|Government officials load face masks on a transport aircraft at Gimhae air base in Busan, May 8, to deliver them to U.S. veterans who participated in the Korean War to help them fight COVID-19. Yonhap|
By Park Han-sol
The Korean government will supply 10,000 face masks and other protective items to Native American veterans who served in the 1950-53 Korean War to help protect them from COVID-19 infection, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs said, Monday.
The 70th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee has sent the items to Navajo veterans, according to the ministry.
The Korean consulate general in Los Angeles and the Korean community in Arizona initially planned to hold a delivery ceremony on Monday, but the event has been postponed as the local office of the U.S. veterans affairs department was shut down due to the COVID-19 crisis.
"We are trying to hold the ceremony by Wednesday," the ministry said in a message to reporters. "Even if the ceremony is canceled, the masks will be provided to the veterans."
During the Korean War, around 800 Navajo members took part in combat; fewer than 130 of them are alive now.
Native American service members operated as code talkers during World War II by using their native language as a means of secret communication.
It is said the Navajo people, who live mainly in desert areas of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, face difficulties securing masks and other protective gear.
"The Korean government remembers all those who made noble sacrifices to protect Korea, an unfamiliar nation, 70 years ago," committee Co-Chairman Kim Eun-gi said in a press release. "And we hope that the veterans will be able to share the honorable choice they made with their descendants."