The ICAS Lectures2019-0705-DBL
Dong Bok Lee
Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.
Biographic sketch & Links: Dong Bok Lee
Dong Bok Lee
Biographic sketch & Links: Dong Bok Lee
Message of the National Alliance of High School Alumni of the Republic of Korea to the U.S. Forces in Korea Commemorating the 69th Anniversary of Task Force Smith's Encounter with North Korean Forces at Jookmiryeong on July 5, 1950, Read by Mr. Dong Bok Lee, A Former ROK National Assemblyman at A Rally Held on July 5, 2019, in front of The Main Gate of Camp Humphreys, The Largest Offshore U.S. Army Base in Pyongtaik, Kyunggi-do, Republic of Korea
My dear colleagues of the Alliance of High School Alumni and patriotic fellow citizens of the Republic of Korea, we are gathered here today in front of the Main Gate of Camp Humphreys to commemorate the 69th anniversary of Task Force Smith's heroic encounter on July 5, 1950, with the juggernaut of the North Korean invaders at a ridge named Jookmiryeong located near Osan a short distance away from here to the north, the first ever engagement by the U.S. forces with the North Korean forces in the opening phase of the Korean War.
It was a battle between a Goliath and a David. Task Force Smith that had 540 men, officers and servicemen combined, confronted a formidable North Korean adversary that, spearheaded by 36 Soviet- supplied T-34 tanks, numbered ten times as many as the task force which was so lightly armed even without means to stop, much less destroy, the North Korean tanks.
The inevitable defeat that resulted notwithstanding, Task Force Smith's saga at Jookmiryeong was not without accomplishments of its own: First, the task force caused the North Korean invaders to suffer several hours, if not a day, in delay in pressing its southbound advance. And, second, it let North Korea confirm the arrival of U.S. forces with missions to assist South Korea to repel the aggression.
It is beyond question that all of the young and valiant men of Task Force Smith merit immeasurable gratitude of the people of the Republic of Korea for, had it not been for their bravery and sacrifice, it might not have been possible for the people of Korea to survive the war and end up becoming beneficiaries of the political democracy and economic prosperity of today
As we gather here today, I want to say, loud and clear, albeit belatedly, THANK YOU to the men of Task Force Smith! I want them, whether still alive or deceased, to know that there are these many Koreans who OWE SO MUCH to them for freedom, peace, security and prosperity as well as freedom and rights that people of the Republic of Korea enjoy today.
The Korean War had broken out ten days earlier on June 25, 1950. Kim Il Sung's Communist North Korea, in collaboration with Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao Ze-dong's Communist China, waged the infamous fratricidal war in an attempt to achieve a communist-dominated unification by force, by mounting an undeclared all-out surprise attack against the South in the early pre-dawn morning of Sunday.
Having received massive military hardwares that included fighters, tanks and heavy artilleries from the Soviet Union, the gargantuan North Korean army was no match to the poorly armed South Korean defenders. Outpowered and outnumbered, the defending Southern army was driven to a general rout at the very outset of the war, allowing North Korea to capture Seoul, South Korea's capital, on June 28, only three days after the launch of the unprovoked attack.
However, North Korea's aggression instantly triggered an international response, thanks to the leadership of President Harry Truman of the United States, mobilizing a United Nations-mandated collective military counteraction under Article 42 of its Charter, the first of its kind in the life of the still young world body.
The United Nations Security Council was quick coming up with measures forcing North Korea to discontinue its aggression, asking member states to dispatch troops to the Korean peninsula and creating a "United Nations Command," commanded by a four- star U.S. general, to provide a unified command over all armed forces coming from member states.
Altogether, troops from 16 member states in addition to the Republic of Korea banded together under the United Nations flag with American forces holding the sway.
The early phase of the war was characterized by an unending repetition of defeats and retreats on the part of the UN forces until they were driven to a Pusan Perimeter, where Gen. Walton Walker, the legendary Commander of the 8th U.S. Army, held ground with his curt slogan, "Stand or Die."
The massive intervention by the Communist Chinese forces that began toward the end of 1950, that featured "human sea tactics," shattered Gen. Douglas MacArthur's famous promise of "Home by Christmas," forcing the war of attrition to carry on for two more years along the waistline of the peninsula turning the entire waistline into killing zones of an unprecedented magnitude in the history of warfare.
It was right in this area and right during these two years of mayhem when the people of the world were accustomed with such remote and alien geographical names as "Blood Ridge," "Punch Bowl," "Heartbreak Ridge," "White Horse Hill" and "Pork Chop Hill," with most of which picked up by Holywood as the titles of war movies that it produced throughout 1950s.
The war produced neither a lasting peace nor unification of the divided peninsula in spite of the colossal losses in human lives and damages in properties that turned the entire peninsula literally into rubbles, in addition to the everlasting heart-breaking humanitarian agonies of millions of separated and bereaved Korean families.
After 66 years since the conclusion of the Armistice Agreement of July 27, 1953, the state of peace on the peninsula still remains shaky, described by some as "neither peace, nor war." North Korea's obstinate obsession with nuclear arms buildup, in the meantime, has added fuel to the escalation of precarious peace and security on the peninsula throughout the last three decades.
In spite of the damages of war and the endlessly hovering shakiness of peace and security, it was a sheer miracle that, rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of war, the Republic of Korea surprised the entire world with her phenomenal success in joining the rank of the world's advanced industries, accompanied by the development of a viable political democracy, thanks to the long-living alliance with the United States that, having come into being in the wake of the war in 1954 with the conclusion of the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, has grown over the years into a vastly expanded framework of cooperation for a broader scope of joint involvement and shared responsibility in the preservation of international peace, security and economic interactions.
My dear colleagues of the Alliance of High School Alumni and patriotic fellow citizens, I want to take this opportunity to ask you all to remember this day as a day of reckoning and join in paying tribute to our old American comrades-in-arm, alive or dead, who have served in uniform in Korea both during the war and in the years that ensued.
It is the very moment today for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the cause of attaining the unfinished goals - safeguarding the Republic of Korea from North Korea's obstinate commitment to a communist- dominated unification, helping her further advance her development as a viable political democracy and a flourishing market economy and paving the way for North Korea to go through profound political, economic and cultural changes enough to free our 25 million brethren there from the seven decades of enslavement and suffocation under the ruthless tyranny of the anachronistic Kim family dynasty of communist stripes.
Subjecting North Korea to a completely verifiable and irreversible denuclearization is without doubt on top of priorities as we pursue these unfinished goals together with the United States bound by the iron-clad traditional security alliance between the two countries.
In closing, we want to say THANK YOU, loud and clear, one more time to all of the officers and men of the U.S. Forces in Korea for their unending contributions to the defense of the Republic of Korea, with a very special THANK YOU reserved for General Robert A. Abrams, Commander-in-Chief of the United States Forces in Korea, and Harry B. Harris, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Finally, and ultimately, we Koreans OWE President Donald J. Trump of the United States so much for the tremendous leadership that he has been providing over the last two and a half years for peace and security of the peninsula.
As I say THANK YOU one more time, I want all of you who are here
to join me with a big thunderous applause and waving of the flags. THANK
YOU. Let us go together forever!
THANK YOU ALL!