Sergeant Jenkins was in a state of near-panic and he’d already sucked down a six-pack before he even began patrol. His First Cavalry Division was being asked to make riskier and riskier missions into the Demilitarized Zone each week. If the North Koreans were the only threat, he might have handled it better but there were rumors now that his unit was going to soon be sent off to that expanding nightmare they called Vietnam.

When he reenlisted, he hadn’t counted on that. He just wanted to be home now. Back in North Carolina. He had to find some way to get back there. Any way.
Each swallow of beer from that point onward fueled the frantic conversation going on his brain. Finally, he decided he couldn’t argue with a crazy mind; tonight would be the night. But he kept drinking to make sure his brain wouldn’t back out the way his knees were trying to.

He popped  open his tenth beer and he led a four-man team into the forest 2,000 yards from the Military Demarcation Line. Their route was to take them within 500 yards of the line before turning to parallel it, looking and listening for “gook” activity. As they made the turn, Sergeant Jenkins raised his hand and halted his men.
“I heard something… stay here while I check it out.”

He walked through the trees and disappeared.
It was a very surprised North Korean soldier that found him with his white t-shirt tied to his M-14.

Charles Robert Jenkins’ (not-well-thought-out) plan of finding his way to Moscow and being traded back to America in a prisoner exchange didn’t exactly pan out. After *Deserting While Intoxicated, he wouldn’t be permitted to leave the communist utopia of North Korea until July 9, 2004, almost 40 years later.


Enbrethiliel said...


Jenkins suffered what seems an inordinately huge punishment, even for something that would have sent him straight to the ninth circle of Inferno.

I wonder if Snowden would have gone through with his own actions if he had read up on Jenkins right before. (Of course, we don't know if he did!)

Since you put this up, I've also looked up Joe Dresnok, whose desertion had an outcome very different from Jenkins. His loyalty to North Korea is amazing . . . and disturbing.

cyurkanin said...

"Jenkins suffered what seems an inordinately huge punishment..." You think? lol But that does seem to fit right in with the "we punish ourselves harsher than anyone else could" philosophy (though Jenkins did add a few helpers). At least he found a wife in it somehow. I'm glad the old UCMJ was applied mercifully to him by the Defense Department and he only had to spend a few weeks in jail.

Snowden, more and more every day, is turning into one of the greatest Americans of his generation. I personally don't have any doubt that he knew every single consequence that his actions would bring. Yet he still followed through. Knowledge doesn't make things any easier, speaking from personal experience, and I think he suffers every minute of every day.

cyurkanin said...

UCMJ = Uniform Code of Military Justice