By Walter T. Ham IV, 8th U.S. Army Public AffairsJune 23, 2010
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- A statue that honors legendary Eighth U.S. Army Commander Gen. Walton H. Walker was unveiled beside the 8th Army headquarters here, June 23.
As the first 8th U.S. Army commanding general during the Korean War, Walker inspired his outnumbered and outgunned Soldiers to hold the line at the Pusan Perimeter in 1950.
Standing on a granite base, the nearly 10-foot-tall bronze statue was donated by the ROK-U.S. Alliance Friendship Society to honor Walker during the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by many senior distinguished visitors, including U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, Republic of Korea National Security Advisor Lee Hui-won and United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter L. Sharp.
Current 8th U.S. Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr., was a featured speaker and the host of the ceremony.
"In August 1950, the Republic of Korea was cornered into a defensive perimeter only 50 miles wide by 80 miles long," said Fil. "During battle after battle, U.N. forces repelled the enemy invaders and kept them outside of the defensive perimeter."
Their tenacity at Pusan led to triumph at Incheon.
According to Fil, Eighth Army's decisive stand at the Pusan Perimeter enabled Gen. Douglas MacArthur to launch OPERATION CHROMITE where the U.S. Army's X Corps and the 1st Marine Division poured ashore into Incheon and turned the tide of the war.
The Incheon amphibious assault cut off and scattered enemy forces, allowing U.N. forces to break out from the Pusan Perimeter and pursue the enemy all the way to the border with China.
"This great turnaround happened because of Walker's leadership and because of the fighting spirit of the brave, determined and patriotic Soldiers that he inspired," said Fil.
Hundreds of thousands of Communist Chinese Soldiers soon crossed the Yalu River to join forces with the North Koreans and the frontlines see-sawed back and forth, with Seoul changing hands three times, before settling close to the current Demilitarized Zone.
The bloody conflict drug on until an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, in Panmumjom, ending active hostilities. The armistice was never followed by a peace treaty.
Speaking on behalf of the Republic of Korea at the ceremony, ROK National Security Advisor Lee Hui-won said that Walker and his Soldiers helped to lay the foundation for today's ROK-U.S. Alliance.
"General Walker is a savior and a real hero of the Korean War," said Lee, adding that Walker "saved this great nation from an extremely precarious state."
U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens said the statue is a reminder of the sacrifices that enabled the Republic of Korea's meteoric rise.
"In the last 60 years, the people of the Republic of Korea have built an energetic democracy, a world-class economy and a country that has taken its rightful place in the world," said Stephens.
"I thank all of our men and women in uniform today, Koreans and Americans, and the veterans who have returned for this special week with us, and our partners here in the Republic of Korea," said Stephens. "I thank all of you for honoring General Walker's memory with your dedication every day to strengthening this great alliance, this great partnership between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America."
Fil said it is an honor to command the same formation that Walker led during the Korean War and to uphold the legacy of the generations of Koreans and Americans who have served together in Korea and around the world.
"And just as I have the honor of commanding the same formation that Walton Walker commanded, our men and women in uniform here today have the honor of upholding the legacy of service that has made the ROK-U.S. Alliance one of the strongest, most successful and longest lasting alliances in the world," said Fil. "Today while recognizing General Walton Walker and the Soldiers he led, some of whom are here with us today, we continue to proudly defend the freedom they procured."