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U.S. Gen. Walker chosen first recipient of Paik Sun-yup award

2013/07/28 19:21

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- Late U.S. Army Gen. Walton Walker was selected as the first recipient of Paik Sun-yup Award for his distinguished service during the Korean War and contribution to the South Korea-U.S. alliance, Seoul's defense ministry said Sunday.

South Korea created the award named after retired Gen. Paik, a famous Korean War hero, to promote the bilateral alliance in light the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which was observed Saturday.

The ministry's selection committee said it picked Walker for his excellent leadership in defending South Korea against North Korean forces, as well as for his sacrifices during the war.

"As the commander of the Eighth Army, General Walker provided the ground to turn the tide of war by defending the Pusan Perimeter, which was the last line of defense in the Korean War," the committee said.

Shortly after the North Korean military invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the U.S. Eighth Army was ordered to intervene and drive the invaders back across the 38th parallel, a line drawn after World War II to divide Korea between American and Soviet influences.

Due to a lack of resources and personnel in the early days of battle, Walker's forces suffered heavy losses, but he told his staff not to retreat from where they stood.

When then-U.S. President Harry Truman dispatched reinforcements to Korea, his forces then solidified their defensive position on the southeast of the Korean Peninsula, dubbed the Pusan Perimeter.

"The committee considered that General Walker's decisive contribution for the survival of the ROK (Republic of Korea) would more than qualify him as the recipient," it said.

Walker was killed in December 1950 in a traffic accident in north of Seoul when his command jeep collided with a civilian truck. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in January 1951.

His son, Sam Walker, also participated in the battle as a company commander.

His grandson, retired Col. Walton Walker II, will receive the prize on behalf of his grandfather. The award ceremony will take place in Seoul during the Alliance Night event on Sept. 30.

The recipient will also be granted $30,000 and visit important security sites in South Korea.

The ministry said it will annually select one U.S. personnel considered to have contributed to the nation's security and alliance for the award, including Korean War veterans and former U.S. senior leaders in security area.