Korean War veterans honored by Ajin USA

Published 8:42 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

OPELIKA – Eight Chambers County veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Services during the Korean War were honored Saturday in a ceremony at the Bottling Event Center in Opelika.

The event was hosted by Ajin USA, a local Kia supplier. After two years of not holding the ceremony due to COVID-19, the company celebrated its eighth year of honoring local veterans who served in the Korean War.

The local veterans in attendance included Edward Anderson, Lanny Bledsoe, John Daniel, Tommy McDonald, Will Maples, Charels Pigg, William Rogers and Leon Brown. Also honored were three veterans who passed away in the past year including Charles Hall, William Hayes and Daniel Mason.

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The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Debbie Wood, who represents District 39 in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Wood started her speech by discussing how thankful she was for Ajin USA and how they brought jobs to Chambers County after the textile mills closed down.

“We basically had lived 100 years as textile manufacturers in Chambers County and when they closed, we lost many jobs in our community,” she said. “When Ajin came, it revitalized the job market and grew our county substantially.”

Wood continued by thanking the veterans and their wives for their sacrifices, noting that they protected both the United States and South Korea.

“You have all sacrificed so much for not only our country but for their country as well,” said Wood, gesturing toward the Ajin representatives. “I thank you all for your sacrifice, for what you gave, and for allowing me to be here today.”

After Wood’s speech, attendees watched as members of the Korean Cultural Center of Atlanta gave several performances that reflected Korean culture including two dances, a drum ensemble and a song on the gayageum, a traditional Korean stringed instrument. They were followed up by students of Daegun High School in Korea, who sang multiple songs honoring the veterans.

The program concluded with a speech from Jung Ho Sea, the CEO and President of Ajin USA. Sea expressed his gratitude for the veterans and their dedication to democracy.

“Over five decades ago, people in this ceremony who had never heard of South Korea flew over there to protect South Korean democracy. For that I am eternally thankful,” he said.

Sea, along with students from Daegun High, presented an award to Lanny Bledsoe, who accepted it on behalf of all of the veterans present. Sea said that he hoped that he would see them all again next year and presented them each with a gift bag from Ajin.