By 1st. Lt. Adam R. Irby, United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area Public AffairsAugust 30, 2011
JOINT SECURITY AREA, Panmunjom, South Korea - "Specialist Peaks?" "Here Sergeant Major!"
"First Lieutenant Barrett ... First Lieutenant Mark Barrett?"
"Sergeant Major, he is no longer with us"
"Captain Bonifas … Captain Arthur Bonifas."
"Sergeant Major, he is no longer with us."
This was the roll call during the Barrett-Bonifas Memorial Ceremony conducted at Camp Bonifas Aug. 18.
The ceremony was held to commemorate the loss of two officers who served in the JSA more than 35 years ago.
They were brutally killed by North Korean soldiers as they attempted to trim a Yellow Poplar tree that obstructed the view between two JSA checkpoints. The atrocity occurred Aug. 18, 1976 and became known worldwide as the Panmunjom Axe Murder Incident.
Each year members of the combined ROK-U.S. United Nations Command Security Battalion host the ceremony.
This year, it was attended by special guests, such as retired ROK Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup, the first four-star general in the ROK Army, Eighth Army Commanding Geneal Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, members of the "JSA Old Boys" veterans group and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The ceremony started with reading of the history of the incident and finished with the playing of Taps after the Roll Call by JSA Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Andres Ortiz.
UNCSB-JSA Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Edward J. Taylor and ROK-JSA Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Son Gang-je then escorted guests into the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
Under the watchful eye of JSA Security Escorts, wreaths and lilies were placed on the marker where the Yellow Poplar used to stand.
This event commemorates the continued stance and commitment of the JSA Battalion toward the security and freedom of the South Korean people. It was a reminder to all Soldiers, especially those assigned to the Joint Security Area, that vigilance, courage and sacrifice are the cost of freedom for ourselves and our allies.