Guarding Marilyn in Korea

Joseph B. Dalton holds up a photo of himself (at right) with Marilyn in Korea, 1954

Joseph B. Dalton, who served in the US Army, remembers Marilyn’s flying visit to South Korea, shortly after the Korean War ended in February 1954, in an article for Florida Today.

“I was supposed to have the day off but our sergeant came in and told a couple of us to get dressed, because a VIP was coming in shortly and we would be doing crowd control.

Soon after, a helicopter came over the hill and landed. The door opened and who should step out but Marilyn Monroe, all dressed up in a parka and combat boots. What a surprise.

When she was on the ground, she posed for pictures. Me and another MP [Military Policeman] named Grant from Tennessee were standing just in back of an officer. He turned around and told us to take Miss Monroe up to the general’s office, so we got on each side of the actress and escorted her. Cameras were going off all over the place.

She had just gotten married to Joe DiMaggio (who stayed in Japan so as not to distract from her visit. Oh, yeah, they were on their honeymoon). When she came out of the general’s office, she posed for more pictures with the general.

She then went to the enlisted men’s mess hall for a quick lunch with the troops. We then escorted her to the Bulldozer Bowl — a makeshift stadium GIs had carved out of the ground — where she was to do her show. There were two dressing rooms back stage. When she came out, the parka and combat boots were replaced with a blue sequenced cocktail dress.

This is February, mind you, and everyone is bundled up, but she was in a dress.

I happened to be standing behind her when more pictures were being taken (many years later, my son found some of those picture on a poster, which is on my wall at home).

When she went out on stage the crowd erupted. The whole hillside was packed with GIs. Myself and Grant went around front and I got a movie camera from a friend and captured some great footage. The only trouble was it wasn’t his camera, so I never got to see the movie. I heard it was great.

She must have been on stage for almost an hour singing all the songs she was noted for from her movies. After the show was over, she went back stage and changed into her warm clothes. We escorted her to a jeep that was to take her to the next division where she was to do another show.”

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