GARRION-HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- During Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrated each May, Eighth Army recognizes the important contributions of Americans with a proud heritage from Asia and the Pacific Islands. In keeping with this tradition, we recognize Colonel Young Oak Kim, a United States Army officer who fought in World War II and the Korean War.
In response to communist aggression in Korea in 1950, then Captain Kim rejoined the Army as in intelligence officer in the 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division and set foot in Korea for the first time in his life. Because of his prior combat experience in World War II and his Korean language skills, Kim's superiors chose him to conduct guerilla raids and lead search and rescue missions. Later during his deployment to Korea, then Major Kim was selected to command the 1-31 Infantry Regiment, becoming the first officer from an ethnic minority to command a battalion, and led the first American unit to cross the 38th Parallel during the Korean War.
Colonel Kim earned over 20 medals including the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts from the United States; the Ordre national de la Legion d'honneur and Croix de Guerre from France; the Medaglia di bronzo al Valore Militare and Croce di Guerra al Valor Militare from Italy; and the Order of Military Merit from Korea for his heroism during World War II and the Korean War. Yong Oak Kim served the United States Army for 30 years, rose to the rank of Colonel, and retired as the most decorated Asian American in the U.S. Military in 1972.
We encourage all personnel to take part in their local Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month events and learn more about the outstanding contributions Americans with a heritage from the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands have made to our great nation and Eighth Army.