SEOUL - U.S. military leaders and Korean War veterans remembered
the Eighth Army commander who stopped communist forces from
overrunning the last corner of Korea.
U.S. Army Gen. Walton
H. Walker, the first Eighth Army commander during the Korean War,
was honored at a ceremony on Dec. 3, 2013.
Korean War veterans and Eighth Army
leaders pay respects to former Eighth Army commander Gen. Walton H.
Walker at a ceremony on Yongsan Garrison in Seoul Dec. 3. (U.S. Army
photo by Cpl. Hong Sung-woo)
Sponsored by the Memorial Foundation for the late U.S.
Army Gen. Walton Harris Walker, the ceremony marked the 63rd
anniversary of Walker's untimely death, Dec. 23, 1950,
during a noncombat-related jeep accident.
and veterans gathered at the site of Walker's death in Seoul
and placed wreaths at the monument there. Eighth Army Deputy
commander for operations Maj. Gen. Walter M. Golden and
Eighth Army deputy commander for sustainment Brig. Gen.
Chris Gentry attended the ceremony at the accident site.
Later in the day, on
Yongsan Garrison, American and South Korean leaders,
including Eighth Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Bernard S.
Champoux, Golden, Gentry and Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Devens,
placed a wreath at the Walker Statue in front of the Eighth
Dedicated in June 2010 and
prominently positioned outside of the Eighth Army
headquarters, the Walker Statue reminds American military
personnel of the important mission they continue to
accomplish on the Korean Peninsula.
A veteran of
World War II, Gen.Walker made an indelible mark on modern
military history during the early days of the Korean War.
Walker achieved his greatest feat inside the
80-mile-long by 50-mile-wide perimeter that U.N. forces
defended in Korea during the summer of 1950. Often called
the "Pusan Perimeter," the area was the last line of defense
against invading communist North Korean forces. It protected
the critical supply port of Pusan that United Nations forces
used to bolster their combat power.
outgunned by invading enemy forces, Gen. Walker led Eighth
Army as it moved its scant forces around the battlefield and
repelled attack after attack.
Through its hard-fought
defense of the Pusan Perimeter, Eighth Army enabled Gen.
Douglas MacArthur to conduct the decisive amphibious landing
at Incheon that turned the tide of the war. Within days of
the Incheon amphibious landing, Eighth Army broke out of the
Pusan Perimeter and drove enemy forces all the way past the
North Korean capital of Pyongyang in less than a month.
Hundreds of thousands of communist Chinese soldiers soon
joined the war to rescue the retreating and nearly defeated
North Korea army and the frontlines moved back and forth
until they settled near the current Korean Demilitarized
Often called the "Forgotten War" because it was
fought between the larger Second World War and the longer
Vietnam War, the Korean War never officially ended. While
the guns fell silent more than 60 years ago with the signing
of an armistice agreement on July 27, 1953, the ceasefire
has never been replaced by a peace treaty.
cascade of battles, United Forces repelled the enemy
invaders and kept them outside of the defensive perimeter,"
said Golden during a speech at the accident site. "Walker's
triumph ensured that the Republic of Korea would be
Golden said Walker's tenacious spirit
lives on in Eighth Army today. Golden said that U.S. troops
in Korea were as committed to the defending liberty as
Eighth Army was inside the Pusan Perimeter.
reflect on Gen. Walker's commitment and courage as a leader
and a soldier, let us reaffirm our commitment to live by the
sterling example he has established," said Golden, a native
of Salida, Colo.
"Together with our [Republic of
Korea] allies, we will continue to deter North Korean
aggression," said Golden, "and if deterrence fails, we will
fight and win."
Walton Walker holds a place of high
esteem in the Republic of Korea.
The Belton, Texas,
native was named the first recipient of the Gen. Paik
Sun-yup Alliance Award at a ceremony to mark the 60th
anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty this year. His
grandsons, Walton Walker II and Sam Walker II, received the
award on his family's behalf.
During his six months
of service in the Korean War, Gen. Walker earned the
gratitude of a nation that has lasted for more than six
Kim Ri-jin, the chairman of the memorial
foundation that sponsored the ceremony, said the "foundation
has held an annual memorial ceremony since 1979 to remember
the U.S. service men and women, including Gen. Walker, who
made sacrifices during the Korean War."
succeeded in defending the Pusan Parameter (Nakdong River
Line), which was the last bastion of survival for South
Korea, making the most significant contribution to Korea's
existing as a sovereign nation up until now," said Kim. "In
this sense, we all owe him our country."
By U.S. Army Walter Ham
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