MANILA -- South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man on Monday cited the gallantry of the officers and men of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) who fought during the Korean War 50 years ago in defense of freedom and democracy.
To show South Korea's magnanimity to the Philippines as the first country in Asia to send combat troops to help defend it from the invasion of Chinese and North Korean forces, Han and his wife tendered a dinner for PEFTOK veterans led by former President Fidel V. Ramos at the ambassador's residence in Forbes Park, Makati City Monday night.
Expressing deep appreciation in behalf of the South Korean government, Han blurted out in Tagalog salamat po (thank you) for helping his beleaguered country at a time when it needed most, to the gallant men of PEFTOK, who repelled the invading forces without retreating an inch in a biting cold winter weather to which Filipinos are not used to.
Ramos was a member of the 20th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) that assaulted and conquered the strategic Eerie Hill occupied by Chinese forces following a day-long fierce battle during the Korean War.
Ramos was then a 22-year old fresh graduate from the US West Point Academy when he volunteered for combat duty when the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950. He is now 90 years old.
Four other surviving PEFTOK veterans, who attended the dinner were retired Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Banez, 90; Brig. Gen. Miguel Villamor, 88; Col. Sixto Belen, 88; and Maj. Maximo P. Young, 90, a tank commander of the famed 10th BCT.
Two Cabinet members, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Economic Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia were also invited during the dinner.
In his brief remarks, the South Korean envoy profusely thanked the Philippines for responding to the call of the United Nations Security Council to send combat troops to his country which was invaded by Chinese and North Korean forces.
Earlier, in a letter to the Philippine Star's Diplomatic Pouch, Han thanked and praised the Philippines for sending a 7,420-man combat troops to defend our freedom during the dreadful war, adding by quoting the proverb: A friend in need is a friend indeed.
He said the Korean government has not forgotten and will never forget the sacrifices of the Philippines to preserve democracy in the Republic of Korea (South Korea).
I believe that the veterans deserve the title of hero. There is no doubt that the Republic of Korea would not be enjoying peace, democracy and economic prosperity today without the noble and great sacrifice of Filipino Korean War veterans. In addition to suffering the brutality of the war, PEFTOK soldiers had to contend with homesickness, language disparity and the harsh Korean winter unfamiliar to Filipinos. To honor their sacrifice, I paid tribute to the Korean War memorials in Manila, Baguio City and Tacloban, he added. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency