중앙데일리

Courage under fire, plus fear and tears

Emotional testimonials released from the men who rescued the hijacked ship
청해부대 영웅들 수기로 본 그때 그 순간

Jan 25,2011
Members of the Underwater Demolition Team and commandos of the Navy Seal unit took a group photo on Friday after they completed the rescue of the Samho Jewelry, which was hijacked by Somalian pirates for seven days in the Arabian Sea. The Navy released the photo to the local media yesterday. [NEWSIS]

The Defense Ministry yesterday released vivid testimonials by members of the Underwater Demolition Team and commandos of the Navy Seal unit dispatched to rescue the 21 crewmembers of the Samho Jewelry held by Somalian pirates for seven days in the Arabian Sea.

Although three members of the special forces team were injured in the first skirmish with the pirates on Jan. 18, the ministry said those casualties ignited the fighting spirit of the other members of the teams on the 4,500-ton Navy destroyer Choi Young as they waited for the final assault on the pirates last Friday.

In releasing the testimonials, the ministry said it wasn’t disclosing the full-names of certain commandos because they may be dispatched on future operations.


“It was 3 a.m. on Jan. 21. My eyes opened at the wake-up call order,” Lieutenant Kim Kyu-hwan wrote. “I spotted a broken pair of tactical goggles worn by a senior commando who was injured during the first attack three days ago, and that woke me up completely. Me and my colleagues exchanged jokes and people asked whether others slept well, although everyone knew that no one slept very deeply. I felt grateful that I was with my colleagues on this historic day.”

A commando surnamed Kang, who flew the Lynx helicopter that carried the three injured special team officers back to the Choi Young for treatment on Jan. 18, wrote that he was happy that he was able to keep a promise he made to the injured colleagues.

“On the way back to the Choi Young carrying my injured fellow officers, I promised them I would make sure the Somali pirates would never set foot back in Somalia,” Kang wrote. “I’m proud that I’ve kept the promise.”


A sniper surnamed Park witnessed the final assault from a perch atop the Choi Young.

“I was keeping a close eye on potential threats from the Somali pirates by hiding at the top of the mast of the Choi Young, the highest place on the destroyer,” Park wrote. “The operation began and I suddenly spotted one of the pirates aiming his RPG-7 antitank grenade launcher at the Choi Young. I shot and incapacitated him, and stopped his attempt at an attack. If one rocket hit us, we could have suffered serious damage. When the attack team neared the Samho Jewelry, I carefully watched the stern, bridge and middle deck of the ship and fired shots to provide cover to the commandos. The attack team went up to the Samho Jewelry and successfully occupied the bridge of the ship. I can remember vividly the scenes that I aimed at during the operation.”


Another commando surnamed Kim recalled the horrific sight of his fellow soldiers bleeding after the first skirmish with the Somali pirates on Jan. 18.

“We decided to attack when the pirates tried to hijack a Mongolian vessel on the afternoon of Jan. 18,” Kim wrote. “Fear overcame me during the five minutes when we were heading to the Samho Jewelry on high-speed rubber boats. My colleagues covered my face with a bandana so I could somehow conquer my fear. I forced my eyes wide open.

“Pirates fired shots at us,” Kim continued, “and my colleagues on another boat beside us were bleeding. Three commandos were injured. I felt like my head was empty and blank. I had a hard time suppressing my temper because it was my first time witnessing fellow soldiers injured during a gunfight. Everybody lost their words.”

Kim also described the victory of the Jan. 21 attack. “High-speed boats behind the Choi Young were nearing the Samho Jewelry for 20 minutes,” Kim wrote. “A Lynx helicopter directed its red beam of light on the Samho Jewelry and the Choi Young began firing at the vessel. We entered at the stern of the vessel and subdued the pirates. I saw the Samho crew with their heads down in fear. The crew finally grabbed the commandos’ hands tightly in relief and said thank you to us. That warmed my heart.”

By Kim Mi-ju, Kim Su-jeong [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

“해적이 로켓포로 최영함 겨냥, 저격 조금만 늦었다면 …”
청해부대 영웅들 수기로 본 그때 그 순간

해군이 소말리아 해적에 납치된 삼호주얼리호 선원 구출작전인 ‘아덴만 여명작전’에 참가한 청해부대 최영함 장병들의 수기를 24일 공개했다. 21일 삼호주얼리호 공격팀 선두에 섰던 해군 특수전여단(UDT/SEAL) 김규환 대위와 최영함 저격수 박모 중사 등의 결의가 담겼다. 죽음에 대한 두려움을 극복한 과정들도 솔직히 털어놓았다. 해군은 요원들의 추가 대테러·침투 등 특수 임무를 감안해 얼굴을 공개하지 않았다. 극히 일부를 제외하고 이름도 밝히지 않았다.

*특수전여단 공격1팀장 대위 김규환

21일 새벽 3시. 눈을 떴다. ‘드디어 결전의 시간이구나’. 피탄 고글이 눈에 들어왔다. 사흘 전 1차 작전 때 선두에 서서 작전을 하다 부상한 대장(안병주 소령)의 고글이었다. 순간 정신이 번쩍 들었다. 제대로 잠을 잔 사람이 없다는 걸 알면서도 대원들은 밤새 잘 잤느냐는 인사를 나누고 가벼운 농담도 주고받았다. “역사적인 날에 우리 대원들과 함께 있을 수 있어 감사하다”고 말한 뒤 늘 하듯 파이팅을 외쳤다. 전투배치 방송이 나오고 중갑판으로 이동했다. 고속단정 진수 후 은밀 기동을 시작했다.

링스헬기가 K-6 사격을 가하고 최영함에서 포 사격이 시작됐다. “이제는 우리 차례다!” 간간이 들리는 저격수의 사격소리를 들으며 선체 등반을 위해 접근을 시작했다. 1팀의 안착 소식이 들렸다. 성공이다. 대테러 작전에서 중요한 것은 팀워크와 믿음이다. 평소 피나는 훈련과 반복적인 연습을 통해 머리로 아는 것이 아닌, 몸이 알게 하는 것이다. 선교에서 선원들의 사진을 대조해 가며 신원을 확인할 때 그들의 안도하는 모습과 우리를 향해 박수쳐 주던 모습이 지금도 눈에 선하다. …

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