INCHEON, Republic of Korea --
Family, friends and service members from around the world gathered in one place today to honor the alliance of the Republic of Korea, Australia, and the United States, and to remember those who gave everything defending freedom.
Exactly 60 years ago today, U.S. and allied forces fought side-by-side to regain control of South Korea from the North and in doing so, shifted the tide of war and changed history forever.
Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the USS Denver (LPD 9) as well as allied Marines, sailors and airmen with the Republic of Korea were brought together for a reenactment of the 60th anniversary of the historical landing at Incheon, September 15.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to be apart of something like this, and to see how much effort the Korean forces have put into this. It means as much to them as it does to us,” said Capt. Mike Borneo, company commander, Animal Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion 7th Marines, 31st MEU.
Borneo, who played the role of Gen. Douglas Macarthur for the re-enactment said, “The landing at Incheon was huge. It set the ground work for everything the U.S. and the Republic of Korea have been able to accomplish over the past 60 years.”
“We are here to remember the veterans that died all those years ago, but also to celebrate the strong alliance we share with the Republic of Korea today,” said Lance Cpl. Milton Zavala, machine gunner with weapons platoon, Animal Co., BLT 1/7, 31st MEU. “This is my first time working with the Korean Marines and I’m very excited.”
The day began as about 4,000 spectators, including allied service members, veterans, family, friends, media, and civilians, all gazed upon the 21 vessels that lined the horizon.
The ceremony unfolded as allied forces began to recreate the landing at Incheon, first with demonstrations by helicopter and fixed wing aircraft overhead.
Naval guns simulated firing as pyrotechnics detonated by the waters’ edge, preparing the beach for assault and Landing Craft, Air Cushioned raced by the spectators.
Minutes later allied Amphibious Assault Vehicles made their way towards the beach in three groups, releasing smoke screens and firing explosives. The U.S. and ROK Marines then rushed toward the landing area like a storm. The shouts and cries of the fierce Marines, both Korean and American, were then drowned by the roar of applause from the excited audience. The Marines paused once they covered the beach, all waiting to strike from the prone firing position.
The crowd began to calm and then a whistle blew, signaling the Marines into formation. Within a matter of seconds the troops stood and formed, with the ROK Marines to the left and the U.S. Marines on the right.
To end the ceremony, Borneo, playing Macarthur, marched with six other officers all dressed in period costume, to the front of the formations. Borneo stood at attention and shouted “Report!”
A U.S. Marine officer stepped forward, saluted and shouted, “Sir! Objective secured!” As he returned his salute and stepped back a ROK Marine officer stepped forward and shouted, “Sir! Objective secured!” At that moment both formations of Marines raised their weapons and gave a loud, victorious cry.
Richard Rubie, a U.S. Marine veteran of the war and a Private First Class at the time, looked back on the landing with pride. “We were professionals, but we were scared,” said Rubie. “The fighting was tough – I remember a bullet bouncing off of my helmet while I was still in the landing craft.”
This event was one of the last Incheon remembrances that many survivors of the landing will be able to attend due to their age.
Hyunggeon Kim, a Korean veteran of the war, enlisted August 31, 1950. As a sniper and PFC in the ROK Marine Corps, Kim said he remembers the landing well.
“I am very proud to be here and to have served with the American Marines on this beach,” said Kim, “We stand together here today at Incheon just as we did 60 years ago.”