Eleven servicemembers killed in WWII crash remembered
The loss of 11 U.S. Army Air Corps members killed during World War II in a plane crash on the Japan-occupied Korean island of Namhae was remembered in a ceremony Monday.
About 40 people attended the 60th annual memorial ceremony, according to an Army news release.
Kim Duk-hyung was a 31-year-old island resident the night the plane crashed in 1945. The next morning, he was forced to accompany Japanese military police to the site, where he watched them loot for useful items and leave the bodies.
He returned later and buried the bodies in shallow graves with pine branch crosses. When the Japanese learned what Kim did, according to the release, they tortured and imprisoned him.
Kim, now 91, began the annual memorial services after the war ended.
He founded the War Memorial Activities Association in 1948 and built a monument in 1956. Military commanders from the U.S. Army’s Camp Hialeah have participated in the ceremony for nearly 50 years.
Kim said there are many reasons he’s continued to hold the services.
“ … They (America) asserted that Japan had to stop invading Korea when we were suffering. I still remember the time when everybody, except America, ignored our pain,” he was quoted as saying in the release.
“Many Koreans today don’t know or already have forgotten how much we owe to America. Without the help they have given us in the past, we couldn’t develop as much as now.”
Lt. Col. Roger R. Dansereau, Pusan Storage Facility and Camp Hialeah installation commander, spoke at the ceremony.
“Selfless acts by people like Mr. Kim and those in Namhae, for our war heroes, must be one of the reasons for the blessing of prosperity and freedom, which you enjoy today,” he was quoted saying in the release.
Dansereau placed and saluted a wreath from U.S. Forces Korea before guests placed single flowers on a table with pictures of the lost crewmembers.