TRUE--the man's magazine

Peggy Lynn t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Sun Jun 4 08:13:22 UTC 2000

Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>     This is the first time that I've gone through "TRUE-The Man's Magazine."
> It looks like it was a competitor of ESQUIRE and PLAYBOY.


>     "Report from Viet Nam" was written by Malcolm W. Browne.  April 1966, pg.
> 39, is: "'SORRY ABOUT THAT' This is the best-known phrase in a new GI lingo
> that's more sophisticated--and cynical--than the old soldier talk of World
> Wars I and II."  Terms mentioned include:
> dustoff (a helicopter ambulance)
> huey (helicopter)
> pucker factor (degree of fear)
> OP (outpost)
> music (water)

OP meaning "outpost" could be a misunderstanding or a misreporting in a
1966 report from Viet Nam.  At any rate, OP meant something else during
the Korean War.  Since this month marks the 50th anniversary of the
start of that war, I feel entitled to elaborate a definition with one
story of what I call "my" war.

In the Korean War, an OP was an "observation post" -- a term with
particlar meaning to artillery spotters.

The Korean War eventually settled into a war with a more or less fixed
battle line, the "MLR" (Main Line of Resistance).  Artillery spotters
worked in OPs in bunkers that were farther advanced than any other
positions on the MLR. (That did make them pretty distant outposts -- but
OP still meant observation post.)

As a medical lab tech, I used to accompany shipments of whole blood from
the 48th United Nations Blood Bank in Tokyo all the way to their
destinations in Korea.  On one trip that took me to a MASH unit almost
on top of the MLR, I noticed that a unit of the 1st Field Artillery
Observation Batallion was nearby. My best friend was in the 1st FAOB,
and I decided to visit him on my next trip.

I had more than a visit in mind.  By custom, a planeload of blood
consisted of  259 cases of whole human blood and 1 empty case for the
courier's gear. Nobody was going to mess with a vital shipment of whole
blood.  We couriers got used to carrying our gear in a knapsack on our
backs, so that the empty case could carry something more important. On
the next trip that brought me close to what I thought was my friend's
post, I filled the courier's case with four bottles of good bourbon.
(We could get all the booze we wanted in Tokyo -- at only $3.00 to $4.00
a fifth for the best brands, since we could buy it free of both taxes
and duty. In theory, there was no good bonded liquor available in
Korea.) When the blood shipment was delivered to the MASH hospital, I
took off to deliver the bottled surprise to my friend.

That's when I discovered that the 1st FAOB was spread out virtually the
whole length of the MLR.  My friend Skip was a couple of hundred miles
away from the unit I caught up with.  Well, I had met several of Skip's
friends in the past. (Ridiculous as it may sound, even in a highly
bureaucratized army of several million soldiers you get used to
traveling along personal networks wherever you go.  After my first duty
post, I never went to any unit in the Medical Corps without finding
someone I knew -- or at least someone who knew a number of people I had
worked with on some previous assignment.) A couple of calls on a
hand-crank field phone located some of Skip's 1st FAOB friends nearby. I
went to their bunker to deliver my precious cargo.

>From the bunker that was their OP, the only way I could see any US or
ROK or UN forces was to look back over my shoulder.  Looking forward,
the only humans I could see were Chinese artillery spotters up ahead of
the Chinese line.  Our guys had such a perfect fix on the Chinese OP
that they used it as their aiming point.  They assumed that the Chinese
returned the compliment.  As a practical proposition, neither side would
call for artillery fire on the other side's artillery OP because it
would have been suicidal. An artillery strike would be returned with
perfect, pinpoint accuracy.

I wasn't totally insane.  I got away from that bunker as fast as I
could, and never went back for another visit.  I saw the guys I had
visited when they came to Japan on R & R a couple of months later.  They
told me that their OP had been overrun by Chinese advances three times
since I had been there.  Each time, they buttoned it up from the inside
and waited a day or two until our side pushed the Chinese back again. I
was extremely impressed, and surer than ever that I would not drop in on
them again.

But I surely had cause to remember that OP meant "observation post" to
the artillery during the Korean War.

-- mike salovesh                    <salovesh at>

P.S.: I agree with Bethany Dumas in recalling that TRUE, the man's
magazine was
largely about shooting and guns and hunting and camping and the outdoors
in the late 1940s to early 50s.  It was a sort of hairy-chested version
of Field and Stream, IIRC.

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