The Longest Journey

26 May

katusa and gi.jpg From home to North Korea, to Hawaii, and now home again, in honor.

According to the Ministry of National Defense, the remains of the 12 soldiers were recovered by the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, often known as JPAC, during operations in North Korea from 2000 to 2004. The remains were identified as members of the Korean Augmentation Troops to the United States Army and they were recovered at former battlegrounds in the North’s South Hamgyong Province.

After a joint analysis by the South Korean and U.S. militaries, two of the remains were identified as Private First Class Kim Yong-su and Private First Class Lee Gab-su. Both of them served the 15th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division, records showed.
According to the ministry, Private Kim was born in 1933 in Busan and joined the military voluntarily as a student soldier at the age of 18. A son of the anti-Japanese activist Kim In-ju, his family remembered him as a young patriot.

After being assigned to the 7th Division to serve as a Katusa member, he marched to the North along with his unit. Kim died in the fierce battle at Changjin Lake, better known in the United States as the Chosin Reservoir Campaign.

During the brutal 17-day battle in the freezing winter from Nov. 27 and Dec. 13, 1950, 30,000 allied troops, later known as “The Chosin Few,” fought a 67,000-strong Chinese force. The withdrawal of U.S. Marines from the Chosin Reservoir from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9, 1950, is often considered the fiercest battle in U.S. war history. According to U.S. military records, 25,000 Chinese soldiers and 3,000 Americans were killed in the battle.

Born in Changbyeong, South Gyeongsang in 1916, Private Lee joined the military at the age of 34, leaving behind his wife and two young children. He was also assigned to the U.S. 7th Infantry Division and died in a battle in Hakalwoo-ri, near the Chanjin Reservoir. His dog tag was found at the site, but the remains were still transported to Hawaii because they were mixed with other excavated remains of American soldiers.

I’m sure these men wouldn’t have believed they would have made this journey, or that the war they died in would continue.

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