Operation Broken Reed

Truman's Secret North Korean Spy Mission That Averted World War III


By Arthur L. Boyd

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At the height of the Korean War, President Truman launched one of the most important intelligence — gathering operations in history. So valuable were the mission’s findings about the North Korean-Soviet-Chinese alliance that it is no stretch to say they prevented World War III. Only one man — sworn to secrecy for a half-century — survived Operation Broken Reed. Arthur Boyd recalls his role as cryptographer on a team of Army Rangers, Navy Frogmen, Air Force officers, and CIA operatives that posed as the captured crew of a B-29 bomber in January 1952. Given cover names and cyanide capsules in case of discovery, the men were transported by Chinese Nationalists wearing Communist uniforms across North Korea, where undercover allies delivered information about troop strengths, weaponry, and intention. Fraught with danger, the mission came apart on its last day when the Americans came under fire from Chinese forces wise to the operation. The members of Broken Reed supplied Truman with proof of massive Chinese and Soviet buildups and a heavy Soviet bomber group in Manchuria, fully loaded with atomic weapons. With the potential destruction of the world outlined in front of him, Truman chose not to escalate the Korean War, saving millions of lives.


On Sale
Mar 5, 2009
Page Count
304 pages
Da Capo Press

Arthur L. Boyd

About the Author

In August 1951, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur L. Boyd, U.S. Army (Ret), was a twenty-three-year old first lieutenant serving in Germany when he applied for a Top Secret “black intelligence” mission during the Korean War.

The mission director, operating out of the Pentagon and answering directly to President Harry S. Truman, picked Boyd to serve on a ten-man military intelligence team. Lieutenant Boyd was responsible for encryption and transmission of twenty intelligence reports collected from operatives within North Korea. Reports were relayed to Truman under an “Only-for-the-President’s-Eyes” order.

Following Operation Broken Reed, a successful operation that claimed the lives of seventy-five brave patriots, Boyd returned to Germany and was promoted to captain. As a captain, Boyd commanded units at Fort Bliss, Texas; within the 7th Infantry Division in Korea; at Fort Benning, Georgia; and at Fort Richardson, Alaska.

Promoted to major, Boyd served as Chief of Communication Division for Fort Richardson. After his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, Boyd served as Chief, Communication Service at Fort Knox, Kentucky, until his retirement in 1967.

Colonel Boyd moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he graduated from Bethel Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. After graduation, he served as a chaplain at the Metropolitan and North Memorial Hospitals in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After completing his tenure as a chaplain, he served as a financial consultant with a Saint Paul firm. Colonel Boyd now lives with his wife of sixty-one years in Tennessee.

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