Camp Bonifas – Panmunjom, Korea

Camp Bonifas - Panmunjom, Korea

Camp Bonifas is the base camp for the United Nations Command Security Force -- Joint Security Area (JSA). It is located 400 metres south of the southern boundary of the Demilitarized Zone. Camp Bonifas is home to the soldiers who support the Military Armistice Commission at the JSA, the United Nations Command Security Group.

Previously Camp Kitty Hawk, Camp Bonifas was renamed after a JSA officer, Captain Arthur G. Bonifas, was slain by North Korean People's Army soldiers on August 18, 1976, when they attempted to prune a tree blocking the view between two outposts near the Bridge of No Return. The event is commonly known as "The Axe Murder Incident". A UNC security officer, Lt. Mark T. Barrett, was also killed during the clash.

In response to the killing of the two UNC Officers, the popular tree near the UNC Check Point #4, was removed. Today, a portion of the tree trunk remains in "The Monastery", the JSA Visitor's Center. There is a monument to the two officers killed in the exact location of the tree that was cut down.

The camp's personnel provide 24-hour security of United Nations Command personnel and their guests within the JSA, and controls entry into and exit from the JSA. They also provide security to the villagers of Tae Song Dong and supervision of civil affairs within the village.

The soldiers also operate and maintain the JSA tour program, usually referred to as Panmunjom. This includes up to 12 tours per day, six days a week, with an average of 150,000 visitors per year.

The UNC Security Force – JSA is tasked to provide all logistical support and security to all United Nations Command personnel working in the JSA. During the history of the Joint Security Area, there have been many occasions where tensions were heightened and unusual events occurred. Operations include the repatriation of 82,493 Chinese People's Volunteer and the North Korean's People's Army POW and the return of 13,444 United Nations POWs from April 20 to September 6, 1953; the release by Custodial Forces, India of 23,000 anti-Communist Chinese and North Koreans who refused to be repatriated on January 21, 1954; the return of the crew of the USS Pueblo on December 23, 1968; and the repatriation of 39 South Korean civilian passengers of the hijacked Korean Air Lines aircraft on February 14, 1970.

Their motto, "In Front of Them All", is a reflection of the commitment to helping maintain the peace in a divided country.

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