Sailors from Combined Republic of Korea (ROK)-U.S. Navy Band performs the national anthem during a combined anniversary celebration in Busan. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jermaine M. Ralliford)

BUSAN, Republic of Korea - Sailors assigned to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) celebrated their command’s 60th anniversary in conjunction with Commander, Republic of Korea Fleet’s (CRF) 65th anniversary at the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) Concert Hall in Busan, July 20.

Established July 1, 1957 in Seoul, CNFK is the U.S. Navy’s representative in the Republic of Korea (ROK), providing leadership and expertise in naval matters to improve institutional and operational effectiveness between the two navies and to strengthen collective security efforts in Korea and the region.

“Serving here in Busan shoulder-to-shoulder with our ROK Navy teammates is the privilege of a lifetime,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of CNFK. “The ROK-US Navy alliance is ironclad. Today, I am so proud to say that our relationship has never been stronger.”

At a combined ROK-U.S. awards ceremony that morning 53 U.S. and ROK Sailors received awards for their efforts in support of the alliance. Following the ceremony, Sailors attended a Navy League sponsored combined barbecue at CNFK headquarters.

“It was an honor to share the commemoration of not just the anniversaries of our two commands but the strong partnership we have with our friends, families and neighbors here in Busan,” said Vice Adm. Jung, Jin-sup, commander, Republic of Korea Fleet, “our two navies remain dedicated to maintaining peace and stability here in Korea.”

During the celebration, Cooper also became only the 33rd American to be honored with a ceremony conferring a Korean name to him. The ceremony, a high honor in Korea, was established by the ROK-U.S. Alliance Friendship Association 12 years ago. Other notable honorees include former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former Secretaries of State Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton, several U.S. ambassadors and Combined Force Commanders Gen. Mike Scaparotti and Gen. Vincent K. Brooks.

The culminating event, hosted by ROK Fleet, was a concert featuring the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet and ROK Fleet Bands and the Busan City Choir. Performances also included K-pop star BMK, a magic show by magician Lee, Eun Gyul and a presentation by members of the Aikwangwon Home and School for the Mentally and Physically Disabled.

Many distinguished guests offered congratulatory remarks through videos played in the arena, including ROK Adm. Hwang, Gi-Cheo (Ret.), former ROK CNO; Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surfaces Forces and former commander of CNFK; Hon. Mark Knapper, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim for the U.S. embassy in Seoul; Mr. Suh, Byung-soo, the mayor of Busan.

“I join our Republic of Korea Fleet friends in celebrating their 65th anniversary; you have much to be proud of as a great navy. Our relationship [ROK-U.S.] is one that was forged in conflict and strengthened in peace,” said Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces. “We are stronger now than we have ever been. Congratulations to Commander, Naval Forces Korea on 60 great years of working with the ROK and working on behalf of the people of the Republic of Korea. We go together, katchi kapshida.”