Marines take tour into history, explore DMZ
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification Number: 2003102343657
Story by Sgt. Danny L. Patterson



JOINT SECURITY AREA, Republic of Korea (October 4, 2003) -- The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a place where years of war and turmoil ended with the separation of two nations. The 38th Parallel has divided the two nations since the end of the Korean War and is the most heavily fortified border in the world.

Marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, currently attached to 4th Marine Regiment on the Unit Deployment Program recently had the opportunity to visit the DMZ and other historic sites in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

The Marines arrived at Warrior Base, 2,300 meters from the DMZ, Oct.4 and until taking the tour; some didn't know the significance of the DMZ.

"Before taking the tour, I had heard of the DMZ and saw it on the news a few times; I didn't know the history behind it and never thought I would see it," said Cpl. Reginald Jacques, administration clerk for the battalion.

The tour began with a brief given by Army Pvt. Roger W. Bratton, tour guide for the Joint Security Area (JSA). During the brief, he told the Marines the background of the DMZ and also gave them a description of the JSA and their duties.

After the brief, the Marines loaded up on the buses and began their journey to the DMZ. On their way, they passed the three defenses set up from coast to coast to prevent intrusions from the North.

They passed a tall tank wall first and soon after drove past a large mine field. The last defense set up was two chain-link fences that had a stack of painted rocks at the bottom and various spots in the fence.

"The painted rocks may be inexpensive, but they are a very effective way to know if someone has tried to infiltrate," Bratton, a Fishers, Ind., native said. "If someone tries to get through, the rocks fall and it is almost impossible to line them back up"

As they went up the winding road, the trees opened up and the Marines got their first sight of North Korea. Not only did they see North Korea for the first time, but they also saw the village of Gi Jong Dong, or Propaganda Village.

"Propaganda Village is named such because there are loudspeakers in the town that broadcast propaganda to encourage the South Koreans to come to the North," Bratton said. "No one actually lives in the village, it is just set up to look beautiful."

Continuing their tour, the next stop was Conference Row, named for the peace conferences between the nations. Conference Row can sometimes be seen in magazines and the news.

According to Jacques, the brief moments he had at Conference Row were very memorable.

"It was memorable because I had seen the same pictures I was taking in magazines," the Queens, N.Y., native said. "I plan to show the pictures to my family and friends to show that I was there."

While on Conference Row, the Marines were able to go into the Military Armistice Commission Building, where the cease-fire talks were held after the Korean War. Also in the building, they were able to cross to the North Korean side and watch the North Korean guards staring into the windows.

After leaving Conference Row, the Marines left and headed towards United Nations Checkpoint 3. There the Marines took the opportunity to take pictures of Propaganda Village. While they were there they also saw one of the world's largest flags.

"The flag that flies above Propaganda village has an approximate dry weight of 600 pounds and when flying to its full extent it compares to the three-story buildings in the town," Bratton explained.

On their way back to Camp Bonifas, they passed the village of Tae Song Dong, referred to as Freedom Village. The only residents of Freedom Village are those who lived there before the Korean War or direct descendants of someone who did.

Those who live in Freedom Village make a yearly income of nearly $82,000 that is tax-free. Although this is a large sum of money, the residents must be physically present in the village by 11 p.m. 345 days a year.

On the ride back, Jacques said he reflected on the day's events and thought about what he had seen.

"I learned a lot and I will tell my kids about the trip," Jacques said. "This trip is very enjoyable and everyone should go if they have the chance."

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn20...E?opendocument


Sempers,

Roger