Friendship society gives Bell a South Korean name as thanks for his work
December 5, 2007
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The ROK-U.S. Alliance Friendship Society gave Combined Forces Command leader Gen. B.B. Bell a South Korean name Monday night during an annual ceremony to thank U.S. military members for their work on the peninsula.
Society chairman Suh Jin-sup said his organization picked the name Baek Bo-guk for Bell, who also leads U.S. Forces Korea and the United Nations Command.
The name was selected partially on the phonetic sound of Bell’s name in English, but also for the “character of his personality,” according to a speech at the event in the Dragon Hill Lodge.
Baek signifies the color white, a symbol of purity; Bo means to preserve or protect; and guk means country.
“Gen. Bell’s Korean name ... is very appropriate because he has protected the Republic of Korea and strengthened the blood alliance between” the two countries, according to the speech.
Bell said receiving his name was a “great lifelong honor,” especially given the fact he celebrated his 60th birthday this year in South Korea.
Announcing Bell’s Korean name was just one part of the event, held annually to thank the enlisted troops.
Forty enlisted members — including sailors, airmen, soldiers and Marines — were handpicked to represent the nearly 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea.
Suh thanked those troops in his opening address, telling them it was wonderful to gather to congratulate them.
Suh spoke of the long U.S.-South Korean alliance.
“We should never forget that the growth in democracy and our economy is grounded in dedication and sacrifice of U.S. soldiers,” he said. “I wonder if the young generation of Koreans are truly thankful for these sacrifices and mindful of the true history of our country?”
And Kim Sang-tae, chairman of the Korea Retired General and Admiral Association, also thanked the troops for “doing your duties” in a foreign country.
Bill Stanton, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, also spoke at the event.
Stanton called the troops the “true foundation of this great partnership,” but added that support from organizations such as the Friendship Society is what “cements that foundation.”
Bell agreed with Stanton, saying “the alliance ... was indeed born in war,” and has prospered in 54 years.
Bell, however, wondered what the future will bring.
“Will there be an alliance ... or not?” Bell asked, adding that it will be up to the diplomats and politicians to decide.
“If they’re seeking advice, I have some for them,” he said.
Even though the two nations are culturally different, Bell said, they both value freedom, democracy, a free-market economy and diversity, and both have “transcended our cultural differences.”
Eighth Army commander Lt. Gen. David Valcourt also was honored with a certificate of the 4th honorary grade of black belt in tae kwon do.