NAVAL FROGMEN INSERTING KOREAN SABOTEURS INTO NORTH KOREA
by Phil Carrico
Team members, Korean troops and ship’s company all mingle on deck of USS Begor APD 127 off Korea in 1951
An old Teammate from Team 3, Jan Horton, and I put our heads together to write about our Team’s operation of inserting Korean saboteurs into North Korea in 1951. We never knew what their mission was; our job was to get ‘em there along with all their supplies, weapons, radios etc….
This op happened only 57 years ago – so we should have no trouble remembering details – right?
The South Korean Army had a problem – they needed to get this particular group of specially trained Korean troops into enemy country. For what reason, other than general disruption, we never found out.
They approached our Navy with the problem and the Navy contacted our Team Skipper and asked, “Can you guys do it”…Aye Aye Sir, was the reply….
Our transport at the time was the high-speed transport USS Begor APD 127 (lovingly called “The Grey Ghost”). We picked up the troops and all their gear at Pusan. As you know an APD has two passageways going down each side of the little ship. Our Team slept on one side and the Koreans on the other. All the gear they brought aboard was lashed down on the fantail…
In the several days they were aboard we got to know each other fairly well – between the Koreans, the Team and the ships crew all eating 3 meals per day in the small galley, seems we spend most of the time standing in line.
The Koreans seemed fascinated by the food and would invariably fill their trays to overflowing. During this time trying to get a shower or go to the head was next to impossible – the Korean’s fascination with hot running water meant, for the most part, cold showers.
To our surprise we found that these troops were North Koreans who had defected to South Korea prior to hostilities. Most of them had lived and grown up in the area where we were going to drop them off. They knew the area well and had relatives in the area. All this would insure positive effectiveness in their ability to disrupt the enemy.
On arrival at our destination, under cover of darkness, we lunched two Frogs to swim in and scout the area for hostels. While the scouts were doing their thing we loaded two LCPR’s with gear and troops, towing several 10-man rubber boats we moved in close to the beach and waited for the scouts to signal.
When the scouts signaled “All clear” – we put the troops in the rubber boats and took them ashore. Each of our rubber boats made several trips ferrying troops and gear ashore.
Undoubtedly we made more noise than a clandestine operation should - and on the last trip in we noticed a bon fire back from the beach. Thinking we had been compromised, we quietly approached the fire expecting a fire fight – it turned out to be Korean fishermen celebrating a good catch and, no doubt, drinking local White Lightening. We extracted as quietly as we had come and no shot was fired. Luckily we walked away without a scratch and without being seen or compromised.
We have often wondered and discussed what happened to the Koreans whom we dropped off in Indian Country – but have never heard a word. (Some old Frogs are of the opinion - they joined the bad guys)…and it could be true.
An offshoot of this operation – a small group of the Koreans wanted to pose as fisherman and needed a boat. Our APD eased in off a fishing village at night and sent a LCPR in to about two hundred yards out then lunched swimmers. They confiscated a boat, towed it out to the LCPR who, in turn, towed it to the ship. The ship, towing the boat at slow speed was out of sight by daylight. The excitement on this op happened on the way back after dropping the fishing sloop off.
It was night and we were all asleep when the ship ran into a minefield. The Captain, thinking launching dept charges with short fuses would eliminate his problem – did so. The resulting explosions damn near sank our ship and scared all those sleeping Frogs half to death. What made matters worse, this panicked crewman came racing through our compartment shouting, “Abandon Ship – Abandon Ship”.
At daylight, after being convinced that we were not sinking - we mounted a machine gun on the fantail and began sinking the mines – but that was little solace for our souls….
The Team made several sorties of the sort described above. Also, several times we were called upon to extract groups who had been compromised and had come under fire – the extractions were almost always at night and, most of the time, performed under fire. Most of the extractions included wounded and dead – making the op even more hazardous.
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