Eighth Army's secret weapon: The Korean Service Corps
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- Desperately clinging to their last vestige of a secure defensive front at the Pusan Perimeter, Eighth Army Commander Lt. Gen. Walton H. Walker knew he had to find some form of reprieve for his men in the foxholes.
They still had the will to fight and win, but with little reserves to draw from their spirits were waning and the prospects of keeping the North from marching all the way to Busan looked dim.
A battle-hardened warrior with combat experience during both World War I and World War II, Walker decided to draw strength from a battalion of South Korean civilians by establishing a paramilitary auxiliary force to keep his men equipped with ammunition and supplies until additional reinforcements could arrive.
On the other side of the coin, South Korean President Syngman Rhee had witnessed the communist aggressors run roughshod over three-quarters of his country in just a few weeks and he knew it would spell doom to give up their strategic stronghold along the Nakdong River.
To prevent the complete collapse of the nation, Rhee quickly obliged Walker's request signing an emergency decree on June 25, 1950 directing the ROK Army to provide a battalion of civilians to haul supplies to U.S. Soldiers in the trenches.
With both nations in agreement, the newly formed Civilian Transportation Corps (CTC), immediately began supplying Eighth Army Soldiers the relief that they urgently needed. By the end of the war the CTC was so successful that it had grown to over 133,000 members.
Years later the CTC would change its name to the Korean Service Corps (KSC), but despite the new moniker the unit continues to enhance the lethality of Eighth Army providing vital combat support and combat service support to its troops.
Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the KSC's proud history or the crucial function that they continue to fulfill to this day. Upon taking command back in 2013, KSC Commander Lt. Col. Devon NuDelman set out to reverse that trend and bring to light the extraordinary contributions of the men and women he leads.
"The KSC Battalion is the best thing going you never heard of," said NuDelman. "You have (other units) out there sweating and asking themselves what am I going to do for the first 30 days of conflict, but I assure you the KSC Battalion will be locked and loaded and ready to support."
Han Gwang Ma, the KSC Company Commander at K-16 provided an explanation for why he believes so few people understand the responsibilities of the unit.
"Many Soldiers are only stationed in Korea for one or two years so they aren't really around long enough to fully understand our mission," said Ma. "But recognition is not really why we do this job. We do it to preserve freedom and our way of life."
In preparing his troops to be ready to support Eighth Army in the event of war, the KSC hosts regional Mobility Exercises throughout the peninsula each year. The annual Seoul Mobility Exercise took place Aug. 12 at Daewang Elementary School in South Gangnam.
"This is normally a school," said NuDelman. "They use classrooms to set up six processing stations where we issue Geneva Convention cards and equipment, conduct medical checkups, update their personal data, and execute realistic training exercises based on the Army's warrior tasks and drills."
"By the time they leave this exercise they will be well-versed in a variety of essential skills including first-aid, map reading, weapons familiarization, and chemical defense protocols," he continued. "Mastering each of those abilities will help them be successful on the battlefield and maximize their ability to contribute to the fight."
As the officer in-charge of the Seoul Mobilization Exercise, Ma added that it is extremely important to master those specialized skills to help indoctrinate U.S. Soldiers arriving from outside the Korean Theater of Operations who are unfamiliar with the terrain and operating conditions that they will face here.
In addition to training for their potential war-time roles, the KSC also fulfills a plethora of other duties in peacetime that often go overlooked because they occur behind the scenes.
"Despite all of the training you see here in preparation for mobilization, we do so much more in peacetime that most people just don't realize," NuDelman explained. "From hosting water survival training center, to managing logistics across Area 1, to manning both the Rodriguez and Story Live-Fire Complexes, we do much of the work behind the scenes that most people never see."
While much of the work their unit conducts takes place outside the limelight and their mission remains unclear to the normal lay person, there is no doubt that the KSC is a force multiplier and will continue to contribute to Eighth Army's forward fighting capabilities for many years to come.