News: ROK and US military pay tribute to fallen ROKS Cheonan crewmembers
Story by Spc. James Pierce
WARRIOR BASE, Republic of Korea — A memorial service was held today to mourn the loss of 47 sailors killed in the March 26, 2010 sinking of the Republic of Korea Ship, Cheonan. The vessel was attacked off the South Korean coast near Baengnyeong Island. Fifty-seven people were also injured as a result of the incident.
Korean and U.S. Soldiers gathered together at Warrior Base, to remember the lives lost on the third anniversary of the tragedy.
“As we remember this incident we honor the service and the lives of those who have fallen, and it continues to provide healing and closure to those who remain,” said Col. Robert H. Whitlock, the Eighth Army chaplain.
The sailors killed that day are survived by wives, children, mothers and fathers. The cost of the incident cannot be measured in numbers alone, said Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, the commanding general of the Eighth Army.
“These were sons, brothers and fathers. They had everything to live for,” Johnson said in remarks during the ceremony.
The South Korean government conducted an investigation shortly after the incident. Aided by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Sweden, authorities found a fragment of metal marked with Hangul writing consistent with the markings of a previously captured North Korean torpedo. On May 20th, 2010, the investigation concluded that the most likely cause of the tragedy was a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine. North Korea denied responsibility for the sinking.
Tensions between North and South ratcheted up as a result of the incident. The South Korean government halted nearly all trade with North Korea and restricted them from using their shipping channels.
The sinking of the Cheonan is another tragedy of a war that, over the course of more than 60 years, still remains unresolved. The conflict was not ended through a peace treaty, but by a mutual decision to cease fire on both fronts. Over the decades, incidents like the Cheonan tragedy remind the Korean citizens of the cost of war.
“One of the things that we do as a military is we choose to remember,” Whitlock said. “We choose to remember our fallen heroes. And by doing so, we can continue to aspire to the same type of service that they showed their fellow soldiers and human beings. In remembering we strengthen our armed force that exists today”