Monument honors fallen heroes in Korea
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea - Senior military officials dedicated a monument June 8 to the American troops and Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army who have died defending freedom in South Korea since the Korean War Armistice was signed.
During a dedication ceremony, Republic of Korea-United States Alliance officials unveiled the monument next the Eighth Army headquarters complex.
Hosted by Combined Forces Command Commander Gen. James D. Thurman, the ceremony was attended by many senior leaders. Among them were ROK National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, ROK Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Jung Seung-jo, Deputy CFC Commander Gen. Kwon Oh-sung, retired ROK Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup, retired former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon Sullivan and Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson.
"We dedicate this monument, the first of its kind, on behalf of these great warriors that have sacrificed and given their lives in the defense of freedom," said Thurman, who is also the commander of United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea.
"It has been almost 59 years since the armistice was signed, ending a devastating three-year war," said Thurman. "Even though the peninsula has been at relative peace since the signing, there have been a number of North Korean provocations. From the Panmunjom axe murders to the various other attacks by the North, 43 Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army and 92 U.S. service members have been killed in the line of duty in Korea."
The KATUSA program was established by former UNC Commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur and first ROK President Syngman Lee during the early days of the Korean War.
Thurman said the KATUSA program personifies the teamwork that keeps the alliance strong and ready.
"Working together as a team has helped to build mutual trust, common understanding and cooperation between our countries, which is an inseparable bond that we share today," said Thurman.
Thurman also praised Gen. Paik Sun-yup, the Korean War hero who was the first four-star general in the ROK Army, for helping to establish the KATUSA program.
"I'd like to thank General Paik for his role in founding the KATUSA program," said Thurman. "Today we have more than 3,300 KATUSAs that continue to stand side-by-side with their U.S. partners as we deter aggression and preserve peace and stability on the peninsula."
The monument takes its place of honor on this U.S. military post near a statue of Korean War-era Eighth Army Commander Gen. Walton Walker and Korean naval hero Admiral Yi Sun-shin. The monument was donated by the Korea Defense Industry Association, Korean-American Association, Yu Yongweon's Military World and the Korea Defense and Security Forum.
Written in English and Korea, the monument's inscription reads: "The people of the Republic of Korea have built this monument to honor the souls of the fallen soldiers of United States Forces Korea and KATUSAS who died fighting the communists here on the peninsula for the peace and democracy of the Republic of Korea. They fought until death to preserve the sacred spirit of liberal democracy that we are committed to pass on to our sons and daughters now and forever."
According to Thurman, the monument exemplifies the enduring commitment of the alliance to defend freedom and maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
"Although a monument cannot replace a life, it is the least we can do to show our respect to those KATUSAs and the U.S. service members who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Thurman.
"This monument not only pays tribute to those fallen heroes of the past but also reflects our continued commitment to the ROK-U.S. Alliance and to our motto 'katchi kapsida' - we go together," said Thurman. "Together they fought, together they died and together they will be remembered."