Camp Bonifas is a military post that belongs to the UN military command. Its current location is 400 meters south of the southern border of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. However, previously it was 2,400 meters south of the border between North Korea and South Korea. The camp returned to North Korean territory in 2006. Initially, the camp was referred to as Camp Kitty Hawk. The name was then changed to its current name on August 18, 1986. The change of the name was in honor of US Captain Arthur Bonifas. Together with Lt Mark T Barrett, he was killed by soldiers of North Korea in an incident commonly known as the “Axe Murder Incident.” The incident occurred at Panmunjom. The two soldiers were watching over civilians who were trimming a tree in the Joint Security Area (JSA). Suddenly, they were attacked by the North Korean Force. The killing was very inhumane involving clubs, knives, pick handles, and axes.
Camp Bonifas is home to the UN Command Security Battalion; also called the JSA. The personnel at the camp provide full time security of the United Nation Command officers. The primary mission of the military personnel in Camp Bonifas has been to enhance the enforcement of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement made between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea. Their briefs are in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. Besides the Korean soldiers, the US soldiers also interact with solders from other countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand, and Poland. The JSA is made up of not only US army soldiers, but also Republic of Korea Army at a ratio of 40% to 60%.
They also provide protection to about 800-900 visitors who call in the Joint Security Area. They control movements into and out of the base and perform regular checks at certain intervals. The villagers of Tae Song Dong are also protected by the same personnel as they supervise the internal activities going on in the village. For those visiting Panmunjom, the soldiers act as tour guides. Civilians are also allowed to visit Camp Bonifas. On average, the camp receives more than 100,000 tourists annually. Camp Bonifas also has a gift shop where the soldiers sell JSA- and DMZ-related souvenirs to the visitors.
Mine fields are present on three sides of this camp. There is also a golf-course which is par 3 one-hole and consists of Astroturf green. The hole is popularly called “the most dangerous hole in golf.” At one time, one shot caused an explosion on a gold mine. Hence, the golf course is a defense mechanism used by the military officers. Additionally, triple coils of razor wire have also been used in the camp around some buildings to provide further protection from intruders.
Men at the UNCSB base at Panmunjom have been freedom fighters for more than 45 years. Since they are the most reliable military group in the region, they regularly fight against aggressive forces so as to ensure the Korean Peninsula remains united and peaceful.
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