By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., Sept. 2, 2011 – The former commander of U.S. forces in Korea lauded those who contributed toward U.S. and South Korea efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula during his retirement ceremony here yesterday.
“For the last three years I have been honored to be the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea,” said Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp. Sharp, who is retiring after 37 years of service, provided his thoughts on the U.S.-South Korea alliance, after relinquishing command July 14.
“It has been an honor to help lead the strongest alliance in the world -- the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance,” he said. “I know we all hope for the day that North Korea will change its policies and become a responsible nation of the international community.”
Sharp looks forward to the day when North Korea “has rid itself of nuclear ambitions, stop threats and attacks on the Republic of Korea and the world, and has provided its people with the freedoms they rightly deserve.”
But until that day comes Sharp is ““confident the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance is ready to defeat any future North Korean attacks.”
The former commander also thanked his South Korean counterparts for their support and leadership during his tenure.
“To our great Korean friends, and those I served under and with in Korea, thank you for all that you’re doing to protect Korea,” he said. “It is because of your leadership the Republic of Korea military is so strong, prepared to face any North Korean threat, and is globally deployed today.”
Sharp also addressed those serving in the Defense Department for their commitment to making the alliance successful.
“I would also like to thank the Department of Defense civilians, military and families serving in this very important part of the world,” he said. “It is because of your commitment, and those in Washington that focus on northeast Asia, the Republic of Korea is free and prosperous today.”
Sharp, who was born while his father served in the Korean War in 1952, thanked all those who fought and sacrificed for both the United States and the people of South Korea.
“To all the Korean War veterans that are here today and to all who fought to keep Korea free -- thanks for all that you did 60 years ago,” he said. “Your sacrifice and that of those who did not return will never be forgotten.”
Sharp expressed gratitude for his time leading U.S. forces in Korea and said he looks forward to continuing his work.
“For Joann and I, there was no better way to end our military career than to do so serving in Korea as the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea,” he said.
“And I do pledge to continue to work to strengthen this great alliance,” Sharp continued, “and hope that we will be able to return to the ‘Land of the Returning Calm’ many times in the future.”