After a short time, combat duty became a routine part of life along the DMZ for Americans in the base camps scattered north of the Imjin River fighting the unfinished and undeclared war that gripped Korea between 1966 and 1969.
“Hey, Major, we got a GI out here that’s in a bad way.”
Major Samantha “Nevada” Smith, MD, looked up from the report she was finishing and stared at the soldier standing in front of her. It was obvious he had just come in from a DMZ sweep. He was dressed in full combat gear and was filled with dust, sweat, mud, and smelled terrible.
“Bring him in and put him on the table in the examining room.”
“This soldier has no ID tags or any insignia on his uniform. Is he with your unit?”
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know, Major. We found him wandering along the Imjin just south of Freedom Bridge. He wouldn’t talk to us. He just asked for a medic. We think he might be a member of the invisible army.”
“Invisible army? What’s that?”
“I’m not sure. I heard they are stationed in ASCOM City. They train as snipers and everything they do is secretive, on a need to know basis.”
“I see. Well, he’s lost a lot of blood. Get him in here and we’ll take a look at him.”
It was 1:30 a.m. and the switchboard lit up. It had been a quiet evening. We had one report of an unidentified individual, UI, in the DMZ, by a patrol from the 1st of the 9th, which means they thought they saw something, but couldn’t identify it. They fired off a couple of rounds, requiring us to send in a report to the division headquarters and meaning I would have to go with the tracker team at first light into the DMZ to confirm the activity that required UN personnel to fire off the rounds. That happened just after dark, around 9:00 p.m. Not a sound since then out of any of the patrols out on the Military Demarcation Line, MDL or battalions manning the barrier along the DMZ, until now.
The call was coming in from Camp Young. Camp Young was in the western sector of the DMZ near Freedom Bridge and I wondered who would be calling from there at this time of night. I anticipated the brigade commander was shit-faced again and wanted to speak with his pal, General Malik, the division commander. After a night of heavy drinking, they enjoyed singing filthy songs to each other. It was enlightening listening to their conversations.
“Third brigade TOC,” I said. TOC was the acronym for Tactical Operation Center.
“Put me through to your OIC, please. This is Major Smith.”
“Yes ma’am,” I replied.
I knew who Major Smith was. She was the new doctor heading up the hospital at Camp Young and the only “round eye” female north of the Imjin River. She was a bigger draw than the movie theater at the Recreation Center. Since her arrival, they had to start limiting the GI’s sick calls.
I turned around and looked at Captain Smedley, our Officer In Charge, OIC, as he slept at his desk behind me.
“Sir, wake up. I’m putting a call through from Major Nevada Smith.”
“What? Really? I wonder what she wants. Okay, put her through.”
Before our former OIC, Lieutenant Halloran left for the states, he paid Major Smith’s house boy twenty dollars to obtain one of her brassieres so he could find out her breast size. Halloran then started a clandestine lottery, where anyone interested, could put in $5.00 and the person guessing the Major’s correct bust size would win the pot, less the Lieutenant’s administration fees, of course.
All the winning guesses were put in a steel pot and the winner was drawn from that.
Ironically, Captain Smedley was the winner. He had just arrived from the states after a tour in Vietnam where he was awarded a purple heart. He hadn’t even seen the Major, so it goes to show you that luck plays a major hand in these lotteries. Captain Smedley was kind enough to provide me with beer out of his winnings to relieve the boredom while pulling night duty.
“Major Smith, this is Captain Smedley, how may I help you?”
“Captain, two soldiers from the 1st of the 23rd just delivered a UI to our operating room. They said they pulled him out of the Imjin. He wasn’t wearing ID tags and his uniform didn’t have a unit patch.”
“Do you think he is a North Korean infiltrator?”
“No, he’s caucasian.”
“That’s correct, Captain. I need to contact his company commander, but I need to find out what unit he is with.”
“Okay, let me make a call and I’ll get back to you.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
“What’s that about, Captain?” I asked him.
“I’m not sure, but I think I have a pretty good idea. Put me through to division headquarters.”
I put Captain Smedley through to the Division G2, intelligence officer, a Lieutenant General Pearson.
“Sir, Major Smith, from Brigade OR called and has a UI on her table. I have a feeling it’s a Ghost Walker.”
When Captain Smedley hung up he walked over to the cooler and pulled out a couple of Falstaff beers.
“Here, have another one. I think we are going to need it.”
“What’s a Ghost Walker,” I asked.
He stared at me for a moment, took a pull on his beer and belched.
“They are some really weird dudes. We had them in Vietnam. They are trained by the CIA and were first organized here in Korea back in the early ’60’s. I heard that they were involved in infiltrating a North Korean nuclear plant and kidnapping a North Korean General. That was back in ’62, I think. They tortured him and then killed him. It’s rumored they were doing similar stuff in Nam.”
“What do you think he was doing down by Freedom Bridge?”
“I don’t know, but this will give us more gas than all of the beer we drank tonight. Which reminds me, you better get rid of the empties. I have to call Colonel Billups and let him know about this. I think these guys cross the MDL up in the ROK, Republic of Korea, sector so the United Nations Command doesn’t get wind of it. The Colonel is going to be pissed.
You think we are just keeping the North Koreans out of South Korea? It goes both ways. There is no love lost on either side. When there is some retaliation that needs to be done and the Second Division is not allowed to do it, you can bet your sweet ass the CIA will be involved.”