Wounded commando: ‘I don’t mind I’m injured’

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Wounded commando: ‘I don’t mind I’m injured’


Major Ahn Byeong-ju, center, his sons, Jae-hyeok (13) and Jun-hyeok (11) posed inside of the Navy destroyer Choi Young on Dec. 8 before he was deployed to the Cheonghae Naval Unit. Provided by Jeju Ilbo

MUSCAT, Oman - On Tuesday afternoon, some Koreans crowded in a room at The Royal Hospital, Oman, and offered warm wishes and homemade Korean food to three Navy UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) commandos injured during the first skirmish with Somali pirates on Jan. 18.

Major Ahn Byeong-ju, a UDT commando of the Cheonghae Naval Unit, one of the three commandos injured during the skirmish, greeted visitors, though his waist was wrapped in bandages due to gunshot wounds sustained in the battle with pirates.

Ahn was shot three times in his midsection and he still has three bullets in his body. Ahn’s subordinate, Master Sgt. Kim Won-in lay on a bed next to him. Kim also has two bullets in his thigh. The third, Sgt. Kang Joon had the right side of his cheek grazed by a gunshot.

The injuries of the three commandos are not life threatening and they will soon be flown back to Korea for surgery.

Ahn originally refused the JoongAng Ilbo’s interview request, saying he needed permission from superior authorities, but he changed his mind when a reporter showed him copies of the JoongAng Ilbo and the JoongAng Sunday which reported in-depth coverage on the commandos’ victory over the pirates. Ahn grabbed the newspaper in joy and accepted the interview.

Ahn said he wants to thank Korean residents in Oman for bringing them homemade Korean food daily. Residents said they bring boxes of food for commandos because they are concerned that the commandos would not be used to Omani food and spices.

Q. You sustained an injury in the first rescue operation.

A. I don’t mind that I got injured. I’m a soldier who fights for the country and its people, and I already have delegated my life to my fatherland.

How’s your condition?

According to doctors here, all three of us would have died instantly if bullets hit 1-2 centimeters away from the wounded spots. We’ll be okay if we can get rid of the bullets [in our bodies].

Are you getting surgery in Korea after you’re discharged from the Omani hospital?

When my country orders me to discharge from the hospital, I will. And when my country orders me to fight again after I am discharged from here, I will fight. As a soldier, I have already overcome fear of death.

UDT/Seal commandos have become heroes in Korea...

I heard the UDT commandos’ operation made headlines, but the operation was successful thanks to the efforts by 300 sailors of the Navy destroyer Choi Young and other countries that assisted in the operation. I want to give the credit to everyone who took a part in this operation.

By Nam Hyeong-seok [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

총알 3발 몸에 박힌 안병주 소령 “내 목숨은 이미 조국의 것”
부상 당한 UDT 3인의 병실을 찾다

인도양에서 삼호주얼리호 1차 구출작전(18일)에 투입됐다 총상을 입은 청해부대 소속 안병주(40·해군학군 39기) 소령이 입원한 로열병원은 오만 수도 무스카트에서 최고의 의료기관이다. 현지 낮 최고 기온이 24도까지 올라간 25일 기자와 현지 교민들이 이슬람식으로 지어진 병원 2층 입원실에 들어서자 안 소령은 하늘색 환자복을 입고 문병객들을 맞았다. 안 소령은 청해부대 검문검색대장으로 이번 작전에 투입됐다 부하 2명과 함께 해적의 총격을 받았다.

안 소령은 문병객들을 보자 “몸을 일으킬 수는 있다”며 애써 예의를 차렸다. 하지만 3발의 총알을 맞은 안 소령의 허리는 붕대가 둘러싸고 있었다. 의료기술적인 문제로 아직 총알을 제거하지 못한 상태였다. 안 소령의 옆 침대에는 함께 부상한 김원인 상사가 누워 있었다. 김 상사의 오른쪽 대퇴부에도 아직 총알 두 발이 박혀 있다.

강준 하사의 경우 다행히 총알이 오른쪽 광대뼈를 스치고 지나갔다. 기자가 병실을 찾았을 때 강 하사는 잠시 자리를 비우고 없었다. 셋 다 생명에는 지장이 없는 상태다. 세 명 모두 조만간 귀국한 뒤 국내 병원에서 수술을 받을 예정이다. …

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