Read Part 3 HERE

At that time, abject poverty was not limited to outlying coastal islands. The Korean War had wrecked the entire peninsula so badly that many thought Korea would never recover. Split at the 38th parallel, North Korea had inherited an industrial base, but South Korea was rural and agrarian, its agricultural production reoriented toward extraction by Japanese colonists for 50 years. During this time people still wore traditional garb, cattle carts could be found in central Seoul, and almost every road was unpaved. Local homes were heated with charcoal under the floor, and every year civilians would die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

“To drive from Seoul to Pusan you actually had to ford streams in some places, cross over single-lane pontoon bridges, and plan on taking three days to make the roughly 250-mile journey,” Gordon Cucullu said. Korea was considered to be a Third World backwater country by many, and some Special Forces soldiers actively resisted being assigned there.

However, for those that did make it to Special Forces Detachment K, they found a rewarding experience waiting for them. Redgate was soon taking the South Korean Special Forces out into the ocean to conduct infiltration training with American submarines. Det K and their Korean partners were picked up by a U.S.-made destroyer, which had been sold to South Korea, and were then transported into the South Pacific before being left alone in the middle of the ocean on their raft.

“Did anyone bring a deck of cards?” Sergeant Major Ed Denton asked sarcastically.

Just then, Redgate noticed a periscope rushing by their position. “Next thing we know, we are looking at the USS Redfish,” Redgate said. The crew deflated their boat and entered onto the submarine, where they learned how to lock out of torpedo tubes with dive gear.

On another occasion, Redgate was asked to provide some red-teaming for an I Corps winter exercise. Sabotaging the unit’s commo array brought the entire exercise to an administrative halt. Next, he undid the lug nuts on the lead vehicle of a convoy, which deadlined a deuce and a half and prevented the trucks behind it from moving as well. Finally, he snuck “assassins” into the chow hall and “killed” the commanding officer. After that, Redgate was thanked for his service and asked to leave the exercise, as he had proved to be a little too good at this job.

During the 1960s, Det K members worked out of a double Quonset hut on Camp Mercer near Kimpo that had a restricted access sign over the door. On one occasion, Sergeant Major Denton threatened to shoot a Chemical Corps officer who insisted on inspecting their quarters. Captain Dallas asked him to use a bit more diplomacy in the future. Inside were showers, a team room, a medical station, and a radio room that allowed them to stay in contact with 1st SFG at Okinawa. The Det K headquarters was difficult to keep heated in the winter and had no air conditioning in the summer. They did have their own Jeeps, though, allowing them to come and go as they pleased, conducting ski training in the winter or heading out to an old junk yard for demo training.