Action in the Yongsan Commissary

Contributor: Scott Forrey and everyone who contributed to YSL

The new Commissary didn’t replace this one until well after the early 80s… remember the banana fights…

Topic: Food, History, People, SAHS, shopping, Yongsan Legacy

Yongsan Commissary base photo 1972 by Scott Forrey. Photoshop by Yongsan Legacy

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American military commissaries provide a military benefit of discounted groceries and household goods to active-duty, Reserve and Guard members of the uniformed services, retirees of these services, authorized family members, DOD civilian employees overseas and other designated categories.

If you were stationed in Yongsan Garrison  before the late 80’s you must recognize this photo that Scott Forrey took in 1972 while he lived on post

Scott Forrey:  “You could see the commissary across the street from the elementary and middle schools. Right behind the middle school was a decent swimming pool, not as big as the one at the Officers Club, but pretty good and only a 5 minute walk from our house.”


Yongsan Commissary 1972. Photo taken by Scott Forrey



Paul Black Back in 58 we didn’t have no Commissary, lol. We ate in an some old Mess Hall. We could buy crackers at the PX and we liked it.

Yongsan Legacy Paul do you know where families would do their grocery shopping when you were here in 1958 and 59?

Jack Ferguson The new Commissary didn’t replace this one until well after the early 80s… remember the banana fights…

Yongsan Legacy Tell us more about the banana fights…. thank you Jack

Jack Ferguson Yongsan LegacyThey were one of what seemed like an endless list of black market items… when they would come in people would move in quick to get them… there was some pushing and shoving sometimes… there were and occasional shouting match and few times blows were exchanged… didn’t seem smart to me to draw attention if you are going to black market the item…

Jack Ferguson Anyone remember how many items were limited? I kept a ledger so I wouldn’t lose track and still on one occasion went over on instant coffee by one small container… LOL

Yongsan Legacy What happened if you were over?

Kimberly A Combs Jack FergusonI remember people buying cases of them and loading PX cabs with them;

Kimberly A Combs Yongsan Legacy as I recall, you went on a list and the next month they ensured your ration was decreased

Jolynn Reed I remember my mother removing bananas & oranges from a grocery cart (of a person checking out). The cashier was going to let them have more than rationed…Mom would call them out on it. I also remember Mom sharing oranges with a young missionary couple she had befriended

Coco Cugat Kimberly A Combscases of bananas????

Jack Ferguson Jolynn Reed giving it over a certain amount counted as “black marketing”… LOL
During the World Scout Jamboree I got permission to get produce (not bananas LOL) that would be tossed soon… for scouts… most of the scouts were supported but some country groups not so much… the Greek scouts staying at the Orthodox cathedral were very happy… some took produce to orphanages and other places as well…

Kimberly A Combs Coco Cugat yep!!!

Jack Ferguson Then there was the lady who was a self appointed black market vigilante… harassing some women while shopping… she was banned… replaced by another and a MAJ taking pictures of those he suspected… one thing I don’t miss about Korea…

Kimberly A Combs Jack Fergusonand she had a camera!!! And would sneak around taking pictures! 🤣🤣🤣

Jack Ferguson there was a woman did that… but there was another woman would stop Korean woman in the commissary she thought were black marketing and harass them… my wife was stopped in the new commissary by this woman… I was to aisles away… the camera woman was different… then there was the Major with the camera… LOL

Yongsan Legacy Jack Fergusonsounds like going grocery shopping was a nightmare! Hahahhaha

Jack Ferguson in so many ways… LOL

Larry Priest I was there from Sept. 71 till Nov. 72. Never saw it, never knew it existed.

Yongsan Legacy You missed that part of the south post!!!!

Karl Sagan Best job one could have

Yongsan Legacy Did you work in there? How was the experience? Were there mostly korean employees?

Karl Sagan Yongsan Legacy …We were students at SAHS. I sacked the groceries. We worked for tips only. Probably 1980.

Farrah Almazan I remember going to this commissary when we moved there in 84. They filmed an AFKN commercial outside of it too…. where’s the beef!?

Jack Ferguson I forgot about that commercial… LOL

Kyle Green I remember it well. Worked as a bag boy there.

Jeff Howard Me too. Coming home with a pocketful of change. Always hoping that when the Marines from the embassy showed up that you got to bag them! 😂

Lester L Remhof Best first job. The biggest tip received was from a Peace Corp worker. I learned not to pre-judge people on appearance from that experience.

Rob Mc I remember going there with my parents 81-83

Doug Ricker I was assigned at Yongsan 79-84, 85-92, and 2005-14. The top three best and worst changes.

Yongsan Legacy Thank you for sharing!

Yongsan Legacy Do you have a photo of the old embassy club?

Maria Jordan OMG! The Commissary! Where they milked the Foremost cows.

Yongsan Legacy ??

Maria Jordan All the dairy products were made/distributed by Foremost Co., which distributed I believe to all the bases in the Pacific. Many years later, my sister married her SAHS boyfriend, now a retired USAF Brig. Gen., whose uncle was CEO of Foremost. He was a nice, patient man who seemed to enjoy our stories about growing up on Foremost products.

Maria Jordan This Commissary was fronted by an MP who very carefully examined all I.D. cards and ration cards. Almost everything was rationed. You could only get a certain number of things every month and that item would be punched out of the ration card.

Karen Nelson Foster Sure do!

Darrell Brown Shopped in this commissary for many years. Lots of Black marketing going on with commissary goods. Bananas was a big Black marketing item, so management put a camera on banana bin to monitor customers. Remember one time seeing a fruit Department employee bringing out a cart full of bananas being pushed out of the way by dependent wives as they grabbed cases of bananas. 😊

Yongsan Legacy Oh my! We wonder if anyone ever photographed those for fun.

Douglas Coval Yes and it was still the when I was stationed there in. 80-82

Karen Holcombe I worked bagging groceries there on Saturdays…
IF your name was called !!😁😁

Jim Seay Now its the Korea Battle Simulation Center (KBSC), and will be there till sometime in FY19.

Jim Hudson ’72-’76.

Lester L Remhof Kyle did we work together 1971 – first group of student baggers?

Steve Scerbak I remember all those ration plates and MPC!!

Scott Starkey I was there 79-86, when I left in August 86 this commissary was still there and I heard no mention of a replacement. It must’ve been replaced in the late 80’s or maybe 90’s



Some  information about Commissaries in american military compounds:

Commissaries constitute one of the top nonpay benefits for today’s military and are an important inducement to recruitment and retention of skilled personnel, while simultaneously holding down taxpayer costs.

The commissary benefit is not a recent innovation. Sales of goods from commissary department storehouses to military personnel began in 1825, when Army officers at specified posts could make purchases for their personal use, paying at-cost prices. By 1841, officers could also purchase items for members of their immediate families.

The modern era of sales commissaries actually began in 1867, when enlisted men received the same at-cost purchasing privileges officers had already enjoyed for four decades. No geographic restrictions were placed upon these sales; the commissary warehouse at every Army post could become a sales location, whether they were located on the frontier or near a large city. From the start, commissaries were meant to take on-post retail functions out of the hands of civilian vendors and post traders and allow the Army to “care for its own.” The stores provided wholesome food beyond what was supplied in the official rations, and the savings they provided supplemented military pay. The modern concept of commissary sales stores, which were established to benefit military personnel of all ranks by providing healthful foods “at cost,” reached its 150th anniversary on July 1, 2017.