      • Lewis Ray Rains says:

        Leaves a lot of unanswered ????????? The “othes” just needed more awards to pin on there chests & good stuff in there file jackets come promotion time. Curious about just what award will be awarded to who for what, since the two who actually did the rescue, were fired upon on an open conflict/War situation given “We” are technically, still at War with the North?????? Just more questions!!!!?!!

  13. Jorge says:

    Spot NAMs for two nukes on the Ustafish for spotting and literally jumping on a hydraulic leak back aft about 16 years ago. They were awarded those medals about 24 hours after the incident. Probably saved the whole mission from being scrapped. And they could have been cut up pretty badly as well.

    Jorge (CTIC(SG) (Ret))

  14. Lewis Ray Rains says:

    So, Two men, risk there lives to rescue another man & just what did the “others” actually do!!!!!!???????? Stand by & observe!!!!!???? Figures that as many as possible want the shared credit in there file jacket, deserved or not. Leaves a whole lot of ??????????????????????????????from me!!!

  15. Yef says:

    So if I watch a video of a two dudes doing something, do I get an ARCOM, or is this just for officers?

  16. Dustoff says:

    Just saw an article on Reuters that told how the defector was flown to a SK trauma center by Army Dustoff,and how our flight medics saved him by performing a chest decompression. Shout out to my Dustoff family. ( maybe they’ll get a series on Nat Geo too hehehe)

  17. 11B-Mailclerk says:

    If I understand the story correctly, the Norks expended a fair amount of ammo trying to stop the escapee.

    Those rounds did not magically dissolve in flight. Thus everyone downrange was effectively “under fire” during the shooting. AK rounds, as do other rifle rounds, make a distinctive sound as they pass by. You -know- a lethal bullet just went past. Simply keeping your head and staying on your assigned task requires overriding a great deal of hard-wired “duck and cover” instincts.

    • David says:

      40ish rounds fired, 5 hits. Lot of loose bullets flying around, not to mention they apparently were on full auto which is a big time cease-fire violation. Supposedly no belt-feds allowed by either side in the area.

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