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Crossing the Pacific Ocean twice, the souls of fallen patriots return to the fatherland

The remains of Private First Class Choi Im-rak were collected in Jangjin, Hamgyeongnam-do

Seven sets of remains temporarily buried in Hawaii will return to Korea on July 26 on the KC-330

A remains repatriation ceremony will be held at Seoul Air Base

Crossing the Pacific Ocean twice, the souls of fal


An officer from the MND Agency for KIA Recovery & Identification (MAKRI) prepares to place the remains of a fallen Korean soldier, identified as Private First Class Choi Im-rak, into a coffin at the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) of the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii on July 24 (local time).

Reported by Lee Gyeong-won in Hawaii


Seven sets of remains of Korean soldiers who died during the Korean War, temporarily buried in the US state of Hawaii, will return home after 73 years.


On July 25, the Defense Ministry announced that a ceremony was held at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii on the morning of July 26 (local time) to honor the return of the remains of fallen Korean soldiers. 50 people were in attendance, including Vice Defense Minister Shin Beom-chul and officials who were there to receive the remains of the soldiers’ remain on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Armistice of the Korean War.


This event was organized to fulfill the state's unlimited responsibility and commitment to commemorate the dedication of fallen heroes in the name of the Republic of Korea.


Vice Minister Shin and Admiral John C. Aquilino, Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, attended the ceremony as representatives of their respective countries. Also present on the Korean side were Oh Yeong-dae, Director of Personnel Planning Bureau of the Defense Ministry; Lee Geun-won, MAKRI Director; Lee Seo- young, South Korean Consul General in Honolulu; and Korean War veterans in Hawaii. From the US side, Kelly K. McKeague, DPAA Director, and Gen. Martine Kidd United Nations Command director of Logistics, participated.


The Defense Ministry earlier organized a team to receive the remains of the soldiers headed by Vice Minister Shin, which departed on a South Korean Air Force KC-330 multi-role tanker/transporter for Hickam Air Force Base on July 23. Upon arrival in Hawaii, Shin paid tribute at Punchbowl Cemetery. He confirmed the fallen soldiers and expressed appreciation to the officials who lent their support for the repatriation of the remains.


Thanks to the joint efforts of South Korea and the United States, the patriotic heroes will return home on the KC-330. In a display of the highest military courtesy, the South Korean Air Force will have an F-35A Lightning II formation escort the KC-330 as it enters the Korea Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ).


A ceremony to receive the remains and commemorate the service of the fallen soldiers will be held at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, upon their arrival on July 26. Following the ceremony, the remains will be transported to MAKRI for precise identification and DNA analysis.


Most of the remains are Korean soldiers who died in North Korea during the Korean War. They were collected through the Korean War Identification Project (KWIP) to identify remains excavated in North Korea, and were identified as Korean soldiers in the South Korea-US joint identification process.


One set of remains collected in Jangjin, Hamgyeongnam-do was identified as PFC Choi Im-rak. His brother is the late Sergeant (currently Corporal) Choi Sang-rak, who served in the 3rd Infantry Division during the Korean War. Sergeant Choi died at the Battle of Yeongdeok-Pohang. He was 21. The brothers meet now as souls in the fatherland as PFC Choi returns home. The Korean government is considering ways to remember the patriotism and spirit of sacrifice of the brothers who gave their lives for the freedom and peace of the nation.


From 2007 to June this year, the Korean government has handed over 26 sets of remains of US soldiers, while the US government transferred 307 sets of remains of Korean soldiers.

By Chae-Mu, Im < > 

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