I am given a bit of a hassle by Marine MPs as I check in at the air base near Kokura, Japan for my return flight to K-13. I am detained at the gate while verification of my orders is made with 8th Fighter Bomber Wing...completed within one hour. The MP wants to know where are the supplies I have purchased in Japan...Oh, sir...they are being shipped directly. I don't hear any more on that score.
Arriving at K-13, an air raid is in progress. Bed Check Charlie - BCC - is at it again...this evening over Inchon, about 60 miles to the Northwest. A bright flash lights up the sky in the direction of Inchon. The fuel dump has been hit by BBC bombs.
A couple weeks ago, an F-94 radar equipped Night Fighter from K-13, pursued Bed Check Charlie over Inchon Harbor... BCC flies low and slow. Our F-94 jet with two on board crashed into the sea.
Before the Armistice is signed, a US Marine pilot flying a propeller driven Corsair (see: BAA BAA Black Sheep) WWII vintage aircraft, succeeds in shooting down five BCC aircraft...becoming an Ace.
Sitting on the step of my living quarters back at UNC-MAC, I hear the motor of BCC approaching from north beyond the DMZ. I am amazed to see him fly directly over my head...all navigation lights on. Anti Aircraft guns erupt around Seoul; I walk the few steps onto our small airstrip, watching BCC fly south. From out of the curtain of fire around Seoul, another aircraft flies north... navigation lights also on. The two aircraft meet a mile away from me...machine guns firing. Both planes cut their navigation lights. A minute or two later, one aircraft falls out of the sky...the Corsair pilot has his fifth kill.
PANMUNJOM Base Camps, both north and south, are OFF LIMITS to military action. Again, sitting on the step of my tent, my model airplane, LITTLE STINKER, in my lap, a WHOOOOSH flashes over my right shoulder. I sprawl flat on the ground...a loud BOOM and a cloud of dirt showers over me; ...an artillery round from North Korea has found its way onto our Base Camp...narrowly missing me...narrowly missing a telephone pole...burying itself into the ground; ...the round does not explode.
Many visiting VIPs come and go through Base Camp as Armistice Day nears. I escort a small group of civilian visitors to the Helicopter Pads for their ride to the actual site of the Panmunjom peace talks about five miles into the DMZ. The chopper is delayed a bit. VIPs stand around chatting. One steps over to me...dressed in a suit, no indication as to who he might be; we chat. After the chopper takes off, Lt. J. asks...do you know who that guy is;...no;...he is Prime Minister Nehru...you just chatted with the leader of India.
The Korean War is fought by military from many NATO nations. India has a contingent here.
On June 27, 1953, NATO, North Korea, and China sign the Armistice Agreement ending all hostilities in Korea. 17 copies of the signed Armistice documents are delivered to our group. All are locked in my safe overnight.
The shooting has stopped...the war is not over.
I take the opportunity to often walk out of Base Camp, climbing into the surrounding hills. It is, of course, prohibited to stroll around the recently vacated battle fields...live ordnance litters the place...dangerous as hell. I really don't think about it...I go anyway.
I sit for hours in abandoned fox holes looking out over the DMZ, trying to picture the fighting around this spot. I take photographs of torn up hillsides...or partially standing mud brick farm houses - empty; I sometimes pass Koreans in soiled white clothing...farmers returning to their land??
Returning to Base Camp, I write another letter to Jeannie B.
From the day I arrive in Korea, I write letters to Jeannie . The few days in Kennewick before catching the train to Oakland...on my way to Korea, I spend most of my time in the City Library - still not welcome to stay home. Jeannie is working in the library. She sometimes sits and chats with me as I thumb through magazines, newspapers, and books. As my train pulls out of the Kennewick station, Jeannie is standing on the platform...rushes to me...gives me a hug. I never see Jeannie again.
Each of my letters to Jeannie follow my daily routine. I create her as a nurse, placing her in my day - without me -, writing the events as she experiences them.
Occasionally, Jeannie writes back. Her last letter is the one before she travels to Kokura, Japan...where she meets Keiko. I never hear from Jeannie again.
* * * * * * * *
I often think of Jeannie...wishing I could once more read the letters I have written those many years ago. Three years ago, I began an internet search. Today, I received notice that Jeannie B. has been found. I sit here in my Bellingham apartment wondering if I have the courage to call.
Late this afternoon, I received a phone call from United Parcel Service (UPS). A few days ago I completed an on-line application for employment...position: Driver Helper...a temporary job over the holidays. I am invited to an interview tomorrow in Mt. Vernon at 11:00 am. If I am accepted, I will participate in a 4-hour indoctrination.
Wish me luck, please !