06/17/06 — A shared loss: South Korean pilot killed in crash

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A shared loss: South Korean pilot killed in crash

Those who attended the graduation of eight South Korean aviators who trained at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to fly the F-115 were impressed.

Not only had the officers mastered flying one of the finest and most sophisticated aircraft in the world, they had become a “band of brothers” with their American pilots here.

Dolph Overton, a Smithfield businessman and Korean War ace, spoke at the graduation ceremonies. He said their selection for the program signaled that the eight men — now majors — were among the very finest and most promising in the South Korean military. From their ranks, he said, would come the country’s top military commanders in the future.

And those in the audience could sense that as the proud aviators — selected because they had demonstrated that they had the “right stuff” — strode to the platform for their certificates.

Our community was saddened to learn that one of those fine young officers has been killed during a mission over the East Sea.

Lt. Col. Kim Sung Dae, call sign “Ice”, and a student WSO, were on a night intercept mission when their F-115K crashed into the sea on June 7.

Maj. Joel Meyers, who spearheaded the program for the Koreans at Seymour Johnson and who accompanied them back to Korea, e-mailed friends at Seymour Johnson and Goldsboro of the accident.

In his message, Maj. Meyers said: “Please keep Mee Kyung, Ooh Jin and Ah Rom in your prayers. They plan to remain here in Daegu where her parents and Ice’s family live. Though she is grieving, Mee Kyung has expressed hope and confidence in God’s grace to sustain her and her family.”

The family had been with Lt. Col. Kim during the training program at Seymour Johnson and made many friends here.

The News-Argus joins our friends at Seymour Johnson AFB and in the community in sharing the grief of Lt. Col. Kim Sung Dae’s passing. It is a great loss not only to his family and friends, but also to his country.

Published in Editorials on June 17, 2006 11:30 PM