Leaders celebrate legendary Korean War general
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea - Top American and South Korean military leaders praised the Republic of Korea Army's first four-star general here Nov. 22 on his 93rd birthday.
At a luncheon at the Hartell House, Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, honored retired ROK Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup and congratulated him on his 93rd birthday.
"At age 93, you can be proud that your impact is enormous and you continue to inspire us today," said Scaparrotti.
Paik served in every major battle of the Korean War, served on the Korean War Armistice commission and helped to establish the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army program.
Paik also served together with storied U.S. Army leaders like Generals Douglas MacArthur, Matthew Ridgway, Walton Walker and James Van Fleet during the Korean War.
Scaparrotti recalled meeting Paik earlier in the week at the U.S. Forces Korea headquarters on Yongsan Garrison.
"Having you, a hero of your nation, sit down with me was just like having Ridgway or MacArthur sit down at my table," said Scaparrotti.
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.
Earlier this year, Eighth Army named Paik as an honorary commanding general and named its mobile command post after him.
"It is our honor to be able to help recognize your 93rd birthday and in doing so recognize all you've done for Eighth Army," said Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux, "and for the American Soldier, Sailor, Airmen and Marine that has served in Korea since before the Korean War."
"We've had many proud moments in the history of the Eighth Army and one of the proudest is on the occasion when we dedicated our command post in your honor and also honored you as our honorary commander," said Champoux.
Champoux said the gathering of senior U.S. and South Korean military leaders was a testament to the enduring strength and solidarity of the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance.
"It demonstrates how strong this alliance that you helped to create is to this day," said Champoux.
Paik thanked the senior leaders for celebrating his birthday and for continuing to defend freedom on the Korean Peninsula.
"I would like to once again thank all of you who are so far away from your homes but doing your best for our common cause, which is to protect the Republic of Korea," said Paik. "I'm deeply delighted to see that our alliance is continuing to become stronger."