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Dan Carson


I think the picture in front of the bunker was made on a hill near Pork Chop, when I was with the 304th Signal Battalion before going to the Third Division.  That hill was also overrun and when I got there the trenches were filled with bodies just like Harry.  I can't sort out the memories so I'm not sure where this picture was made.  That's me with the camera and the guy is pointing to a hill where the Chinese had come from during the night

A self-portrait of Dan Carson with the photo and overlay 


 

My Souvenir from Outpost Harry
By Dan Carson, 3rd Signal Company, Photo Section written in March 2001 for the OP Harry Survivors Assoc. Newsletter

When I was serving in Korea I made a decision not to keep a journal or save any pictures of my tour there. I decided I did not want to remember the experience. After getting back home I never talked about it, and tried my best to forget it. It didn’t work. An empty space grew inside me that I kept trying to fill unsuccessfully.

Korea intruded into my dreams at night. I frequently found myself trying to push it out of my mind. Gradually it made me an unhappy and poorly adjusted person. I got around to the point mentally that I wasn’t sure how much of my Korea memories were real, and how much I had dreamed. I was not in a healthy state of mind.

A few years ago while surfing the World Wide Web, I discovered a site called the Korean War Project. I posted a note there saying I had been in the 3rd Signal Company toward the end of the war. In March of ‘97, I got an email from Jim Jarboe, who was in the photo section at the same time. He told me about the formation of the Survivors of OP Harry. At first I didn’t remember the name OP Harry, but it sounded familiar. I looked at the citation for my Bronze Star and it mentioned OP Harry. That told me I was there and I applied for membership.

Jim and I exchanged a few emails, with addresses and so forth, and one day I received a package in the mail containing an aerial photo with a tissue paper overlay taped to it. The pencil notes on the overlay said that Dan Carson made the photo on June 15, 1953. 1st Lt Dan Carson was in charge of the Photo Section, 3rd Signal Company, from March 1953 to April 1954. It also noted that 2 tiny dots on the ground in the photo were Jim Jarboe and Sgt. Frank Conger. Sgt. Conger is now deceased. 

Frank and Jim were on OP Howe making picture of the action on OP Harry with a telephoto camera. I was flying in an L-19 making recon photos. They were not aware I was above them and I didn’t know they were on the ground below me. When both of our pictures were being processed in the field photo lab a few hours later, Jim realized they were in my picture and saved a copy.

The tissue paper overlay also said that OP Howe was approximately 1900 yards south of OP Harry and that the plane was flying north. After I got over my surprise at receiving this wonderful souvenir I started to think about what I might have been doing that day. 

The picture is a vertical shot. The camera is pointed straight down. My memory is that we only did that when we were going to make a strip of photos that overlapped each other. That way the Photo Interpretation guys at Division could view the overlapping frames with stereoscopic glasses. They could see a 3D image, with detail not otherwise possible.

I remembered a flight on which I mapped the whole area around Harry using this technique. I believe it may have been the only time an L-19 was used to make a photo map while under enemy fire. I believe the frame Jim saved and sent to me almost half a century later was part of that map

My recollection is that everyone in the Division knew about the attacks on Harry that started June 10th. We all wanted to do all that we could to help the men who were on that hill. I recall going to the Division HQ to get an assignment from the Photo Interpretation officer. He told me that Maj. John Eisenhower ordered us to get every possible bit of information on and around Harry. At the time Maj. Eisenhower’s father was the President.

While driving from the Division Hq. to the Air Section, I got the idea to try mapping the whole area. An L-19 doesn’t have the equipment to fly on instruments the way aerial mapping was done back then. (Now these pictures are made from satellites). We would have to do it by the seat of our pants. I discussed my idea with the pilot who was assigned to fly the mission. I half expected he would say it couldn’t be done. Instead he said he wanted to give it a try.

We decided to fly three passes over Harry, from South to North. We marked 3 points on a map, which would be the start of each run. One would take us directly over Harry, the other two would take us on each side overlapping the hill. The first run was easy. The Chinese usually were reluctant to fire at us because they were always conserving ammunition. The Air Force bombing made their re-supply difficult. On the second run they began to realize what we were doing, and decided to do their best to bring us down.

They fired machine guns and flak but because we were at 10,000 feet they were having a hard time zeroing in on us. When we started the 3rd pass, they started to get the range. I remember the pilot tapped me on the shoulder. (The camera was mounted behind me so I was twisted around with my back to him.) He pointed out the left window. I looked out and saw tracers going by the left wing so close that I felt I could reach out and touch them.

Using sign language (it was real noisy) he asked me if I wanted to continue. I remembered Eisenhower’s order to bring back everything we could get, so I nodded yes. We flew right through that fire without getting hit, and when we finished the run the pilot snapped that little plane into a dive toward the safety of our own MLR.

(Sfc. Frank Conger made the picture at left of me talking to Maj. Eisenhower a few days after the armistice was signed. I don't know who the guy in the foreground is. Frank (who is now deceased) also made the picture of the L-19 in flight above.)


Usually I didn’t get to see the pictures I made, because they were processed and delivered to Division immediately. I was surprised several days later when I was at Division HQ. and saw the entire map, pasted together and hanging outside the Photo Interpretation tent. I remember feeling a lot of pride, and thinking I’d like to make a picture of it hanging there. I didn’t have a camera with me. Now I have a souvenir anyway.

I’m grateful to the guys who organized the OP Harry Survivors Association, because through this organization I’ve been able to fill a big hole inside myself, and to feel real pride about my service in Korea. I’d like to say a special Thank You to Jim Jarboe, for my wonderful souvenir. 

Dan Carson, WWW.WINDWARDWEB.COM


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