Eighth Army remembers Yeonpyeong Island attack
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Eighth Army marked the second anniversary of the 2010 North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island that claimed the lives of two Republic of Korea Marines and two South Korean civilians.
Hosted by Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, the Nov. 21 memorial ceremony honored ROK Marines Staff Sgt. Suh Jung-woo and Lance Cpl. Moon Kwang-uk and the two civilians killed in the attack, Kim Chi-Baek and Bae Bok-chul.
Retired Republic of Korea Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup, Eighth Army Deputy Commanding General for Operations Maj. Gen. Walter M. Golden, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Korea Commander Maj. Gen. Michael R. Regner and Eighth Army Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Harris attended the event at the Eighth Army headquarters on Yongsan Garrison.
On November 23, 2010, North Korea fired more than 170 artillery rounds at a civilian village on the sovereign South Korean island, destroying homes and shops.
Around 1,500 of the island’s 1,780 residents evacuated after the attack.
Johnson assumed command of Eighth Army two weeks before the Yeonpyeong Island attack and attended the funeral service for the two Marines on Nov. 27, 2010.
Johnson said the unprovoked shelling of Yeonpyeong Island was a reminder of the threat that the ROK-U.S. Alliance faces north of the world’s most heavily armed border.
“The unprovoked attack on Yeonpyeong Island was stark reminder that the war on the Korean Peninsula never really ended,” said Johnson.
The Yeonpyeong Island artillery attack occurred on the anniversary of the 1984 gunfight that erupted inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone after a Soviet defector ran across the border to freedom in South Korea.
More than 450 South Korean and 100 U.S. service members have been killed during North Korean provocations since the Korean War Armistice was signed in 1953. In March 2010, North Korea also killed 46 Sailors during a torpedo attack that sank the ROK Navy Ship Cheonan.
The Eighth Army commander pledged that American Soldiers will continue to defend the hard-won freedom generations of South Korean and U.S. troops have fought and died for on the Korean Peninsula, including the ROK Marines who were killed on Yeonpyeong Island.
“These two Marines gave their lives for the defense of freedom here in Korea. While their nation and our alliance mourn the loss of these two great patriots, it is their families who bear the heaviest burden of their loss,” said Johnson.
“I salute their families and vow to them that we will never forget what they did to defend freedom in the Republic of Korea,” said Johnson.