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To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.-- George Washington
Kunsan Air Base is located on the shores of the Yellow Sea, on South Korea?s west coast, some eight miles from Kunsan City. The city has about 280,000 residents. It?s some 150 miles southwest of the country?s capital, Seoul. And it?s only about a 15-minute jet flight from North Korea. Kunsan AB is often referred to as the last of the "warrior bases". As an unaccompanied remote tour, servicemen and women spend a quick 12 months at the "tip of the spear", fulfilling the wing's mission, "To deliver lethal airpower when and where directed by the Air Component Commander".
Kunsan AB, located on the peninsula's southwest coast, sits 109 miles south of the DMZ. The base is within easy reach of North Korean weapons capable of delivering chemical munitions. Hence, the need for chemical warfare classes for everyone immediately upon arrival. And, if anyone dares to forget, Army Patriot missile sites and machine-gun bunkers serve as constant reminders that the front lines of battle could be as close as the front door.
Kunsan Air Base, elevation 30 feet (9 meters), is about 7 miles (13km) southwest of the town of Kunsan, a port on the Kum River. The base is bordered on the west and south by the Yellow Sea. The terrain immediately to the north and east is rugged, consisting of numerous hills reaching heights of 90 feet (27 meters) to 120 feet (37 meters). Although these hills are not very high, they can cause cloud formation due to orographic lift. Hills and mountains cover about 75 percent of Korea, with the remainder covered by scattered lowlands. Most of the rivers are short, swift, and shallow due to topography, narrowness, and sand deposits within the river. There are two small mountain ranges within 49 miles (91 km) of Kunsan. About 102 miles (55 km) north, lies an east-west oriented range, with heights approximately 1,970 feet (601 meters) above sea level. The second range is higher, about 2,950 feet (899 meters), and is 40 miles (74 km) east of Kunsan AB. Its orientation is north-south. The small range to the north is high enough to have significant effect on air moving over Kunsan from the north. Farther east is the Sobaek Range, which forms a north-south interior divide on the Korean peninsula. These mountains have a general elevation of 3,530 feet (1,076 meters), but have little effect on the weather at Kunsan.
The base is named after Kunsan City, a port town seven and a half miles east of the installation, with population of approximately 300,000 people. Kunsan is just hours away from Naejangsan National Park, famous for the breathtaking colorful autumn leaves, skiing at Muji Ski Resort, and a short drive to many hot springs resorts located throughout the Republic of Korea. Chejudo Island is a favorite tourist spot. It is only an hour flying from Kunsan. Located just 200 miles south of Kunsan in the Namhae (South Sea) it is often referred to as the "Hawaii of Korea".
The United States Air Force has a continuing requirement to maintain adequate supplies of ammunition and explosives within the ROK to support wartime and contingency operational plans. Since capabilities are limited on USAF-controlled installations, the US obtained additional storage capabilities through a concept known as MAGNUM (Munitions Storage Activities Gained by Negotiations of USAF/ROKAF Memorandum). MAGNUMs are a concept unique to Korea, where USAF-titled munitions are stored at facilities which are owned, operated, and protected by the ROKAF. Accordingly, the USAF has very little control over the storage of munitions within these areas and no authority to enforce the maintenance of Q-D clear zones. As a result of encroachment by the Korean civilians into the explosive clear zones, there are large numbers of exposures around the MAGNUMs. There is a permanent exemption from US DOD Q-D standards for off-installation and ROK exposures created by storage of USAF munitions at MAGNUM locations. This exemption applies for all off-installation and ROK violations created by the originally sited net explosives weight (NEW) of storage structures located at the Osan, Kunsan, Suwon, Kwang Ju, Sachon, Taegu, and Cheong Ju MAGNUMs.
Kunsan AB, home of the 8th Fighter Wing (Wolf Pack) was originally built by the Japanese as a fighter-interceptor base in 1938. Kunsan AB became home for the US Military Assistance Advisory Group in Korea at the end of World War II. In 1949, the US Forces left Korea, turning the base over to the then-fledgling Republic of Korea Air Force. In August 1950, during the Korean conflict, Kunsan was occupied by North Korean forces. The 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry, US Army, recaptured the base and Kunsan City, September 30, 1950. Fifth Air Force took over Kunsan AB in October 1950 and began modifying and rehabilitating existing buildings, In March 1951, the 27th Air Installation Squadron started maintenance on the base runway; and the 3rd Bombardment Wing arrived August 22, 1951. After the 3rd Bombardment Wing returned to Japan at the end of the Korean conflict, Kunsan AB was home to many US Force units. The 6175th Air Base Wing operated and maintained the base from 1954 to 1971. The 3rd Bombardment Wing returned to Kunsan AB as the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing and stayed until the 1974 arrival of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. The 8th Tactical Fighter Wing changed to the 8th Fighter Wing on 1 February 1992.
Housing units at Kunsan range from 5 to 40 years old. Consequently, the Wolf Pack Housing Office is in the process of "making it better." Many renovations are 0n0going or are scheduled for the near future. A new dorm has recently been completed and more dorms are scheduled for construction in the next few years. New arrivals are asked for their patience and a willing "self-help" attitude. A lot of new construction to replace the base?s ancient infrastructure is on-going. In the next few years, the base will undergo a $250 million facelift.
Kunsan City is a deep-water port located on the western coast of Korea, approximately seven and one-half miles from Kunsan AB. This port on the Yellow Sea was established in 1899 and accommodates large ocean-going vessels. With a population of more than 180,000, Kunsan city lists fishing as a major industry, along with its reputation as a major exporter of plywood and rubber shoes. The city has many interesting things to see, such as an outdoor market place, three Buddhist temples, a park with a panoramic view of the city and various shops carrying many different lines of merchandise. The nightclub scene is found in the off-base ?A-Town.? American Town, a few miles outside the main gate. There are stores, shops, restaurants and bars and dance clubs there. The security forces? 13-member Town Patrol walks the A-Town streets and alleyways. The patrol is there to provide ?preventive maintenance.?
Winter at Kunsan AB extends from November through early March. During this period, daytime temperatures range from the mid-fifties in November to the mid-thirties in January. Strong northwest surface winds during these months produce wind chill factors below zero. Snowfall occurs most often during December and January, with an average monthly accumulation of more than 18 inches. Spring (March through May), marks a transition from winter to summer. The summer months at Kunsan AB, (June through mid-September), is commonly called "the rainy season". Average rainfall for June is five inches, increasing to 10 inches in July. Rain tapers off towards summer's end to average just more than five inches in September. Summer daytime temperatures range from mid-seventies to mid-eighties July and August are usually hot and humid. Autumn at Kunsan AB like spring, is a transition period lasting through the latter portion of September and all of October.
1885: In Afghanistan, Russian troops inflict a crushing defeat on Afghan forces Ak Teppe despite orders not to fight.
1916: Mexican bandit Pancho Villa kills 172 at the Guerrero garrison in Mexico.
1940: Japan establishes its own government in conquered Nanking, the former capital of Nationalist China.
1941: The German Afrika Korps under General Erwin Rommel begins its first offensive against British forces in Libya.
1944: The U.S. fleet attacks Palau, near the Philippines.
1945: The Red Army advances into Austria.
1951: The heaviest air attack of the war was staged by 38 B-29's on twin bridges over the Yalu River at Sinuiju, dropping some 280 tons of bombs. Escorting F-80s and F-86s engaged enemy MiG-15 jets, destroying three and damaging six.
1972: A major coordinated communist offensive opens in Nguyen Hue with the heaviest military action since the sieges of Allied bases at Con Thien and Khe Sanh in 1968.
1975: As the North Vietnamese forces move toward Saigon, desperate South Vietnamese soldiers mob rescue jets.