Wednesday 18 August 1976 is 58 times 260 days before today Friday December 1, 2017, both dates are day "One Wind" in the Maya/Aztec Calendar.
"Korean axe murder incident (Korean: 판문점 도끼살인사건; Hanja: 板門店도끼殺人事件,도끼蠻行事件; literally, Panmunjom axe murder incident) was the killing of two United States Army officers, Arthur Bonifas and Mark Barrett, by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) located in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The U.S. Army officers had been part of a work party cutting down a poplar tree in the JSA that partially blocked the view of United Nations (U.N.) observers when they were assaulted and killed by the North Koreans, who claimed that the tree was planted by Kim Il-Sung."
Operation Paul Bunyan was carried out on August 21 at 07:00, three days after the killings. A convoy of 23 American and South Korean vehicles ("Task Force Vierra", named after Lieutenant Colonel Victor S. Vierra, commander of the United States Army Support Group) drove into the JSA without any warning to the North Koreans, who had one observation post manned at that hour. In the vehicles were two eight-man teams of military engineers (from the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division) equipped with chain-saws to cut down the tree.
These teams were accompanied by two 30-man security platoons from the Joint Security Force, who were armed with pistols and axe handles. The 1st Platoon secured the northern entrance to the JSA via the Bridge of No Return, while the 2nd Platoon secured the southern edge of the area.
Concurrently, a team from B Company, commanded by Captain Walter Seifried, had activated the detonation systems for the charges on Freedom Bridge and had the 165mm main gun of the M728 combat engineer vehicle aimed mid-span to ensure that the bridge would fall should the order be given for its destruction. Also, B Company, supporting E Company (bridge), were building M4T6 rafts on the Imjin River should the situation require emergency evacuation by that route.
In addition, a 64-man South Korean Special Forces company accompanied them, armed with clubs and trained in Tae Kwon Do, supposedly without firearms. However, once they parked their trucks near the Bridge of No Return, they started throwing out the sandbags that lined the truck bottoms, and handing out M16 rifles and M79 grenade launchers that had been concealed below. Several of the special forces men also had M18 Claymore mines strapped to their chests with the firing mechanism in their hands, and were shouting at the North Koreans to cross the bridge.
A U.S. Infantry company in 20 utility helicopters and seven Cobra attack helicopters circled behind them. Behind these helicopters, B-52 Stratofortresses, came from Guam escorted by U.S. F-4 Phantom IIs from Kunsan Air Base and South Korean F-5 and F-86 fighters were visible flying across the sky at high altitude. At Taegu Air Base, F-111 bombers of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing out of Mountain Home Air Force Base, were stationed, and F-4 Phantoms C and D from the 18th TFW Kadena Air Base and Clark Air Base were also deployed. The aircraft carrier USS Midway task force had also been moved to a station just offshore.
Near the edges of the DMZ, many more heavily armed U.S. and South Korean infantry, artillery including the Second Battalion, 71st Air Defense Regiment armed with Improved Hawk missiles, and armor were waiting to back up the special operations team. Bases near the DMZ were prepared for demolition in the case of a military response. The defense condition (DEFCON) was elevated on order of General Stilwell, as recounted in Colonel De LaTeur's research paper later. In addition, 12,000 additional troops were ordered to Korea, including 1,800 Marines from Okinawa. During the operation, nuclear-capable strategic bombers circled over the JSA. According to an intelligence analyst monitoring the North Korea tactical radio net, the accumulation of force "blew their... minds".
Altogether, Task Force Vierra consisted of 813 men: almost all of the men of the United States Army Support Group, of which the Joint Security Force was a part; a South Korean reconnaissance company; a South Korean Special Forces company which had infiltrated the river area by the bridge the night before; and members of a reinforced composite rifle company from the 9th Infantry Regiment. In addition to this force, every UNC force in the rest of South Korea was on battle alert.
Actual operation Edit
Engineers begin the tree cutting
The engineers in the convoy – two teams from B Company and C Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion, led by First Lieutenant Patrick Ono, who had conducted a recon of the tree, disguised as a Korean corporal two days prior – left their vehicles once the convoy arrived, and immediately started cutting down the tree while standing on the roof of their truck, while the 2nd Platoon truck was positioned to block the Bridge of No Return. The remainder of the task force dispersed to their assigned areas around the tree and assumed their roles of guarding the engineers.
North Korea quickly responded with about 150–200 troops, armed with machine guns and assault rifles. The North Korean troops arrived mostly in buses but did not leave them at first, watching the events unfold. Upon seeing their arrival, Lieutenant Colonel Vierra relayed a radio communication, whereupon the helicopters and air force jets became visible over the horizon. At the Yokota Air Base in Japan, the base was on alert. The flight-line runway was "nose to tail" with a dozen C-130s ready to provide back-up. The North Koreans quickly got out of their buses and began setting up two-man machine gun positions, where they watched in silence as the tree was felled in 42 minutes (3 minutes fewer than Stilwell's estimate), avoiding a violent confrontation. Also removed were two road barriers installed by the North Koreans, while the South Korean troops also vandalised two North Korean guard posts. The tree stump, around 6 m (20 ft) tall, was deliberately left standing.
Five minutes into the operation, the UNC notified their North Korean counterparts at the JSA that a UN work party had entered the JSA "in order to peacefully finish the work left unfinished" on August 18.