South Korean soldiers end Yolanda mission
MANILA, Philippines – South Korean soldiers in Leyte who helped in disaster rehabilitation efforts after Super Typhoon Yolanda have completed their mission of more than a year.
Armed Forces chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr., with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Office of Civil Defense chief Alexander Pama, awarded the AFP Command Plaque and Commendation Medals to mission commander Colonel Lee Chul and the 200-plus “Araw” contingent of the Republic of Korean Armed Forces (ROKAF) on Tuesday at the ROKAF headquarters in Barangay (village) Candahug in Palo.
“The Korean disaster response contingent has been with us since Super Typhoon Yolanda struck last year. They were among the first countries to respond and offer us aid. Without your help, our rebuilding efforts will not go on as smooth and as swiftly,” Catapang said.
Gazmin and Pama, along with Korean dignitaries, also facilitated the ribbon cutting ceremony at ARAW Park to honor the ROKAF’s one year aid to Yolanda survivors and support of rehabilitation to Leyte of over a year.
“The Koreans have felt a great sense of obligation to pay back what our veterans have done during the last Korean War,” AFP spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told media.
The Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea of the Philippine Army was deployed to help in the Korean War in the 1950s. There were almost 8,000 troops, the fourth largest under the United Nations Command.
“A year after, nakikita na natin yung fruits ng kanilang ginagawa so there are a lot of houses, a lot of families they have touched, they have been doing feeding programs and medical missions, they have been helping rebuild communities, they have helped build some roads,” he also said.
Padilla also mentioned that the Korean troops would also leave behind some of their construction and other equipment that will be useful for ground troops.
The Korean contingent will leave on December 22.
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