Located just north of Seoul and about an hour south of Dongducheon, is the suburban city of Uijongbu. Besides being nationally famous for serving the best budaechigae in the country the city is also home to soldiers of the Second Infantry Division. Below is a graphic of the locations of current and former USFK camps in Uijongbu:
Out of all of these camps only two remain operational today, Camp Red Cloud in the city’s northwest and Camp Stanley to the city’s southeast. All of the remaining camps have been closed since 2005 as part of USFK’s transformation program to reduce the force footprint in Korea. If you look at the map all of these camps used to be on the outskirts of the old city of Uijongbu. However, as Korea prospered economically so did Uijongbu and the camps were completely swallowed up by the surrounding city.
The urban density of Uijongbu played a part in the decision to reduce soldiers and consolidate camps in Uijongbu. After a number of these camps were closed down the anti-US groups started protesting that these camps were polluted wastelands that were a danger to the surrounding Korean community. During a recent visit to Uijongbu, I decided to see what the current status of the camps really is.
The first camp I started at was Camp Red Cloud:
Camp Red Cloud (CRC) is the home to the headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Division and a few miscellaneous associated with the division headquarters. The camp’s namesake is Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud, a Winnebago Indian from Wisconsin that was post-humanously awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War. The camp is quite nice and has a busy golf course that is usually over flowing with Korean golfers. I took no pictures from inside the camp since it is still open and have my own policy of not taking pictures inside open USFK camps due to operational security concerns, but here is a picture of the division headquarters from the 2ID webpage:
From CRC I crossed the busy highway in front of the camp and walked down the road through the small “ville” in front of CRC and towards Camp La Guardia. The ville area in front of CRC is not really your typical soldier “ville” in Korea and is more of what you see in a typical Korean neighborhood. Camp La Guardia like many 2ID camps closed down in 2005. The camp is actually built around an old airstrip that originally gave the camp it’s name by being named after La Guardia Airport in New York. Before closing down, Camp La Guardia served as the home for an engineer bridging company because the runway provided plenty of room to park the large engineer equipment. The engineers are long gone and when I approached the front gate I noticed a ROK Army soldier guarding the gate. I asked him if I can take a picture of the camp from inside the gate and he would not let me. So I took this picture later on in the day from Cheonbosan Mountain that overlooks Uijongbu:
From La Guardia I walked down to the Uijongbu train station which sits adjacent to Camp Falling Water. Camp Falling Water used to serve as the home for the Department of Public Works (DPW). DPW is staffed with Korean workers that are responsible for maintenance operations on the USFK camps. Camp Falling Water is a very small camp, more like a collection of warehouses, that was closed down in 2005 as well.
From the train station I caught a bus to Camp Kyle that sits on the northeast side of the city. The camp is named after 2nd Lieutenant Darwin Kyle who was post-humanously awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War. This camp was also closed in 2005 and was home to a maintenance company and a quartermaster company when it closed. At the camp’s entrance I once again talked to a couple of ROK Army guards that told me I could not take pictures of the camp because it was Top Secret. For being some place so Top Secret it sure was easy to get a picture by walking over to the nearby pedestrian overpass and taking a picture of the camp from up there:
No that is not a massive oil slick on the camp as the anti-US groups would have you believe, but just water from an earlier rain shower. I did see some ROK Army trucks moving around the camp, but besides that no activity at all. From Camp Kyle I walked along the side of the camp and followed a trail that leads up Cheonbo Mountain behind the camp and took this overhead view of the camp:
Notice that some how all these green trees are some how growing on this polluted USFK camp. From up on the mountain I could also see Camp Essayons which lies on the western slope of the mountain:
Camp Essayons many years ago was once home to an engineer unit that named the camp after the Corps of Engineers motto of Essayons, which is French for “Let Us Try”. Camp Essayons was last home to a military intelligence battalion before the camp also closed down in 2005 as part of the USFK transformation.
From the very top of the mountain I could see Camp Stanley as well, that lies to the city’s southeast on the slopes of Mt. Surak:
Camp Stanley is named after Colonel Thomas Stanley who was killed in a vehicle accident in Italy in 1944 during World War II.
Camp Stanley is currently still open and is mainly a logistical base for the 2nd Infantry Division. Camp Stanley has actually escaped being surrounded by urban sprawl due to the fact that is located right next to a Korean prison and it’s adjacent rice paddies. The Korean prison is the building you see above with the blue roof. From Camp Stanley you can sometimes hear the prisoners singing songs and cadence from the prison. You can often see them working in the prison’s rice paddies as well. The picture below is of Camp Stanley as viewed from Surak Mountain:
Across the street from Camp Stanley you can see the rice paddies the prisoners work in that helps give the area a distinct aroma during the summer months. The quality of life on Camp Stanley greatly improved two years ago with the opening of the new PX on the camp:
Camp Stanley is also home to the only real soldier “ville” in Uijongbu where one can find the typical juicy bars, pawn shops, chicken on a stick shacks, counterfeit clothing stores, coin & plaque shops, and other typical staples of a “ville” in Korea:
Finally, from Cheonbo Mountain I had a bird’s eye view over tiny Camp Sears:
Camp Sears was once home to a headquarters battery of a short-range air defense battalion. The Camp was named after Sergeant First Class Jerome Sears who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross during the Korean War. The camp closed as well in 2005. While walking down the mountain towards the camp I could see that some how locals were growing crops along the polluted fence line of this USFK Camp:
Quite shocking that locals would be willing to eat crops grown in such polluted soil. I then walked to the front gate of the camp and found no one guarding the camp and was able to take this picture of the front of the camp:
Once again the oasis of green growing in the middle of the dense urban jungle of Uijongbu is quite striking. The fact is that these USFK camps are much cleaner than an equivalent ROK Army base that has been open for 50 years. The camps in general are much cleaner than surrounding communities as well. The camps have plenty of trees and open space that could be turned into useful parks and facilities for the city of Uijongbu. The local government had big plans to turn the camps into parks and administrative centers for the city. Camp La Guardia and Camp Falling Water would have been an excellent locations to turn into a large city park in the section of the city in desperate need of some green space.
However, as usual the outside anti-US groups ruined things for the surrounding community by pushing their bogus pollution agenda. Because of the anti-US groups the hand over of the land was delayed for two years and when the camps were finally handed over, the land was given to the ROK Army instead of the local government. Many people I know in Uijongbu are very upset by the interference of the anti-US groups.
If anti-US groups like Green Korea really cared about the environment, instead of making bogus camp pollution claims, they should be complaining that USFK should clean the graffiti on Cheonbo Mountain overlooking Uijongbu. This faded unit crest is of the old 702nd MSB unit that was stationed at Camp Sears more than a decade ago:
The mountain also has other smaller patches of graffiti from other units as well. Now this is something that I can legitimately see people complaining to USFK to clean up, however Green Korea is silent. It is because the anti-US groups like Green Korea do not care about the environment and instead were formed to promote an anti-USFK agenda that has since been linked to a North Korean spy ring. Creating as many obstacles as possible to prevent the USFK transformation was the goal of Green Korea and their North Korean puppet masters, not any concern about the environment. So in the end the USFK transformation happened anyway and the only people that lost out due to the anti-US groups were the people of Uijongbu.
If you have an interesting or funny veteran story from your time in Korea I would love to hear it. If it is a good story I am willing to publish it here on the ROK Drop. It doesn’t matter what decade you served just as long as it is interesting or funny. If you have a story to share you can e-mail the story to me at gikoreaonline – at – yahoo.com. Thanks for reading the ROK Drop.
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