Soldiers lead Korean War remains excavation
CAMP CARROLL, South Korea -- Nearly 40 Soldiers from units across Camp Carroll, participated in an excavation in support of the Republic of Korea Army 50th Infantry Division in Chilgok May 14.
It was the first time the ROKA conducted excavation operations in Hill 487. One of the citizens living near the hill, who engaged in the battle the Nakdong River defense line, witnessed that he buried a lot of dead Soldiers on this hill.
The excavation was conducted from May 12-16. For five days, 174 unnamed dead bodies and several remains, including bullets, badges and other equipments were found. Near this site, it has been estimated that a U.S. Soldier was found.
The heart of the Nakdong River defense line, Hill 487, was a fierce battle field during the Korean War. The U.S. Army 23rd Regiment and ROKA 1st Infantry Division fought together against North Korea Military to protect the line.
"It's a rare case to find so many dead bodies and remains during five days." said Lt. Col. Kwon Seung, Ho, Commander of the Chilgok Brigade, ROKA 50th Infantry Division.
The Commander of Materiel Support Center -- Korea, Col. Johnny K. Matthews emphasized the meaning of the today's participation with ROKA.
"64 years ago, U.S. Soldiers and the people from this country fought together against North Korea." said Matthews. "They walked up this mountain together as we did today and sacrificed their lives for freedom for this country. I'm much honored to be here side-by-side."
From the entrance of the Hill to the excavation sites, it took over one hour to walk. Soldiers carried equipment, like a shovel, pickax and water. 40 Soldiers and 120 ROKA Soldiers worked together and detected remains and dead bodies for 5 hours.
Maj. Justin E. Day, field service chief of the 19th ESC SPO, found bullets and bones by himself.
"I was first shocked that both the bone and bullet casing was only inches down in the soil." said Day. "As I looked at the bone I was honored to have had the opportunity to help search for remains and objects on such a special piece of ground where Soldiers fought and died over 60 years ago."
Although the operation was tough and required a lot of effort, both ROKA and the U.S. Soldiers sincerely contributed themselves to find more remains, sharing same experience and collaborating for excavation that made the relationship between the U.S. Army and ROKA be stronger.
Cpl. Park, Gyu Hwan, a senior KATUSA of the ROKA Staff Office, 6th Ordnance Battalion, said ,"I could really appreciate the unnamed Soldiers who fought for the freedom and our country as I volunteered for the excavation operation. By working together with the U.S and ROKA Soldiers, it gave us unforgotten memories.
The Military of Defense Agency for KIA Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) has conducted the Korean War remains excavation since 2000. Until last year, 8,756 fallen Soldiers were found and 10 U.S. Soldiers returned to their home. In Area IV, over 2,000 fallen Soldiers were excavated.
"This site and every attendant reveal the strong alliance between South Korea and the U.S." said Col. Yoo Cha-young, commander of the MAKRI.
He wished to find every fallen Soldier, who might be buried in DMZ and North Korea including over 8,000 U.S missing Soldiers.
The effort to find missing Soldiers will not stop no matter how huge obstacles disturb, like the Soldier's creed. "I will never leave a fallen comrade."