1st Paik award bestowed on Walker

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1st Paik award bestowed on Walker

U.S. Army Gen. Walton Walker, who issued a “Stand or Die” order to defend the Busan perimeter at the Nakdong River on July 29, 1950, was selected by the Ministry of National Defense as the first recipient of the Paik Sun-yup Award for service during the 1950-53 Korean War and his contributions to the alliance between South Korea and the United States.

Walker died in Korea in December 1950.

“We realized that even though the Korea-U.S. bilateral military alliance is marking its 60th anniversary, there has been no proper program to reward U.S. personnel,” said a Korean defense official. “On July 24, we convened a judging committee and selected General Walker as the first recipient of this new award.”

The award? is named after Korea’s first four-star general, Paik Sun-yup. Now 92 years old, Paik is the oldest living Korean general from the Korean War and is recognized as a hero both at home and abroad. U.S. President Barack Obama called the former general “legendary” in his address on Armistice Day last Saturday at a ceremony in Washington, which was attended by Paik.

“He is praised by the Korean and U.S. Army,” said the defense official, “for his distinguished service in war, especially during the Nakdong River Battle.”

The battle from Aug. 5 to 19, 1950, in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang, was a pivotal victory of U.S. forces against North Korean troops.

Walker was born in Texas in 1889 and graduated from West Point. He fought in both World Wars? and headed the U.S. Eighth Army in postwar Japan under U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Far East Command. In the Korean War, he was the first commander of the Eighth Army.

In December 1950, Walker was killed in a traffic accident in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi, on his way to an awards ceremony to decorate soldiers of the Eighth Army. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The Defense Ministry award, supported by the JoongAng Ilbo, will be presented annually starting ?this year to recognize U.S. soldiers who contributed to the alliance between Korea and the U.S.

The award will be presented on September to Walker’s grandson, retired Col. Walton Walker II. His son Sam Walker, 88?, was unable to attend because of his age.

On behalf of his grandfather, Walker will receive $30,000 and a tour of important security sites in Korea.

The Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel, built in 1963 in Gwangjin District, northeast Seoul, is named after Walker.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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