Operation Big Switch

switchtwo

Article 111 of the Korean Armistice Agreement laid the ground work for the exchange of prisoners that started 5 August 1953.  Phase One would transfer  the prisoners who chose repatriation to the neutral area around Panmunjom and be supervised by three representatives from both sides.

Phase Two was for those that refused repatriation.  Red Cross teams went to the camps to be certain the POW’s choices were voluntary.  Officer teams from Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Czechoslovakia directed the activities; 3,000 Indians troops were sent to arrange the required interviews.

Arriving at the Gate of Freedom

Arriving at the Gate to Freedom

All during this difficult process, continuous little battles were being fought behind the wire and there were constant threats to the interrogators and their families.  By 31 December 1953, only 5,000 prisoners had been screened out of 22,604.

The United Nations returned 75,823 to North Korea and 22,604 were turned over to the NNRC (Neutral Natural Reparations Commission, overseen by India.)

The Communists returned 12,773 to the United Nations and 359 to the NNRC.

3709977398_05b046e394_o (800x528)

The UN General Assembly expressed , by Resolution 712, it’s “profound satisfaction that fighting has now ceased in Korea on the basis of an honorable armistice.”  The UNCURK (The United Nations Commission for the Unification of Korea) was disbanded in 1977.

The Signing

The Signing

Syngman Rhee was more and likely retained as president of South Korea due to the war’s onset.  The invasion of North Korea had failed the plans of an internal revolt to dispose of the leader.  A similar uprising in 1960 did however succeed in overthrowing Rhee.

To quote “America At War: The Korean War” by Maurice Isserman; published by Facts On File, Inc.:   ….and it was Ridgeway, who would warn prophetically in the spring of 1954,  against American military involvement in Vietnam.

############################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

James Adair, Jr. – Chandler, AZ; US Army 161st Infantry, SSgt., WWII PTO, 2 Bronze Stars

Cameron S. Baird – Burnei, Tasmania; Cpl./4th Battalion/2nd Commando Unit/RAR, Afghanistan, Victoria Cross

John M. Copoulos – Westminster, AR; US Army, WWII

Victoria Cross for Valor

Victoria Cross for Valor

James Daniel, Jr. – Coral Hills, MD; US Army, Korea

Alexander (Ted) Edward – Christchurch, NZ; EX2nd Division, RNZEF # 111589

Francis Gerow – Springfield, VA; US Navy, Captain (Ret.)

Herbert Swing – Highland Creek, Canada; RC Engineers, WWII

William Was – Santa Ana, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Henry Wronka – Sun City, AZ; US Air Force, Korea

############################################################################

Advertisements

About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 6, 2014, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 67 Comments.

  1. I cannot understand the mindset of those that refused to be repatriated.
    There has to be some sort of psychological reason for this.
    Ian

    Like

    • I suppose it is either brain washing or an awfully big reason not to go home – many of the Allied prisoners who stayed, ended up coming home eventually after they grew up. Thanks for going back into the archives.

      Like

  2. Very interesting. But why would some prisoners not want to go back? Were they American?

    Like

    • Some were, Elizabeth; but take into account how young and impressionable they were and look at where their own government sent them – add a bit of brain-washing and ….

      Like

  3. What an amazing collection of History! Such beautiful accounts and pictures. I’ve learnt more in this blog than I ever did in formal school.

    Posts such as yours play such an important role in passing on our historical knowledge to the younger generations..

    Thanks for taking the time to share

    ML
    x

    Like

    • It is ALL worth the effort when I hear a comment such as that, Miss Lou. Yes, our school systems just sort of glanced over the Korean War and only mentioned some general for WWII (I think because Ike became president), so I’m happy to do it, the veterans of those wars and today’s deserve even more recognition.

      Like

  4. Well another nice post – and I love that first picture – the hug and greeting. 😉

    also – glad you will continue writing (One more with the statistics of all sides and then I’ll work into the first hand account stories, tributes, etc….)

    🙂
    ~y.

    Like

  5. Wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog by nominating you for a loyalty award. You don’t have to accept but know how much I appreciate what you do!

    Adrienne

    Like

  6. Nice to see the Victoria Cross. This was such a multi national story.

    Like

  7. I thank you very much for your work on this blog! People need to know and understand history to decide how they want to live today and tomorrow.

    Like

    • The citizens need to do that because I don’t think the politicians can read!! Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read so many posts, JF.

      Like

      • It was my pleasure! Your researched detailed information gives very good picture of what really happened during Korean war. I am afraid that majority of young Americans don’t know that it was not just a Korean war.
        Thank you again!

        Like

  8. Ridgeway sure had a lot of smarts in him… as well as hardened experience. Unfortunately, his elected leaders thought they knew better than he.

    Like

    • Don’t they always? [why do I ask? You and I have been on the same wave length for quite awhile now!:)] Ridgeway was a good military leader and plenty smart – you just know that’s why the politicians didn’t listen to him – he showed them up. Good to see you, Koji.

      Like

      • Always been here… Just a tad sidetracked due to the kids’ school projects (plural) and just a week to do them in cuz they go back to their mom… dad… And the blog on my aunt… But the military is full of Ridgeway’s right now…and unlike him, Obama is purging them like Mad Dog Mattis to pursue his freakin’ progressive agenda.

        Like

  9. This was a great read. Thank you for the pictures too;

    Like

  10. Another naive question — the POWs who chose not to return to their homeland (whichever side), were they given choices of where they could go/stay?

    Like

    • I believe so, but if you chose the communist side – where do you think you’re headed?

      Like

      • One can only hope they were old enough and wise enough to recognize it. I remember hearing of soldiers who chose to stay in Nam. Always boggled the mind.

        Like

        • I suppose some became so disillusioned with the US that they thought the other side was right. (Many were just kids) Then again it could have been brain-washing or drugs – remember the “Deer Hunter”? That movie was sickening.

          Like

          • Heck, I’m not a kid anymore and I’m currently disillusioned (although I haven’t lost hope)! I remember the “Deer Hunter” but I never did see it. Probably for the reason you just stated!

            Like

            • Heck, if you get a chance to see it Linda – DON”T!:) I finally re-found the link for info on some of the prisoners who stayed, I can’t seem to get the link to work, but it is at Wikipedia under the title of “List of American and British defectors in the Korean War”

              Like

  11. this was a great read — and the series was terrific !!!

    Like

  12. Thanks for another historical post. I had no idea there were so many prisoners to be exchanged by so many countries.

    Like

    • Yes, thank God they survived it. It is my pleasure to bring each tale of the past – who knows – maybe one day a politician will learn from the past and alter our course of another new war each year!

      Like

  13. Interesting quote. I’m always impressed by people with the vision to see so far into the future.

    Like

    • I believe in this case, especially to the military, no premonition was necessary – Vietnam would be a disaster!! Even Patton and MacArthur agreed on that topic back in 1945. Don’t ask me what the heck JFK saw as an interest for the USA there!!

      Like

  14. There’s a lot I don’t know and don’t have time to check properly. But on a whim I followed that ‘Victoria Cross’ link and found a picture showing the (to me) unfamiliar wording “Pro Valore”.

    I’d always believed the words to be simply in English— “for Valour” and was intrigued enough to Google it.
    I looked at just enough images to think that something wasn’t quite consistent somewhere—has the VC been redesigned?

    Like

    • Quite possibly, I’m not that familiar with it, but medals often received a slight altering with another war. I requested an image from the Korean War and this is what popped up. Glad to see you had some curiosity – I have to rely on you guys for help, I just don’t have the computer time for everything. Thanks.

      Like

  15. More new things to digest – things that I didn’t even think about until this post, namely the minute, yet vital, fragments of the jigsaw. Fine post.

    Like

  16. This series contained more new information than any single source I’ve found. Nicely done! Thanks for your commitment to the task of highlighting the efforts and sacrifices of earlier generations in war, especially of individuals generally not featured in histories.

    Like

    • I greatly appreciate your comments and compliments, Weggie; and you, Dougie and Andy help to calm me down during hectic research days – so Thank You as well!

      Like

  17. Thank you for this series. I need to go back and read the entries I missed before we connected. Thank you again for reaching out to my blog and making that connection. Korea finds a way to stay in the news, I hope it stays on the sidelines. I look forward to the personal stories.

    Like

    • Dan, thanks for those words and I hope you enjoy both the past and future posts as well. I am also very glad I finally found out who that guy was that always beat me to the “Like” button.

      Like

  18. Pierre Lagacé

    I have learned so much.

    Like

  19. Pierre Lagacé

    Because I want to compliment you on this great history course….

    Like

  20. Pierre Lagacé

    Is this the last post on the Forgotten War?

    Like

  21. I believe there was a small amount of people who refuse to come back? Any info on them?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: