Südkorea/USA — U.S. Forces in Korea Gear Up for Anniversary

WASHINGTON — U.S. Forces Korea is gear­ing up for a full range of activ­i­ties to begin this sum­mer com­mem­o­rat­ing the 60th anniver­sary of the Kore­an War, and the strong U.S.-South Korea alliance that con­tin­ues to main­tain sta­bil­i­ty on the Kore­an penin­su­la.

South Korea will take the lead in the anniver­sary events, to kick off with a cer­e­mo­ny at Seoul’s Jam­sil Olympic Sta­di­um on June 25, the day North Kore­an forces invad­ed at 4 a.m. in 1950.

Oth­er key events will include Sept. 3 cer­e­monies in Da Bu Dong com­mem­o­rat­ing the Bat­tle of Pusan Perime­ter, in which the 25th Infantry Division’s 27th Infantry Reg­i­ment fought in August and Sep­tem­ber 1950.

About 100 U.S. Marines, along with their coun­ter­parts from South Korea, the Unit­ed King­dom, France, the Nether­lands, New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Cana­da, will reen­act the Inchon land­ing Sept. 15.

Cer­e­monies in Seoul on Sept. 28 will mark the anniver­sary of the city’s lib­er­a­tion in 1950.

Plans also call for a mil­i­tary fes­ti­val Oct. 1–5 at South Korea’s mil­i­tary head­quar­ters near Dea­jeon; an Air Oper­a­tions Day obser­vance Oct. 15 and 16 at Kang­nung Air Base, home of the South Kore­an air force’s 18th Wing; and Nov. 10 cer­e­monies at the War Memo­r­i­al in Seoul com­mem­o­rat­ing the North­ern Cam­paigns. Addi­tion­al com­mem­o­ra­tions are slat­ed in the Unit­ed States, to be fund­ed by the South Kore­an gov­ern­ment.

“The Repub­lic of Korea gov­ern­ment is real­ly work­ing hard to make this a great set of events,” Army Gen. Wal­ter “Skip” Sharp, com­man­der of U.S. Force Korea, Com­bined Forces Korea and Unit­ed Nations Com­mand, said dur­ing an inter­view with the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel and Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

While high­light­ing key events of the Kore­an War, the com­mem­o­ra­tion will rec­og­nize the Kore­an War vet­er­ans who sac­ri­ficed to pro­tect South Korea from aggres­sion, Sharp said. Hun­dreds of Kore­an War vet­er­ans are expect­ed to return to Korea for the cer­e­monies, many of them through the South Kore­an-run and –fund­ed Korea Revis­it Pro­gram. Sharp not­ed that for many, the vis­it will be their first since they left a poor, war-torn coun­try that has devel­oped over the last six decades to become one of the world’s most pros­per­ous and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly advanced nations.

“[This is] the Repub­lic of Korea say­ing ‘Thank you for all that you did 60 years ago in order for our coun­try to get where it is today,’ ” Sharp said. The return­ing vet­er­ans “will real­ly see that the sac­ri­fices they made were worth­while, from a per­son­al per­spec­tive.”

The com­mem­o­ra­tion activ­i­ties also will pay trib­ute to the role the Unit­ed Nations, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Unit­ed States, have con­tin­ued to play in main­tain­ing sta­bil­i­ty on the Kore­an penin­su­la since the armistice agree­ment was signed July 27, 1953.

“If you look back at all the sol­diers, sailors, air­men and Marines who have served dur­ing that whole time, … to begin with the fight­ing and defeat of North Korea, to the point where they [have main­tained] sta­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty through many dif­fer­ent provo­ca­tions from North Korea, I think the 60th anniver­sary is very impor­tant,” Sharp said. The com­mem­o­ra­tion will be per­son­al for Sharp, whose father was fight­ing in Korea when he was born in Mor­gan­town, W.Va. The senior Sharp was an infantry pla­toon leader with the 40th Divi­sion, and lat­er, part of the reg­i­men­tal oper­a­tions staff.

When he learned that he had been select­ed for the top U.S. mil­i­tary post in South Korea, Sharp said he dug through a cedar chest at his mother’s house to find old pic­tures of his father in Korea, and lat­er shared them with his Kore­an coun­ter­parts.

“I am hon­ored to be able to fol­low in his foot­steps, and to be able to con­tin­ue to see the progress of Korea as we move for­ward from what it was back then to today, to the future with so many changes going on,” he said.

Sharp called the 60th anniver­sary of the war “a great time to vis­it, and a great time to serve in Korea.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)