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