Country of Origin: Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea
Operation Paul Bunyan is the response by the United States to the killing of two United States’ Army officers. The incident that provoked Operation Paul Bunyan occurred on August 18th, 1976. Capt. Arthur Bonifas, along with an assembled number of South Korean and U.N. soldiers began to prune the trees between the South and North Korean checkpoints. The North Korean officer in charge of the opposing checkpoint, Lt. Pak Chul, euphemistically referred to as “Lt. Bulldog,” originally watched on innocently. Soon, though, he ordered Bonifas’ men to cease pruning the poplar tree as, “because Kim Il Sung personally planted it and nourished it and it’s growing under his supervision.” Bonifas continued the project.
Soon, Lt. Pak appeared with 20 more North Korean guards armed with blunt weaponry. The North Korean Lieutenant once again ordered Bonifas and his men to stop. When Bonifas ignored his demands once again, Lt. Bulldog shouted “Kill them!” and then delivered karate chop to Capt Arthur Bonifas neck, killing him instantly. Another Army officer, First Lt. Mark Barrett, had fallen into a depression by the side of the road. North Korean officers, out of sight of South Korean and U.N. forces, were going down into the depression where they would take turns bludgeoning 1st Lt. Mark Barrett to death. Eventually, a search party was sent out to to find Lt. Barrett’s body.
Operation Paul Bunyan, named after the lumberjack of myth, was formulated in honor of Bonifas and Barrett. A detachment of almost 200 American soldiers, armed with machine guns, tanks, anti-personnel carriers, mortars, and chainsaws rode out into the land between the two separated countries with one mission. While keeping the North Koreans away with the small arsenal, several Army Corps Engineers chopped down all of the trees Bonifas had been ordered to prune several days earlier. Initially, a fear of further tension arose, however, Kim Il-sung soon sent a message to those in charge at the outpost Bonifas was positioned at. Kim Il-sung expressed regret that the incident occurred, without claiming North Korean responsibility.