The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division stationed in Korea declared yesterday a day of remembrance for the crewmen who died in the sinking of the Korean naval patrol ship Cheonan and Han Joo-ho, a senior naval diver who died while searching for survivors. Division commander Maj. Gen. Michael S. Tucker said American soldiers paid their respects to those who lost their lives in the incident and were reminded of the right path for soldiers to take and the importance of family. He also said American soldiers have seen the strength of the Korean people in overcoming difficult times, adding U.S. forces will stand together with them as a partner, neighbor and friend.
U.S. soldiers in the division, who make up the largest portion of the 28,500 American servicemen stationed in Korea, spent the whole day with their colleagues and families to pay respects to the Cheonan troops. The Korean people were impressed by this. U.S. President Barak Obama called President Lee Myung-bak last week to offer his support and condolences. President Obama said the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the families of those missing and with Hans family. U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Kathleen Stephens and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Walter Sharp visited waters off Baengnyeong Island Wednesday to encourage sailors of the Korean naval amphibious assault ship Dokdo, who are working to salvage the sunken Cheonan.
The Korean people appreciate the assistance and generosity of the U.S. shown in the wake of the incident. Washington is Seouls staunch ally and fought along with U.N. forces in the Korean War. After the war, the U.S. helped Korea avoid famine through food aid, prevent another war, advance democracy, and lay the groundwork for economic prosperity. Hopefully, U.S. condolences and cooperation in identifying the cause of the incident will further solidify the bilateral alliance.
The sinking of the Cheonan has shown the unstable security situation on the Korean Peninsula and Koreas weak military preparedness. Taking this opportunity, Seoul and Washington should review the dissolution of the Combined Forces Command and the transfer of U.S. wartime command to Korea scheduled for 2012. Bilateral relations are reminiscent of the saying, A friend in need is a friend, indeed. The Korean people appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Navy for remaining in Korea to help salvage the Cheonan.