SEOUL - A monument was unveiled here Sept. 28 to honor the U.S. Army engineer units that restored the bridges over the Han River during the Korean War.

Maj. Gen. Dennis E. Jacobson, U.S. Forces Korea Deputy Chief of Staff for Re-stationing, attended the unveiling ceremony at Han River Park in the Ichon District of Seoul.

A registered professional engineer who said bridging is the most challenging task in engineering, Jacobson thanked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their service during the Korean War.

"Today, we dedicate this monument for those who bore the burden of those three terrible years of the Korean War," said Jacobson.

During the Korean War, Seoul fell within a few days after the invasion by North Korea on June 25, 1950.

In order to delay further enemy advances, a South Korean Army engineer unit demolished the Han River Bridge on June 28.

Following the Inchon amphibious landing, Seoul was reclaimed by South Korea on Sept. 28, 1950. However, after communist Chinese forces entered the war, Seoul was lost again on Jan. 4, 1951.

During this time of retreat, U.S. Army engineer units constructed a pontoon bridge for more than a million people to safely cross the Han River.

"Fifty nine years ago today, Korean President Rhee Syng-man and Gen. Douglas MacArthur crossed the Han River over the pontoon bridge built by the U.S. Army engineer unit in order to celebrate the re-taking of Seoul from communist North Korea," said Jacobson.

Dr. Myung Jun-su, former president of Yuhan University, was a 9-year-old boy when he crossed the pontoon bridge in 1951.

Myung said the bridge was not only a way to safety but also a path that gave him the freedom to become what he wanted. Myung joined the Republic of Korea Air Force after graduating from the Korean Air Force Academy. After retiring as a colonel, he served as the president of Yuhan University.

"I remember being on a spot in an endless sea of people standing at the near bank of the Han; all desperate to cross. We were trapped," said Myung. "But at that darkest hour when all seemed lost, a miracle occurred, a floating bridge appeared. I vividly remember my father holding my hand and leading me across to safety."

"To the U.S. Army Engineer Soldiers who fought and built in the war and to the Korea Corporate Members of the Association of U.S. Army for this historical event, I am eternally grateful," said Myung.

Page last updated Tue September 29th, 2009 at 21:18