Tradition and legacy from Battle of Chosin in Korean War
By Rear Adm. Rick Williams, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific
The MIDPAC guided-missile cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65) returns today from a six-and-a-half month deployment to the western Pacific. At nearly the same time this morning, we will welcome Republic of Korea navy ships ROK Dae Jo Yeong and ROK Hwacheon, Commander, Cruise Training Task Group.

Chosin is named for the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. The battle – fought by courageous Marines, mostly the U.S. 1st Marine Division, and other U.S. service members and allies – was some of the fiercest fighting in modern warfare. And it was fought during one of the coldest winters in recorded history on the Korean Peninsula in late November and early December in 1950.

Looking back more than 60 years later, we know the Korean War preserved freedom and democracy for South Korea and provided a better way of life for millions of people over many generations. The U.S. Navy had a critical role in supporting Marines and UN Allies throughout the war.

Our surface ships, submarines and aircraft provided sea control — effectively blockading North Korea’s coastlines and denying enemy shipments while ensuring mobility of sea lanes for our side.

Aircraft from Task Force 77 carriers and escorts provided strikes and support. Cruisers, destroyers and other ships put a barrage of fire between our troops and the enemy.

Pearl Harbor’s own Mighty Mo, battleship USS Missouri (BB 63), added the weight of her 16-inch guns to the fight.

Naval forces provided the key strategic advantage.

We demonstrated and reinforced fundamental naval principles in the Korean War – sea control, power projection, counter-mine warfare, controlled evacuation and interoper-ability. That legacy lives on in our maritime strategy today, which our ships and Sailors continue to carry out.

We should remember this week – and every other week for that matter – the challenges associated with these deployments. The sacrifice and time away from home can be stressful for Sailors and their families.

Work-ups are particularly challenging as our crews train for a myriad of contingencies, from humanitarian assistance and search-and-rescue to the full spectrum of combat. But the return on investment is worthwhile, and our skill sets are both admired and respected by international navies worldwide.

So let’s think about the significance of USS Chosin’s return to Pearl Harbor coinciding with our ROK partners’ visit today.

Accomplishments like Chosin’s are recognized by foreign navies as they admire our warfighting readiness in exercises and sustainment at sea. An important lesson is how our ships attract great partners and inspire like-minded nations to share interests, commit to ideals of freedom, and agree to work together for the common good.

USS Chosin’s deployment included a visit to Busan, Republic of Korea in July, where the U.S. Navy and ROK team participated in bilateral Aegis interoperability training.

Chosin operated with other units in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation demonstrating tactical prowess and flawless execution during high-tempo operations in the South and East China Seas.

Visits to the Philippines, Singapore and Australia provided an opportunity to continue building partnerships and conducting integrated operations with our allies and partners. On an individual basis, our Sailors conducted exchanges and built friendships that will only strengthen in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise next summer.

Deployments like Chosin’s to the western Pacific matter, as history taught us in naval battles in Korea. Partnership-building matters. Today we see the results of our efforts as our ROK partners come to visit.

As we welcome back USS Chosin from deployment and greet the ROK Navy today, we expect to have members of the “Chosin Few” pierside – veterans who fought fearlessly at the “Frozen Chosin.”

The brave veterans of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir take a special pride in their namesake on our waterfront: USS Chosin.

These warriors can also be proud of their commitment to warfighting readiness in the Korean War. Those who fought for survival while operating forward earned a legacy of stability, freedom and prosperity for us and our allies and friends.

USS Chosin and our other ships homeported here in Hawaii that operate forward are protecting that legacy today and for generations to come.

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