Republic of Korea Marine Commandant honors fallen heroes
By Lance Cpl. Cristina Noelia Gil
| | January 19, 2009
The commandant of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, Lt. Gen. Lee Hong Hee, paid tribute to the service members who gave their lives in defense of his country against an oppressive regime more than 50 years ago during a wreath laying ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) here Jan. 19.
U.S. Marines provided a color guard, displaying the Republic of Korea flag along with the American colors.
After laying the wreath, Lee and other high-ranking guests bowed their heads out of respect to the fallen heroes. He also took the time to personally thank the Korean War veterans in attendance and expressed his gratitude for their sacrifices and presented them with hats embroidered with “Invincible Marines.”
Among these veterans was James Ward, a former Marine sergeant and past-president of the Chosin Few, Aloha Chapter, who expressed his gratitude to the Commandant for honoring him and his brothers-in-arms.
“It’s a privilege for those of us who were there to have General Lee here and we are honored by his visit,” said Ward. “His country has done nothing but pay us the utmost respect for helping them.”
To close the ceremony, Lee signed the official guest book commemorating his visit, which is a tradition for official guests who come to pay their respects.
On his first official visit to Hawaii, Lee is meeting with key U.S. officials to discuss and strengthen military ties.