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Koje-do Prison Camp - Gallery

Originally published by MHQ magazine. Published Online: August 21, 2009 
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Picture 2 of 13

A group of Chinese communist POWs being interrogated.

War Behind the Wire: Americans learned a hard lesson when North Korean prisoners took over their compound and kidnapped a general. Photographs from Koje-do Prison Camp, Korea, 1951-1953. All photographs and caption information from the National Archives.

Read the article HERE from the Winter 2009 issue of Military History Quarterly.

 

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43 Responses to “Koje-do Prison Camp - Gallery”


  1. 1
    Don Canada says:

    I was assigned to Koje-do enclosure 36 I believe. I was there during both little and big switch. It was a miserable place to be. We had a lot of riots and I do recall some prisoners being shot and a few killed. We used tear gas and CN-DM baseball grenades during th riots. Was glad to get the war over and reassigned to 560th MP Co inh Pusan.
    Was on Koje 1953.

  2. 2
    Heydon Buchanan says:

    I have heard another first-hand account of the miserable side. My father was on Koje-do. He left about a week before General Dodd was captured.

    Were you there when General Dodd was taken?

  3. 3
    David Deatherage says:

    I was in A. Co. 187th Airborne RCT. We took the prisoners out of #76
    on June 12th, 1952 & trucked them to new smaller compounds on the
    island. After That day the rest of the compounds gave up & went on to
    the smaller compounds. There was 31 POWs killed & 139 wounded.
    We had 19 wounded and 1 Rakkasan killed that day.
    Compound #76 had 7,600 POWs This is the CP that captured Gen.
    Dodd several months before. The Really bad Compound.
    We were there from late April till July. We built some of the new "500
    man" Compounds. WE left Koje-do, went to Taegue & made a couple
    of Pay-Jumps, then went up on line at Kumwha valley.
    Koje-do was the "Cesspool of Korea" Now it's a "Park"

    • 3.1
      Merrill Roberts says:

      Hey David,

      I was in HQ&HQ Co on the beautiful island of Koje-Do (smile). Just thought I'd touch base with you i had been looking through some of this stuff on Koje-Do and it had no mention of the 187. Did you have a problem with benifits?? My records were falsified and it took forty nine years to get PTSD. Thought I'd let you know. I still have copies of the Rakkasan, will look for articles on company A. All the Best

      Merrill

      PS did you have a Sfc,Leonard Wainwright???? Pfc Flowers Known as The Killer?

      • 3.1.1
        David Deatherage says:

        Hey Merrill Roberts, Brig. Gen Dodd & Colston were the 2 Gen in charge of Koje-do POW Camp. Both Generals got demoted to Col.
        after the capture of Gen Dodd.
        Gen Boatner was in charge of the POW Camp when we went down there. Our CO was Gen Trapnell.
        Airborne All The Way Dave

    • 3.2
      Don Curtis says:

      I was Co G. 187th Infantry squad leader. I believe A Co entered one end of compound as we entered the other purhsing POW's out of barracks and into parade ground in center. We were 2nd squad through the barb wire fence a few feet from the wounded man being tended to by the medics. would like to hear from you. compare memories. Did you happen to know Sgt. Jansen or the Cpl. ___ who were killled by artillery fire Sept. 26 in the Khumwa valley? I helped carry them off. I beleive they were both A company.

      • 3.2.1
        Doug Petty says:

        Hey Don, Sorry It was my dad that was in the 187th. Iam trying to run down any info I can to find any info on my dad "SAM PETTY, "Easy" co.. But since his records were destoryed (as were thousands more) in '73, just getting anyone to help me . Dad didn't talk any about the war. But I do salute you and the rest of the men and women that served "THANKS" Putting together what ever I can (shadow box type) to honor him.

      • 3.2.2
        Dave Deatherage says:

        Hey Don Curtis, I was in A. Co. 3rd Platoon. I believe Sgt Jansen & that Cpl._____ was in Weapons Platoon (4th Platoon). I've got a call in for a buddy that was in Weapons Platoon. After I talk to him I'll let you the name of that Cpl.if he remembers.
        Airborne All The Way Dave (816) 373-1362
        Ripcord187th@yahoo.com

  4. 4
    Don Hearn says:

    I was part of a Navy surgical team (16) @ Koje-Do 1952
    worked in the operating rooom (?? butcher shop))
    reassinged aft. 2 mo . sent to Hospl ship in Pusan
    w/ rest of team..

    • 4.1
      Sun Huh says:

      Dear Dr. Don Hearn,

      Would you please contact me on the hospital in Koje-do Camp. I published the paper on cause of death of POWs Camp during Korean War, available form: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575971/.

      Would you please let me know if there was an autopsy for detecting causes of death of POWs? I also would like to know the death certificate was maintained according to US death certificate at that time?

      Please contact me via email or fax shuh at hallym.ac.kr FAX: +82.33.241.1672
      Thank you.

      Sun Huh
      Prof. of Parasitology, College of Medicine, Hallym University

  5. 5
    Edward R Johnson says:

    I was a member of Co B 1st Bn, 17th Infantry, 7th Division from Nov-Dec 1952 on Koje-do. Are there any one else around during this perior of time?

    • 5.1
      ann mcparland says:

      Hi , I have been some research into a family member , who was also in , 17th infantry 7th division, he was FR Daniel Rooney Army chaplain,,trying to piece his life together , believe he died 1990 ,,, thanks ,,, Ann , from Ireland

  6. 6
    R Huffman sr says:

    was on koge-do at the POW camps in january 1952,with the 27th regt 25th div,pulled guard duty was one hell of a place to be death at every corner, if you weren't alert they would throw anything at you.
    at that time they dumped their sewage into the back bay and burned it with deisel,used 1/2 oil drums,had to escort them out a few times.
    was there at the time of the first riots in'52,i think it was king co 27th had to shoot their way to the gate.don't hear much of that today.
    they were one hell of a bunch of radicals those p o w's were.

  7. 7
    HELEN STONEKING says:

    MY DAD WAS AN MP AT KOJEDO WOULD LIKE TO LEARN ANYTHING I CAN ABOUT WHAT HE WENT THROUGH. HIS NAME WAS BOB STONEKING HE WAS A CORPORAL ALSO WITH THE 8TH ARMY. ANYONE KNOW HIM?

    • 7.1
      Dave Deatherage says:

      Hey Helen Stoneking, I know your Father very well. Tell him to give a call & we will talk about Koje-do Dave Deatherage (816)373-1362
      Cell (816) 392-8541

  8. 8
    Kenneth Ott says:

    I was on Koje-do when our General was taken into one of the compounds.I would like to have the dates of that event. I was a cook for 38th Hvy Mortor Co. We were pulled off Pork chop hill to guard pows. If anyone has information please e-mail me at.
    kenottpop@comcast.net
    Thank you
    Kenneth Ott

  9. 9
    Cpl Emmnearl G. McKinnon says:

    After serving with the 7th Cav. on the Pusan Perimeter and later as a rifleman with 13th Signal 1st Cav. I was sen to Koje Do. I met my cousin from my home town there and I remember trying to get out of there and back t.o my front line outfit. My cousins name was Philipp Knight I think he was a Sgt. After Korea I landed in a V.A. hospital in Seattle and had to have Insulin Shock to try and eliminate some memories of that war. Consequently I don't remember names and alot of other things along with not knowing what M.P. detatchment I was in on Koje. Reading some guys comments here about the 1666th detatchment I think that rings a bell. Anyone
    remember Phillip or me? I had fingers that were missing from an accident and was a C.I.B. Cpl.
    when I was 11 or 12 playing with dynamite caps..blonde hair too.

    Thanks for your time..GAREY OWEN
    Cpl McKinnon

    • 9.1
      Ellsworth Frankson says:

      In April 1952, my ship, the USS Gunston Hall LSD-5 transported
      15,000 North Korean and Chinese prisoners from Koje-do to Ulsan and Che-ju-do because the US expected riots on the up-coming May 1st Communist Day. We carried 3,000 at a time in our well deck. Our ship was an amphibious transport ship that normally carried small craft with tanks, trucks, marines, soldiers, etc. I was down in the well deck among the first group we carried, trying to get them to make an asile down the middle. Suddenly, one of the prisoners stood up right next to me, shouted some Korean words and all 3,000 prisoners broke out into a song. It scared me so it took me not over 20 seconds to climb over the rows of prisoners and scramble back up the ladder and out of the well deck. We soon were to learn that this was a common thing and the prisoners regularly sang during their trips to a new location. One group looked like Boy Scouts with neck kerchiefs and flags that they waved in a flag drill. Another group had made a drum and bugle corp out of what I was told were beer cans and they performed during the trip. I got the impression the prisoners were glad to be out of the war and living a more comfortable life in captivity.

  10. 10
    lloyd Goff says:

    My dad was with the 2nd cid in korea and always told the story of being with the team inside the prison camp when they recovered gen. dodd. He always laughed about telling dodd "it time to go " and dodd got upset because he hadn't been saluted, dad replied, "do you want to stay".

  11. 11
    Bob kirby says:

    I was on koje-do from1/12/53 to10/28/53 located at choguri,an enclosure on east side of island. comanded by major Gorman.we had problems with pows,such as killings of pows suspected of being turncoats. we had to stir human waste in honey buckets to see if any pieces of bodys were in it. After truce was signed, we procesed them and sent them back to north korea on L S T . Would like to hear from some of comrades were located in this vicinity.

  12. 12
    Joe Desjardins says:

    I was a guard that this camp in 1953. I was in the 5th Cav Regement, 1st Cav. Div. I was then sent to Japan on Hokkido.

    Does anyone remember this time, I was with K= CO. 2nd Platoon.

    • 12.1
      Joe Desjardins says:

      I do not remember this Officer at this time.

      Sorry Joe Desjardins

    • 12.2
      Crystal (Konder) Booth says:

      My dad, Bruce Konder, ws there during this time, January, 1953, 1st Cav. Div., skysweeper, prison guard . . . he's gone now, passed away Feb. 2010 – Blessings to you

  13. 13
    June Bosse Lewis says:

    My dad, Joseph Bosse was a guard at Koje-do compound #63 in 1950 and 1951. He also was a mechanic. Anyone have any memories, pics? I have a few pics, but that's all. I don't even know what company he was in. Any help appreciated.

  14. 14
    Don Curtis says:

    I was infantry squad leader, 2nd Platoon, G company 187th. We entered compound through opening cut in the barbed wire. My squad was the 2nd through the barbed wire. Passed the heavily bleeding GI who later died. The sight motivated many of the company to face the spears and other weaponry with greater alertness. To them we must have been a formidable sight with fixed bayonets and gas masks. Saw many face offs with armed POWs who really stood no chance against a trained trooper. Was first one in to at least two POW barrqcks to flush them out and can testify that each contained more than one body killed by factions inside before we entered. I had taped white cross on helmet to identify me as my platoon fanned out to form bayonet line on my right. Anyone out there remember me?

  15. 15
    Dennis Jansen says:

    Looking for information on Thomas Reagan, reported to be commnader of this POW camp at one time.

  16. 16
    Ken Ott says:

    I was on koje when dodd was captured.at around that timt there was a bad wind storm & blew the cooks tent off the frame work. If anyone out there remembers that date I would like to know. I am trying toget dates & times for my records.I was a cook with hvy mtr co. 38th inf reg,2nd div. I went back to pork chop from there.then came home..Please e-mail me if any one has information or a way to get it, thanks

  17. 17
    mack walker says:

    looking for information Mack Walker , 7th cav. reg. at koje -do POW camp june -july 53

  18. 18
    Doug Petty says:

    My dad was in "E" co. 187th. he lost all his records and I'am trying to piece together all the info I can on him and his unit. If anyone knows of my dad pls, e-mail. Sammuel (SAM) Petty, "E" co, 187th. capt shanahan was his co. also "DOC"sgt spencer w. Cummings was the medic.

  19. 19
    Jim Herbek says:

    My father (Robert Herbek) was on Koje-do from May 52-Sept 53 he served with the 12th MP service company the triple nickle (555). If anyone has any information or pictures I would love to see them. He lives in Lincoln Park N.J.. He just turned 81 and is still healthy.
    Thanks Jim

  20. 20
    T. I Han says:

    Dear US Army service men served at Kojedo POW Camp at S.Korea,
    I appreciate for your honorable service to the Kojedo UN POW Camps. I was one of the anti-communist POWs in POW Camps in Kojedo, S.Korea.
    And I wrote a book on my POW life experience in the POW compound in Kojedo, and about the Korean War, titled 'Lonesome Hero" written in English. I wrote not only my POW life experience but also the details of the Korean War.
    Any body want to read this book, you could order from the Internet or to the book publisher "Author House". Phone :1-888-519-5121, or 1-877-820-5393, 1-888-728-8467

    I was in the 83rd Compound which was anti-communist POW compound and I was 1st battalion commander. Sgt Koon who was the GI commander of the 83rd compound was my good friend and I am looking for him many years. Any body know him, please let me know. Thank you very much.

    • 20.1
      Sun Huh says:

      Dear Mr. Han,

      I published the paper on cause of death of POWs Camp during Korean War, available form: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575971/.Would you please explain the medical services for POWs in Koje Camp. It was easy to visit physician? The medicine was enough for treatment? Is there any epidemic of infectious diseases in POWs camp?

      Please contact me via email shuh at hallym.ac.kr

      Thank you.

      Sun Hun
      Prof. of Parasitology, College of Medicine, Hallym University

  21. 21
    Bill Mahar says:

    You guys seem to be late comers. I arrived at Koje-Do January 0f 1951, worked in POW records section. Interrogating seriously ill/dying POW's to authenticate their records prior to transmittal to Red Cross, worked all compounds. POW records Quonset hut was 4th. down on the left from Hdqtrs. 60th. General Depot Quonset hut. Worked for Lt. Robinson, with Richard Davis,a guy named Brocious Sugamo Prison people. Most of us were originally from 8th. Army Stockade or Sugamo Prison in Tokyo before being assigned to 8070 MPEG who opened first POW Camps in Pusan and later on Koje-Do.
    Bill Mahar @Wmahar@aol.com

  22. 22
    Jack Harding says:

    Looking for anyone who served at Koje-Do during Feb. 51 – Sept 51 and may remember my father Lou Harding. He was an MP with the 1ST MPEG CO.94TH MP BN, and is from New Jersey

    Any responses appreciated -

  23. 23
    Bob Wills says:

    Looking for any information on a Charles Wills who jumped in for the rescue of Gen Dodd. Charles was later in the trenches in Nevada for the Atomic bomb test.

  24. 24
    Thomas Yarbrough says:

    David I was also there in \A\ Company 1st Platoon, and very well remember some of the things we found after the fence was cut by SIGNAL company and we went in.The next morning they were lined up at the gate waiting to be moved. I guess that was because some of the \Honcho's\ from the other camps were there when we went in the first one. Remember the small village they had connecting tunnels?? It was like they were the one's in charge, But Westmoreland and Colonel \Bulldog\ Clayman showed them who was really in charge

  25. 25
    Lauren Roberts says:

    Hi,
    I have recently been given my grandfathers photo album from Korea..
    he was at Koje do…
    He has always been the man who won't talk about it. I've tried recently but it upsets him and with his dementia not sure if he remembers much but I do know something about it upsets him so I cannot ask him any longer..

    If anyone remembers a man named Wilburn A Sanders (had a twin brother named Wendell Sanders)

    They were Army originally from Colorado…. if anyone remembers either of them or can help me in anyway i'd greatly appreciate it…

    I have another grandfather who served in korea his name was Levi Vineyard Roberts he was MP I believe he was from Oklahoma.(my grandfather passed away in 95 so unable to ask him)
    Also Worthy Forbus Roberts from Oklahoma..

    Thank you soooo much

    Lauren
    rbrtslrn@yahoo.com

  26. 26
    Brenda Reamy says:

    Good day!
    My dad, Sgt. James Reamy, served in Korea in the 64th heavy tank battalion. I know very little, since he refuses to talk about his service. (I only found out Iast year that he was awarded the Purple Heart! He initially refused it…did not want anything to do with it. My mom convinced him to finally get it.) I found out from my mom that he guarded Koje-do prison. She says his service dates were December 1950 to November 1952. (She says she thinks the last 11 months were in Korea.) He did mention serving with someone named 'Jones' or 'Jonesy'.

    If anyone remembers dad or has any additional information to add, it
    would be much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance for your time and thank you for your service to our country!

    Regards,

    Brenda Reamy
    brenda127@aol.com

  27. 27
    Don Thomas says:

    Serving in the USN, our ship USS Logan APA 196 transported Koje-do prisoners to another area in 1953 after the riots were put down.

  28. 28
    Raul John Donoso says:

    I was on Koje do Island during 1952, March, with Med Co, 5th Regimental Combat Team, and treated prisoners in their compounds for eye problems and gave them treatment of eye ointment in the eyes during their chow time in line. We ladled out food of vegetables and meat out of a 55 gallon drum. One of them asked me if that's the way we eat in the United States.
    One day i was asked to come into one of their compounds and answer some questions, which I did. They, a grim lot, glowered at me and wanted to know what was going to be done with them. I told them, through an interpreter prisoner, they would have a choice of five places to go. China, stay in Korea, Taiwain, or United States, or just plain go free. They liked that and liked me also, for I was young and well-built and friendly. The administered the opthalmic ointment while i was in the hootch with them. I was proved right for they did have a choice in '53, after much disturbances. But my 5th RCT was sent on line in May of 52 in the Punchbowl for 5 months straight til November 15, 1952. I was with C Company, 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion, as a litterbearer, but within two weeks I was notonly the top litterbear but, also, the top medic for we had many casualties. As such, i served that way til March 53 when I finally left the line for Inchon leaving Korea. The last day walking to the west was all sand and we couldn't see any thing, but they said just keep on walking and you ll see the ship or fall into the water and drown. Finally, out of the dust we saw saw and boarded the ship. I thought to myself that Korea was so ugly and was glad to be seasick again going to Sasebo. Japan, Repo Depot. We had 4800 casualties out of 5600 men in the 5th RCT, which outfit was a bastard outfit and left on line so long. We had replacements. We were online so long that we played cards while mortars rained down on us; we didn't care anymore. But we dealt out misery and death to many more of the enemy day and night.

  29. 29
    Bert Bishop says:

    My Dad has some bad memories of that place but won't really talk about it. He went by Bert Bishop but the army made him use his real name, Vernice Bishop.

  30. 30
    John Gadd says:

    I was studying at a seminary near London in the early 70's to be a catholic priest and obtained a painting signed Seoul Korea 1953. The painting appears to be on a piece of cotton bed sheet. It is Our Lady holding the Baby Jesus with out stretched arms. Have you come across any such painting done in P.O.W. Camps?

  31. 31
    James Thompson says:

    I was on LST 758 an we carried a lot of POWs to Koje. We carried 2000 and in operation big switch they built pens on the tank deck and we carried 500. They looked like a well trained army with red stars on their hats. One night they were shaking the pens and a guard set off a tear gas grenade and he teargassed the whole ship with the vent system going. We were there not long after Dodd was captured and Boatner took over with an iron fist. I have a lot of pictures of those days.



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