My name is Anthony Fusco. I’m writing this after being out of the service for nearly 70 years. I served in Korea for 18 months, from March 1953, to October 1954. I boarded a ship and was sent overseas the day I turned 21 years old.
As a Military Police Officer I enjoyed serving in the U.S. Army with the 728th MP battalion company B. In April 1953, I was assigned to be on duty for Operation Little Switch. Operation Little Switch was an exchange of sick and wounded prisoners during the Korean War in April and May 1953. My company made history as it was the first time an Army unit was attached to the 1st Marine Division sharing living quarters, mess hall and working side
by side during the operation. The U.N. released 6,670 Chinese and North Korean prisoners, and the Communist forces returned 684 U.N. coalition prisoners (including 149 Americans). The prisoner swap took place in Munson-Ni. During the swap I saw our GIs being taken out of the North Korean ambulances, and helped put them on the helicopters as they were sent to the Red Cross hospital ship waiting out in the ocean off Incheon Korea.
After the prisoner exchange was completed, the war ended in July 1953. I was selected out
150 MPs to escort the Neutral Nations Inspection team to Panmunjom in order to verify the
U.S. was no longer bringing in any more troops. In April 1954 after various MP patrol assignments in Suwon, I was assigned to pipeline patrol for seven months. The pipeline section I was responsible for was approximately 30 miles long and ran from Unyang Dong-Po to just before Inchon harbor. During my seven- month patrol I routinely caught people stealing gasoline along that pipeline in our territory. My patrol shifts varied between
3 p.m. to 11p.m. and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. I preferred the 3-11 shift. That was the most active shift. Gas was usually stolen after dark, using five-gallon cans.
They were green and were U.S. Army cans. I would drive with my headlights off to remain
unseen as I approached the would-be thieves. That way I could catch them in the act. They
would scatter and drop the cans. Using this tactic I was able to retrieve the empty cans and prevented the gasoline theft from occurring. By the time my assignment ended I had confiscated 500, 5-gallon cans. A person in the village would spread the word during the day what time he would be opening the pipeline so it would leak and they could take the gas. This guy would have a wrench and he would bring a raincoat with him. He would wrap
the raincoat around the pipe and with the wrench he opened the clamp on the pipeline.
The gasoline would begin to flow through the sleeve of the raincoat, which had a hose attached at the end in order to fill the cans. The villagers would take turns filling cans and pay him in Korean money. This was the same way the trucks came to the pipeline to fill
their barrels. They would carry anywhere from three to five barrels on each truck every time they came to pick up the gas. I had a Korean national police officer with me at all times acting as an interpreter. In addition to the 500, 5-gallon cans I confiscated 250,
55-gallon drums. I would confiscate the truck as well as the empty barrels. I began to get a reputation in the area. My interpreter told me the people in the village nicknamed me “hound dog”.
A few days before I was scheduled to come home, someone from the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) came to my company commander and claimed I was taking bribes. I never took a single penny from anybody. He came back a couple days later and wanted me to go with him so he could lock me up based on accusations of bribery and extortion. In the meantime, I went to the office where we had to turn in our daily patrol record. I asked the clerk if he could give me a copy of the record that I turned in every day while on patrol. He provided me with a stack of papers documenting every day of my patrol.
I turned everything over to my lieutenant, who was going to represent me in court. After I
was locked up for 30 days, the lieutenant came to get me and we headed to court. He did a great job defending me. He spoke to the judges (there were three) and read my patrol log. After listening to my lieutenant read approximately half of the log entries one
judge asked for the report and told him to sit down and that he was finished. They pretty much had gotten the message. Then they asked the CID person who had evidence against
me – “so he said” – to stand up. I was being charged with extortion, theft and conspiracy and facing a court martial. Supposedly, he had witnesses, which is why I was initially charged and locked up. When the judge asked him to present his case against me he had no witnesses, no paperwork and absolutely nothing to back up those charges. At that point the judge dismissed the case and found me not guilty. I was quickly shuttled out of the courtroom, and the very next day I was on a plane coming home.
My discharge paperwork is noted with the phrase “held in the convenience of the government for 30 days”. Those 30 days equaled the number of days I was overdue from coming home. Some time after I arrived home, the lieutenant who represented me and the company commander visited me at home to see how I was doing. Their names were Captain Elliot and Lieutenant Horn. Near the end of my service I thought I was going to be recognized for my accomplishments or perhaps given a medal for the duty that I performed. No one in the company had confiscated as many illegal cans and barrels of gas as I did. Instead of getting an award or medal, I was accused of wrongdoing and arrested. I wasn’t allowed to speak to the accuser, confront him, or press charges against him for false prosecution because they shuffled me out of Korea as fast as they could. After my day in court I was put on a plane and sent home the very next morning. In hindsight, I suspect someone in a high-ranking military position or perhaps the CID was involved in a bribery or conspiracy operation related to pipeline gasoline theft and wanted me out of the way.
At 90 years old, I can still remember in vivid detail those 18months of my life. I am proud of my service and proud to be an American.
Anthony N. Fusco