For most GI’s serving in Korea right now the term the Western Corridor is probably something they have never even heard of before since the camps in the Western Corridor all closed down over 5 years ago. However, for those who served on these installations the memories of these camps will never die. The Western Corridor refers to the western sector of military camps in the 2nd Infantry Division area of operations just to the north of Seoul:
Camp Garry Owen
These camps in the Western Corridor housed the first line of American units that were tasked with slowing down any North Korean attack. The main unit tasked with this responsibility was the 4-7 Cavalry Regiment located at the now closed Camp Garry Owen:
Camp Garry Owen is named after an old Irish dance song that General George Custer liked after hearing some of his Irish troops singing it and he made it the official song of the 7th Cavalry Regiment. You can read more about the history of Garry Owen at the 7th Cavalry Regiment website. This camp wasn’t always called Garry Owen and in fact has gone through three name changes. It was first called Camp Rice at the time the camp was first established in 1951 during the Korean War. The land where the camp was built was originally an apple orchard. After the camp was built it was used as the headquarters for the United Nations Command (UNC) Military Armistice Conference Delegation. The UNC at the time was conducting armistice negotiations with the North Koreans and Chinese in the Pamunjom area. Two years later on July 27, 1953 UNC Commander General Mark W. Clark signed the Armistice Agreement ending the war in the Camp Rice theater. The theater was demolished in the 1970′s along with the camp changing its name to Camp Pelham in honor of a prominent Civil War artilleryman. It wasn’t until the 1980′s that the name Garry Owen would become the third and final name for the camp.
Here are the names of some of the units that have called Camp Garry Owen home: the 69th Field Artillery Battalion, 1st Marine Division (which became 49th Field Artillery Battalion, 7th Infantry Division); 13th Field Artillery, 24th Infantry Division; 2nd Battalion, 19th Field Artillery Regiment; and 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment; 1st Battalion, 4th Artillery Regiment; E Company, 2nd Engineers Battalion; and 5th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, which became the 4-7 Cavalry Regiment. The 4-7 Cav was the last unit to call Camp Garry Owen home before closing down the camp in 2004 and relocating to Camp Hovey.
The ville right adjacent to Camp Garry Owen is the small town of Seonyu-ri:
However, the ville was known to the soldiers as Yonjugol. Many of the shops of Yonjugol used to be oriented towards the tastes of the US military, but are now today converted to more conventional businesses:
However, some signs of the former US military presence in the town are still visible:
I have never spent any time in the Camp Garry Owen ville, but from what I have heard the Paradise Club was one of the big places to take newcomers. The challenge was for the new comer to make it to the back door of the club without getting tackled by one of the girls that worked there.
Finally here is a video posted on YouTube showing all the posts buildings and the ville area before the camp closed in 2004 and I especially recommend reading all the comments from people sharing their memories about the camp:
If you have any memories about your time at Camp Garry Owen feel free to share them in the comments section as well.
The military base where the 4-7 Cavs helicopters were stationed was at the small Camp Stanton. The camp was one of the smallest in South Korea with it only being home to about 160 soldiers. Camp Stanton was divided in two by the main road through the area. One side of the camp the actual base camp and the other side is where helicopters are parked:
The camp is named after 1st Lieutenant John B. Stanton. In March 1952, during the Korean War, 1st Lt. Stanton of the 15th Aviation Company, 24th Infantry Division was killed in action after crashing his aircraft for the third time during the Korean War. His final crash was a midair collision between his Ryan Avian observation airplane and a P-51 Mustang fighter.Besides being the home of aviation units the camp was also once the home of the 2/61st Air Defense Artillery Battalion. When the camp closed in 2004 it was home to 16 Kiowa helicopters that flew in support of the 4-7 Cav.
There isn’t much left of Camp Stanton today other than the walkway bridge used to cross from the main camp over to airfield:
As you can see, today the camp has been completely leveled after it was turned over to the South Korean government:
Just down the road from Camp Garry Owen is Camp Giant:
Here is a picture of the front gate of the camp when it was open:
Camp Giant is very small and can house only about one company of soldiers. The last unit to occupy the camp before it closed in 2004 was A Company 1-506 Infantry Regiment that was part of the 2nd Infantry Division 2nd Brigade Combat Team that deployed to Iraq that year. Here are pictures of what the now closed out front gate of the camp looks like today:
Here is an overview of what the camp looks like today:
Here is a picture of the barracks on the camp:
As can be seen in the below picture, many of the quonset huts from the 1971 photograph are still existent today on the camp:
Here is a picture of the post’s small gym:
As far as a ville the soldiers at the camp could walk over to Yonjugol since it is located so close to Camp Garry Owen.
The next major camp in the Western Corridor is Camp Howze:
The scenic little valley where Camp Howze is located was once a farm owned by the Cho family. In 1953 the family was relocated when the US Marines made the farm their headquarters:
This pagoda on the Camp Howze dates back from when the Cho family farmed in this valley:
After the Marines left Korea the camp was taken over by the 24th Infantry Division from 1955-1957. It was during this time period that the quonset huts were first built on the camp. Many of these quonset huts would continue to be used by tenets units on the camp until the day Camp Howze closed. In 1957 the camp was transferred over to the 1st Cavalry Division who named the camp after the unit’s first division commander and Medal of Honor recipient Major General Robert L. Howze. The 1st Cav used the camp as its division headquarters. In 1965 the 1st Cavalry Division units in South Korea were redesignated the 2nd Infantry Division, which continued to use the camp as a division headquarters.
Here is a 1970 picture of when the camp was the 2ID headquarters:
Here is a 1971 aerial image of Camp Howze:
The 2nd Infantry Division headquarters would move to Camp Casey in 1971 and Engineer units would then occupy the camp instead. The camp would remain an Engineer post until its closing in 2004. The last units to call the camp home was the 44th Engineer Battalion which deployed to Iraq and the headquarters for the 2nd Engineer Brigade which would deactivate in 2005. On a side note the last Engineer Brigade Commander to command the camp was Colonel “Rock” Donahue who was quite the character for those of us who knew him.
Anyway here is a 2004 picture of the Camp Howze Chapel before closing that year:
Here is an image of the now closed out Camp Howze front gate today;
I have never been to the Camp Howze ville so I really don’t know anything about the place, however judging by these photographs the economic effect of the base closing is quite evident:
The next camp profiled is Camp Edwards:
Camp Edwards is just up the road from Camp Howze and is named after the Korean War Medal of Honor awardee Sergeant First Class Junior Edwards.
Like its larger camp down the road Camp Edwards was home over the year to Engineer units. Here is a 1971 image of the front gate of Camp Edwards:
From the same website comes this aerial view of Camp Edwards as well:
Here is the view of the now closed out front gate of the camp today:
The last unit to call Camp Edwards home was the 82nd Engineer Company, which redeployed off the peninsula to Hawaii. Interestingly enough after arriving in Hawaii an accident involving the unit led to the largest traffic back up in Hawaiian history known as “Black Tuesday”.
The final camp profiled is Camp Beard, which is also known as RC #1:
Camp Beard is located in a valley halfway between Camp Garry Owen and Camp Stanton. I mention Camp Beard simply because it is an example of many of the camps in the Western Corridor that were closed out long before the 2004 close out of all the camps in the Western Corridor.
Here is a 1968 image of the front gate of Camp Beard which was then home to the 2-72 Armor Regiment:
I could not locate the exact date when Camp Beard closed, but I think it was in the 1970′s.
Here is what remains of the camp today:
When driving around the 2ID area, many old camps, which are now mostly ROK Army compounds can still be seen. It would be an interesting project to identify and take photographs of all these old camps. For now though this and all my prior postings on USFK camps will have to do.
The Camp Pollution Issue
When all the Western Corridor camps closed in 2004 you would think that this would have made the anti-US movement in Korea happy, instead they found a new front to bash USFK with. The activists began to launch protests claiming that most of the camps in not only the Western Corridor, but across the 2ID area that were closed down between 2004-2005 were polluted and a danger to the Korean population. USFK ended up spending $400,000 a month providing security for the camps because the Korean government refused to take control of the camps because of the fraudulent pollution claims.
For those who have never served in Korea, the USFK camps are literally an oasis of green in the middle of dense urban cities. The camps after the Korean war were located on the outskirts of Korean cities, but the camps have now been swallowed up by the growing cities which are a sign of Korea’s amazing development since the war. It is partly because of this development that USFK wanted to close out these camps. If anything the USFK camps are the cleanest piece of land in the surrounding communities and some have been designated to become parks when handed over; yet the anti-US groups have successfully used this issue for years now to create friction between USFK and the Korean populace.
Considering that US forces have been working on these bases for decades there is of course going to be pollution from vehicle leaks for example. The SOFA states when camps are handed over the Korean government takes them over “as is”. However, USFK has gone well beyond the “as is” standard and has actually poured a lot of money into cleaning up the camps. This hasn’t stopped the usual anti-US groups and individuals from making wildly absurd claims about the pollution levels on these camps. These people could care less about pollution in Korea in general because their only concern is manufacturing anti-US sentiment. As many of you I’m sure remember, the environmental groups along with a large block of the DLP political party have been linked to a North Korean spy ring.
These lawmakers and environmentalists have little creditability and I suspect much of the camp pollution findings have been “Dr. Hwang-ed” for political purposes. I have long advocated for this but, I would love to see a detailed line by line report on the supposed environmental damage in every camp. What I suspect is going on is that these demagogues are making claims of pollution due to the presence of asphalt on the camps for example. Oil is used in making asphalt thus they can make claims of oil slicks on the camps based on the presence of asphalt.
Ultimately a deal was worked out where the Korean government got stuck footing most of the bill for the imaginary clean up costs, but the efforts of the anti-US groups is why many of these camps in the Western Corridor have not been converted into civilian use after all these years.
- As Camp Howze Closing Nears, Many Historical Items Are Being Preserved
- Setting the Standard for Closing US Bases In South Korea
- Camp Stanton Created Close Bonds for Troops In South Korea
More “A Profile” series postings worth checking out:
- A Profile of the Western Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
- A Profile of USFK’s Western Corridor Camps
- A Profile of USFK Camps In Dongducheon
- A Profile of the TDC Ville
- A Profile of Bosan-dong Ville
- A Profile of Teokgeo-ri
- A Profile of Uijongbu
- A Profile of USFK Camps In Uijongbu
- A Profile of Closed Out USFK Camps In Uijongbu
- A Profile of Camp Red Cloud
- A Profile USFK Camps In Seoul
- A Profile of the Korea Training Center
- A Profile of the Chinese Tunnel
- A Profile of Camp Mujuk
- A Profile of Camp Page
Note: I would like to give a special thanks to ROK Drop reader Jim for providing many of the photographs for this posting.
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