Bonifas, Arthur G., MAJ

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
Major
Last Service Branch
Field Artillery
Last Primary MOS
1193-Field Artillery Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Field Artillery (Officer)
Primary Unit
1976-1976, United Nations Command (UNC)/UN Joint Security Area (US JSA)
Service Years
1966 - 1976

Field Artillery

Major



Two Overseas Service Bars


 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
1946
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SGT Bruce Murr to remember Bonifas, Arthur G., MAJ.

If you knew or served with this Soldier and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
 
Casualty Info
Home Town
Newburgh
Last Address
Not Specified

Casualty Date
Aug 18, 1976
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Intentional Homicide
Location
Korea
Conflict
Cold War Incident - Hatchet Incident (Korea)
Location of Interment
West Point Cemetery - West Point, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 




 Unofficial Badges 

Joint Security Area Panmunjom Artillery Shoulder Cord Manchu Mile (original)


 Military Association Memberships
In the Line of Duty
  1976, In the Line of Duty

 Photo Album   (More...


 Ribbon Bar

Parachutist (Basic)


 
 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1962, USMA (West Point, NY), B
 Unit Assignments
Military Assistance Command Vietnam MACVUnited Nations Command (UNC)/UN Joint Security Area (US JSA)
  1967-1968, Field Advisory Element MACV
  1976-1976, United Nations Command (UNC)/UN Joint Security Area (US JSA)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1967-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
  1968-1968 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase IV Campaign (1968)
  1976-1976 Cold War Incident - Hatchet Incident (Korea)1
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1962-1966, United States Military Academy
 Other News, Events and Photographs
 
  Aug 20, 2012, Additional Information
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
 Arthur G. Bonifas graduated from the USMA class of 1966.  He served in Vietnam. (If you have exact details of prior assignment history for MAJ Bonifas, please leave a message with the profile admin) 

Camp Bonifas is named in his memory.  The camp was formerly known as Camp Kitty Hawk and Camp Liberty Bell, but was re-named on August 18, 1986.  MAJ Bonifas, along with 1LT Mark T. Barrett, were both killed by North Korean soldiers in what has become known as the Axe Murder Incident.


   
Comments/Citation

On Wednesday 18 August 1976 at 1040 hours in the morning, a United Nations Command (UNC) work force of five Korean Service Corps (KSC) personnel accompanied by and UNC security force, including the Joint Security Force (JSF) Commander, Captain (P) Arthur G. Bonifas of Newburgh, New York, First Lieutenant Mark T. Barrett of Columbia, South Carolina, and one Republic of (South) Korean Army (ROKA) officer started to prune a large tree in the vicinity of UNC Check Point #3. 

This tree partially obscured the view between UNC Check Point #3 and UNC Check Point #5. In addition the unpruned tree was also blocking the view of the "Bridge of No Return" from "Freedom House." Shortly after the KSC work force arrived at the tree and began to cut it back, (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) personnel appeared at the work site. For a short time, the KPA security force observed the pruning without apparent concern. 

Suddenly, the KPA security force commander demanded that the JSF commander cease pruning or there would be trouble. Captain Bonifas did not order the operation stopped. Senior Lieutenant Pak Chul of the KPA, seeing that he was losing control, took off his wristwatch, wrapped it in his handkerchief and put it in his pocket. Another North Korean rolled up his sleeves. 

Lieutenant Pak then shouted "MI KUN UL CHU KI GI CHA." Translated, it means, "Kill the U.S. Aggressors."; the UNC security force was attacked by a superior force of 30 KPA guards wielding pick handles, knives, clubs, and axes. Senior Lieutenant Pak jumped on Captain Bonifas from the back forcing him to the ground where Bonifas was beaten to death. 1LT Barrett was also attacked. 

The KPA soldiers used the mattox and axes the tree trimming detail was using prune the tree as weapons. The North Korean attack was broken up when a UNC soldier drove his 2 1/2 ton truck into the fight and over Captain Bonifas to protect him. The UNC Security Force then withdrew but not before two American Army Officers were murdered and, a ROKA officer, three Korean Augmentees to the US Army (KATUSA) and four US enlisted men were wounded.

The following day a Military Armistice Commission (MAC) meeting was held, at which time the senior MAC member, Rear Admiral Mark P. Frudden, delivered a strong protest and demanded assurance from the KPA that this would never happen again. It was also the first time at a MAC meeting that a UNC representative defamed the Communists as ??savage.??

According to Major Wayne Kirkbride, who wrote a book about the ax murders and the operation to cut down the tree, ??for three days that tree stood as a challenge to free men everywhere.?? A UNC crisis team was formed at Yongsan and Operation Paul Bunyan was developed. Kirkbride pointed out that it was developed to ??establish the right of movement in the JSA and to generate sufficient combat power to accomplish the mission.??

On the 20th, the bodies of Capt. Bonifas and Lt. Barrett were taken to Kimpo Airport for return to the States. At the airport, a ceremony was held during which Bonifas was promoted posthumously to major, and he and Barrett likewise were awarded Purple Heart and Joint Service Commendation medals.

   
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