Via a reader tip comes this reminder that this week is the 35th anniversary of the Panmunjom Axe Murder Incident. A website has been established for veterans that served at the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Korea. Interestingly on this website there is an interview with the man that took the famous pictures of the Axe Murder Incident as it occurred. His name is Larry Shaddix and here is what he had to say about what happened 35 years ago:
Do you have a complete set of photos in your possession still? If so, how many are there? Yes, the Army returned them to me as soon as they developed the roll. 35 (slides) taken on 18 August of the fight and recovery of 1LT Barrett.
ALSO, we have heard that there was an 8mm film of the event also. True? If so, what happened to it? True, the JSA Guard in CP3 had a US Army movie camera. He got so excited he was panning very fast and there was little detail. The movie did allow military intelligence to time the events as they occurred. The film is either still at Camp Bonifas or 8th USA. I did not personally view the movie film as I was told it was of little value.
Not trying to open a can of worms but I would like to know. The JSA website has a photo of Eugene Bickly being attacked and has it labeled as Barrett. It is obviouly not correct, Bickley is black. Barrett is not visible in any of the photos. One account says he is seen jumping over the concrete block wall where he was recovered from down in the bushes, depressed area behind the wall. Some believe he was standing next to the wall, and when the fight broke out he was accidently pushed over the wall, then the KPA Guards pounced on him. None of the pictures clearly show what happened to Barrett. Attached are the photos after the 2 ½ ton vehicle exited.
An official story I have seen states that the fight was broken up when a truck was driven over Art’s body. I have a photo of the fight just winding down and there is no truck. Art is laying out there alone. I took three photos of a North Korean guard clubbing Bonifias after the 2 ½ ton truck drove away, and two photos of Bonifas lying in the open after the guards retreated back to their vehicle, and just before CPT Kim recovered Bonifas. These photos were never released to the public. I spoke with Marsha Bonifas immediately after I returned to Fort Sill and she asked for a set of the photos, which I provided to her.
The above picture is one of the previously unreleased photos. You can see more photos as well as more of the interview at the JSA Vets website.
If you want to learn more about the DMZ Axe Murder Incident I recommend reading this prior ROK Drop posting: