Yongsan -- The Republic of Korea was built on the successful defense against North Korea's invasion in 1950, and in the center of the defense were Soldiers from the ROK-U.S. alliance dedicating themselves to the protection of the country.

Senior leaders of the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command visited one of those Korean War Soldiers, Gen. Paik Sun-yup in celebration of his 96th birthday at the War Memorial in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 23.

Paik served on the front lines of national defense during the Korean War and became the first four-star general in Korean military history. He was later appointed as an honorary Eighth Army commander in 2013 in recognition of his distinguished service.

Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Commander of United Nations Command, ROK-U.S CFC and U.S Forces Korea Command presented Paik, on behalf of his command, a card from the leadership and a jacket with Paik's name and the three command logos embroidered on it.

"As you wear it, I hope you remember the impact you had on all three commands," Brooks said after he presented Paik with the gifts. "Thank you for your service and thank you for our freedom."

"Happy birthday, Sir," Gen. Leem Ho-young, Deputy Commander of Combined Forces Command said as he presented Paik with a letter of gratitude and a box of traditional rice cakes. "Thank you so much for your sacrifice and efforts to protect the nation."

Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, ROK-U.S. CFC Chief of Staff and Eighth Army commander presented Paik with a blanket with depictions of Korean War leaders.

"You have done so many great things in 96 years," Vandal said. "But your greatest success isn't just what you've done or what you've accomplished, it's who you've become."

Vandal also expressed his gratitude for Paik's prolonged support for Eighth Army and asked him to keep doing so.

"We certainly appreciate the leadership that you provided Eighth Army over the years," Vandal said. "Please continue to treasure those times when you come down to speak to our subordinate commanders and to the command post and continue to inspire all of our soldiers with your presence and your leadership."

Paik said he was grateful for the gifts and appreciated the ROK-U.S. alliance and its dedication to the nation.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the ROK and U.S. Soldiers," Paik said.
"We go together. It's great to see the ROK-U.S. alliance continue to prosper. Our militaries are getting stronger. I do hope that the relationship between the two nations also gets stronger."