OSAN, South Korea - Soldiers from the U.S. and Republic of Korea armies joined together in a combined effort to recover the remains of heroes long lost, but never forgotten, during Task Force Smith KIA Remains Recovery Operation, April 21.
The excavation operation is an ongoing effort that honors and pays tribute to the fallen Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War and whose bodies were left on the battlefield.
"It's amazing to be a part of something that was meant to bring the two armies together, the U.S. and ROK, to help try and recover the remains of fallen Soldiers from the past," said Spc. Griffin W. Potter, an armor crewman with 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Iron Rangers. "My grandfather was here after the Korean War, very shortly after it happened, for the peacekeeping operations. To be a part of something that he was here as part of, it's really cool and meaningful."
Throughout the day ROK and U.S. Soldiers meticulously excavated the digging site.
As Potter worked, attention to detail was constantly on his mind.
"You don't know if a rock is actually a rock or a piece of equipment or an actual remain," said Potter. "You have to take your time and really pay attention."
Being able to recover fallen heroes and ultimately lay them to rest meant a lot to the Iron Rangers.
"For us it's a chance to do some tangible work to honor the memory of Task Force Smith and try to recover some of them and give their families closure," said Lt. Col. Jon Meredith, battalion commander of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. "This is really important to us."