Korean War Legacy Project

Edwin Vargas


Edwin Vargas hails from Lajas, Puerto Rico and served as a Korean War Defense Veteran at the DMZ during the Cold War. He enlisted in the military to follow after his father who was in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, never expecting to also go to Korea. He describes his first impressions of Korea when he arrived in the 1970s. Unfortunately, his time of service also included a tragic event when two officers were killed trimming the outpost of trees at the DMZ. While serving as commanding officer, he also had to advocate for one of his KATUSAs who was in an accident. He is extremely proud of his service.

Video Clips

First Impressions of Korea

Edwin Vargas gives his first impressions of Korea. He explains that while the hot summers did not bother him, he really struggled with the Cold Winter. While he did not have the chance to interact with many people, he recalls that those he met were very friendly.

Tags: 1976 Poplar Tree Ax Incident,Civilians,Cold winters,Front lines,South Koreans

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Fighting for a KATUSA

Edwin Vargas shares that while he was company commander, he took it upon himself to advocate for his KATUSA when the KATUSA accidentally hit a South Korean soldier with a vehicle. He explains that the soldier was not hurt, but the KATUSA was on the brink of being arrested until he spoke to the commanding officer for the South Korean Regiment. He shares that after the incident, he became very good friends with this commanding officer.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Pride

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Korean Axe Murder Incident

Edwin Vargas describes the tragic incident that occurred while he was at the DMZ. He shares that during his service, two of his officers were killed while trimming back trees from their outpost view. He describes this event as unfair as they were unarmed and could not retaliate.

Tags: 1976 Poplar Tree Ax Incident,Panmunjeom,North Koreans,South Koreans,Weapons

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