ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on December 15th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

A Profile of Camp Page, South Korea

» by in: USFK

Plenty of veterans of Korea have left comments here on the ROK Drop about their experiences while stationed in Korea.  However, one camp seems to continuously have very fond memories about it and that is Camp Page in Chuncheon:


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That is why I have decided to a “Profile” dedicated just to Camp Page.  I was never stationed on Camp Page so it was interesting to research and learn more about this camp that many have told me was the best kept secret in Korea.  Camp Page was one of the oldest facilities in USFK before it was closed down since construction of the runaway occurred back in 1951 when the city was recaptured from the Chinese and North Koreans. Here is a picture of the old K-47 airfield from Dave Kowalsky’s website:

However, the airfield was not called Camp Page until 1958 when the 100th Field Artillery Rocket Battalion arrived from Japan. The name of the camp comes honor of US Army Lieutenant Colonel John U.D. Page who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross for Gallantry for combat heroics while serving with US Marine Corps units during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign. LTC Page died after only being in country 12 days.

Here is LTC Page’s Medal of Honor citation:

Lt. Col. Page, a member of X Corps Artillery, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in a series of exploits. On 29 November, Lt. Col. Page left X Corps Headquarters at Hamhung with the mission of establishing traffic control on the main supply route to 1st Marine Division positions and those of some Army elements on the Chosin Reservoir plateau. Having completed his mission Lt. Col. Page was free to return to the safety of Hamhung but chose to remain on the plateau to aid an isolated signal station, thus being cut off with elements of the marine division. After rescuing his jeep driver by breaking up an ambush near a destroyed bridge Lt. Col. Page reached the lines of a surrounded marine garrison at Koto-ri. He then voluntarily developed and trained a reserve force of assorted army troops trapped with the marines. By exemplary leadership and tireless devotion he made an effective tactical unit available. In order that casualties might be evacuated, an airstrip was improvised on frozen ground partly outside of the Koto-ri defense perimeter which was continually under enemy attack. During 2 such attacks, Lt. Col. Page exposed himself on the airstrip to direct fire on the enemy, and twice mounted the rear deck of a tank, manning the machine gun on the turret to drive the enemy back into a no man’s land. On 3 December while being flown low over enemy lines in a light observation plane, Lt. Col. Page dropped hand grenades on Chinese positions and sprayed foxholes with automatic fire from his carbine. After 10 days of constant fighting the marine and army units in the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir had succeeded in gathering at the edge of the plateau and Lt. Col. Page was flown to Hamhung to arrange for artillery support of the beleaguered troops attempting to break out. Again Lt. Col. Page refused an opportunity to remain in safety and returned to give every assistance to his comrades. As the column slowly moved south Lt. Col. Page joined the rear guard. When it neared the entrance to a narrow pass it came under frequent attacks on both flanks. Mounting an abandoned tank Lt. Col. Page manned the machine gun, braved heavy return fire, and covered the passing vehicles until the danger diminished. Later when another attack threatened his section of the convoy, then in the middle of the pass, Lt. Col. Page took a machine gun to the hillside and delivered effective counterfire, remaining exposed while men and vehicles passed through the ambuscade. On the night of 10 December the convoy reached the bottom of the pass but was halted by a strong enemy force at the front and on both flanks. Deadly small-arms fire poured into the column. Realizing the danger to the column as it lay motionless, Lt. Col. Page fought his way to the head of the column and plunged forward into the heart of the hostile position. His intrepid action so surprised the enemy that their ranks became disordered and suffered heavy casualties. Heedless of his safety, as he had been throughout the preceding 10 days, Lt. Col. Page remained forward, fiercely engaging the enemy single-handed until mortally wounded. By his valiant and aggressive spirit Lt. Col. Page enabled friendly forces to stand off the enemy. His outstanding courage, unswerving devotion to duty, and supreme self-sacrifice reflect great credit upon Lt. Col. Page and are in the highest tradition of the military service.

Over the years Infantry, Engineer, Signal and Supply units would also call Camp Page home but the major tenant unit would eventually become the 4th Missile Command with their Honest John rockets.  This 4th Missile Command, Camp Page website has a number of photographs posted from the 1964 time period that are quite fascinating to view.  More pictures were taken by Dave Kowalsky during his tour in South Korea.  Here is the link to Dave’s webpage.  Here is what the front gate of the camp looked like:

The 4th Missile Command would remain on Camp Page until 1978 when it was deactivated.  You can see more of Dave’s pictures at this link.

After looking at the historical pictures of USFK installations, I always find it interesting to then go back and look at how the camp looks in modern times.  Here is a nice series of aerial photos of how Camp Page looked just back in 2010:

Camp Page was closed out in 2005 as part of the USFK transformation plan that will have the US military consolidating forces into major hubs at Osan AB, Camp Humphreys, and the Daegu area.  The last major tenant unit to call Camp Page home was the 1-2 Aviation Battalion that flew Apache helicopters from the base.  It took years of negotiations before the Korean government accepted the transfer of Camp Page back to the Korean government due to pollution concerns.  Those pollution concerns included allegations of Agent Orange dumping on Camp Page that have yet to be substantiated.  Even more troubling if true is that there was supposedly a nuclear accident that happened in 1972 as well.  The nuclear incident appears to have little creditability, but the pollution concerns are legitimate though nothing in regards to Agent Orange has been proven.  Even without Agent Orange there is still plenty of other pollution over the years that has accumulated on the base that this veteran actually has a picture of where they used to dump battery acid at on Camp Page:

Here you can see my buddies (1972-1973 tour) making pollution. Digging weeds and spreading Viet Nam Era Herbicide by hand with the help of coffee cans was a high tech operation and the disapearing battery acid trick was great. The orange Acid barrel had no bottom and was full of rocks.

It is stuff like this that I think is biggest pollution hazards with USFK facilities in Korea, but the Korean media and anti-US groups in the country would rather sensationalize claims about Agent Orange and nuclear incidents to create further animosity between USFK and the Korean public.  However, two years ago the US and South Korea have worked together to develop a way ahead to address the environmental issues with the US paying the bulk of the clean up for the vacated bases even though the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two countries says the US only needs to return vacated property in a “as is” condition.

Anyway back to more pictures of Camp Page, there was still a few quonset huts that were in use when the base closed, but most of the buildings on Camp Page are of modern vintage:

The now densely populated Chuncheon is built up all around the camp so it really was only a matter of time before USFK would have to shut down this camp:

Like the other camps that have been vacated by the US military Camp Page this year has been pretty much leveled and redevelopment to use the land by the local community has begun.  Here is a passage and picture from the 4th Missile Command, Camp Page site that describes recent developments on the old Camp Page this year:

Pam Austin, the photographer, wrote: “There is almost nothing left — the entire air strip has been torn up. The walls around the camp remain, as does the water tower, although the words ‘Camp Page’ have been whited out. The picture of the parking lot shows the new subway station across the street from the camp — the parking lot was built on what was part of the camp. I went through a year ago, and they still had the road signs up that pointed to the base. Those have now been removed. There appear to be some kind of warehouses on the ground, but they are made of really flimsy material. The whole site is fenced off — either with the original camp fence (still with rusting concertina wire on top), or with chain link from a construction company.”

I am not sure what the redevelopment plan for Camp Page is but the city of Chuncheon had initial plans of buying the land from the Korean government to use for a park, additional apartments, or a shopping mall.   Camp Page will soon physically be gone, but like other USFK camps that have been demolished and redeveloped, the memories of the US servicemembers that served on Camp Page will live on.  If you served on Camp Page please share your memories of the camp in the comments section.

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Here is a listing of my various “Profile” series of postings of the various camps in South Korea where much of the conversation about the various USFK camps in Korea can be found:

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Note:  For those interested in furthering meeting people who served on Camp Page a Facebook site has been set up.

Finally for those interested in keeping up to date on all the latest news from the ROK Drop I highly recommend subscribing to my RSS feed or receive updates via e-mail:

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  • Burma Bob
    7:39 pm on December 15th, 2011 1

    In the summer of 1980, my unit (332nd ASA) was kicked off Cp Humphries and someone had the bright idea of sending us to Page. 4th Missile had been gone a couple of years, so we took over their old quonset huts and motor pool. Page made no tactical sense, as the units we supported were pretty far away to the west, and across two sets of pretty high ridges. Not many units on post, WSD-K, an ammo accounting unit, an aviation company, maybe 300 GI’s, tops.

    The city of Chuncheon was a revelation after the squalor of Anjeongri. I think Page was one of the few camps that was located right in a big, normal city. The Koreans treated us very well, and for our part, I don’t think we acted too badly.

    There were some GI clubs, but not many, and not very wild (the 21 club in the pic above was still open). The only weirdness happened during Team Spirit, when 25th ID staged a few BN’s there. Got to know what a boom town looked like when it happened.

    Chuncheon “chicken rib” places were very popular, and it was possible to date and marry normal Korean girls, and many guys did.

    All-in-all, the nicest place to be stationed in Korea.

  • kushibo
    10:12 pm on December 15th, 2011 2

    Why was it called Mt. Useless?

  • Kingkitty
    2:10 pm on December 16th, 2011 3

    I always thought of Camp Page as an old friend. I had a great time there

  • DaveK
    3:40 pm on December 17th, 2011 4

    Why was it called Mt. Useless? American flyers, annoyed by the way this lump lay across their approaches to Chuncheon’s airfield, called it “Unnecessary Mountain.” By the time we got to Chuncheon -1964-65- the mountain was called “Mt. Useless.”

  • jesse l smith
    12:06 pm on December 22nd, 2011 5

    i was shocked in a good way to see club “21″, there was another one called the “rainbow club” i would love to see a photo of that. how well i remember the 21 club. a perfect place for a 17 year old boy with 124 dollars a month and nothing to spend it on.

  • Ricky W. Christian
    6:44 pm on December 22nd, 2011 6

    As a 18 yr old from South Carolina, I was awstruck from the time I left SC, on my trek towards ChunChon via Alaska, Japan, and Korea. I was there as an MP from Oct 1975 until Nov 1976. Had a ball, met many new folks from all over the USA and Korea. I stayed in the Q. Huts some but mostly lived off post. So sorry to hear of its closing. Camp Page was a great place, and the page on Facebook is very good. Appreciate this site too!

  • mark phelps
    5:12 pm on January 13th, 2012 7

    I was stationed at the 226 in 1977/78. I remember running past the binjo carts during the morning pt, a smell i will never forget.I had a great time while I was there. Bought a killer stereo from the main px.

  • Don Paul
    6:58 pm on January 15th, 2012 8

    Great site. I was there for about two weeks of 1951.

  • Don Paul
    7:00 pm on January 15th, 2012 9

    PS. I think it was known as K-47 then.

  • Charlie Horse
    8:39 pm on January 15th, 2012 10

    K-47 was the air strip, the base was still Camp Page.

  • Bruce K. Nivens
    9:18 pm on March 19th, 2012 11

    I was stationed at Camp Page from 1985 to 1987, assigned to the Weapons Support Detachment (WSD-K) as its communications officer. During my time there, the Camp Page Consolidated Club was transformed into the Page II Club — same Quonset hut structure on the outside but completely renovated on the inside. Many of the Quonset huts used for barracks were gutted and renovated as a transitional move to permanent buildings. The first permanent barracks building was completed near the south end of the post in 1986, and it housed enlisted soldiers. The big red and white water tower that still stands on Camp Page in the 2011 pictures was constructed during that time on the site of what used to be a snack bar. It was a marvel of construction, as the tank and the structure supporting it were built from the ground up, piece by piece. They drove piles into the ground to support the foundation, built the foundation, and then built the supporting structure a few feet at a time, constructing a scaffold around it as the structure grew. When the tank itself was built, it was done plate by plate – lots and lots of welding done by workers who were precariously perched on the scaffolding and sometimes hanging on swings strung from the scaffolding. The permanent barracks and the new water tower were the beginning of a major capital improvement project for Camp Page that really changed the look of the post in a lot of ways (based on the pictures I’ve seen).

  • Bruce K. Nivens
    12:51 pm on March 20th, 2012 12

    Regarding units: In my time on Camp Page (1985-1987), the largest units on post (excluding USAG CP) were the 128th Aviation BN (Blackhawk), a ROK aviation unit (Huey), and WSD-K. Just before I arrived, WSD-K administratively changed hands from 19th Support Command to Eighth Army Special Troops (EAST). According to my fellow WSD-K officers, the detachment held a transition ceremony during which they fired their obsolete 19th SUPCOM “flower” patches from their 75mm ceremonial cannon. Anyone who was stationed on Camp Page during this period knows which cannon I’m talking about, as it was fired every afternoon at retreat.

    Regarding Chunchon: The clubs mentioned by others – “Club 21” and “Rainbow” – were there in the ‘ville, in addition to three other USFK-sanctioned clubs (their names escape me at the moment). Directly across the street from the main gate, on the right corner, was an excellent tailor shop. Up the sidewalk from that was the Charlie Shop, where they would embroider literally anything you wanted onto anything that would fit into their sewing machines. They could also make trophies and commemorative items. On the left side across from the main gate was a Tae-Kwon-Do studio and a small mom-n-pop restaurant that made the best yaki mandu (fried dumplings) – 10 dumplings in a bamboo box for 1000 Won ($1.19 — the exchange rate was 843 Won to the dollar when I arrived). The city itself was alive and bustling, the resort areas were nice and accessible, and for anyone looking to explore it, there was plenty to see and do in Chunchon.

    Regarding Camp Page: USAG CP did a great job in making the post as pleasant as possible. Along the main streets there were several trees which really greened up the place during the warm months. We had a nice movie theater (“Top Gun” was shown in first-run when I was there). The consolidated clubs – the original, the transitional, and the Page II Club – were all well-run and welcoming. We had a crafts center, multiple snack bars, an education center, a small PX, American Express Bank, a gym, baseball diamond, and a swimming pool (at least for a while). There was a gravel perimeter road around the airfield that, combined with the paved roads inside the fence lines on the rest of the post, made a great 2.25-mile running track. Even when the capital improvement projects started up, the folks running the post did everything they could to keep the construction from being too disruptive. Given that Camp Page was considered to be a hardship post (unaccompanied assignments), and that most of the buildings were the original “T-“ temporary structures, we still had it pretty darned good compared to many other posts in the country (and I visited a lot of posts while I was there). I have some very good memories of Camp Page, and it makes me feel a bit old that the post and almost all of the “future” construction that was done there has since been wiped out by the bulldozers. Time marches on…

  • SSG Brown Patrick
    4:21 pm on April 23rd, 2012 13

    I have fun memories of that are especially outside the gate. Going to the restaurants the college playing basketball and the underground mall. But while I was there on Camp page I did develop skin problems and I have a large tumor like cyst that on my left hand between my thumb and index finger.

  • Paul Fitsik III
    1:22 pm on December 28th, 2012 14

    Served at Camp Page ITO from 1998-99. Miss Dak Kalbi, Yaki mandu at the KSB, and the city of ChunCheon. Had a great time and thoroughly loved that area of Korea.

  • bobt592959
    12:55 am on December 29th, 2012 15

    very interesting…

  • Tony(Andy)Bodura
    4:17 pm on March 7th, 2013 16

    I served at the MSA. Spent lots of time at Camp Page and the city. Great times.
    tbodura@aol.com

  • William Abell
    5:48 pm on March 9th, 2013 17

    I was stationed at Camp Page from Jan 75 – April 79. I had loved both Korea and Camp Page.i miss the place and the people. Was thee any body there during my time. I spent the first 2 1/2 years in the 1st/42nd FA and than went down the street to WSD/K until April 79.I’ll get back on here to check other comments. Glad I ran across this site.

  • george pierce
    12:48 pm on March 18th, 2013 18

    Stationed at Camp Page 86-88 hq battlion 128 ahb. The clubs; 21,king,ranibow,flamingo,seven and cafe parking were and always will be (if only in memories) great places to just hang out with fellow soldiers and friends. There was a DJ @ the Rainbow named Mr. Pak and two girls named Sunnya and Myungha I will never forget. The camp itself was ok, I stayed off post for the most part. The night life was always wild and the redzone was something else. I would love to go back there sometime.

  • george pierce
    12:52 pm on March 18th, 2013 19

    I forgot OB beer and Jungle juice….

  • george pierce
    12:54 pm on March 18th, 2013 20

    oh and oscar and sonjo and Yaki mandu at the jinhe house

  • Bob Donatelli
    9:55 am on March 22nd, 2013 21

    I was stationed at Camp Page the entire year 1968, assigned to the 4th Support Co. Many good memories of the people I met and worked with there. Also many good memories of the Korean people.

  • Dennis Kaskovich
    4:19 pm on March 22nd, 2013 22

    At Page Jan’72 – Feb ’73. In the aviation section, ‘Rocket Airlines’. Great memories.

  • Jay Buckmaster
    12:01 pm on March 31st, 2013 23

    At Camp Page from Oct 70 – Nov 71 As a UH-1 Crew Chief assigned to Rocket Airlines. I had a lot of great times. However when it came time to go home I didn’t let the door hit me in the ass!

  • Bill
    6:31 pm on May 15th, 2013 24

    I was stationed at Camp McCullough (MSA) north of Camp Page in 1970 and guarded who knows what for 1/42 artillery. I cannot find one thing about it anywhere on the net. Does anyone know how to find something about it?

  • Tony(Andy)Bodura
    3:32 am on May 16th, 2013 25

    Bill I was at MSA 42, Camp McCullough from Aug 1969 to Oct 1970.
    Email me.
    tbodura@aol.com
    Tony

  • Greg Guiney
    7:09 pm on October 4th, 2013 26

    Cousin Bruce! Those were the days my friend!

  • Bruce K. Nivens
    7:51 pm on October 4th, 2013 27

    #26 – Yes, cousin Greg, indeed they were. Did I get the details right? Did I miss anything worth posting in this thread about the old post?

  • Jerry Dorsey
    4:53 pm on December 27th, 2013 28

    I serve in the 1/42 field Artillery from January 1976 til December 1976, and I serve with William Abell. Members of the unit called me Hero. Our first Sgt. was Albert Mack. I still have fun memories of my stay at Camp Paige and would love to visit Chuncheon. Good to hear from a old soldier.

  • michael french
    11:04 am on February 24th, 2014 29

    hello was there 1965 to 1966 4th missile command as a pfc wire section loved south korea had a good time.

  • Doug Schlumbohm
    7:35 am on April 29th, 2014 30

    I served three tours at Camp Page between June 1970 and Mar 1977. I also served as Det Sgt of Camp McCullough with 1/LT Richard A. Ward in 1970 and 8 months in the EAF at Camp Colbern in 1973. My last duty asgmt was Op Sgt, 4th USA Msl Comd in 1977. I went back on a visit in 1980 and there were Korean Contract Police on the gate.

  • Lawrence (Larry) Williams
    10:47 am on May 6th, 2014 31

    I was stationed at Camp Page from July 1970 to August 1971 and served in the 161st Engineer Co. I was an explosives/demolition specialist although I ended up working as the company clerk. When I arrived our CO was Cpt. Jerome Darga and when he rotated out the new CO was Cpt. Charles J Mills. Mills was an amazing young officer a genuine Airborne Ranger but was totally approachable and well liked by the officers and men. We had a large KATUSA compliment and some of us became friends with some of the KATYSAs and went out into the local community with them and saw a much different side of Chunchon than that presented in the usual GI hangouts. Our company area was directly across the street from the water tower and actually included the water tower because we had a water purification platoon in the 161 Engineer Co. We also had an ADM(Atomic Demolitions Munitions) platoon and I was briefly assigned there when I first arrived. But I was scarfed up by the CO when he found out I could type because his company clerk was leaving in a couple of weeks and he was not getting a replacement. The orderly room was a very tense place at first because the Cpt. Darga and 1st Sgt. Eugene hated each other. It got so bad that the 1st Sgt. was actually courtmartialed and got reduced in rank and reassigned to another post. The next 1st Sgt. was Sgt. MacLaughlin and he was a genuine good guy and very interesting person. For the most part Camp Page was a good post. There was a nice movie theater right on the post and I still remember the day that the movie M*A*S*H came to town. We really hooted and hollered at that one as you can well imagine. For the most part I have good memories of my time at Camp Page

  • Ron Kastner
    8:35 pm on May 26th, 2014 32

    I was stationed at camp page May 1969 to June1970 as SP5 company clerk for 7th batallion, 5th artillary under First Sergeant L.C.Woods and Captain John C Taylor. I felt very lucky to be assigned there instead of Vietnam Nam. With the exception of the snow it was great duty. Spent a ton of time in the NCO club perfecting my pool game. Often visited the Hawk missile sites with the CO and first sergeant as well as the DMZ. Still wonder about the agent orange exposure at the sites and DMZ.

 

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