SEOUL, Republic of Korea — Col. Donald E. Degidio, Jr., Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District, was conferred with a Korean name May 10 during a ceremony at the Korea Ministry of National Defense.
Suh Jin-Sup, Chairman of the ROK-U.S. Alliance Friendship Association, conferred Degidio with the name Jeon Taek-hee. The family name Jeon rhymes with Degidio’s shortened first name, Don. Taek-Hee translates as “Shining House.”
“As we move forward with the Yongsan and Korea Relocations Plans, I give you my personal assurance that all of our projects will be ‘Shining Houses’ that will stand strong just as our great Alliance has stood strong for over 60 years,” said Degidio.
The name is significant as the FED Commander has oversight of the relocation construction at U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys which will be the new home for most of U.S. Forces Korea.
“Today, a Korean name is given to Col. Degidio with hopes of his support and contribution to the success of USFK relocation,” said Suh. “I have no doubt that all of the attendees of this ceremony will take the lead on strengthening the Alliance between the Republic of Korea and the U.S.”
Suh then presented Degidio with a scroll with “Jeon Taek-Hee” written in Hanja, traditional Korean characters similar to Chinese.
The bestowal of a Korean name is an important part of Korea’s history and dynamic cultural heritage.
“Our country believes one’s name serves as the indicator of life,” said Brig. Gen. Kwon Tae-Hwan, Director General of MND USFK Relocation Office (MURO) Business Management Bureau. “From now on Col. Jeon Taek-Hee will contribute to the ROK-U.S. Alliance and to the advancement and friendship of the engineers of both countries.”
To strengthen the Alliance, the ROK-U.S. Alliance Friendship Association has bestowed Korean names on many American leaders. U.S. President, Barack Obama was given the name “O Han-Ma.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was named “Han Hui-Sook.” Gen. Walton H. Walker, former Eight U.S. Army Commander, who died during the Korean War, was named “Gu Wung-Su.”
Not only has the association conferred Korean names but also built statues of former U.S. commanders. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War the association donated a statue of Gen. Walker for display outside of the Eighth U.S. Army Headquarters on USAG Yongsan.