Amerikali Turk

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On Veterans' Day, Recalling the Heroism of the Turkish Brigade in the Korean War

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November 12, 2012 12:28 PM

On this Veterans' Day 2012, we should take a moment to remember the heroism and gallantry of the Turkish Brigade which fought side by side with American soldiers in the Korean War.

 

Some time ago, I attended a conference on US-Turkish Relations in Manhattan. After the presentations, during the question-and-answer session, an elderly Korean gentleman stood up and said that he did not have a question. He just wanted to thank the Turkish people for having sent troops to his country to save his people. This comment had a great impact on me.

 

In June, 1950, after the invasion of South Korea by North Korea precipitating the conflict, Turkey responded by sending 5,000 troops. Turkey rose to the occasion and responded to the need for action to combat the North Korean aggressor.

 

The Turkish Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Tahsin Yazici, fought with bravery in a number of battles, including those at Kunuri, Kumyangjang-ni, Taegyewonni and Wegas. Over 700 Turkish troops were killed in action with about 2,000 wounded and 400 missing in action. Over the entire campaign, about 14,000 Turkish troops served in Korea. President Harry S. Truman awarded the Turkish Brigade the Distinguished Unit Citation and the President of Korea presented a Presidential Unit Citation to the Turkish Brigade.

 

General Douglas MacArthur was quoted as saying: "The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade". A commentator has written that "the Turks acquitted themselves in a brave and noble fashion in some of the worst conditions experienced in the Korean War. Very little else could have been required or expected of them. Their heavy casualties speak of their honor and commitment. Their bravery requires no embellishment. It stands on its own".

 

Today, regretfully, these events recede in memory. However, after hearing from the elderly Korean gentleman at the conference, I realize that the sacrifice of the Turkish Brigade will live on forever. To the veterans of the Turkish Brigade we give our deepest thanks and to the memories of the Turkish soldiers who fell in Korea, along with American soldiers, we say: thank you from our hearts for what you sacrificed for freedom and for this we will be eternally grateful!

 

Mark Meirowitz