JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. — A Republic of Korea military transport aircraft landed at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday morning with 500,000 protective masks for donation to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to use in its response to COVID-19.
South Korea donated the masks in honor of Korean War veterans and the long-standing alliance between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.
This gift of protective masks “is a sign that the deep and ongoing respect our two nations have for each other that we cemented nearly 70 years ago in a time of war and great crisis,” said VA Secretary Robert L. Wilkie, according to a VA statement. “So many years later, we are joined in another just and noble cause of containing a pandemic that threatens our citizens’ lives and livelihoods and poses a grave threat to the Veterans we have both pledged to protect.”
Officials from the Republic of Korea embassy, including the Defense Attaché Maj. Gen. Se Woo Pyo, the Air Attaché and the Marine Corps Attaché, greeted the arriving Korean military air crew when the C-130 aircraft landed on base. Additionally, VA officials attended to thank the Republic of Korea representatives and to transport away the face masks for use nationally in VA medical facilities.
“This gift from the Republic of Korea is possible thanks to the noble sacrifice made 70 years ago by the American veterans of the Korean War,” said South Korea’s Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, Sam-duck Park, according to a statement sent from South Korea. “These masks symbolize our countries’ alliance and the appreciation of the Korean people who have never forgotten the American veterans’ service and sacrifice. We are always grateful for them.”