It was a tremendous Communist propaganda victory

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Brigadier General Francis T. Dodd went to meet the Communist delegation at the gate of Korean Officer Compound Number 76 on the Island of Koje, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

The gate was opened, while U.N. guards stood by, idly watching, manifestly bored by the island and their duty.

At a sudden signal, the POW’s, who had carefully rehearsed the maneuver, formed a press around Frank Dodd; he was seized and dragged within the compound; a flying wedge pushed the startled guards back, and the gates were closed.

Their shouting did no good. Dodd was pulled deep inside Number 76, inside a hut, and the men around him suddenly had sufficient homemade workshop items, made from spare metal and the slivers within GI shoes, effectively to release him from his earthly existence long before a guard detachment could knock down the wire and fight its way through to him.

This, as the officer now in charge of the island, Colonel Bill Craig, realized, was one hell of a mess. He passed the buck, quite properly; though he did not realize that the buck would move idly across Koje Island bounce about in Pusan, wing its way to Tokyo, then shriek its way across the ocean, only to come sizzling back, within a period of three days.


Colson talked to 2nd Logistical Command in Pusan, thought he had its concurrence, got the POW’s to tone down their demands a little — though he agreed, in essence, that “the U.N. Command would stop beating its wife” — which confession he discounted, since he felt everyone knew such allegations were silly — and signed on the dotted line, to get Dodd out.

It was a tremendous Communist propaganda victory.


Dodd was reduced to the grade of colonel, and retired. That left Colson.

When a man has done nothing conspicuously or flagrantly wrong, and yet had embarrassed his chiefs, whether he is an Army officer or an executive of Travelers Insurance, the current American phrase is “exhibited lack of judgment.” It is a wonderfully enveloping phrase, like the 96th Article of War’s “…and all other acts prejudicial to good order,” and can be fitted to almost any situation.

Whether in the Department of Agriculture or Department of the Army, anyone who causes acute embarrassment must go, or the lack of judgment is considered to be even higher up.


They presented Colson, who had walked into Koje-do cold, knowing nothing of the POW and propaganda situation there or anywhere else, with a long string of demands. Among them was confession of past crimes against POW’s, a pledge to recognize Communist organizations and control of the POW’s, and agreement “to stop torturing and mistreating prisoners to make them say they are anti-Communist.”

It was the old “have you stopped beating your wife?” technique, and Charlie Colson walked into it.

Colson knew the Communist demands and allegations were ridiculous; he was completely aware that no such torment or abuse of POW’s had ever taken place. He was not aware that when the demands, repeated by the newsmen now deserting the barren front for Koje-do in droves, were wired across the world, millions of people said, “Where there is smoke there must be fire,” and that Nam Il in Panmunjom was shrieking, in joyous and righteous rage:

“…These criminal acts committed by your side under the name of voluntary repatriation thoroughly violate the Geneva Convention relating to prisoners of war and repudiate the minimum standard of human behavior!”

And, “Your side must bear the full and absolute responsibility for the safety of our capture personnel!”


  1. Adar says:

    Chinese army Red commissars let themselves be voluntarily captured so they would be taken as POW and organize the resistance in the POW camps.

    Communist troops [Korea] continuing resistance even when POW perhaps that most successful instance in military history of such behavior.

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