Korean axe murder incident
Two U.S. Army officers, CPT Arthur Bonifas and 1LT Mark Barrett, were killed by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976. The incident is also known alternatively as the hatchet incident, the poplar tree incident, and the tree trimming incident. Three days later, American and South Korean forces launched Operation Paul Bunyan, an operation that cut down the tree with a show of force to intimidate North Korea into backing down. North Korea then accepted responsibility for the earlier killings.
About Korean axe murder incident in brief
Korean axe murder incident was the killing of two U.S. Army officers, CPT Arthur Bonifas and 1LT Mark Barrett, by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area. The incident is also known alternatively as the hatchet incident, the poplar tree incident, and the tree trimming incident. Three days later, American and South Korean forces launched Operation Paul Bunyan, an operation that cut down the tree with a show of force to intimidate North Korea into backing down. North Korea then accepted responsibility for the earlier killings. The North Koreans said that the tree had been planted by Kim Il-sung. The tree was not visible from the road because the dense grass and small trees made it difficult to see. The UNC guards at OP No. 5 could not see the North Korean guards at KPA No. 8, but there was no sign of Barrett and the two guards at OOP No 5 can not see him. This went on for 90 minutes before the axe guard would come back and hand down the axe to another guard who would repeat the process on another day. The axe guard at OPP No 5 would then hand the axe back to the UNC guards and go back to his post on the other side of the bridge. The U.N. Command Command Post No. 3, situated next to the Bridge of No Return, was the northernmost UNC checkpoint and only visible from OP No 5 during the winter months. During the summer months, only the top of CP No.3 was visible from one other UNC checkpoint. Running across the middle of the Bridge was the Military Demarcation Line between North Korean and South Korea territories.
Using axes dropped by the tree-trimmers, the KPA forces attacked the two US soldiers, Bon ifas and Barrett, and wounded all but one of the UNC Guards. The fight lasted for only 20 to 30 seconds before the entire UNC force managed to disperse and the North Koreans managed to place the body in their truck. The two captains did not wear side arms, as members of the Joint. Security Area were limited to only five armed officers and 30 armed enlisted personnel at a time. However, there were mattocks in the back of the truck that were used to prune the tree branches. On one occasion before the incident, North. Korean soldiers had held a group of U. S. troops at gunpoint, so Joint Security Force company commander Captain Arthur BonIfas was sent to force the. North Koreans to stand down and bring the Americans back to safety, which he did successfully. On the day of the axe murders, the two captains went into the JSA to trim the tree. They were accompanied by a UNC security team consisting of Captain BonifAs, his South Korean Army counterpart, Captain Kim, the platoon leader of the current platoon in the area, and 11 enlisted personnel, both American and. South Korean. After trimming began, about 15 North Korean. soldiers appeared, commanded by Senior Lt. Pak Chul, whom the UNC soldiers had previously nicknamed \”Lt. Bulldog\” due to a history of confrontations.