ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on August 17th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Remembering the 35th Anniversary of the DMZ Axe Murder Incident

» by in: DMZ

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 stillIf 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:

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  • Jeffrey Miller
    5:17 pm on August 17th, 2011 1

    Here’s the article I wrote in the Korea Times on the 25th Anniversary.

  • Leon LaPorte
    12:11 am on August 18th, 2011 2

    I’m going to axe chickenhead, if he logs in, not to make any cutting remarks.

  • Bill
    5:33 am on August 18th, 2011 3

    Whoever it is that runs this site, thanks for posting this. It means a lot to those of us who still want to honor the memory and sacrifice of Capt. Arthur Bonifas and 1Lt Mark Barrett.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    6:50 am on August 18th, 2011 4

    Bill, you are most welcome. I try to do what I can to remember significant incidents in USFK history such as this one and other like the USS Pueblo.

  • Jerry
    6:53 pm on August 18th, 2011 5

    It was only a year and a half later that the South Koreans discovered a couple of tunnels running under the DMZ. It was said that the tunnels were big enough to drive a 2 1/2 ton truck thru.

    A friend of mine in the 44th Engr Bn spent a week on the DMZ looking for that tunnel. They had him digging a trench in a minefield in hope of finding it.

    I found out that there was special engineer unit based at Yongson that did nothing but look for these tunnels.

    I worked on the DMZ for about a month helping prepare tent city for the 2nd ID. All I can say is that these were far better soldiers than I, who were stationed there

  • Glans
    8:15 pm on August 18th, 2011 6

    To find tunnels, you could bury explosive charges and microphones, detonate the charges and analyze the sounds. I’ll let ChickenHead work out the details.

  • Jerry
    8:54 pm on August 18th, 2011 7

    I seem to remember going to hear a speaker talk about this incident while I was in Korea.(78)

    I mentioned the tunnels because the North was still doing silly stuff even after this tragedy occurred.

    The engineer unit I was speaking of would look for anomalies within the ground itself. Most times they would drill test holes trying to find the tunnels. The 44th was only called in because one of the tunnels was suspected to be in a minefield. My buddy was sent up there and was using a bulldozer to clear a path. He kept hearing a strange noise coming from the front of the bulldozer blade and stopped to see what it was. He said everybody was going crazy, so he backed the dozer back out of the area he was working in. Someone approached him and he told them what was wrong. They told him what he was probably hearing was landmines blowing up. They told him just to keep a blade full of dirt in front of him and he would be fine.

    Truth be told I had to buy him a beer when he came back a week later since it was me that was supposed to have gone on the assignment, but I was getting short.

    I remember on a couple of occasions the North sending saboteurs across the DMZ either by sea or land. Many were killed shortly after crossing. I think also in 78 a Chinook went down inside North Korea either after being shot down or having mechanical problems. When that happened everything in the 2nd ID rolled out of Camp Casey.

  • Tom Langley
    9:26 pm on August 18th, 2011 8

    That we did not respond to this murder tells the NK communists that we are weak that has resulted in many other incidents including the island shelling & the sinking of the SK naval vessel. The way to stop a bully is to confront him. The SK FINALLY are realizing that appeasement will not change NK behavior, look at the results of the “sunshine” policy. Steadfastness is the only way to successfully fight communism. In our own country President Carter’s appeasement in Afghanistan, Mozambique, and Angola only led to Soviet gains. It was President Reagan who stood the evil empire down that ultimately resulted in the collapse of the East block. If the world will face down the NK regime the same result will ultimately happen, ditto for Iran.

  • ChickenHead
    12:02 am on August 20th, 2011 9


    “I’m going to axe chickenhead, if he logs in, not to make any cutting remarks.”

    Leaf me out of this, if you wood.


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