8240th Army Unit - United Nations Partisan Force, Korea

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Peter H
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8240th Army Unit - United Nations Partisan Force, Korea

Post by Peter H » 23 Nov 2006 13:40

The "White Tigers" in the Korean War:

White Tigers: My Secret War in North Korea, by Col. Ben S. Malcom with Ron Martz, foreword by Gen. John Singlaub. McLean, VA: 1996, 288 pp

Ben Malcom's memoir of the Korean War is both interesting and amusing. Detailing his experiences as an intelligence officer assigned to the United Nations Partisan Infantry Korea (UNPIK) Group, Malcom has the distinction of leading numerous covert operations deep inside North Korea.

When Malcom arrived in Korea as a First Lieutenant in February 1952, enroute to join the 3rd Infantry Division, his orders changed when the 8240th Army Unit recruited him into their service. At this point in the war the U.S. Army had been driven back behind the 38th parallel.

The 8240th Army Unit, headquartered in Seoul, was run by Colonel Jay Vanderpool, a guerrilla operations veteran in the Philippines during World War II. In 1947 Vanderpool served as the Army liaison to the Central Intelligence Group (forerunner to the CIA). In 1950 the Army loaned Vanderpool to the newly created CIA to resolve the dispute over North Korean troop estimates. Vanderpool's estimates were wrong, citing a figure of 35,000 NKPA troops when the actual number was 136,000. Vanderpool was returning to the U.S. when North Korea attacked the South. Vanderpool returned to Korea several months later to command the 8240th.

Vanderpool briefed Malcom on the overall mission objective: "the establishment of bases on offshore islands where partisans could be trained in intelligence gathering, communications, demolitions, and basic infantry tactics." From islands, using fishing junks as disguise, partisans infiltrated inland on both intelligence and combat missions. The fishing junks were modified with modern engines, machine guns, and communications gear.

Military estimates at the time gave the mission a high rate of success: "a partisan force of 25,000 well-led and properly trained, could be expected to divert from 375,000 to 500,000 regular troops from other duties."

Malcom was assigned to Leopard Base, located on the island of Paengnyong-do, on the west coast about 125 miles north of the front lines. Leopard was responsible for everything west of the Ongjin Peninsula and north to the Yalu River. By the time Malcom assumed his duties, Leopard had already conducted 700 operations resulting in 9,000 enemy deaths, including the destruction of thirty-seven bridges. There were eleven partisan units operating from the island. Designated as "Donkey Units," the origin came from a speech delivered by the first commander of Leopard in which he used the analogy of a wise mule that does not panic in barbed wire, but patiently waits for an escape. Malcom changed the name of his favorite D4 to "White Tigers" for their unusual courage under fire.

The partisans were quite clever in combat. One favorite trick was to fake NKPA operational orders. One partisan unit planted mines on a hill, then printed fake NKPA orders to attack. The NKPA troops stormed the hill killing eighty of their own men. On another raid they found North Korean war bonds and new one-hundred-won notes. These were sent back to Seoul to be counterfeited and reintroduced into enemy territory.

One operation Malcom planned and participated was the destruction of a 76 mm gun overlooking Wollae-do. After the completion of the mission, NKPA radio broadcasts began discussing him by name and his operational role at Leopard Base. A price on his head was mentioned to encourage assassination. Obviously, a NKPA agent had infiltrated Leopard. Partisans were drawn from refugees and NKPA disserters making it difficult to weed out agents.

The Leopard Base mission was an unusual hybrid of combat operations and intelligence gathering. Intelligence was secondary to combat despite Leopard's success rate of deep penetration agents. Kidnapping was a simple matter. When Seoul needed a NKPA officer, partisans would dress in NKPA uniforms with fake arrest orders and walk into a NKPA compound and arrest one of the officers.

Malcom discounts a popular myth that reappears during each new war. It goes like this, a partisan leader infuriated by an American officers constant badgering about enemy casualty figures finally throws a bag of ears on his desk and walks away in disgust. Leopard Base became famous for such a story, but is was too similar to a legend out of Burma with the OSS and Kachin rebels, and later reappeared during Vietnam with the CIA and the Montagnards.

Malcom received the Silver Star for bravery, but due to the classified nature of his mission did not receive the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) till a petition granted it to him twelve years later.

White Tigers is rich in detail and fascinating in scope. Secrecy often intrudes into documenting history, but fortunately Malcom's book helps lift the veil to expose a fresh look on the Korean War.

Review by Wendell Minnick,1997

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Kim Sung
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Post by Kim Sung » 24 Nov 2006 06:17

The 8240th Army Unit is very famous. A lot of Korean 8240th Army Unit agents fought against North Korea. But their contribution is almost forgotten.

I finished my military service in the unit which succeeded to 8250th Army Unit. I know many former veterans who conducted special operations in North Korea.


Former 8240th Army Unit agents at a demonstration in Seoul demanding government reparations on November 30, 2004.

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Kim Sung
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Post by Kim Sung » 24 Nov 2006 06:28

The Korean War didn't come to an end in 1953.

viewtopic.php?p=841283#841283

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Re: 8240th Army Unit - United Nations Partisan Force, Korea

Post by Kim Sung » 15 Jun 2008 05:51

Today's top news in Korea is that a former 8240th Army Unit agent who was captured by the Chinese forces in his operation in Chinese territorial waters on September 15, 1951 is still living in Fushun, China. According to his account, KMT agents from Taiwan also participated in the operation along the coast of the Liaodong peninsula. This is a fact totally unknown so far.

http://www.donga.com/fbin/output?f=tota ... 10&top20=1

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Re: 8240th Army Unit - United Nations Partisan Force, Korea

Post by 34bdq » 29 Mar 2015 01:25

Over the last two years Matt Force and I have been diligently working and conducting research for a book on the 8240th AU. The discoveries that we have found and the people that we have met has been a rewarding experience for the both of us. We are not historians by training, but are veterans who served in the U.S. Army, Matt with the Airborne and I with the Rangers. We both have been fascinated with military history since childhood, and have personal collections ranging from WWII to the Vietnam War

In our quest for information we are seeking anything relating to this unit in the way of photographs, certificates, awards, cloth and metal insignia, uniforms, captured items, documents and ephemera that may be available.

We have just launched an 8240th Army Unit website as a predecessor to the book. It is our hope that by getting information out to the public, the military collecting community and forums, we will be able to gain more information and find items to add in the final publication. What you see on this website is a small portion of the items we have found, and we are adding items on a regular basis.

Text will be added and in the end we are confident that the book will be the definitive book for this unit.

Go to: http://www.botrmilitaria.com/#!the-8240th-au/c1mj8
When it opens, click the first 8240TH ARMY UNIT site that appears. There are four sections. Click on any section and you will find the content as described.

You can also find us on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/8240thAU# For German collectors you will be quite surprised by what has been just posted.

My email address is titanlocker@gmail.com and my cell is: 001 808 2272019.

I look forward to hear from anyone, and would be most appreciative for any assistance that you may be able to provide.

D.M. Kim

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