By Tim Oberle & Suh Dong-kwon, Eighth Army Public AffairsAugust 4, 2015
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- The Pusan Perimeter, the Battle of the Chosin River, and the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River are just a few of the most intense and hard-fought battles that took place during the Korean War. During those three clashes alone an estimated 88,000 United Nations forces gave their lives to fend off the communist invasion.
Sixty-two years later the fighting is long since over, but for those Soldiers who experienced the war first-hand in the shrapnel-laden trenches and climbing the icy mountainous terrain the imagery and experiences are forever seared into their memories.
As a way to repay those who risked it all to restore peace to the peninsula, Eighth Army, in conjunction with the New Eden Presbyterian Church, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, the Korean War Veterans Association, the One Race Sharing the Peace Organization and the Gyeonggi Province, hosted the annual Revisit Korea tour July 25 -- 31 to show appreciation for their service.
Participating in the program this year were 28 veterans from the U.S., Colombia, and Canada. Some of the key stops during their return trip included a tour of the Joint Security Area, a cruise on the Han River, and a visit to the Korean War Memorial in Seoul.
Eighth Army Deputy Commanding General for Sustainment Maj. Gen. David W. Puster and famed South Korean Army Gen. Paik Sun-yup held a brief welcoming ceremony July 28 to greet the veterans and their families. During the ceremony Puster emphasized the impact their service had on present day South Korea.
"Over 65 years ago, North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea starting the Korean War," said Puster. "Nearly 34,000 Americans, Canadians and Colombians, many of them your friends and comrades in arms, gave their all to defend freedom and defeat aggression on these sacred grounds."
"Your generation established the unbreakable foundation of our great Alliance," he continued. "(We) grow stronger every day because of the service and sacrifice of heroes like you."
The highlight of the tour came when the group stopped at the Joint Security Area known to locals as "Truce Village" in Panmunjom, the de-facto border between the North and the South where the Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953 effectively brining the fighting to an end.
The JSA tour was guided by Benjamin E. Forney, great grandson of U.S. Marine Corps Col. Edward H. Forney (deceased), who led forces during the Hungnam Evacuation. Originally drawn to South Korea by his father's stories of his great grandfather's heroism during the war, Forney decided to remain here to further study the history of the Alliance.
"It is impossible to describe how miserable a war can be," said Forney. "And (I hope) there will never be a war again on this peninsula."
Eighth Army takes part in the Revisit Korea tour each year in hopes of providing these heroes some new memories of the land of the morning calm to take home. To that end, Puster closed his remarks by voicing how much their sacrifices continue to mean to both South Korea and the Alliance.
"Each of you, valiant Warriors gave your best to enable the Republic of Korea to develop into a modern vibrant democracy and global economic power," said Puster. "You sacrificed your today, so that this nation could have a tomorrow, and this Alliance a bright future."