Former United States servicemen who served in Korea will launch a fraternity group this year with a membership hovering at some 3.5 million veterans, local defense officials said Tuesday.
Efforts are underway to establish the Korea Defense Veterans Association sometime within this year under the sponsorship of diplomatic and defense authorities of both the U.S. and South Korea, an official source said.
The KDVA, if established as planned, will help bring together U.S. Forces Korea veterans who were stationed in South Korea following the 1950-53 Korean War.
It would be the biggest pro-Korea group in the U.S., with observers saying it could play a pivotal role in further cementing the Korea-U.S. alliance that is credited with maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Walter Sharp, a former USFK commanding general from 2008-2011, has been offered the post of first chairman of the new organization, according to sources.
Other ex-USFK commanders, Leon Laporte and James Thurman, have also joined the launching of the effort.
Its membership will mainly encompass USFK veterans, but the group also plans to accept current USFK servicemen as associate members. Korean Augmentation Troops to the U.S. Army, South Korean forces who serve for USFK, are also likely to be entitled to the membership, according to another insider familiar with the move to set up the association.
Kim Jong-wook, the chairman of the KATUSA Veterans Association, discussed details of the launch project with Sharp and other former commanders in the U.S. recently.
"If USFK veterans and KATUSAs join hands, it would play a key role in tightening the South Korea-U.S. alliance," Kim said.
After its launch, the veterans group will engage in support programs for USFK veterans and their families as well as organize forums on security issues involving the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)