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Korean War Veterans Pay Tribute at Memorial

By Ian Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2009 – Veterans of the Korean War, both American and Korean, gathered here yesterday with current U.S. Army and South Korean leaders to pay tribute at the National Korean War Memorial.

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Army Gen. Walter L. Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, left, and Jung-ki "Rocky" Park, Korean Corporate Members of the Association of the United States Army, render honors during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, 2009. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Members of the Korean War Veterans Association chapters from Frederick, Md., and Winchester, Va., took the role of color guard as U.S. Forces Korea Commander Army Gen. Walter L. Sharp, South Korean Ambassador Lee Tae-sik, South Korean armed forces liaison Maj. Gen. Kang Dae-young and members of the Korean branch of the Association of the United States Army laid a wreath in tribute to those who fought the North Korean invasion nearly 60 years ago.

Sharp, the commander of all U.S. military operations in South Korea, spoke about the significance of the Korean War and the dedication of its veterans before laying wreaths at the top of the memorial.

“We’re here today to recognize the great sacrifices of those who so bravely fought during the Korean War,” Sharp said. “Throughout the war, Americans, Koreans and U.N. forces suffered terrible hardships and punishing conditions. But the forces of freedom triumphed and saved a nation that now stands as one of the world’s great democracies.”

The war began when communist North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. It continued until an armistice was reached July 27, 1953. More than 302,000 Americans served in the war; nearly 55,000 Americans died.

Sharp said the wreath-laying commemorates every person, from American, Korean or United Nations forces, who helped to repel communist forces during the three-year struggle.

“As we prepare to recognize the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War in 2010, it is appropriate that we take time to remember those men and women who dedicated so much of themselves to the Republic of Korea so that it could become and remain free,” he said. “Those we honor today gave their lives for the highest of human ideals: freedom for all people.”

All servicemembers today continue the legacy of Korean War veterans, Sharp added. Some 28,500 U.S. servicemembers and their families are stationed in South Korea.

“My father was one of the soldiers that fought in the Korean War,” Sharp said. “And I am proud of those who today follow in his and all the Korean War veterans’ footsteps.”

Last year, the South Korean military celebrated the 60th anniversary of its founding and the Korean-American alliance. Yesterday’s ceremony was held in conjunction with the 2009 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exhibition.

(Ian Graham works in the Defense Media Activity’s emerging media directorate.)

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Army Gen. Walter L. Sharp

Related Sites:
Korean War Memorial photo essay
U.S. Forces Korea

Click photo for screen-resolution imageTourists gather at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., for a wreath-laying ceremony Oct. 5, 2009. Active duty servicemembers, South Korean officials and local Korean War-era veterans participated in the event. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden   
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