Section 3. 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 forthcoming.
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 East.
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 Inchon Harbor.
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 that evening.
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 to follow.
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 reverse."
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 1963.
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 reporters etc,.)
Roster of Marines Returned To U.S. Military Control During "Operation Little Switch" April - May 1953
|Rank and Name||Unit||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 Bainter.
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:
- Bill Beard
- Jack Stephensen
- Jack Charles
- Roger Throchmorton
- Richard J. Southhall
- J. Ford
- George McGaffin
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 August 1969.
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 Marines.
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 some others."
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 site.
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 were:
- 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 the school.
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 Jones
- GySgt Caldwell
- 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:
- GySgt Abbate
- GySgt Upton
- 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:
- Jim Rea
- Jess Hall
- John Guenther
- Henry Marshall
- John McMakin
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 happening."
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.