Late U.S. general wins new honor

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Late U.S. general wins new honor

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Retired U.S. Col. Walton Walker II, center, shakes hands with retired four-star Gen. Paik Sun-yup, left, at Korea-U.S. Alliance Night at the Grant Hyatt Hotel in central Seoul, Monday. Walker’s grandfather, late U.S. Army Gen. Walton Walker, won the first Paik Sun-yup Award for his role in the 1950-53 Korean War. By Choi Seung-sik

Late U.S. Army Gen. Walton Walker posthumously received the first award named after four-star general and 1950-53 Korean War hero Paik Sun-yup in a ceremony Monday that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the alliance between South Korea and the U.S.

Walker’s grandson, retired Col. Walton Walker II, received the Paik Sun-yup Award and prize money of $30,000 on behalf of his grandfather for his contributions to the alliance between the two countries at an event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Mount Namsan in central Seoul. Also attending was South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Korea-U.S. Alliance Night event also proved to be a venue for new alliances as Col. Walker met with the 92-year-old Paik, the oldest living Korean general, in person, along with Lee Gyeong-pil, 63, better known as “Kimchi 5.”

Lee received the nickname for being the fifth of five babies born on the SS Meredith Victory during its famous refugee rescue in December 1950 during the Korean War.

The U.S. cargo freighter became known as the “ship of miracles” for rescuing 14,000 refugees from the southeastern North Korean port city of Hungnam on Dec. 21.

Even completely unloaded of weapons and supplies, the ship still only had room for around 3,000 people, but somehow Capt. Leonard LaRue was able to fit in 14,000. The ship finally landed on Geoje Island, off the southern coast of the peninsula on Dec. 26.

Lee today is the head of Jangseungpo Veterinary Hospital. His son, Lee Jung-young, is an Air Force major, and he also met with descendants of Korean War veterans who were involved in the rescue operation.

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of a mutual security alliance between Korea and the United States following the Korean War.

President Park in her address at the celebration recalled that Gen. Walker had said, “I will defend South Korea even if I die here,” and paid homage to Walker and all U.S. veterans who fought in Korea.

Gen. Walker, who was the first commander of the Eighth Army, is famous for issuing a “Stand or Die” order to defend the Busan perimeter at the Nakdong River on July 29, 1950. He died in a car accident in Korea in December 1950. “It is an honor,” said his grandson, “that my grandfather received the alliance award for fighting for the freedom and independence of Korea.”

Col. Walker added that he prays for continued peace and prosperity between the U.S. and South Korea and the unification of the Koreas.


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

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