USFK to recognize role of KATUSAs
By Jung Sung-ki
The top U.S. commander in South Korea will host an honor guard ceremony next week to recognize the roles and missions of South Korean soldiers augmented to the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) both past and present, the USFK announced Thursday.
It is the first commemorative ceremony of its kind since the Korea Augmentation to the U.S. Army (KATUSA) program began in August 1950 with the outbreak of the Korean War. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the fratricidal war.
The ceremony will be held at Knight Field on Yongsan Garrison at 10 a.m. on Oct. 14, with the attendance of some 300 former and incumbent soldiers, including those who participated in the Korean War, Kim Yong-kyu at the USFK public affairs office said.
“KATUSAs have served side by side with American soldiers within U.S. Army units in Korea since the war, working in all military specialties as an integral part of the U.S. fighting force,” the USFK said in a news release. “They are being honored for their invaluable contributions to the defense of Korea and for their unique role in expanding the cultural understanding of American soldiers.”
An association of former KATUSAs was formally launched by 2008. Since then, more than 2,000 former KATUSA members have joined the association through an online community ― www. katusa.mil.kr. It is known that there are some 500,000 KATUSA veterans nationwide.
Currently, about 3,100 KATUSAs are serving with the 28,000-strong USFK.
The KATUSA program drew attention when former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell praised the ability of KATUSAs.
In his book, “My American Journey” (1995), the former four-star chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff praises the KATUSAs by recollecting back to 1973 when he served in South Korea as a battalion commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, the Eighth U.S. Army.
“Of all the soldiers who were under my command, the ROK KATUSAs were the most elite group of soldiers. They never showed up drunk or disappeared without notice,” Powell states. “They were hardworking, possessed high military discipline and showed fast learning skills. They only got paid three dollars a month which was worth a night out for a U.S. soldier in Dongducheon.”
주한미군 카투사 기념 의장행사 연다
월터 샤프 주한 미군 사령관은 다음 주 목요일 주한미군 소속 전.현직 카투사들의 역할을 치하하는 공식 의장행사를 열 계획이다.
지난 1950년 8월 카투사 (KATUSA)가 창설한 이후 주한미군 사령부가 주관하는 최초의 카투사 의장 행사이다.
행사는 목요일 10시 용산 기지 내 나이트필드에서 거행 될 예정이며, 이 자리에는 한국전 참전 카투사를 비롯 전.현직 카투사 300여명이 참여할 예정이다.
주한미군은 보도자료를 통해서 “카투사 병사들은 미군과 함께 한국 전쟁 이후 함께 싸워왔으며 미군 전력의 핵심적인 역할을 해 왔다”라며 “한국 방어 뿐 아니라 주한 미군들의 문화적 이해를 도와 온 카투사들의 소중한 기여를 기리는 자리가 될 것”이라고 밝혔다.
카투사 전우회는 지난 2008년 본격 활동을 시작해 현재는 2000여명의 회원들 두고 있다. 전국적으로 약 50만 명의 카투사 전우들이 있는 것으로 알려진다.
현재 약 3,100명의 카투사들이 주한미군 소속으로 근무하고 있다.