Battalion honors fallen defender inside Korean DMZ
November 23, 2011
JOINT SECURITY AREA, Panmunjom, South Korea - During a ceremony near the North Korean border, the most forward deployed combined security battalion in South Korea honored a fallen warrior who died while protecting a Soviet defector 27 years ago.
United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area Soldiers honored Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army Cpl. Jang Myong-ki, who died protecting a Soviet defector during firefight with North Korean guards who pursued him across the border on Nov. 23, 1984.
Inside the Freedom House right beside the area where the firefight occurred, the battalion held a ceremony to remember Jang's sacrifice.
Thirty North Korean guards chased the defector into South Korea when he dashed across the border during a communist tour of the Joint Security Area.
The North Korean guards opened fire as they chased him into South Korea. The first UNC Soldiers they fought with were Jang and U.S. Army Pfc. Michael A. Burgoyne.
Jang and Burgoyne engaged the North Korean guards and enabled the UNC quick reaction force to outmaneuver and trap them inside the Sunken Garden.
The UNC Soldiers defeated the North Korean guards and protected the defector during the firefight. During incident, Jang was killed and Burgoyne was wounded. Three of the North Korean intruders were killed, five were wounded and eight were captured.
"Though 27 years has passed since Corporal Jang left us, his noble sacrifice will survive in our hearts," said UNCSB-JSA Deputy Commander Republic of Korea Army Lt. Col. Son Gwang-je. "Let us safeguard the Joint Security Area to preserve that noble spirit."
Brig. Gen. Bert Mizusawa, deputy director for Strategic Initiatives for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the guest speaker at the ceremony. Mizusawa, who was a captain in 1984, commanded the joint security force during the Soviet defector incident.
"The consequences of their actions will endure," said Mizusawa. "Some of you may remember the parable of 'for want of a nail, a horseshoe was lost; for want of a horseshoe; a horse was lost; for want of a horse, a rider was lost; for want a rider, a battle was lost; for want of a battle, a kingdom was lost."
"If [Corporal Jang] had not done what he did, history could have been very different," said Mizusawa.
The Soviet defector incident was one of many unprovoked North Korean provocations that have occurred since the Korean War Armistice was signed in 1953. The North Korean artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island happened on the same day one year earlier.
More than 450 South Korean and 100 U.S. service members have been killed in the North Korean provocations.
In 2010 alone, 48 South Korean service members and two civilians were killed during the North Korean sneak attack on the ROK Ship Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.
UNCSB-JSA Commander Lt. Col. Edward Taylor said his battalion will continue to defend freedom at this crucial junction between liberty and tyranny.
"We gather here at a place where a few brave Soldiers stand and will continue to stand until freedom, peace and unification can be the final victory for all Koreans," said Taylor. "Let us remember that on that day 27 years ago that Corporal Jang stood for freedom and he stood in front of them all."