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"New Monument to Turkey's Fallen dedicated in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery" (November 23)

Korean War Veteran

Internet Journal for the World’s

Veterans of the Korean War

November 23, 2014

 

 

New Monument to Turkey’s Fallen Soldiers dedicated in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery just before November 11 Turn Toward Busan ceremony

 

Minister Park Sung Choon addresses Turkey’s Ambassador and Veterans at dedication ceremonies for the new Turkish Memorial in the United Nations Memorial  Cemetery at Busan. Turkish graves are immediately behind him. In the distance is the Commonwealth Monument to Those With No Known Graves that is embossed with the names of those who were listed as missing in action or lost at sea with the armed forces of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Statement by Honorable Park Sung Choon

Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs The Republic of Korea

 

This message was sent to Turkish veterans and government officials in Turkey a few weeks prior to the November 11 Turn Toward Busan service that was held in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan. Prior to the ceremony, a new Turkish Memorial was unveiled and dedicated.

 

One year ago I was honored to host Korean War Veterans of the Republic of Turkey at a banquet in their honor in Istanbul. I also had the privilege of visiting and placing flowers at the magnificent Korean War Memorial in Ankara, which pays tribute to Turkey’s wonderful sons who served so bravely in Korea, and all of those who fell defending the freedom of our people.

I am pleased this year to be an honored guest at the inauguration of a new Turkish Veterans War Memorial, which will be dedicated in a ceremony at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, Korea, on November 11, 2014.

I will be saddened, as always, to walk among the graves of 462 of the wonderful soldiers from Turkey who fell in the war, and who are buried there. I am always more deeply saddened when I think that many of those brave sons of Turkey must rest in unmarked graves where they fell, for 721 soldiers of the Turkish Brigade fell during the course of the Korean War.

My heart grieves for their families, and for the more than 2,000 Turkish soldiers who were wounded in the war, and for their families who must have suffered along with them.

 

Dignitaries in front row, with veterans and their caregivers behind them include (left) Honourable Park Sung Choon, Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, Republic of Korea; His Excellency Arslan Hakan Okcal, Turkey’s Ambassador to South Korea, Honourable Yonah Martin, Deputy Government Leader of the Canadian Senate, a Turkish general officer, His Excellency Kwang-Jae Lee, Custodian of the United Nations Memorial Cemetery and the Turkish defence attache.

Our Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs is hosting a representative number of Turkey’s Veterans of the Korean War for the ceremony.

I would also like to ask all Veterans in Turkey, as well as government officials, family members and other patriotic citizens, to join with us spiritually in celebrating those Veterans who served, and especially those who fell in Korea.

This year, my Ministry will hold the eighth annual Eighth Annual Turn Toward Busan International Service of Honor and Tribute to the Korean War Fallen, in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, on November 11, at 11 a.m. in the morning. It will occur just before the majestic new Turkish Memorial is dedicated within the same cemetery.

Veterans in all of the 21 nations that supported South Korea during the war are respectfully invited to turn toward Busan at GPS coordinates  35° 7? 41? N, 129° 5? 49? E (N 35.128056, E 129.096944) for a salute and minute of silence at 11 a.m. Korea time.

We ask that this be done, if possible at 5 a.m. within the Republic of Turkey, so that it occurs at the exact time a salute and silence is observed in Korea.

 

Turkish veterans and one caregiver (wife of one of the veterans) gather at the graves of Fallen Comrades before the monument is unveiled. It is cloaked with white cloth in right background.

My Ministry has made this request to veterans from each of the 21 Korean War allied nations, and also to the 10 million South Korean members of the Korean Veterans Association.

We realize this international Turn Toward Busan ceremony follows by a few hours the November 10 Ataturk Memorial Day, honoring the last day on this Earth of His Excellency President Mustafa Kemal Atatuk, the first president and founder of the Turkish Republic. Yet on November 11, we would like to remember and honor your wonderfully brave comrades who fell in Korea, while fighting so valiantly to free our nation from the invading aggressors, and serving so nobly in the cause of world freedom.

Our own first president, Syngman Rhee, was overwhelming grateful to learn that Turkey responded so quickly to the United Nations call for assistance. Within hours, the Turkish Government sent its telegram to the United Nations headquarters stating simply that:

“Turkey is ready to meet our responsibilities.” 

 

The veterans and other dignitaries begin to gather for the unveiling and dedication service.

President Rhee knew that with allies like Turkey at our side, a great United Nations Force was possible and the aggressor could be defeated.

The commanders of the United Nations Force took heart that Turkey had pledged to send an entire infantry brigade, self-contained with its own organic artillery and field engineering teams.

The 1st Turkish Brigade arrived in the third week of October, 1950. It was an impressive force of 5,000 fine soldiers, led by 58-year old Brigadier General Tahsin Yazei. This venerable hero of the Turkish Army took a voluntary demotion from full general, so that he could take the troops into action in answer to the United Nations call.

He had been a young officer 35 years earlier in World War One, and he was one of the finest and most skilled officers in the Turkish armed forces. The men he led into battle would soon become the finest soldiers fighting in Korea!

It would not be many days before they went into battle and showed the rest of the world their bravery and their mettle.

 

Turkish veterans in the front row and their comrades from other nations salute when the Turkish and Korean national anthems are played.

History does not give them the great honor the soldiers of the Turkish Brigade assuredly deserve, and in that flawed and forgetful history we see tragedy. What the Turkish Brigade achieved in its first major action in November, 1950, should be deeply recorded in the annals of history in all of the 21 nations that were allied against the invaders.

One noted American historian, the late Colonel T. R. Fehrenbach, who was himself an officer in the Korean War, wrote briefly of their valor in his epic Korean War history, titled “This Kind of War.” It has been used as a text at many of the world’s military schools.

 

Dignitaries, including (left) Metin Cinartas, leader of the Turkish Veterans delegation, pull the cords that release the drapery from the new monument.

This respected military historian wrote that when the American IX Corps commander ordered the Turkish Brigade to move to the east flank of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, then deep in North Korea, virtually no intelligence was given and no senior U.S. officers went to the Brigade as liaison. The Turkish formations were left to move on their own, without benefit of air reports of enemy locations or movements, or how many American units were already under heavy attack.

At Wawon in North Korea, the lead Battalion of the Turkish Brigade was attacked by two enemy divisions; odds of more than thirty-to-one! The brave Turkish soldiers, in their very first battle, formed defensive positions and held out tenaciously.

The respected historian Fehrenbach wrote that:

“…tall men in their heavy greatcoats, wielding long bayonets, the Turks refused to fall back. There were observers who said some officers threw their hats to the ground, marking a spot beyond which they would not retreat, and, surrounded by the enemy, ‘died upon their fur.’

“There were others, all else failing, who threw cold steel at the enemy in bayonet charges. Rarely has an action, dimly seen, sketchily reported, sent such intimations of glory around the world.”

 

MPVA Minister Park Sung Choon places floral tribute and prays before the new Turkish monument.

The Turkish Brigade held back the enemy for most of 48 hours. On November 28, Brigadier General Yazei realized that if he did not begin a withdrawal to the west, all of his battalions would be totally surrounded and his soldiers would have to fight to their deaths. He gave the order and the battalions withdrew, fighting their enemy all the way.

The two days they had held up the huge enemy forces gave the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division and other U.S. 8th Army units time to form up their withdrawal trains and fall southward. Without those two days the loss of life would have been much greater than it was; the outcome of the war might have been different than it was.

In that epic battle, the valiant Turkish soldiers suffered more than 900 casualties, more than 200 killed in action, nearly 500 wounded, 100 men missing, and several others who were wounded or totally exhausted and out of ammunition, were unwillingly taken prisoner.

 

Veteran Hamit Misirli and a Turkish general place hands on newly unveiled monument. It reads in Turkish and English: This monument is constructed in memory of the heroic Turkish soldiers who have fallen for freedom and democracy during the Korean War. May our martyrs’ souls rest in peace.

In Britain, nearly every school child knows the story of the British Light Brigade that fought in the Crimean War and was virtually decimated by an unwise order, and by lack of intelligence about the enemy positions.

In Korea, the newly arrived Turkish Brigade had been ordered forward with no intelligence regarding the enemy, or of the dispositions and status of the allied American forces it was to meet up with and protect. Every school child in Korea and Turkey should know of this brave Brigade and its brave heroes!

 

Veteran Bayram Ozdemir grieves over the grave of a Fallen Comrade.

They fought on with no less courage and spirit through to the end of the war, rotating three full brigades in successive duty. Along the way Brigadier General Yazei had his brave men establish an orphanage for the suffering Korean children at Suwon, where his headquarters had been set up.

The soldiers donated from their meager pay, and the Government of Turkey provided funds, books and clothing for this “Ankara Orphanage School.”

It operated from 1952 until 1966; 14 magnificent years.

 

Mrs. Nimet Karamursel, wife of Turkish Korean War Veterans Branch Leader Rifat Karamursel says prayer over grave of a Fallen Soldier from Turkey. To her left is veteran Hamit Misirli and on her right behind her is Veteran Huseyin Tutas.

The freedom that the brave sons of the Republic of Turkey gave to all of the people of South Korea has lasted through three generations!

From the darkest days of the year 1950, through to the bright and gloriously free days of this wonderful year, the 61st since the guns were made silent.

We weep, when we think of the suffering of our Turkish brothers.

We rejoice when we think of their great bravery and what they achieved!

 

Hamit Misirli and comrades pray over the graves of the Fallen.

May God bless these valiant sons who are buried beside their comrades from other nations in the cemetery at Busan. May God bless always those who fell in places where they could not be found by comrades or by allies, and who rest in graves in places that are not known to us.

Please, join with Veterans from all over the world and Turn Toward Busan at 5 a.m. on November 11. Please do so not just at the magnificent memorial in Ankara, but from homes, businesses, government offices, schools, hospitals.

Please do so from all over the Turkish Republic, and when young adults or school children ask why you are silent and what you are looking at, you can tell them that you are looking at those who were the bravest soldiers in the world!

You are looking at your noble countrymen who fell in the war for freedom in Korea.

 

Please turn to the place where the brave sons who fought with the Turkish Brigades are buried, in the country where 15,000 great soldiers from Turkey served so valiantly.

They are great heroes, every one of them.

They freed the people of the Republic of Korea, and they changed the history of the world!

Park Sung Choon

Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs On behalf of the President and the People of the Republic of Korea