BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- The Republic of Korea (ROK) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Lee Sun-Jin, recognized two officers assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) for their distinct instrumental role in the enduring Republic of Korea (ROK) and U.S. Navy partnership.
Cmdr. Hank Kim, CNFK's chief of staff, and Cmdr. David Suchyta, CNFK's current and future operations chief, received the awards at ROK Fleet Headquarters in Busan.
"This is not about me, but about the work sailors of both navies do every day," said Kim, "It is a high honor to represent CNFK, our Sailors, and the U.S. Navy today. Gen. Lee has been a trusted friend and strong supporter for our naval partnership and overall alliance throughout his career and to receive this award from him is a milestone in my career and simply humbling."
Suchyta echoed Kim's sentiment by commenting on the importance of the award for the naval partnership.
"I am honored to receive this award," said Suchyta, "but this recognition goes to the Sailors of both navies who work each day to strengthen the partnership and enhance our overall collaboration."
The ceremony marks one of the only times in CNFK history that the ROK CJCS has given this caliber of an award to any U.S. Navy personnel.
Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of CNFK, attended the ceremony and spoke about the significant impact both Kim and Suchyta had on the command and the partnership with the ROK Navy.
"This is a great honor for them, but it is an even more important milestone for our overall cooperation with the ROK Navy because it is a symbol of the results achieved through decades of work," said Cooper. "This is not an overnight award but one earned on the shoulders of our predecessors and both leaders built on that foundation with superb results."
"They have been such a vital link to not just our next door neighbors at ROK Fleet, but the entire ROK Navy," Cooper added. "Hank and Dave both have a keen understanding of the importance of why we are here, and they are clearly devoted to that cause.
We [CNFK] have been working with and behalf of the ROK people for 60 years and them to receive this honor now says a lot about the impact both leaders made."
When presenting the award, Lee emphasized a portion of their work which earned Kim and Suchyta the distinguished award.
"They [Kim and Suchyta] performed their demanding duties in an exemplary and highly professional manner," said Lee. "They played a predominant role in more than 20 new initiatives between the U.S. and ROK Navies, and their personal efforts improved the warfighting effectiveness of the naval component while increasing security on the Korean Peninsula."
CNFK is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the Commander of the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea. The command moved to Busan Feb. 19, 2016, and is currently the only U.S. headquarters located on a ROK base.
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