By Walter T. Ham IV, Eighth Army Public AffairsDecember 11, 2013
SEOUL, South Korea (Dec. 11, 2013) -- The commanding general of the top U.S. Army formation in South Korea said the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance is the strongest military alliance in the world.
At the Korean-American Friendship Dinner here at the Lotte Hotel, Dec. 9, Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux thanked members of the Korean-American Club for supporting American troops in Korea and helping to strengthen the alliance.
The dinner was also attended by many other senior American and South Korean officials and military leaders, including South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yoon Byeong-se, U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim, 7th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, Eighth Army Deputy Commanding General for Operations Maj. Gen. Walter M. Golden and Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Devens, Eighth Army senior enlisted adviser.
During the friendship dinner, U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim became the first recipient of the Korean-American Club Award for his efforts to strengthen the alliance.
The 10th annual friendship dinner also featured performances by the Korean fusion group Aux and renowned singer Professor Kim Dong-kyu.
The Korean-American Club, also known as the Hanmi Club, works to strengthen the alliance that has defended freedom on the Korean Peninsula and maintained stability in the Asia-Pacific region for more than 60 years.
During his speech, Champoux thanked Korean-American Club Chairman David Pong for his enduring support of the alliance.
Often called the Walter Cronkite of Korea, David Pong started his journalism career in 1959, served as the Hankook Ilbo and Korea Times special correspondent in Washington and went on to serve as South Korea's first news anchor. Pong later served as a lawmaker in the National Assembly.
"Korea and the United States have long been the staunch allies in time of war and in time of peace," said Pong. "It is my firm and strong conviction that the relations between our two great countries should be even more preserved, improved and strengthened."
Champoux recognized the many former and current South Korean special correspondents from Washington who are members of the Korean-American Club and the reporters who previously served with Eighth Army as Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army troops. The Eighth Army commanding general also highlighted the important role the press plays in free societies.
"Like our nation, the Republic of Korea values the transformative power of the press," said Champoux, a native from Pittsfield, Mass. "Strong democracies have strong and independent presses and our alliance is formed by two strong democracies."
"A free press keeps people informed and I thank you for telling the story of the strongest alliance in the world," said Champoux.
The South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Byeong-se said the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance has confronted and overcome many challenges during its 60-year history.
"Our wisdom and capabilities can turn any challenges into opportunities," said Yoon. "This is why I call our alliance an 'all-weather alliance' that is never daunted by troubled waters or frosty winds."
Yoon said that much as the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance had provided the security that enabled South Korea's meteoric rise from the ashes of the war to center of the world stage in 60 years, the alliance would help the "Miracle of the Han" became the "Miracle in the Pacific."
Yoon expressed his gratitude to all American military personnel serving in South Korea today.
"I would like to thank all those dedicated men and women from U.S. Forces Korea standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the brave men and women of [Republic of Korea] forces," said Yoon. "They were and are defending the frontier of liberty and prosperity in this part of the world."