Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Ethiopian hero of the Korean War

(Sept 25, 2012,(BBC))--Sixty years ago, Ethiopia was at war. Not in Africa, but thousands of miles away in Korea. This is the story of one Ethiopian officer who won a US gallantry award.

President Lee Myung-bak, left, talks with Hailu Ayaleu, a 79-year-old Korean War veteran July 9. / Yonhap
In 1951, the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, decided to send thousands of troops to fight as part of the American-led UN force supporting South Korea against the communist North and its ally, China. They were called the Kagnew battalions and were drawn from Haile Selassie's Imperial Bodyguard - Ethiopia's elite troops.

Capt Mamo Habtewold, now 81 years old, was then a young lieutenant in the 3rd Kagnew Battalion. He clearly remembers a send-off from the Emperor himself, as he was about to leave for the other side of the world. "Always when a battalion went to Korea, he came himself and made a speech and he gave each battalion a flag - and he ordered us to bring that flag back from Korea," Mamo recalls. Read more from BBC »

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