Before dawn on July 27, Southern Baptist United States Army Chaplain (Colonel) Samuel S. Lee, stepped onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft at Osan Air Base to lead prayer for crew members who were about to take off on a historic flight across the border to North Korea.
“I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and prayed for them before they departed,” Lee said. “The mood was both excitement and solemn.”
A few hours later, that same plane returned to the base with 55 small wooden coffins draped in the flag of the United Nations containing the remains of U.S. soldiers. Again, Lee boarded the plane to pray.
“When I knelt down and touched the boxes, there was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude because the mission went well, and we were finally going to be able to fulfill our vow to these soldiers that we will never leave a fallen comrade behind.”
After a few days of initial analysis and identification efforts, Lee helped lead a repatriation ceremony for the remains before they were placed on U.S. aircraft and transported to Hawaii for further DNA analysis and identification.
“It was a very moving ceremony,” Lee said. “I began with an invocation and then representatives of the nations that fought alongside the United States in the Korean War came and paid respects to the fallen.”
Lee said the historic nature of the event was not lost on anyone present.
“From privates to generals, we were all grateful for the opportunity to participate in this.”
Bugles played taps and the national anthems of the United States and South Korea.
“I wore my stole for the ceremony when we received the remains at the air base,” Lee said. “Normally at funerals I wear it with the black side out. But I decided to wear the white side out because it symbolizes peace. To me it was also a symbol to our other fallen comrades that we will not leave them alone, and they will be remembered.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Baptist Press, Mike Ebert