Remarks by Admiral Chris “Lung” Aquilino
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
United States and the Republic of Korea Joint Repatriation Ceremony
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
September 22, 2021
(As Prepared )
Thank you Admiral Banaji for the kind introduction. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to welcome President Moon, First Lady Kim, Minister Suh, Ambassador Lee, Director Heo, Second Lieutenant Kim, Mr. Ray Kapaun, Governor Ige, Chargé del Corso, General LaCamera, members of our diplomatic and consular corps, fellow Flag and General Officers, VIPs, senior civilian and military leaders, distinguished visitors – thank you for joining us today and thank you to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) for hosting today’s ceremony.
President Moon and First Lady Kim, It’s my tremendous honor to join you today representing the United States in this important ceremony.
Today we pay homage to the South Koreans and Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the Korean War.
DPAA’s mission to account for our missing heroes continues successfully today by partnering with the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI). DPAA’s and MAKRI’s bond is built on the commitment to the recovery and identification of the fallen, as our unaccounted-for service members are entitled to the certainty that they will never be forgotten.
The Korean War brought our two nations side-by-side to fight for and defend the values embodied in the ideal of freedom. Twenty-two other countries contributed to the United Nations Command, offering their support, troops, or medical assistance to restore international peace and security in the region. Many of those nations to this day continue to support peace on the Peninsula through ongoing contributions to the United Nations Command.
So let us pay tribute to all Korean War veterans, and their families, as they fought in battle to protect and defend our values and the region. Let us never forget their service and sacrifice, as it paved the way for our strong network of alliances and partnerships that continues to secure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Today, Republic of Korea and United States service members on the Korean Peninsula continue to carry on the mission to which these individuals dedicated their lives with their unwavering commitment to preserving peace. For more than six decades, the iron clad Alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States – based on the bonds of mutual trust, shared values, people-to-people ties, and enduring friendship – has delivered peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.
May the enduring Alliance and deep friendship between the Republic of Korea and the United States continue for generations. May God bless our two Nations and all who serve and defend them. And may God bless these fallen soldiers and their families as they return home – and all those who served and gave their lives on the Korean Peninsula in the pursuit and defense of freedom.