UN cemetery for Korean War dead to bury its first veterans from Colombia
Stars and Stripes November 7, 2023
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — Four Colombians will soon become the first Korean War veterans from their country to be laid to rest at the world’s only U.N. cemetery in Busan, South Korea.
The remains of Luis Carlos García Ardila, 89; José Gustavo Pascagaza León, 81; José Sergio Romero, 81; and Jorge Sánchez Tapia, 87, will arrive on the peninsula Wednesday, according to a news release Tuesday from South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
Their remains will be temporarily placed at Seoul National Cemetery until their interment Saturday at United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan.
Two British veterans of the Korean War — Bryan Laurenson, 94, and Brian Wood, 88 — will also be interred during a separate ceremony on the same day, according to the release.
The deceased veterans’ surviving family members will attend ceremonies hosted by the Colombian and British embassies at the cemetery, the release said.
South Korea “will make every effort to inform and pass on the sacrifices, blood, sweat and the history of the Korean War to the future generations,” Patriots and Veterans Affairs Minister Park Min-shik said in the release.
“Thanks to the dedication of U.N. veterans who sacrificed their lives for the defense of South Korea’s freedom and democracy during the most shining years of their lives, we were able to protect South Korea from communist forces and achieve remarkable development over the past 70 years,” Park said.
The veterans or their family members had said they wanted to be buried in South Korea, according to the ministry.
Bryan Laurenson, who served on a Royal Navy destroyer in 1952, said “Korea is an ally of the United Kingdom, so I decided to participate in the war to assist …”
“Fighting for Korea was a significant moment in my life that I am proud of,” Laurenson said before his death on Aug. 11, 2022, according to the release.
The cemetery was created in 1951 and contains 2,320 remains from 11 countries. At least 40 Americans are interred there.
Colombia, the only South American nation to send aid during the Korean War, joined 21 other countries to fend off North Korean forces, according to the U.N. Command’s website. Around 5,100 Colombians deployed during the war and 131 were killed in action.
The United Kingdom deployed around 81,000 troops for the Korean War, the second-largest contribution for the U.N. Command after the U.S. with 300,000 service members. Around 1,080 British troops were killed in action.