Korean Service Corps 'one of a kind'
What has 2,188 Soldiers, 17 companies, occupies the DMZ line down to Pusan, provides combat lifesaving classes, pipeline installation, railroad, mortuary affairs, drivers, water operations or how about the only HET operators in Korea and the largest Battalion in Korea? The list could go on and on… Any guesses, anyone? Many of you are probably stumped. Do you give up yet?
If you guessed the Korean Service Corps you were correct. Even if you knew the answer I am betting most of you are probably still not exactly sure who they are and what they do, right?
Well, let me give you a brief history lesson. The KSC was formed on July 26th, 1950 by a Presidential Emergency Decree of Syngman Rhee, the President of the Republic of Korea at the time. It was in response to a request for personnel by General Walton Walker, Commanding General, and Eighth Army. The group was originally known as the Civilian Transportation Corps though.
The original purpose of the unit was to support the United States and United Nations Forces in Korea to transport ammunition, food, and medicine to the front lines. It also evacuated the dead and wounded from the battlefield and constructed fighting positions, trenches, command posts and main supply routes as well.
In the beginning at Busan these individuals worked day and night while thousands of tons of supplies were off loaded from U.S. ships and transported to the front lines along the Naktong River line. They even accessed places trains and vehicles couldn’t go by hauling on their backs with the assistance of a wooden apparatus. Eventually, they became known as “The A-frame Army.”
In 1951 the CTC was changed to KSC’s and exceeded 100,000 men to sustain the logistical mission of the war at the time.
Essentially, the U.S. and Korean ‘s have been working hand and hand, side by side for decades and it is no different today.
The Commanding Officer, LTC Devon D. NuDelman, said at his Headquarters on Camp Kim," “KSC’s are one of a kind.” He added, “During the Korean War they were absolutely game changers.”
Here is an example of this. The Heavy Equipment Transport company is the only one on the Korean peninsula. This means that any movements of large Army equipment on the “pen” they are responsible for.
This isn’t all though. They also run the water survival training center which trains 2CAB pilots on evacuating downed aircraft in the water. Furthermore, they support the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission Camp in the JSA and operate firing ranges as well.
They are “jack of all trades” as witnessed by their language assistants, translators and interpreters, maintenance, hot refueling and others responsibilities too. Originally, they were a paramilitary force that assisted to support defending the defensive line of ROK and US Army troops along the Naktong River in the Korean War. Coincidentally, the line and defense was successful.
Even to this day the KSC are responsible for transporting ammunition and supplies, evacuating the sick and wounded, constructing field fortifications, building and maintaining roads, operating supply points and performing other functions as required.
The organization is broken down into three categories; Armistice Operations, Executive KSC mobilization and Contingency Operations. More specifically, the units are comprised of ROKA Officers (company commanders/platoon leaders), Category I General Laborers and Category II skilled Labor personnel.
Major Danny Garrett, the Battalion Executive Officer summed it quite well. "The Korean Service Corps Battalion is the largest Battalion in the Army. Every one of the KSCs are professionals and I enjoy working with them." Pretty strong quote from a man who has been around several branches of the military in various roles as well as serving in combat roles as well.
If all of these job responsibilities were not enough to win you over how about this. Not only do they provide all of these services, but you can also ask for their support by submitting a written response to them. For further details please reference your local KSC unit.
So, the next time someone asks you who the KSC’s are or you see a pipeline or a HET or underwater survival training or any other of the other unique responsibilities you can have a smile on your face and say that is our KSC’s…. As Major Garrett and LTC NuDelman quick to say, “8th Army and the KSC’s have a special relationship.” I think all of us will know why now!