|The company to which I was assigned had its base location in what was said to have been
the site of a small Korean community which was called "Chip-o-ri". We were northeast of Seoul, north and east of Uijongbu, north of the
Thirty-eighth Parallel, north of some artillery units, and north of a M.A.S.H.
We were south of one portion of the fighting (at Khumwa), east by south of another section (at Ch'or'won), and east of Yonchon, sort of "centrally"
located, with smaller sub-units closer to the front lines. We were in what was considered to be a "three-point zone", direct support for the front line,
and close enough to be worried if the front lines were over-run as they had been a couple of years earlier. But our group headquarters was in Seoul,
so we were a "two-point" unit. (People stationed at a couple of our sub-units earned four points a month.)
Just the same, we went on, acting like combat troops but were never likely to see the enemy. The Captain was trying to get our unit three points a
month, but didn't succeed. The point system was in answer to one of the problems for combat troops during World War II. Service then had been
"for the duration plus six months." Someone decided that as Korea wasn't a war, no politician would risk his job advocating the same sort of thing, so
someplace it was decided that after 36 points earned in Korea you would be rotated out. If you were in a combat outfit you got four points a month
while you were in the line or in reserve; in a support outfit you got three points a month; and in all others, two points per
month. If your outfit was in combat for two months, and then was moved back into the south of Korea, those men who had been there received four
points per month for the combat period, and then two points per month after that.
It made the situation anything but funny. People counted points, particularly those in combat. Considerations ran from: "I ought to be in a unit that gets
more points per month, and get out of Korea sooner," to: "I've survived eight months, maybe I ought to accept that transfer back to headquarters.
The points won't pile up as fast, but maybe I'll survive to go home."
The strain was even greater in the last month. What should one do, what should one's
friends do, what should the officers and non-coms do? A man who is experienced, combat-wise, has shown that he knows how to survive, and to
keep his group alive: do
you risk him more, to take advantage of these skills which the unit will soon lose? Do
you hold back so that he won't be killed or wounded in the last couple of weeks? Do you put him in the safe spot in patrols?
Although I don't think there is any such spot. Being a non-combat outfit we didn't have that sort of strain. But we counted points with the best of
BOB LEVY, ASA KOREA MEMBER
"3 YEARS, 2
MONTHS & 22
at LULU Publishing
(search on Levy in