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Tragic U.N. Helicopter Crash

Posted March. 05, 2008 07:17,   


Shin Nan-soo, wife of Lt. Col. Park Hyeong-jin, 50, on Tuesday caressed the military uniform of her husband, who was reportedly killed in a helicopter crash during a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Nepal.

The uniform that Park left home after his furlough in January has a small Korean flag on the left sleeve and the United Nations’ emblem on the right.

“My husband was not supposed to go to Nepal,” Shin said, sobbing into her husband’s uniform.

“How could you end up like this after going through all kinds of hardships and being deployed to the frontlines and overseas alone?”

As soon as he returned home from Gruziya in September 2006, after working as part of the cease-fire observer group for one and a half years, he was invited to join the U.N. Mission in Nepal.

Park turned down the offer after his family dissuaded him saying, “Why are you trying to go to a dangerous place again at your age?”

However, Park was eventually dispatched to Nepal last March as the U.N. requested a military officer with experience as an observer in a civil war.

Shin complained about her husband’s final decision, saying, “Are you the only available soldier in Korea?”

She failed to dissuade him as he was already determined to carry out his solemn duty, especially when the country was in need.

Park persuaded his wife by saying that a whole nation’s security may depend on the choice of a single English word and that he wanted to use his English skills for a good cause.

Living up to his words, Park received a U.N. medal in recognition of his excellent performance in December 2007.

Park had already bought his ticket for the return flight home. Mar. 18 would have completed a one-year term. However, the unexpected accident on Monday afternoon (local time) seems to have taken his life. His body has not been recovered.

His son, Park Eun-seong, 25, serving as a medic in the 6th Artillery Brigade, quickly returned home after receiving a furlough upon news of the crash.

“My father is the one who recommended me to study abroad saying whether I am a soldier or not, I have to go global to be a useful person for the country. But he ended up in a tragic accident in a foreign land far from home,” Eun-seong said, shedding tears.

Eun-seong went to the U.S. with his father in 2001 when Park was assigned to the U.S. Training and Doctrine Command as an exchange instructor. He graduated from an American college in 2006. Although Eun-seong received a working visa in the U.S., he voluntarily joined the military last January in order to experience the challenging life that his father had undertaken.

“As my husband was a former airborne ranger, there is a possibility that he is still alive, even though he fell from high above,” Shin said. “The 20-day vacation in Nepal that I had with my husband in January will not be our last trip.”