Eighth Army honors FILA Chairman as Inaugural Distinguished Former KATUSA of the Year
SEOUL, South Korea (Feb. 25, 2014) -- Eighth Army honored Chairman Yoon, Yoon-soo, chief executive officer and chairman of Fila Global and the Acushnet Company as the inaugural Staff Sgt. Kim, Sang-won Distinguished Former KATUSA of the Year Feb. 24 at the Eighth Army Headquarters, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
Eighth Army established the award in honor of Kim, a Korean augmentee to the U.S. Army (KATUSA) for his gallantry and valor in service to the 17th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division during the Korean War. Throughout his time in uniform, Kim participated in over 300 combat patrols, including the drive to the Yalu River in 1950 and was the first KATUSA to ever be awarded the Silver Star from the 17th Regiment.
Yoon, who served from 1967 until 1970 with the 168th Medical Battalion, 65th Medical Group, was honored to be selected as the inaugural awardee in honor of Kim.
"I am very pleased and honored to be the first awardee…in memory of my proud KATUSA senior, Kim, Sang-won," said a humbled Yoon.
In selecting Yoon for the award, Eighth Army looked at KATUSA veterans who have contributed greatly through their philanthropic efforts during their career, as well as those who distinguished themselves in service to the Alliance.
"We have finally found a mechanism…to recognize former KATUSAs who have bled with us, fought with us, and died with us since the breakout of the Pusan Perimeter," said Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux. "It is very important that we have the opportunity to recognize the contributions of all former KATUSAs."
"Staff Sergeant Kim was a true patriot to both the Republic of Korea and the US-ROK Alliance and with the designation of this award his legacy will carry on forever," Champoux added. "He epitomized the true spirit of the KATUSA Corps and was a major part of the program's early success."
Forged during the Korean War to provide greater military functionality and maneuverability between U.S. and South Korean forces, the KATUSA program has been a shining example of the tremendous cooperation between both members of the Alliance for over six decades.
"By serving with the American soldiers as part of the (Alliance), I was able to learn the meaning of sacrifice and truly feel the strong bond between (both) nations," Yoon said. "I sincerely hope that this award goes beyond the KATUSA program and becomes a symbol of the friendship between the United States and (South) Korea."
Representing the late Korean War hero during the ceremony, were Kim's wife, two of his children and two of his grandchildren.
It has been nearly 65 years since the KATUSA program began, and over 250,000 South Koreans have served their country in the program. The program continues to increase combat readiness for the Alliance and symbolizes the friendship and mutual support between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea.