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Ethiopian Korean Veterans


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Last month the Korean government, as part of its diplomatic outreach program to mineral rich Ethiopia and also to commemorate the Korean War (perhaps made a little more dramatic by recent threats by the DRNK to restart the war) held a ceremony to commemorate the 340 remaining members of the Kagenew Battalion (many of whom later served in the Ethiopian Imperial Guards). They also offered financial assistance to many of the veterans, a small pension and direct aid in the form of supplies. Many of the veterans are desperately poor, their pension land having been stolen by the Derg/Mengitsu regime and Ethiopia is too poor to provide much in the way of pensions.

Korea also offers free education to the progeny of Ethiopian Korean veterans and presently 60 young Ethiopian war scholars are studying hard in Soel.

Note in this picture the former NCO on the right. He wears the Typical NCO combination of Sellasie medal (a merit/LS award), a Ethiopian Korean medal, a UN Korean medal and the Korean (from Korea proper) war medal. Alas, he does not have the Korean "war veteran's association" medal, which many of his fellow veterans also own. (It is the last medal on the middle right chap's bar)

Then the chap in the middle right is REALLY interesting. While it takes a lot of effort, one can clearly see his Victory Star and the edge of his Patriots' medal, indicating that he fought against the Italians in 1937-41. He also has clearly exchanged his old silver (made in Sweden) Imperial Korean war medal for the later Derg version, which is in the penultimate place on his medal bar. He probably did this during the death squad purges of the late 1970s, when old Imperial soldiers were treated as a threat by the Communists and often liquidated, along with their families.

Photo via The Government of Ethiopia

Edited by Ulsterman
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And this photo was taken Monday at a wreath laying ceremony in Washington DC at the African American Civil War Memorial. Note the Korean war vet on the left, the WW2 vet in the middle and somebody important on the right!

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