American Forces Korea Network
During my first six months in Korea, I was the morning DJ on
AFKN - Camp Casey....
AFKN Camp Casey provided 15-20 local television news stories a month for AFKN News Tonight. They also produced a four-hour live morning radio show.
AFKN Camp Casey affiliate provided extensive coverage of 2nd Infantry Division training exercises, command events, and local participation in the annual Army Community of Excellence competition.
The Camp Casey affiliate was one of the original mobile radio stations developed during the Korean war.
During the 1950's police action, AFKN affiliates were recognized by call signs, rather than fixed locations. This station's call name was "Radio Bayonet".
In October of 1996, I was assigned as the last Station Manager of
AFKN - Munsan......
AFKN Munsan was located on it's own military compound, and was the most forward deployed affiliate in the network. The affiliate station provided a daily four-hour local radio morning show and extensive television coverage of activities throughout the
Munsan also produced a daily three-minute radio newscast to highlight people and activities in the 2nd Infantry Division.
Located near the Truce Village at Panmunjom, Korea, AFKN Munsan was a frequent visitor to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) set up at the conclusion of hostilities in 1953.
During the Korean War, this affiliate was known as "Radio Tomahawk".
The highlight of my tour in Korea....a true story of my most memorable experience...
"You're going to a repatriation ceremony," Staff Sergeant Fritz Homann told me. "I'm sending Staff Sergeant Tim Donahue to help you. This will be an International news story because it's about returning North Korean soldiers to their native soil."
AFKN - Munsan was located about 6 miles south of the "Peace Village" of Panmunjom, and although I'd been there on many occasions none would compare with mission I was
about to undertake. North and South would again face each other. This time it was for a noble purpose... the South Koreans were returning the remains of what they said were, "North Korean service members killed during the 1950s conflict."
As the station manager for AFKN's closest affiliate, I was to be the cameraman and SSG Donahue was to be the on-site reporter. I was to shoot the inspection of the caskets and the solemn return across the 38th Parallel.
We arrive at "Freedom Bridge"... a rickety, wooden bridge across the Imjin river. Traffic only goes one way at a time. South Korean civilians can not cross this bridge unless they have proper clearance. It's pretty much military traffic from here on out.
Panmunjom is only moments away... the place where leaders of the United Nations, the North Koreans, and Red Chinese came to an agreement to cease hostilities.
As we approached the DMZ, I took a deep breath and for the first time, I saw the enemy's eyes through the camera's viewfinder...a North Korean soldier, about fifty meters away. He didn't look like an enemy though. He was just another guy, standing there in a different uniform. "How was I supposed to feel?" I wondered. I just stood there, in awe, with my video camera rolling...
The mood was intensifying...and from then on, everything became quite somber. The United Nations Delegation, led by a U.S. Army colonel, started walking towards the Demarcation Line.
On tables to my right lay 26 small boxes...the remains of the North Korean soldiers. The area was cordoned off and surrounded by U.S. and South Korean soldiers. The leader of the North bowed and shook hands with the American colonel, then was escorted into South Korea to inspect the remains.
As I pointed my camera toward the North Korean Officer, he looked up and spoke softly...again bowed to the American colonel, and proceeded to return to his homeland followed by an entourage of his long deceased commrades.
There, North Korean soldiers gingerly accepted each of the boxes as a military band played their national anthem, and once again these men were forever on their side of "the line"...
For me this was a moment in history... I'll never forget.
In April of 1997, AFKN-Munsan permanently signed-off the air and consolidated with AFKN-Camp Casey, near Camp Red Cloud in Uijongbu. With my job, and year, in Korea being expired...I headed off for my next assignment in Heidelberg, Germany.
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