This year marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.
During the war, 19,300 Korean railroad workers were deployed to transport war supplies to the fighting lines, making an enormous contribution with many of them making the ultimate sacrifice. After soldiers and police officers, railroad workers made up the third largest number of casualties, according to information from KORAIL, the Korea Railroad Corporation.
To honor the memory of those railroad workers and engineers, Daejeon City’s Dong-gu district held a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Veteran KORAIL Engineers at the Wind Garden July 17.
"All the people of national service, including those of railway workers, are symbols of the spirit of national defense and heroes of our country," said Hwang In-ho, the head of the Dong-gu office. "Since this spirit of patriotism and sacrifice has been inherited from their descendants, we can overcome the COVID- 19 national crisis if both the people and our public officials work together."
The KORAIL workers hold a special place in the heart of Eighth Army, not only for their role in the war effort, but also for three engineers who volunteered for a rescue mission that occurred July 19, 1950.
Maj. Gen. William Dean became trapped following the Battle of Daejeon after North Korean forces overwhelmed his 24th Infantry Division. Three Korean train engineers; Kim Jae-Hyun, Hwang Nam-ho and Hyun Jae-young; helped guide a train carrying 33 special forces Soldiers through enemy territory to rescue Dean.
Unfortunately, the mission ended in failure with 32 out of the 33 U.S Soldiers kill in action and Dean being captured by enemy forces. Hwang and Hyun were among the few survivors of the rescue mission, which nevertheless made it to Daejeon on the bullet-riddled train. Dean would remain a POW until the end of the war.
For their efforts, the three Korean railroad engineers were posthumously awarded the U.S. Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service by the Pentagon in 2012 and 2015. This past May, they were collectively honored as Korean War Hero of the Month by the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
“Heroes like engineers Kim, Hwang, and Hyun epitomize what makes the ROK-U.S. Alliance the strongest alliance in the world,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel Christian, Eighth Army deputy commanding general-sustainment. “Our shared sacrifice, our commitment to one another and the values we hold dear are clearly there for the world to see.”
Christian joined railroad company representatives, veterans, family members and city officials for the ceremony, which was held with COVID-19 measures in place. Also in attendance were family members of the honored engineers.
“Korea is a free and prosperous nation today because of men like engineers Kim, Jae-hyun, and other heroes, who defended freedom during the war and after the armistice was signed,” said Christian. “The bravery and dedication these Korean railroad workers and Eighth Army Soldiers displayed during the Korean War represents the enduring commitment each other and the Republic of Korea.”