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PYEONGTAEK, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Republic of Korea (ROK) President Moon, Jae-in presented Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) Rear Adm. Brad Cooper with the ROK Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) during the 69th Annual ROK Armed Forces Day ceremony in Pyeongtaek, Sept. 28.
The ROK PUC is the highest unit-level award given by the ROK government and was awarded to all the Sailors of CNFK for "outstanding contribution to the defense of the Republic of Korea." The award follows closely behind the 2016 relocation of CNFK headquarters from Seoul to Busan, where it is now situated next to ROK Fleet (CRF) headquarters. CNFK is the only U.S. military major command to be located on a ROK military base.
"We are deeply humbled and honored by President Moon's personal recognition," said Cooper. "This unit award truly reflects a great team effort by ROK and U.S. Sailors from CRF and CNFK headquarters working shoulder-to-shoulder everyday. Our relationship with the ROK Navy has always been strong, but that relationship is stronger now than it has ever been. We remain committed as ever to the defense of the Republic of Korea."
Twenty-five U.S. Navy Sailors participated in the ceremony that was also attended by the Korean minister of defense, minister of unification, chief justice of the Supreme Court, chairman of the National Assembly, and leaders of the ROK joint and armed services. More than 800 war veterans who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars attended the ceremony, as well.
"This was a tremendous experience and I am honored to have been able to represent all of our CNFK Sailors at the ceremony which was a truly impressive military display that integrated each of the ROK's branches of service," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Nikita Shields. "I speak for everyone at CNFK when I thank the ROK Navy Sailors we work with in Busan for everything they do. We could not ask for better shipmates."
The conferral of the PUC marks the first time a U.S. Navy command has received the prestigious award since 1951. Previous recipients of the award include U.S. Navy Task Forces 90 and 95 in periods bridging 1950-1951 during the Korean War.
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the commander for the United Nations Command, the Combined Forces Command, and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea.