OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
Sixty-five long years have passed since the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement on July 27, 1953, in Panmunjom “no-man’s land,” North Korea. This agreement marked the end of fighting for what was considered at the time, one of the longest and most costly wars in history.
Millions of people died during the Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950, when armed forces from communists North Korea invaded South Korea headed for the capital city of Seoul.
The United States responded by pushing a resolution through the United Nation’s Security Council calling for military assistance to South Korea. Under the direction of President Harry S. Truman, U.S. forces rapidly dispatched land, air and sea forces to the Korean Peninsula to render aid.
After three long years of fighting, allied and communist negotiators met in a straw mat house to sign the treaty that ended the fighting but not the war.
In the nine days that followed, 74,000 Chinese and North Korean prisoners exchanged for over 12,000 allied captives, including 3,313 Americans, some of which have still never made it home.
Today, U.S. and Republic of Korea service members share a common goal to maintain a combat-ready combined Air Force able to meet the challenge of peacetime air sovereignty and wartime air defense, however, for the first time in more than six decades a promise for change is on the horizon.
“As the possibility of peace has arrived on the peninsula, it is even more important that we continue to maintain our military readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, Seventh Air Force commander. “This readiness will ensure our diplomats have the strongest support for their negotiations.”
Currently, North Korea and the U.S. have agreed to resume the search and return of remains of U.S. service members that went missing during the Korean War (1950-1953).
Field operations to search for the remains in North Korea were halted in 2005 but have now resumed after 13 years.
"The U.S. and North Korea agreed to re-commence field operations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to search for the estimated 5,300 Americans who never returned home,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his statement on July 15.
Pompeo also stated that working-level meetings between U.S. and North Korean officials began on July 16, to coordinate the next steps, including the transfer of remains already collected in the DPRK.
Still, the promise for a time of peace brings on the renewed sense of duty for Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, both U.S. and ROK, to commit themselves to the success of an alliance that has lasted more than 70 years.
“All of you are important in this mission, I ask that you strive for excellence and persist in your professionalism,” said Bergeson. “Your sacrifice makes this alliance formidable and the deterrent need for security of the region. Kamshahmnida. Katchi Kapshida! Air Power!”