The 67th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron was located at Kimpo Air Force Base (K14) in South Korea near Seoul and 17 miles from the Korean Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea. This is the most highly militarized border in the world now and possible then. Our mission was to process and interpret the aerial photographs and electronic intelligence gathered by the planes of the 12th (RB-26Bs), 15th (RF-80s and RF-86s), and 56th (F-51s) Tactical Reconnaissance Technical Squadrons flying their planes out of Kimpo over North Korea.
The development and printing of the rolls of aerial film taken from the aircraft were processed in a half a dozen trailers that could be hooked up and pulled out in less than four hours and driven to our backup facility in Taegu, K2, (now Daegu) 200 miles to our south. In our trailer we printed the rolls of film after they were developed. Our six-man enlisted crew was watched over by our crew chief, a staff sergeant, and we worked long hours, often seven days a week, doing our job. Even though we worked long hours, it was required we get one hour of physical training each day. At first we played volleyball for an hour in a court behind the trailers.
Our crew chief had some experience with drill teams, so he asked if he could form a drill team and let it function as the hour-a-day physical training. The six of us in the trailer were “volunteered” to be part of the team and he rounded up another six who actually were volunteers.
Our weapons were carbines, not especially suited for a drill team, but he was able to round up enough M1 Garand rifles to outfit us. We had some helmet liners painted white, rounded up some white gaiters and white gloves, and had some blue ascots made. We worked out daily in our fatigues, but when it came time to dress up we looked pretty sharp.
We have all seen honor guards and drill teams. They are part of our culture–from the inspiring changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown solder to the honor guards at sporting events and in parades.
As far as I know we were the only Air Force Drill Team in Korea at the time, but there was some drill team action in Japan. We tried to get permission to compete in Japan but it never happened. The chain of command rightly determined that is was higher priority to continue to process the film that our pilots were risking their lives to get. More reconnaissance pilots were killed than any other pilot assignment.
But it was fun, and if we had gotten a chance to compete I think we would have kicked some ass.