Report and Stories of Ethiopian Soldiers who fought in the Korean War

  • Introduction and Acknowledgment

I take this opportunity to thank God for our brave Ethiopian soldiers who went to Korea to fight for freedom from communist North Korea and China back in early 1950s by the order of our great Emperor Haile Selassie. I would also like to thank Pastor Michael Park and his friend from New York who is collecting stories and pictures of Korean war. Thank you once again for remembering our surviving old soldiers here in Ethiopia. 

In 1951, the United Nations formed a coalition to fight against communist North Korean and Chinese forces on the Korean peninsula. The “Kagnew Battalion” was comprised of then-Emperor Haile Selassie’s personal body guards. During three years in combat, three Kagnew battalions served in Korea. Another arrived following the cease fire. Ethiopian troops fought alongside the U.S. Army’s 32nd Infantry Regiment, under the 7th Infantry Division, taking part in hundreds of battles to include action in the Iron Triangle and the fight for Pork Chop Hill. During the war, 122 Ethiopian troops died and 526 were wounded in action but none of them were missing and non of them were surrendered; according the document found in the memorial museum.

 It took me more than three weeks to do my assignment and meet those surviving old soldiers here in Addis Ababa the capital. During my work of collecting information about those brave soldiers; I came across that they have their own association called “Ethiopian Korea War Veterans association”. They also do have a park in Addis Ababa after their name called “Ethiopian Korea War Veterans Memorial Park”. Their office is found in this memorial park compound.  

After long waiting appointment; I was able to meet the chairman of the association and other veterans just yesterday. I have learnt from the chairman that only few survival veterans remain now and they are in a difficult situation. I visited the memorial park that has been built by the donation of the government of Korea and met three veterans in the park. I have listened to their interesting stories and saw their old pictures. And I have complied it as follows.

  • The story of Colonel Melesse Tesema

Colonel Melesse Tesema is currently serving as the chairman of the Ethiopian Korea war Veterans association and he was part of the Ethiopian troops during the Korea war.

  • Colonel Estifanos

Colenel Estifanos is one of the veterans who was part of the Ethiopian troops. I am so thankful to meet this man.

  • Shambel Sahilemariam

Sahmebel Sahilemariam was also one the veterans whom I met him at the memorial park during my visit.

  • Interesting story from Shambel Sahilemariam and Colonel Estifanos

According to the two veterans Colonel Estifanos and Shambel Sahilemariam; the Ethiopian soldiers rescued, took and kept the Korean children who had lost their parents during the war in their military camp. The soldiers also gave them shelter in their camp, fed them, made cloth for the children from by cutting their own military uniforms. They also taught them how to read and write English and even Amharic alphabets.  More than 50 Korean children who were orphans were living together with Ethiopian soldiers in their military camp.

Pictures of Korean children who lived with Ethiopian Soldiers in the military camp