1st TAB, 25th Arty, Uijongbu, Korea, I Corps, from Jan 1968 to Mar. 1969
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TAB means Target Aquisition Battalion, or forward observers. We had no artillery
I arrived at Camp Jackson the day after the Pueblo Incident. A group of 31 highly trained infiltrators also revealed themselves at the same time. The day before my arrival at Camp Jackson there was a firefight outside the gate with several Korean soldiers and police killed. (Camp Jackson had about 100 GIs but lots of equipment and Katusas)
North Korea was coordinating these provocations with the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam, to draw off troops.
The mission of the infiltrators was to behead the President of South Korea. Over 700 armed Commandos were sent into South Korea in 1968, according to a Congressional report. Our orders always were that we could not load our weapons unless we were fired at. The official theory is that the infiltrators are so skilled that they cannot fail to kill you if you spot them, so no point risking shooting innocent people. We were given mandatory classes to describe the superhuman feats of the infiltrators. Not even Rambo could do that stuff.
There was immediate 6pm curfew for the country, passes were canceled and we needed to have rifles, helmets and flak jackets to leave the compound. This did not last long, but midnight curfew for the country was the rule for the rest of the year. All miltary personnell had to be back on base before midnight unless you were on leave (or were a permanent gate guard). No more than 40% of our unit could be on pass at any given time.
The first sergeant at Charlie battery said I had the highest IQ in the battalion, including the Lt. Col. He asked if I could help with some serious problems with the supply room. He offered me temporary E5 rank (I was E2). I didn't think I could help that way and told him what he really needed to do, which he didn't expect. He followed my advice exactly and it turned out to be right on. Before it was over the original supply sergeant got busted down to private E-1.
Getting the supply room squared away allowed our readiness level to go up so we could spend 4 months in the field doing useful work.
My reward was to spend the last few months of my tour as the only permanent gate guard there had ever been at Camp Mermaid. I had 3 hours of duty every other day. No bed checks, no morning formation. I did not need a pass to leave and I was the only soldier in Korea not on leave who did not have to obey curfew and did not need to sleep on base.