Life on the DMZ

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A Chronology


UNC - United Nations Command
NK - North Korean
ID - Infantry Division
JSA - Joint Security Area
ROK - Republic of Korea
MDL - Military Demarcation Line
KIA - Killed in Action
WIA - Wounded in Action


The following chronology of key events involving Americans on the DMZ was compiled by the Center for Military History:



July 28, 1954 - September 30, 1968 (no medals awarded during this time period)

February 5 - An RB-45 UNC aircraft is attacked by four Chinese MiG-15s over the Yellow Sea.  Air Fighting between 8 US F-86s and 12 MiGs result in one MiG-15 damaged and two others shot down.

March 17-18 - 1st Marine Division leaves Korea after being relieved by the 24th Infantry Division.

August 18 - An unarmed U.S. T-6 trainer plane is shot down by NK ground fire near Panmunjom.  One US pilot KIA and one MIA. 



March 27 - A 12-man patrol is fired on south of the DMZ.

October 15 - 1st Cavalry Division returns to Kroea, replacing the 24th Infantry Division.


March 6 - A U.S. Air force F-86 is shot down over the DMZ by ground fire. 



April 20 - U.S. pilot is fired on by NK planes; his plane crashes as he attempts an emergency landing south of Seoul.  Pilot dies. 



October 1 - One U.S. soldier KIA on DMZ, the first since the armistice.

November 23 - NKs kill one US soldier and wound another with grenades in an attack on Outpost Susan. 



May 17 - An 8th Army OH-23 helicopter is shot down in communist-held territory and two cremen kidnapped.  They are not returned until a year later. 

July 29 - Two U.S. soldiers are KIA and one WIA in an ambush of a jeep.  One additional GI is KIA in pursuit of NKs.

August 4 - NKs assault a UNC guard post, precipitating a two-hour engagement with 13 men of the 1st Recon Squadron, 9th Cav. Regt.,  1st Cav Div.  GIs had engaged in firefights for successive nights. 



November 14 - U.S. Air Force plane is attacked on the DMZ.



April 27 - Two NK MiG-17s fire on a U.S. RB-47 over the Sea of Japan.

May 18 - Army aviation aircraft are shot down by NK ground fire.

July 1 - 2nd ID returns to Korea, replacing the 1st Cavalry Division.

November 18 - A sergeant of C Co., 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf., 2nd ID is wounded by an NK patrol.  He is subsequently awarded the Bronze Star.



October 1, 1966 - June 30, 1974 (Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal)

November 2 - Eight-man patrol is ambushed a half-mile south of the DMZ.  Six U.S. soldiers, and one Korean of the 1st Bn., 23rd Inf., 2nd ID are KIA.  One wounded GI survives.  This was the most serious attack involving American troops since the armistice.



February 12 - A GI of the 3rd Bn., 23rd Inf., 2nd ID, is KIA in an ambush.

May 22 - Two soldiers of the 1st Bn, 23rd Inf., 2nd ID, are KIA and 16 WIA when satchel charges shatter their barracks in the first act of sabotage since the armistice.

July 16 - Three 2nd ID soldiers are KIA by NKs in an attack. 

July 28 - Construction begins on the barrier fence in the US sector of the DMZ.  It is completed two months later on September 28.

August 10 - Three 7th ID soldiers are KIA, and 16 WIA in an unprecedented daylight ambush on a truck near Freedom Village.

August 22 - One 2nd ID soldier is KIA, and one WIA when their jeep hits a mine and then is fired on by NKs.

August 28 - In an NK attack on C Co., 76th Engineer Bn near the JSA, 2 US soldiers are KIA, 14 WIA.  The unit was raked with 3,000 rounds of ammunition. 

August 29 - Three 2nd ID soldiers are KIA and 5 WIA when two vehicles detonate mines. 

September 13 - NKs blow up two trains near Seoul in 2nd ID area, destroying seven carloads of Army supplies.  No casualties. 

October 7 - One 2nd ID soldier drowns after being WIA by NK gunfire which raked a US patrol boat on the Imjin River. 

December 31 - By year-end, 16 Americans had been KIA and 51 WIA. 



January 19 - US troops conduct search operations for a group of 31 NKs sighted near Pobwonni.

January 23 - First American ship--USS Pueblo--to be seized in 161 years is captured off Wonsan by NKs.  Of 83 crewmen aboard, one dies of wounds and 4 are WIA.  In response, Operation Combat Fox brings aircraft from the 18th TFW to Kimpo; the USS Enterprise and Ticonderoga deploy among the 32-ship task force in the Sea of Japan; and 3,000 Air National Guardsmen and Reservists later arrive in Korea.  Crewmen are released 11 months later on December 23.

January 24 - A soldier of the 1st Bn., 23rd Inf., 2nd ID is KIA. 

January 26 - Soldier of the 2nd Bn., 72nd Armor, 2nd ID, is KIA south of the DMZ.

January 29 - Members of the 2nd ID repel four separate NK agent teams attempting to inflitrate into the south.

April 2 - Defense Dept. authorizes hostile fire pay for GIs who serve north of the Imjin River.  By this time, 31 Americans had already been KIA and 71 WIA. 

April 14 - NKs ambush a truck and kill 2 Americans and wound 2 others south of the JSA. 

April 18 - NK guards attack UNC guards in the JSA. 

April 21 - A US patrol from Co. B, 2nd Bn, 31st Inf., 7th ID, and an NK force of 50-75 men clash in the southern portion of the DMZ, leaving one American dead and three WIA.  Four NKs die.

April 27 - Two 7th ID soldiers are WIA when their patrol is ambushed by NKs near Panmunjom.

July 21 - Two US soldiers--one of the 2nd Bn., 38th Inf., 2nd ID and the other from the 7th ID--are KIA and two WIA in separate firefights.

July 30 - In a pair of clashes with NKs south of the DMZ, one GI of C Co., 3rd Bn., 23rd Inf., 2nd ID, is KIA and 3 WIA. 

August 5 - NKs kill a U.S. soldier of the 1st Bn., 38th Inf., 2nd ID; 4 other members are WIA. 

August 18 - Two NCOs of the 7th ID are KIA when eight NKs clash with a UNC patrol south of the DMZ.

September 2 - Three US officers are assaulted in the JSA at Panmunjom by 15 to 20 NKs. 

September 19 - Four NKs are killed in a firefight in the 2nd ID area. 

September 27 - Two members of the 2nd ID are KIA when their jeep is ambushed south of the MDL. 

October 5 - One 2nd ID soldier is KIA and 2 WIA in an ambush.

October 23 - A soldier is KIA, and five other Americans of the 2nd Bn., 38th Inf., 2nd ID are WIA during a firefight with NKs. 

December 26 - Army Dept. authorizes Combat Infantryman Badge and Combat Medic Badge for selected troops in Korea. 

December 31 - By year-end, 17 Americans had been KIA and 54 WIA.



March 15 - An NK guard post opens fire on a 10-man work party of the 2nd ID replacing markers on the MDL.  One GI is KIA and 2 WIA from a patrol during a 4-hour firefight.  When a US helicopter evacuating the WIA accidentally crashes shortly after take off, 5 crewmen, 2 GIs, and a Korean die. 

April 15 - Two NK MiG-17s intercept and shoot down an unarmed USN EC-121 Reconnaissance plane with 31 men aboard in the Sea of Japan.  All die; one was a Marine. Task Force 71--29 ships--forms to protect further recon flights.

April 23 - NKs open fire on a UNC guardpost in the southern half of the DMZ with recoilless rifle and machinegun fire. 

July 21 - NKs are repulsed by 2nd ID troops after a 35-minute firefight.  No casualties.

July 30 - 45 NK guards attack 15 UNC personnel in the JSA.

August 17 - US OH-23 helicopter with three members of the 59th Aviation Co. aboard is shot down over NK-held territory.  Crewmen are not released until 108 days later on December 3.  All had been WIA. 

October 18 - Four soldiers of the 7th ID are killed in a daylight ambush by NKs.  Each was shot through the head.  Their light truck was flying a white truce flag.



June 14 - GIs of the 2nd ID kill an NK near Panmunjom.

August 31 - In three separate incidents, 2nd ID troops intercept and fire at several NKs. 

October 1 - A US Army helicopter is fired on by NK gun positions north of the DMZ but is not hit.

October 12 - Seven UNC security personnel in the JSA are injured as a result of an unprovoked atack by club-wielding NK guards and civilians. 



March 12 - Responsibility for the USs 18.5 mile sector of the DMZ is officially transferred from the US 2nd ID to the 1st ROK Division.

April 1 - 7th ID leaves Korea after 24 years service there.   Simultaneously, the 2nd ID is relieved on line by the Koreans and moves into reserve positions 20 miles north of Seoul. 



September 1 - Hostile fire pay terminated for Korea.



March 3 - 120 NK guards attack 30 US personnel in the JSA.

May 9 - Two US helicopters are fired on by NK batteries on the Injin River.

July 1, 1974 - October 4, 1991 (no medals awarded)

1974 (continued)

May 10 - Two US Army helicopters are fired on. 

November 15 - ROK army uncovers an NK-built underground tunnel extending 1,000 yards into the UNC side of the armistice zone. 

November 20 - An enemy device explodes in the tunnel complex, killing US Navy officer and wounding four US servicemen. 



June 30 - A US Army major is attacked at Panmunjom by 10 NK guards.  He suffers a fractured larynx, and is medically evacuated to the US.



August 18 - Two US Army officers are brutally murdered and 4 other US personnel injured -- by 30 NKs wielding axes and metal pipes -- while attempting to trim a tree in the DMZ. 

August 21- September 8 - Operation Paul Bunyan.  Some 26 gunships and a Quick Reaction Force of 300 back up 2nd Engineer Bn. members who cut down the tree which was involved in the Aug. 18 incidnet.  Naval Task Force 77.4, led by the USS Midway, is dispatched to the Korean coast.  Aircraft from Okinawa, Guam and Idaho are sent to South Korea.  One US helicopter is hit by NK fire. 



July 16 - NKs release a US helicopter pilot after 57 hours of captivity.  Bodies of three other crewmembers killed when their CH-47 Chinook was shot down after straying over NK airspace on the 14th are returned.  This was the sixth US aircraft shot down since the armistice.



December 7 - One American is KIA and 4 WIA when they stumble into an NK minefield in heavy fog.  Body is recovered 5 days later. 



November 23 - A GI is shot and wounded in the jaw by NKs while on security patrol.  He was the last recorded American WIA on the DMZ. 



October 4 - Last GIS are withdrawn from the one-mile US sector on the DMZ.  Only 150 remain to share duty with South Koreans at one guard post.


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