National Geographic : 1969 Mar
Observation Post Dort lies at the head of a beautiful emerald valley. Through such north-south passageways came the Commu nist invaders in 1950, as had Mongols in their 13th-century conquest of Korea. Dort sits on a high chocolate-drop hill, sur rounded by mine fields and barbed wire. Dur ing the Korean War, Chinese and U.N. artil lery shaved 20 feet off its top by incessant bombardment. First Lt. Melvin Banks, aged 32, of Eunice, Louisiana, greeted me in his octagonal com mand bunker. Almost completely under ground, the bunker is the nerve center of the defensive position. From it, trenches run to four smaller satellite bunkers containing elec tronic detection equipment, searchlights, and night viewing devices. "Pyongyang Polly" Offers Rewards Lieutenant Banks was joined at dusk by his company commander, who came to brief the patrol going out for the night. He was 1st Lt. (now Capt.) Jasper J. Sanger, 29 years old, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. "There are a lot of people getting killed up here," Sanger said. "If you get into a fire fight here, you are at war whether it's called that or not. It's like a forgotten world. The men here work harder than they do anywhere else I've been, but who knows it?" Lieutenant Banks and his patrol moved out. I settled down in the command bunker with 1st Lt. Gay Wright of Denver, Colorado, 23, the artillery forward observer. I slept on the dirt floor surrounded by canisters of flares and boxes of hand grenades. At midnight, we were all awakened by "Pyongyang Polly." Her voice was coming from Communist loudspeakers about a mile away on the Communist side of the Demili tarized Zone. Polly introduced a man she said was opera tions officer of the captured U.S.S. Pueblo. In a faltering, unnatural voice he began: "I am Like a dam against the flood, sandbags rim trenches at Observation Post Dort, a U. S. bunker at the Demilitarized Zone sep arating the two parts of Korea. American GI's defend 181/2 miles of the 151-mile-long buffer, still the scene of bloody clashes. Here troops eye North Korean propaganda loud speakers with prismatic binoculars, whose upturned tubes make possible reconnais sance from behind the trench walls. Victim of Communist ambush, U. S. Army Specialist 4C Leroy R. Jacks survived a night attack in the DMZ that killed four buddies. Shot in the leg, he played dead as assailants grabbed his pistol and fled. Would-be assassin, North Korean Kim Shin Jo and 30 others crossed into the South last year on orders to behead President Park. Twenty-eight were killed and two escaped; Kim was captured and turned informant.