ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on December 10th, 2008 at 1:20 pm

A Profile of Camp St. Barbara

» by in: USFK

After finishing my tour along the old stretch of Highway 37 that runs through the Chinese Tunnel, I then proceeded down the road to check out the old Camp St. Barbara area:

This camp used to be home to the I Corps Artillery before the camp was handed over to the Korean Army back in the 1975.  The camp is still operated by the ROK Army to this day. The camp’s artillery heritage is what originally gave the camp its name because St. Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen.  St. Barbara was said to have been martyred by her idolatrous father for refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods, whereupon a bolt of lightning struck him and he burned to death. This how she became the patron saint of artillerymen.


Image of St. Barbara

This naming of the camp actually was the subject of some controversy back in 1959

St. Barbara’s Own. Protests to the Defense Department from P.O.A.U. and various Protestant chaplains resulted in toning down the St. Maurice movement at both posts, plus last week’s directive from the Adjutant General. But P.O.A.U. is still casting an uneasy eye around the armed services. The organization is currently checking into the possibility of undue Catholic pressure in the naming of the I Corps Artillery’s post in Korea four years ago as Camp St. Barbara and the report that artillerymen there are calling themselves “St. Barbara’s Own.”* “This thing seems to be spreading almost like ‘Kilroy was here,’ ” said P.O.A.U.’s Lowell this week, and then dropped an artilleryman’s salvo into the camp of Senator John Kennedy. “If we had a Catholic President, would we have this kind of thing rubbed in our faces all the time?”  [TIME Magazine - Jan. 1959]

The camp is located across the river from the small village of Baekui-ri and just south of a large airfield known as R228:

I was actually hoping to be able to stop and climb up one of the surrounding hillsides in order to take some pictures of the camp and the surrounding area from a higher vantage point, but a steady down pour began to fall and one thing I have learned in all my time in Korea is that you do not hike in a down pour due to the flash flooding threat.  So I was just going to have to be content taking pictures from under the inside of my car.

With that in mind I kept driving towards Baekui-ri from the Chinese Tunnel area and the first thing that became apparent were the large American style barracks buildings that stand adjacent to the road running into town:

I do not know for sure if these barracks are left over from the days when this was an American military base but the building does look similar to barracks buildings that look just like it on current USFK installations. From there I then drove across the bridge that leads into town and looks back towards Camp St. Barbara:

Even though it was raining, the Hantan River actually wasn’t running very high and I even saw some people fishing.  The view from across the river from Baekui-ri was actaully quite nice despite the rain:

Here is how a similar view from the village looked over 35 years ago:

Unlike many other areas in Korea, not much has really changed in this area other then the greatly improved road network to get here and the increased vegetation.

Looking back towards the town here is what the main street running through Baekui-ri looks like:

I went for a walk around town and probably due to the rain there was really no one else walking around:

The village to this day does maintain a strong military presence, but now it is no longer an American military presence but a ROK Army one:

Walking through the winding streets of the village it was easy to imagine the American GI’s that once walked through the streets like I currently was.  I’m sure those streets were a lot more lively though then they are now:

Here is a look at what the village looked like when it was the haunt for so many USFK soldiers long ago:

After walking around the village I then drove back across the bridge and headed towards Camp St. Barbara.  At the entrance to the camp there was a checkpoint with armed ROK Army soldiers checking anyone who wishes to enter the camp; American Army ID cards don’t cut it:

So from the checkpoint I then drove further north up the valley towards the airfield.  The road to the airfield is bordered with a number of ranges that are overlooked by rocky butte:

This butte is the most striking natural feature of the area and if it wasn’t raining like it was, I would have looked for a way to climb it.  I’m not sure what the name of this butte is, but I have heard it called Hanging Rock before:

At the entrance to the airfield there was once again another checkpoint denying access to anyone wanting to enter the airfield:

I actually spent some time on this airfield before during a training exercise that was taking place on the St. Barbara training area further up the valley.  The brigade’s support battalion setup here during an exercise because of the large pavement it had to work on here instead of wallowing in the mud with the rest of us.  The quartermaster guys had a showerpoint setup here so we would rotate guys from the field here to go get showers.  I found the runway to be quite large, but is used primarily for helicopter landings now.  Many of the buildings looked run down as well but some were still in use.

I do not know if R228 used to be an American airfield or not but I would imagine that possibly the airfield was used to house the artillerymen’s spotter planes back in the day.  I’m sure some of you old Camp St. Barbara veterans can answer this question in the comments section.  I do however like how the old soldiers at Camp St. Barbara labeled the airfield back then:

From the entrance to the airfield I then drove back to town and by then the rain had let up a little bit.  So I decided to walk up a small hill behind the town, with my umbrella of course, to try and get a better picture of the area:

Despite the poor weather I actually got a pretty decent picture of the area from the top of this small hill.  To give further perspective here is how a similar view looks like on Google Earth:

You can see Baekui-ri village off to the left and the buildings that compose Camp St. Barbara poking up out of the foliage to the right:

On closer inspection it can be seen that the camp today actually appears to be a mixture of both old and new buildings:

Compared to other ROK military bases I have seen in the area this one actually didn’t look like a bad place to be stationed for someone in the ROK Army considering how it does have some newer buildings and some really nice scenery as well.  Hopefully the current occupants of the camp have as many positive memories of the place as past USFK servicemembers stationed there once had.

Note: You can read a whole lot more about Camp St. Barbara along with viewing many old pictures of the camp at Bruce Richards site.

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  • Bruce
    10:30 am on December 10th, 2008 1

    Hey, very nice. I spent 4 tours in Korea, and enjoyed my time at St Barbara the most. It was one of those assignments that we worked our butts off, but we partied just as hard.

    The country side around there is beautiful . Looking back, I went on several hiking trips that I really should not have, but luck was on my side. :) I loved walking through the small villages and meeting the people, especially the kids.

    The big white 3 floor was built after the US transferred the camp over to the ROKA. That area was part of the 2/76 Artillery back in the day. In the below picture you can see the same area. The camp entrance was to the left, and the small road in the middle was the Alert Gate for the big guns to head down to the river.

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/2nd76th.jpg

    The large green Quonset hut was the 2/76 NCO Club that these guys are at.

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/nco%20club.jpghttp://ww

    That is the bridge and Vill in the back ground.

  • Bruce
    10:37 am on December 10th, 2008 2

    I guess I clicked that url 2 times :)

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/nco%20club.jpg

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    1:01 pm on December 10th, 2008 3

    Bruce I'm glad you liked the posting. It is interesting digging around your site and looking at the old pictures of Korea. It is amazing to see how much things have changed and then some aspects things have stayed the same.

  • Rob
    2:49 pm on December 10th, 2008 4

    Nice post GI, and great site Bruce. Indeed, it's very interesting…

  • Wrenchbender
    2:50 am on December 11th, 2008 5

    Just rode past there in October coming the long scenic way back from TDC on the motorcycle.

  • ?? ? The Western Confucian: The Patroness of Artillerymen
    7:55 am on December 11th, 2008 6

    [...] “GI Korea” takes us on a trip through time to the site of a USFK base named in her honor — A Profile of Camp St. Barbara. She got her patronage because she was “martyred by her idolatrous father for refusing to sacrifice [...]

  • Bruce
    8:16 am on December 11th, 2008 7

    This area of Korea has seen change as all of Korea has, but most noticeable in this area are the roads.

    Here is route 37 taken near Cp St Barbara in 1959.

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/papasan%20with%20transp

    This is the the same route 37, at the turn off for the village Baekui-ri next to the camp.

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/baekuiri-37.jpg

    GI Korea, its a shame it was raining and you could not get up on top of "Hanging Rock". You would of had a great view.

    Maybe a return trip some day.

  • Bruce
    6:24 am on December 12th, 2008 8

    I was sent these pictures about 2 years ago, saying it was on route 37 near the old camp. Looking at the bridge, looks like it is part of the new section between Baekui-ri and the KTC (Rod Range).

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/unknown.htm

    Anyone know?

  • Phil
    6:57 am on December 17th, 2008 9

    Great site guy. I was with C Btry, 6th Bn, 12 Arty at Santa Barbara just after the Pueblo was captured in late 1967 or early '68 and then for 15 more months. Had orders for Nam but they wee changed when the boat was captured. Spent a lot of time in the club overlooking the river and the MP Post–beers 10c and mixed drinks .35c. Lots of infiltrators during that time and tensions were pretty high. I was in a motorized 175 unit and we slogged through a lot of firing up along the Imjin River. A lot of good and bad memories but it was an experience. Hard to believe how much that area has changed, especially the ville. Remember one morning when they did a surprise change of MPC and some of the ladies who had been saving up MPC for their retirement threw themselves over the cliff into the river. I never did learn exactly what the cross was for on Hanging Rock, Maybe someone can tell me if it was for a specific battle at that location…at least that's what I was told.

  • Bruce
    5:13 am on January 20th, 2009 10

    Found the location in this picture to be very close to where I worked at in 1970.

    http://rokdrop.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/cam

    I was in D Company 4th Maint Bn, attached to the 6/12 Arty for quarters and rations, and had our repair shop in there area.

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/6-12arty.jpg

    The yellow pin is where the entrance to the 6/12 Arty was, and the picture below was taken.

    This is me standing at the entrance road to our shop, and infront of our hut.

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/me1970.jpg

    There is something just to the east of this about 1/4 to a 1/2 mile that I have been trying to figure out for some time. You can email me if you know what it is.

  • Bruce
    12:53 am on March 14th, 2009 11

    I wasgoing through my files this week, and thought this may be useful for some of the guys that were near the DMZ in the late 60s, warly 70s, with Agent Orange claims.

  • Bruce
    12:54 am on March 14th, 2009 12

    This should work

    http://qsl.net/wd4ngb/june%201968.jpg

  • Bruce
    1:24 pm on June 16th, 2009 13

    I just received a bunch of new pictures from 1960 of Camp St Barbara. Here is a sample

    Here are the new pictures

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/csb60-61.htm

    Bruce

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    1:34 pm on June 16th, 2009 14

    Bruce thanks for the link. Those are some great pictures you put up.

  • Bruce
    1:49 pm on June 16th, 2009 15

    I messed up a forgot the new ones from 1957. :???:

    http://www.qsl.net/wd4ngb/csb57.htm

  • Doug Noble
    12:12 pm on July 21st, 2009 16

    I was stationed with HQ Co., 1st Obsn Bat, 25th Arty from the Summer of 1958 until the Summer of 1959 (11 months since I shipped over on the USNS David C. Shanks and back on the USNS O'Hara).

    I look at the pictures and get lost, although in my mind I can walk from our area to the movie theater at Corps Arty HQ.

    We were at the north end of Camp St. Barbara living in Quonset huts. While I was there we finally replaced our fancy 20 holer with a real, flush latrine and real showers. As I left they were building concrete block buildings to replace the hut.

    I have a few photos, mostly black and white and of people, but most were lost in a fire.

  • Tom Rosenlund
    8:54 am on January 28th, 2010 17

    Thanks for the website and lots of great pictures. I was

    with the 6th Btn 80th Arty at Camp Knox in '69-'70. We traveled to Camp Santa Barbara to qualify with the M16

    at the rifle range (they switched from the M14 to the 16 just as I got in country). I remember staying in some dumpy queonset huts and mamasans collecting lead from the backstops on the range. We had towed 155's and tracked 8 inch howitzers and went somewhere near there to practice fire these.

  • Dan Hayden
    11:36 am on March 1st, 2010 18

    Thanks for the memories. I was stationed at Camp St Barbara in 1971 when we turned it over to the ROK. I've seen the date listed as 1973 or 1975, but it was spring (I believe) of 1971. I was in HHB I Corps (gp) Artillery as the radio mechanic when we all moved down to Camp Red Cloud. Some of us went back to St Barbara a couple of months later for a meeting with our ROK counterparts, but it was all Korean then. I left Red Cloud for home in Feb 1972.

  • Bruce
    7:37 am on April 24th, 2010 19

    Anyone else around that was at Cp St Barbara? For some reason I do not remember a lot of details. I guess it is part because it was so long ago, and part because I spent a good part of the time in a fog from too much partying.

    I remember for some reason the village was called Peggy Lee or Tuam Dong by most. I spent a lot of spare time there, with most at the Rose Bar, or the Play Boy Club. As many guys that were at St B, there must of been more than those 2 clubs. Any one have any input? I remember 2 of the girls were Laura, and Suki. Laura was one of the sweetest girls I met. I ran into Suki down at Cp Humphreys in 78.

    I was part of a 12 man Detachment from D Co, 4th Maint Bn, that was down south at Stanley. We had to load up in our 2 1/2 ton van, and drive to Stanley once a month for pay.

    I remember all the guys well, but the ones I remember the most were Gipson, Haley, Daly. Dang we partied. :)

    Any other stories?

  • Frank Branstrom
    12:28 am on May 2nd, 2010 20

    i was at santa Barbara 59-60 76th & 38th art i was a dog handler. As you came in the gate the kennel's were to the left up a hill with a small bldg. with a bunk/ supplies etc… i may have a couple pictures.As i remember we had 5 or 6 dog's. Each had there own dog house.

  • Thomas
    1:58 am on May 2nd, 2010 21

    I love looking at old pictures of US camps in Korea. Oh how the country has changed.

    A friend of mine here in Las Vegas is a Korean that ran the US motor pool at Yongsan for many, many years. He and his wife immigrated (legally!) to the US many years ago and their son is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy. He and I were sharing some scotch the other night while talking about what Korea used to be like.

  • santo omodio
    7:41 am on May 31st, 2010 22

    I was at camp St. barbra from april 61,to july 62. I was a radio repairman in Heq I corp. Looking at these pictures I can pick out my hut and my radio shack. I worked next to the wireman/pole climers. We had KATUSAs that lived along with us in the same huts. You did'nt want to get them mad. We had house boys that fixed our bunks and took care of our laundry. But my house boy took of with camera, never saw hi again. I can remember some of the guys I servied with, to mention a few, Sidney Issac from the Vergin Islands, Martizes from Chicago,Allen from Huston and Collins who were my radio operator and wireman. Our E7 was Sargent Jessup and we had a Lt Patrick who left shortly after I got there. I have alot of pic I will scan and send to this site. I spent alot of time at the NCO club and have alot of pic from there. thanks Bruce for this site

  • Mike Keblitis
    8:40 am on June 9th, 2010 23

    I was at Camp St.Barbara June 69 to July 70. I don't rember the much, have few pic,s. Was anybody else there at that time? I rember a guy named Paul Sandbrink,from Nework,Ohio. I was from Pittsburgh Pa. Has anyone heard about agent orange being used around the DMZ in 69-70?

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    9:35 am on June 9th, 2010 24

    Mike below is a link with agent orange in Korea information along with an on going discussion on it in the comments section you may find of interest:
    http://rokdrop.com/2009/07/24/information-on-agen

  • Frank Branstrom
    11:16 pm on June 12th, 2010 25

    My original post of may 2, 2010 regarding the dog kennel's at st.Barbara.Does anybody remember these after i was there in 59-60 ? Would like to hear from you .We brought the first sentry dog's. Sgt' Gurganus was in charge.

  • James Deno
    10:35 am on October 15th, 2010 26

    Was with Bat. C 17TH FA Bn. at St. Barbara back in 1955-56. We were not with the rest of the Bn. but was stationed close to the entrance to the Recreation area and also close to the Radio Station "Gypsy". Their personell ate chow at our unit. The Village did not exist at that time. The Hanging rock, we called her old Indian Head, was just behind our unit as I climed it several times and took pictures. Looking at Google Earth I cannot find a trace of the Catholic Chapel I helped enlarge. I still have movies of the dedication. Also seems our unit area was demolished and leveled. Still have many memories of the old camp and Bruce thanks for all the pictures posted. Keep up the good work.

  • Frank Branstrom
    9:11 pm on October 15th, 2010 27

    In addition to my original post 5/2/10. Some of the other guy's that were also dog handler's with me in 59-60. Albert Post/Boston Mass, Walter Brown/New York,Frank Pettit/Buffalo N.Y, Lonnie Storm's/Corbin Ky

  • Bruce
    7:17 am on March 1st, 2012 28

    I just received a invitation by the Korean Government to be their guest to visit Korea this Summer. It will include a trip to Panmunjom, the Camps that I was stationed at on my 4 tours to Korea, and some other sites.

    A trip to the old Camp St Barbara and Camp Kaiser area are on the top of my list, along with a visit to Chorwon. I know there are none of the old clubs operational still, but I am sure I can find a Makgeolli House to relive the old days. May even stop off in TDC to see what has changed :) I will have a camera with me, with at least 1 extra memory cards.

  • Thomas Lee
    7:30 am on March 1st, 2012 29

    #28 – congrats and enjoy. I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    4:42 am on March 2nd, 2012 30

    @28 – Bruce great to hear. Enjoy your trip and make sure you post plenty of pictures on your site. :grin:

  • George Deden
    7:04 pm on July 26th, 2012 31

    I served in Hq 2/76 in 1966-1967. I was an artillery surveyor in Hq. company. I served some of the best people on the planet. Just wish I had not lost touch with so many of them. If you rember me contact me at gjdeden@aol.com I ended up as chief of survey team E-5. God bless you all.

  • jack mckeon
    4:26 pm on September 5th, 2012 32

    Jack McKeon from NY – served as an Artillery Ballistic Meteorologist (“metro”)70-71 at Camp St. Barbara Airfield with 1st/25th FA, providing metro data to firing batteries. Had a friend (now age 70+ I guess) by name of JIM SNODGRASS. When I was there at age 18, he was about 30 years old – the Unit Pop. Who knows, maybe he will see this. I am now age 71, fighting an aggressive case of PARKINSONS. Anybody else with same ailment?

    God Bless, warmest regards to all my brothers, Jack.

  • jack mckeon
    4:28 pm on September 5th, 2012 33

    Jack McKeon – meant to say I am now age 61 (not 71). Jack.

  • Michael Longfellow
    6:42 am on December 25th, 2012 34

    Jack: I was there @ St.Barbara 69-70 and i do know several guys that were in the area that have been diagnosed with Parkinsons. Due to exposure to AO from Casey to the DMZ.

    Mike

  • Shawn
    6:37 pm on February 1st, 2013 35

    Last time I was at Casey (96-98) we still used the OP’s at CSB for live artillery fires. We also rucked over from there to KTC and linked up with the infantry who were doing some training there. Coming down from the OP once we swept the snow away from the front of our 981′s tracks so we could get the hell outta there and back to Casey before the roads went “black”. Fun times. Down below the OPs the RoK were testing guns for what would eventually arm the K2.

  • sp/4 john l budig
    9:59 pm on June 19th, 2013 36

    need a letter of proof to the va to tell them that I was at st Barbara korea in 1969-70.hi Upshaw,bunell,bunch,moss,richards,gorge m,brook,sammy,brown all of you guys john budig

  • Spc4 Thomas Leonard
    10:50 am on December 17th, 2013 37

    I was there from may 1st of 65 to 4/25/66.If anyone who served there with me remembers me? Please get back to me and we can catch up on some old times

  • Wally McCann
    8:58 am on February 21st, 2014 38

    Was at Camp Santa Barbara Aprill 1966 thru May 1967. Ek Boulden was 1st Sargeant. Got court marshalled 3 article 15s. 6 deliquent reports. Had a good time at Peggy Lee. left alive Prt 1st class. Barry Vangouhg, mIc
    florral, freddie neskern. Where are you guys nowadays

  • Jay Stevens
    6:10 am on April 20th, 2014 39

    Good morning all. Was at St Barbara 68-70, HQ 2/76. Started in Survey, then armorer, then to supply. Anyone remember those ‘fast pace’ exercises? 0300 asleep and 0330 headed out. That ride in the back of a duece & 1/2 from Ascom to 2/76 at night in Feb was a trip. I was the last guy in the back for the last few miles from 7th Div. Trip took forever. How about the taxi (if you can call them that) down to TDC? Should have gotten a ribbon on a couple of them.
    Later
    Jay

 

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