Marine Corps CI Taking Shape
The five years which elapsed between the Japanese surrender and the outbreak of the war
in Korea in June 1950 marked a turning point in the history of Marine Corps CI.
In Korea many, Communist spies from the north had been sent to South Korea before the
outbreak of hostilities to establish collection sites. Additional swarms of spies
descended with the invading army. They took cover among crowds of refugees and in an
attempt to penetrate the American lines. One keen-eyed CI Marine who was assigned to the
Army's 181st Counterintelligence Corps (CIC), noticed two Koreans, each with a trouser-fly
button sewed on with red thread. Eventually 121 individuals were detected wearing this
bizarre recognition signal, and their spy ring rounded up. At Pusan the CIC caught nearly
a thousand saboteurs trying to blow up ships or supplies behind the American lines. In the
early stages of the Korean War, the hastily organized United Nations Forces met a
continuous series of defeats from the more numerous North Koreans forces. There was a
desperate and urgent need for reinforcements and it was clear that launching an amphibious
landing in the enemy's rear area would bring a great tactical reward. The need for the
service of the Marine Corps was apparent, and demands for their employment were soon
KOREAN WAR IN REVIEW
Invasion from the North:
On 25 June 1950 just prior to dawn, seven infantry divisions and one armored division
of the North Korean People's Army (NKPA) crossed the 38th Parallel into South Korea
without any justifiable cause. The move was immediately denounced by the Security Council
of the United Nations. Supporting the decision of that body, the United States came to the
defense of South Korea, first sending what had been Army occupation troops in Japan, and
then calling on the only combat-ready troops in the United States, the U.S Marine Corps.
On 2 July 1950, the Chief of Naval Operations directed that a reinforced regiment with
supporting air assets be assembled for immediate embarkation for Korea. On 7 July 1950,
the First Provisional Marine Brigade - stripped out from the skeleton First Marine
Division - was activated and placed under the command of Brigadier General Edward A.
Craig. The major elements were the 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Aircraft Group 33, with the
balance of supporting ground units. The brigade strength was 6,534, and within ten days
after receiving the warning order, the first element set sail on 12 July 1950 for the Far
On 14 July 1950, all the remaining units of the brigade departed from the West Coast.
Before the end of the month, two Marine Corps aircraft squadrons had begun combat
operations from escort carriers. On 2 August 1950, elements of the brigade came ashore at
Pusan and at dawn the next day, the 5th Marine Regiment moved west to a assembly area at
Changwon. Around the same time, elements of the NKPA were pressing towards Masan and the
brigade was assigned Sachon as its objective - part of the U.S. Army 25th Division's
counterattack. On 7 August 1950, a month after its activation, the Brigade launched an
attack toward Chinju. As the 5th Marines were about to enter Sachon on 13 August, they
received orders to disengage the enemy and move towards the so-called "Naktong
Bulge" - a salient created by the 4th NKPA Division crossing the river near Obong-ni,
some 75 miles north of Sachon.
The main objective for the 5th Marines was a ridge called "No-Name Ridge",
and 2 days later after 4 attempts to capture it, the objective was secured. That night
however, the 4th NKPA Division counterattacked in an attempt to retake the ridge. Fighting
continued into the next day, after which the 4th NKPA Division, sustaining heavy losses,
retreated back across the river.
On 3 September, the 9th NKPA Division crossed the Naktong in an attempt to retake the
ridge. After 3 days of battle, the 5th Marines pushed the enemy forces some 6 miles
backwards. Again NKPA forces sustained heavy losses. On 5 September 1950, the brigade was
placed in reserve to get ready for Inchon.
The Pusan Perimeter:
The First Provisional Marine Brigade was attached to the Eighth U.S. Army in the Pusan
Perimeter at the time when the North Korean advance had come within 35 miles of Pusan. The
enemy advance presented many problems; holding ground against numerically superior enemy
forces; and Marines were used as a hard hitting mobile reserve to be shifted from one
threatened area to another during enemy counterattacks. Three times the brigade helped
stop the enemy cold in its mission. The famous Marine "air-ground team"
immediately began to prove the soundness of post-war developments in close air support.
Because the United Nations Forces were so hard pressed in the Pusan perimeter. The
possibility of assigning Marine elements an amphibious task at this time was non-evident.
However, elements of the brigade joined the 1st Marine Division who were to spearhead the
assault at Inchon. The need for additional troops and the advantages of amphibious
landings were more apparent, and the Marine Corps was once more called upon.
Elements of the Second Marine Division, along with the activation of several Marine
Corps Reserve units were ordered to Camp Pendleton for training and subsequent deployment.
The 7th Marines, made up of former elements of the Second Marine Division and reserve
units, was activated at Camp Pendleton on 17 August 1950.
They embarked on 1 September 1950, for the Far East. On 15 September 1950, the First
Marine Division, with a strength of some 26,000 officers and men, landed at Wolmi-Do and
The Inchon Landing
The initial landing took place at 6:30 a.m., on the small rugged island of Wolmi-Do,
which is connected to Inchon by a stone causeway. The Third Battalion, Fifth Marines, made
the assault which was preceded by an intense naval bombardment supported by Navy and
Marine aircraft. Within an hour the objective was secured and the American Flag raised on
the top of the precipitous 300 foot hill which was the principal land feature of the
island. Due to the extreme rise and fall of the tide in this area, it was not possible to
land the remainder of the landing force until the next high tide which occurred at 6:30
The morning landing had naturally alerted the enemy in this area and during the day he
began to rush re-enforcements to Inchon. The afternoon pre-landing bombardment was even
more intense than that of the morning's landing. As the assault waves in amphibious
tractors and landing boats approached RED and BLUE Beaches, separated by several miles
along the waterfront of Inchon, they received heavy machine gun, small arms and mortar
fire from enemy defensive positions in town.
Fighting in the city continued until 3:00 a.m., the following morning when two assault
regiments, the First and Fifth Marines, established contact and together with a regiment
of South Korean Marines (ROK), secured their initial objective. On 16 September, both
Marine regiments reached the Force Beachhead Line by nightfall. Mopping up operations in
Inchon were completed by the ROK Marines.
Early on the morning of 18 September 1950, a two-pronged enemy counterattack to retake
Kimpo Airfield was repulsed. The Fifth Marines continued to the south of the airfield. On
19 September 1950, the advance of the First Marines towards Seoul continued. Several
counterattacks by the enemy units were repulsed and the objectives for the day were all
seized. Infantry units of the Army's Seventh Division began landing and went into assembly
areas in preparation to extending the front of the First Marines and protecting the
exposed south flank. At 6:45 a.m., on the Morning of 20 September 1950, the First
Battalion, Fifth Marines began a crossing of the Han River opposite the airfield.
Amphibian tractors again carried the assault waves across the 500 yards of swift
flowing water to the opposite bank where the village of Haengju was assaulted. One company
turned east to take the high ground commanding the landing, while the remainder of the
battalion advanced inland to cross the railroad and main highway leading north. Nightfall
found the Fifth Marines and one battalion of ROK Marines on the north side of the Han
River poised for an assault on Seoul. The enemy resisted stubbornly along the approaches
to Seoul and three days of street fighting were necessary to secure this city with a
population of some one and one-half million people.
The finish of the war seemed in sight as the Seventh Marines, after landing on D+7,
pushed north of Seoul to seize Uijongbu and the main road to the North Korean capital of
Pyongyang. On 7 October, the First Marine Division was relieved by Eighth Army elements
and sent by sea around the peninsula.
The successful completion of the Inchon-Seoul campaign and the unopposed landing at
Wonsan seemed to indicate an early end to the Korean Conflict, and Headquarters, Fleet
Marine Force, Pacific, began to make plans for the future deployment of those units in the
Far East. Marine Corps involvement in the Korean War had only just begun with more battles
After the administrative landing at Wonsan on 25 October, the First and Fifth Marines
were assigned by X Corps to patrolling and blocking missions with the Seventh Marines
advancing from Hamhung towards the Chosin Reservoir. On 3 November, the Seventh Marines
met and began battle with a Chinese Communist Division. It was the first large-scale
battle between U.S. and Communist forces. The Seventh Marines, in a four-day battle,
crippled the Chinese Communist Division so badly that it never saw service on that front
again. On 24 November 1950, an offensive was launched by the Eighth Army in Western Korea
and by X Corps in the northeast. The next day, massed Chinese Communist Forces struck back
in overwhelming numbers, sending the Eighth Army into retreat; driving between it and X
Corps. On the night of 27 November 1950, the 27th Army, Fifth and Seventh Marines, who had
advanced to Yudam-ni west of the Chosen Reservoir, were attacked. Other Chinese Communist
Forces in the area cut the main supply route for the Marine forces.
From 28 November, through 2 December 1950, the First Marine Division held its own
against eight Chinese Communist Divisions, including two of their reserve forces. In
addition to fanatical enemy attacks which resulted in the temporary isolation of certain
elements of the division, the Marines had to fight bitter sub-zero cold and howling
snowstorms. Then began the fighting withdrawal over 70 miles of tortuous road through
mountain passes and canyons that were dominated by enemy forces. The long twisting convoy
battled through to Hagaru-ri, with fighting units sweeping the foe from nearby slopes. The
reverse slopes and flanks became the responsibility of the supporting aircraft of the
Marine air-ground team. At Hagaru-ri the reunited division was supplied by air drop and
casualties were evacuated by aircraft from an improvised airstrip.
The column began its breakout on 6 December 1950, cutting a path through enemy forces
to Koto-ri where more casualties were evacuated by air. Bitter resistance had to be
overcome along the main supply route to Chinhung-ni where Marine engineers installed a
24-ton Treadway bridge, dropped by Air Force C-119s, to replace a vital spanlown by the
enemy. Marine close-air support was reinforced by the Marine Air Group at Yonpo and Navy
carrier-based planes. The First Marine Division reached Hamhung on 11 December 1950,
having brought out its casualties, vehicles, and equipment. The main body was evacuated on
15 December 1950 to South Korea by Task Force 90, which pulled the remaining units out of
X Corps along with 91,000 civilian refugees to complete its "amphibious landing in
Stopping the Chinese Communist Forces Advance:
Upon arrival at Pusan, the First Marine Division again passed into Eighth Army reserve.
Its first mission was to neutralize a North Korean guerrilla division in the
Pohang-Yongdok-Andong area. By 6 February 1951, the enemy had been reduced to an estimated
60 percent of its strength. The Marines then participated in Operation KILLER and
Operation RIPPER, limited offensives in central Korea designed to keep the communist
forces off balance. Meanwhile, the First Marine Aircraft Wing planes, operating under
Fifth Air Force control were shifted to interdiction missions, seeking enemy military
targets far into North Korea.
On 22 April 1951, the Communists struck back in a large-scale counterattack, The First
Marine Division in the Hwachon Reservoir Area, exposed to enemy forces from its flanks as
well as its front, beat off all enemy attacks and inflicted heavy losses. A second enemy
offensive was stopped the following month. This was followed by attacks in which the
Marine pursued and severely punished the enemy forces.
The Marines ended their first year in Korea in the "punchbowl" area just
north of the 38th parallel, former dividing line of North Korea and South Korea. Early in
July 1951, United Nations and Communist representatives met for the first peace talks
which created a lull in the fighting. At first, action was limited to patrolling on both
sides, but after the first few months of unsuccessful negotiations, limited fighting broke
out on many sections along the front. The truce was signed on 27 July 1953, and the First
Marine Division remained for nearly two years, returning to the United States in the
spring of 1955, after almost five years of outstanding service in Korea.
Marine Corps Counterintelligence Activities in Korea
Very little expansion of Marine Corps Counterintelligence took place until the outbreak
of hostilities in Korea. In view of the limited CI capability within the Marine Corps, the
U.S. Army assigned a detachment of Army CI personnel from the 441st Counterintelligence
Corps Detachment in Tokyo, Japan to furnish CI coverage for the First Marine Brigade area
of responsibility. This group remained with the Brigade and joined the First Marine
Division during the invasion of Inchon. The group was augmented by one officer and two
enlisted Marine CI personnel from the First Marine Division's G-2, and officially formed
the 181st Counterintelligence Corps Detachment, First Marine Division.
It should be noted, that prior to the amphibious landing at Inchon by Marine forces,
the 181st CIC Detachment of the 441st Army CIC, stationed in Japan had, only a few days
before closed in on a ring of Communists, preventing them from transmitting vital
information of the planned landing at Inchon.
In this raid, the 181st CIC discovered that a group of Communists (Sixteen North
Koreans and Two Japanese) had learned of the proposed attack, and were preparing to
transmit this information in a radio message to North Korean Military Headquarters. During
the raid, the Communists were apprehended and their radio transmitter, receiver, and
documents concerning the operation were confiscated. If this group had been able to
transmit the information about the landing to the North Koreans, the outcome of the
landing would most certainly have been very costly in Marine personnel. Because of the
181st, the landing went unopposed without any loss of life.
Figure 7. 181st CIC Compound
Prior to the landing at Inchon, on 25 July 1950, Sergeant William D. Wallace, one of
the first Marines to attend the Army's CIC Course at Camp Holabird, was on his way aboard
the S.S. General Meigs to Kobi, Japan with the 1st Marine Division. Sergeant Wallace was
assigned to the First Marine Division's, G-2, CI Section along with Lieutenant Kenneth
Porter and Master Sergeant Douglas Cameron.
On 15 September 1950, Sergeant Wallace, along with the 1st Marine Division, landed at
Inchon. A short time later, he was reassigned to the 181st CIC for duty. Several weeks
went by and while still in Inchon, Sergeant Wallace received orders to board the U.S.S.
Renville for the planned amphibious landing at Wonsan, North of the 38th Parallel. After
the landing, the 181st CIC moved to the Hagaru/Hungnam area, then northward to the Chosen
Reservoir. Once at the Chosen Reservoir, Sergeant Wallace and the CI Team leader, an Army
CI Warrant Officer by the name of Steve Kajima, were further ordered to joined the 5th
Marine Regiment. During his assignment with the 5th Marines, Sergeant Wallace participated
in several operations that were mainly directed in the identification of infiltrators from
the north who were operating in the regiments area of operation. Because of the sudden
death of his father, now Staff Sergeant Wallace returned to the United States in April
1951. After a short period of leave, he report to Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro,
California for duty with the Base Provost Marshal's Office. During the early part of 1953,
Staff Sergeant Wallace received order to report to Headquarters, Marine Corps Security
Section. In May of that year, he was promoted to Master Sergeant (Temporary). After
several more assignments, mostly with a Marine Corps CI Team, he retired on 16 August
COMMENT: Shortly after an interview with Master Sergeant Wallace during
August-November 1989, he passed away -"He will be surely missed by us all".
Once Marine forces landed at Inchon, the assignment of the 181st within the Marines
Area of Responsibility (AOR) gave Marine CI personnel their first opportunity to
participate in combat counterintelligence operations. The 181st remained with the First
Marine Division until early 1955, when the division rotated back to the United States.
Headquarters of the 181st Counterintelligence Corps Detachment in the Marine Corps Area
of Responsibility near the 1st Marine Division.
Figure 8. 181st CIC Headquarters Detachment
Figure 9. 1st Marine Division Headquarters (Left)
Sergeants Roy Abercrombie (1952-1953) and John Jacobs (1953-1954) were assigned to the
181st Counterintelligence Corps in Korea. The primary duties of the 181st were routine
interrogation of refugees, detailed interrogation of enemy POW's and line crosser,
delivery of security lectures to command personnel, and setting-up ambush sites where
intelligences collection suspected enemy infiltration of North Korean Agents.
COMMENT: Sergeant Roy Abercrombie was personally interviewed by the
author to ascertain his personal accounts pertaining to his participation with the 181st
CIC Detachment during the Korean Conflict.
Figure 10. Sergeant Roy Abercrombie
As Abercrombie noted, "after 72 hours all POW's, once interrogated by the 181st
CIC, were transported to the 704th at Corps level and then transported to the 308th CIC at
theater level located in Seoul, Korea." It should also be mentioned, that those CI
Marines in Korea were not all with the 181st. Sergeant John Guenther who is well known by
the CI community, was assigned as the Staff CI Officer, G-2, 1st Marine Division, where he
assisted in directing Marine CI activities.
Figure 11. North Koreans POWs (Photo 1)
Figure 12. North Koreans POWs (Photo 2)
Probably one of the biggest operation where CI Marines participated was
"Operations - Big & Little Switch." The main focus of the operation was
strictly a prisoner of war (POW) exchange with North Korea, conducted in May 1953.
According to Sergeant Abercrombie, "This operation was divided into phases. The first
phase, called "Little Switch" primarily concerned itself with those American
POW's who were badly wounded or litter cases. Little if any interrogation of these
American POWs were conducted.
The second phase, called "Big Switch" concentrated on the general return of
American POW's. Upon the general return of American POW's, the 181st CIC conducted
protective screening of those American's POW's that were placed on the Black/Gray (B/G)
listing. (US POW's talkers). (This was done to keep those on the B/G list from talking to
Roster of Marines Returned To U.S. Military Control During
"Operation Little Switch" April - May 1953
|Rank and Name
||Date of Capture
|PFC S.J. Armstrong
PFC T.R. Barnes
PFC J.P. Britt
Pvt R.L.L. Dunn
PFC A.J. Gregory
PFC G.F. Hart
PFC T.A. Juern
Cpl J.E. Lacy
PFC D.P. Lang
PFC R.L. Oven
PFC L.E. Peterson
Pvt A. Pizarro-Baez
PFC L.A. Pumphrey
Sgt D.A. Rose
PFC E.P. Vidal
|26 March 1953
Mar 26 October 1952
27 March 1953
27 October 1952
9 May 1952
26 March 1953
27 October 1952
27 March 1953
27 October 1952
26 March 1953
27 October 1952
7 October 1952
7 October 1952
6 October 1952
27 October 1952
NOTE: In 1961 Colonel J.A. MacDonald Jr., USMC (Ret.) submitted his thesis to
the faculty of the Graduate School, University of Maryland. His thesis was entitled,
"The Problems of U.S. Marine Corps Prisoners of War in Korea." It is excellent
reading on how Marine POW's were treated by the North Koreans.
Members assigned to the 181st CIC Detachment worked hand-in-hand with the Korean
National Police assisting them in the interrogation of enemy agents and refugees.
Individuals assigned to the 181st CIC received the Army Commendation Ribbon for their
outstanding performance in Korea. Technical Sergeant Abercrombie in addition to the Army
Commendation Ribbon received several Letters of Appreciation and Commendations for duty
performance while assigned with the 181st. One of these letters was signed by General
Maxwell D. Taylor, Commanding General, U.S. Army.
During the entire Korean Conflict, the 181st CIC developed a Black, Gray and White
(B/G/W) list of all captured American POW's.
Immediately after the "Operation Big/Little Switch", Sergeant Abercrombie was
called into the office of Major Swinson and asked. "would you like to go to Japan for
a while"? Abercrombie replied, "Yes" and shortly thereafter found himself
with four other CI personnel on their way to Gifu, Japan to meet the lead elements of the
3rd Marine Division. Once at Gifu, Abercrombie and his group met with Captains T.D. Hess
and Ben McCauley. As a result of this meeting, the 3rd Counterintelligence Team was formed
a short time later.
Captain Ben McCauley enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1944, received CI training in
1950. In January 1954, he was sent to the Marine Battalion assigned to escort 15,000 POW's
from Inchon, Korea to Keelung Formosa during Operation "Big Switch." Other who
played a significant part during the operations were Bob Wasteney, Jerry Foley and Bill
Figure 13. Operation Little Switch (Marines Being Returned from North Korean POW Sites)
The Commanding Officer of the 181st CIC was a U.S. Army Major D. Christensen. Most of
the personnel assigned to the 181st CIC Detachment were Marines, consisting of one Marine
Officer - Major W. D. Swinson - and ten enlisted Marines.
Some of these enlisted Marines included:
|Richard J. Southhall
Major Christensen was the lead officer during Operation Big & Little Switch. As
noted earlier, the operation was a protective move to screen POW's. More importantly, the
operation was to determine how American POWs were treatment while in captivity and too
learn more about the North Koreans.
During the Korean War a total of 221 Marines were captured by the North Korean forces.
Of the total number of Marines captured, 194 were returned to U.S. Military control - the
remainder had either died in captivity or were presumed dead.
Sergeant John Jacobs joined the 181st CIC relieving Roy Abercrombie in the summer of
1953. According to John Jacobs, the Commanding Officer of the 181st CIC Detachment during
his tour, was Major John Murphy, U.S. Army. Sergeant Jacobs noted that during this
tour," the U.S. Army was weak in the handling of POW's and had to rely on the Marine
Corps for support." Also, Jacobs noted, that "the U.S. Army had no linguists who
spoke Chinese or Korean, again relying on the Marine Corps for support". In return
for this cooperation, the U.S. Army trained CI Marines in interrogation techniques.
Another members from the second class that received CI training at the "Bird"
how was eventually assigned to the 181st CIC Detachment was Technical Sergeant Roger
Throckmorton and Sergeant Laverne Charles. Both sergeants were in a replacement draft from
Camp Pendleton, CA. They remained in South Korea from March 1952 until March 1953.
Sergeant Throckmorton recalled, "that shortly after both of them landed at SoCho-ri
on South Korea's east coast, the first Marine Division was relocated on the west coast,
directly north of Seoul and in the vicinity of Panmumjom". He further recalled that
"the division's area of responsibility included the Kimpo Peninsula." This is
mainly where he worked as a CI Marine attached to the 181st CIC Detachment. Another CI
agent that worked with Sergeant Throckmorton was a U.S. Army Sergeant by the name of
William Onash. In addition to their normal CI duties of interrogations, security lectures,
etc., both he and Onash made several river patrols at night with a Marine Amphibious
Tractor (AMTRAC) units and occasionally escorted line crossers (sometimes double agent
operations) to the front lines during the hours of darkness. Sergeant Throckmorton joined
the Marine Corps in May 1944. In February and March 1945, he was a 81 millimeter Mortar
Ammunition Carrier during the battle of Iwo Jima. In April 1946, he was discharged and
joined the Virginia State Police for a short period, rejoining the Marine Corps in October
1947. Upon his return from South Korea March 1953, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant.
On 1 September 1967, he retired from the Marine Corps as a Major after completing over 22
years of service.
Charles Pederson, one of the first Marines to attend the Army's Counterintelligence
Course in 1948, did not receive orders to Korea until 17 November 1952.
Prior to being ordered to Korea, then Corporal Pederson, returned to the 1st Marine
Division upon his completion of Army's CI training in June 1949. From July 1949 to
September 1950, Paterson was assigned to the Inspector-Instructor Staff, 14th Infantry
Battalion. His next duty assignment was with the Office of the Director, 8th Marine Corps
Reserve District, New Orleans, Louisiana from September 1950 to February 1951.
In March 1951, he was then transferred to Marine Corps Forwarding Depot, Portsmouth,
Virginia, where he was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division. During this period
at the Depot, Corporal Pederson noted that the majority of his duties included
"conducting security surveys, and on several occasions assisted the Office of Naval
Investigations, 5th Naval District, investigating suspected activities of both military
and civilian personnel assigned to the Depot."
On 17 November 1952, Pederson received orders to report to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
K-3, located at Pohang, Korea to perform duty with the G-2's Staff CI Section. Upon
arrival, Paterson met Master Sergeant Berton A. Emerson, who was the CI Chief. At this
time there were only two CI personnel assigned to the Wing's G-2. While assigned with the
Wing, Pederson performed security surveys, conducted investigations concerning security
violations, reviewed and made recommendations concerning security clearance
investigations, and inspected aircraft crash sites to determine, if any, classified
materials could be recovered. Additionally, he assisted with the fingerprinting of all
indigenous personnel assigned to K-3 (Pohang) for review by the Korean Police.
During his assignment in South Korea, he completed the Orientation and Guidance School
that was conducted by the Army's 704th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment on 30 May
1953 at Taegu, South Korea and assisted the Army CI assigned to the Pohang area as the
second agent in investigations of mutual interest to the command.
On 25 February 1954, Pederson was transferred to the G-2 Section, Second Marine Corps
Aircraft Wing, Cherry Point, North Carolina. When he arrived Captain Roy P. Timerman was
the Staff CI Officer. As Pederson recalled, "this was a two man billet
assignment". His duties with the Wing G-2 included, supervision of all the security
programs, maintenance of files on individuals of CI interest, conducting security
inspections and assisting the Office of Naval Intelligence's (ONI) 5th Naval District.
On 24 October 1956, Pederson was transferred from the Second Marine Corps Aircraft Wing
to Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps and was assigned to the Military Security Section. The
assignment called for two CI Marines. The other Marine assigned to this section was
Technical Sergeant Dick Southall. Pederson retired from the Marine Corps as a Captain on 1
Another individual who served in Korea and later assigned with Marine Corps CI was
Kenneth W. Clem. Clem entered the Marine Corps on September 7, 1950 and was assigned to
platoon 137, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, Parris Island, South Carolina. Upon
completion of boot camp, Clem was assigned to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion 8th Marines, 1st
Platoon, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and stayed with the 8th Marines from November 1950
to November 1951. During this period Clem's preference of duty was to be assigned in the
intelligence field. This was mainly due to the influence of Tom Dugin whom Clem admired -
however he was selected for the infantry. The bulk of 2/8 was composed of new recruits
from boot camp, reservists and a hand-full of regular Marine officers and enlisted. Clem
noted that "after a year as a BAR-man, Fire-Team Leader and as an acting Squad
Leader, I was interviewed in November 1951, for a position with the battalion, S-2."
After the interview, "I was told that I had gotten the position and was quickly sent
to the Enlisted Intelligence Course at Fort Riley, Kansas." The Marine Liaison
Officer at Fort Riley was a T.E. Dutton. Others that attended the course were,
"Captain John Canton and one of his clerks by the name of Otis Bledsoe - who later
served with me at Camp Pendleton and at Hue and Phu Bai during the Vietnam War.
After finishing the intelligence course at Fort Riley, Clem returned to the 8th
Marines. During his attendance at school, most of his old buddies from Fox Company had
been shipped out to Korea. While back at Camp Lejeune, He met several CI Marines at the
2nd Marine Division, Headquarters. As a result, a new circle of friendship developed and a
positive interest in the intelligence field took hold.
In December 1952, Clem received order directing him to report for duty in Korea. After
a stint at Pickle Meadows for training and a severe case of the Asia-Flu, he departed for
Korea in February 1952, to be assigned as a Scout-Observer with the 2nd Battalion, 1st
The Battalion Intelligence Chief at the time, as Clem recalls, was Technical Sergeant
(TSgt) Frank Farmer. "I probably learned more of the essentials of intelligence from
him than most others." Besides the severe cold weather at the time, Clem's primary
duties while with the Division Reserves at a site called "Camp Rockpile", was
taking care of the water color maps and running some rear-area security patrols up and
around Hill 640. Our exact position was "next to the DMZ and to the right through
Hill 229." During the last part of February, Clem was taught how to make accurate 8
digit target coordinates from aerial photographs by T/Sgt Farmer. Once the coordinates
were annotated on the photos, they were sent to "Naval Gun-Fire" in support of
our sector. T/Sgt Farmer's view concerning the plotting of the coordinates onto the
photos, were "If you couldn't pinpoint the aperture of the enemy bunker, you weren't
doing you job properly." After TSgt Farmer departed some months later, Clem spent
most of his time debriefing various patrols and also acted as an observer.
During February 1953, Clem noted that, "I don't recall ever seeing or even hearing
of any Marine CI personnel on the lines or in one circumstance that I was put into."
However, the circumstance centered around when we relieved the 7th Marines on the line in
February 1953. "We were briefed that tactical line crossers (TLC) would be coming and
going through our lines, and not to do what the previous unit had done - capture a female
TLC and detained her in a bunker for 4 days." Reportedly, she really raised the roof;
had to eventually ship her south and out of the program.
In June 1953, Clem was promoted to Staff Sergeant and took over the S-2 Section. During
the first part of June 1953, Clem noted the following events. "In June 1953, we came
out of Corps Reserves at Camp Britannia and moved up to a camp that was north of the Imjin
River. Of course June and July are the Monsoon months. We moved in to a camp called
"Camp Rose," late at night in 3 feet of mud and raining like hell. The Imjin
River - which was notorious for fast flooding and a flood relief for the Samichon River
Valley - quickly rose to some 30-40 feet and wiped out two pontoon bridges that were
erected for river crossing. The only open bridge was a concrete high-level bridge near the
upper bend of the Imjin River a couple thousand yards where the pontoons were erected.
Shortly thereafter, all hell broke loose on the MLR in the 7th Marines Sector. Both the
2nd Battalion, 7th Marines and the 3rd Battalion Marines were badly mauled on the sector
from outposts Berlin, East Berlin, Fresco on up to the sector called the hook. These
outposts were overrun and a temporary blocking force was established at an outpost called
"Bolder City" that was just south of East Berlin. We (2/1) were put into the
fray, essentially as 4/7, into the uncompleted blocking positions aligned with Hill 126
and parallel to "122 Valley". 2/7 was pulled back into a temporary camp and
recommitted by squads along 1/7 and 3/7s blocking positions. Echo Company 2/1 relieved the
unit at Boulder City, except that the unit that was to be relieved haddeparted some 3
hours earlier without notifying us. Luckily, the Chinese didn't realize that they could
have gone all the way to the Imjin without any opposition. The situation continued for
some 7 to 8 days, however, on the first of second night, the intelligence section
sustained 4 Marine wounded-in-action - 2 had to be medevaced. One of the Marines assigned
to the intelligence section, received the Bronze Star for rescuing a Marine from Echo
Company, during a heavy enemy artillery attack. During the attack, the Marine from Echo
Company had both of his feet blown-off and the Marine from the intelligence section had
carried him back to the Battalion Aid-Station during this attack."
When the truce was effected on 27 July, Clem was tasked by Division G-2, to take
photographs of the outpost area and the horrendous number of dead (mostly Chinese) that
were strewn on the slopes. As Clem noted, "the division had furnished me with a
Polaroid 110A camera and plenty of film - all the things at the S-2 shop that we had been
requesting for months." Also in compliance with the truce, and after destroying the
MLR positions, 2/1 moved back south of the Imjin River to a village called
"Paiju-Ri." Adjoining the camp site where the Battalion's S-2 had setup its
tents, was the 181st CIC Detachment and the 45th MASH unit. Presumably, the 181st
Detachment had moved from where the 1st Marine Division's Command Post (CP) was set-up,
that was well to the rear of both Munsan-Ni and Paiju-Ri.
According to Clem, "It was at this time that I met a couple of CI Marines, who had
told me more about the field and a little of what they had done during the war." The
CI Marines that Clem met were, Jack E. Stephenson, Bejamin D. McCauley, T. Emerson and
Lessons Learned from the Korean War
After Korea, the U.S. Military perception of what it was like as a POW proved to be
wrong - especially a POW that was interrogated by the North Koreans. Because of this fact
the military established a survival school at the Cleveland National Forest - just outside
San Diego, California. Roy Abercrombie was assigned to the Survival School upon his return
from Korea, along with Jack Charles, Dave Michalovich and Chuck Hertel. They participated
at the school two days a week. This was due to being on loan from the Force Troops CI
Team. The main purpose of their involvement was to show the instructor trainees and
participants, various methods of how the interrogation process should be conducted.
As Roy Abercrombie pointed out, "We loved it because we got to brutalize our
fellow Marines and were able to go home on Friday afternoon without a care in the
world." The school proved to be very successful. The Navy would drop pilots into the
forest, with instructions to get to a certain location in a certain amount of time. If
captured, they would be held over night in the forest until CI personnel responded to
start the interrogation process. Those captured would then be brought to the interrogation
The site was a stage type setting -according to Roy Abercrombie - which was divided
equally, where one-half formed a viewing area and the other half was where the actual
interrogation took place. In order for the personnel being interrogated not to see the
viewing area, burlap curtains along with lights shining through them into the
interrogation area were placed. This was so that individuals being interrogated could not
see who were in the reviewing area.
During the interrogation process, Marines conducting the interrogations would show how
personal papers and items, patches on individual flight suits, etc., would be used against
the interrogatee in order to extract military information. Many of the individuals
reviewing the process were amazed at what could be gained. An interesting point that
showed the significance of the school was when a Chief Petty Officer, after a mock
interrogation and critique took place, approached Roy Abercrombie and asked, "Where
did you learn what he had just witnessed?" Roy told the Chief of his background.
After that the Chief gave Roy one of the compliments of his career -He had been a prisoner
of war and everything that Roy told him was "right on".
Post- Korean War Side-Note:
In May 1954, Clem rotated back to the United States and was assigned to the S-2
Section, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. After a couple of Med
cruises and after completing the USAF Operations Course at Sheppard AFB, TX. Clem was
commissioned as a Marine Officer. He was then assigned the Military Occupational Skill
(MOS) of 0210 -Counterintelligence Officer.
WO Clem completed the CI Course at Fort Holabird, Maryland in April 1960. 1stLt Bill
Burton was also in the same class.
There were other Marines at the "Bird" in the class before WO Clem. They
|1stLt Skip Carpenter
1stLt Paul Dyer
|1stLt Gerald Fassler
1stLt Ran Shaffer
During CI School, WO Clem also pointed out that, 1stLt Jerry Hudson, along will several
other Marine officers were at Holabird and was not sure what courses they were in. Also,
Master Sergeant Jack Stephenson was a Defense Against Sound Equipment (DASE) instructor at
Upon graduating from CI School, WO Clem was assigned to the 4th CIT at Camp Lejuene,
North Carolina. The Team consisted of:
|CWO Tony Cignotti (USMCR)
GySgt Jim Summers
GySgt Donald Finney
SSgt Bernie Voronin
|SSgt Frank Wetzel
SSgt Stephen Collins
Sgt John Baldwin
Sgt Arnold Busko
Cpl J. L. Ford
Members that later joined the 4th CIT were:
Sgt Kenneth Joles
|Sgt Huette Perkins
Sgt William Sterling
The 4th CIT was set-up in a small warehouse in the 300 area aboard the base. Also
aboard the base was the 2nd CIT that was under Force Troops, according to Clem. As Clem
recalled, the Team members at the time were:
NOTE: During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Jim Rea, Jess Hall, Francis Wetzel and
Clem formed up a sub-team to be deployed with the remaining elements of the 2nd Marine
Division. After loading aboard an AKA, the ship set sail to join the main force off the
coast of Florida. However, because of the short duration of the Crisis, the AKA finally
pulled into Mayport, Florida where we "got a better understanding of just what was
In the years that followed, now Warrant Officer, Clem had such assignments as: S-2
officer, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, Stone Bay; 4th CIT and 2nd CIT; 3rd CIT in Vietnam;
to include a number of schools he had attended.