Leaders celebrate Korean War legend's birthday
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- Senior leaders from the U.S. and South Korean military celebrated Gen. (Ret.) Paik Sun Yup's 94th birthday Nov. 14.
Born Nov. 23, 1920, Honored retired Republic of Korea (ROK) Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup is a Korean War veteran who served in every major battle of the Korean War. He also served on the Korean War Armistice commission and helped to establish the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army program.
At the end of the Korean War, Paik was instrumental in doubling the size of the ROK Army and establishing the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States that was signed 60 years ago.
Many senior leaders attended the luncheon to celebrate his birthday at the Dragon Hill Lodge. Among them was Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of United Nations Command (UNC), Combined Forces Command (CFC), and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), Gen. Park Sun-woo, Deputy Commander of Combined Forces Command, and Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, Commander of Eighth Army.
Scaparrotti presented a framed gift that included a photo of himself, Paik, Park, and Champoux as well as three coins representing USFK, CFC, and Eighth Army.
Last year, Eighth Army named Paik as an honorary commanding general and named its mobile command post after him.
"Gen. Paik Sun-yup is the only Soldier in the ROK Army who is authorized to wear the Eighth Army combat patch, and he wears it with pride," Champoux said.
Sgt. Maj. Ray A. Devens, Eighth Army Command Sergeant Major, also emphasized the importance of the role Paik still plays today.
"Lots of people see him as their George Washington, that is how much he means to us and the country of Korea," Devens said.
Many agree with this sentiment of Paik's importance to both the U.S. and South Korea.
"He is a true believer in the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea," said Sgt. Maj. Dan Kang, Eighth Army Chief Chaplain Assistant.