Press Release | Dec. 15, 2021

Farewell Address by Vice Adm. Stuart Mayer

USAG HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea,  –   ANYANG HASHIM NIKKA, JAI NEUN U AIN SA BU SARYANG KWAN MAYER JONG JANG IM NI DA. BAN GAP SEUM NI DA….G’DAY.
안녕하십니까, 저는 유엔사 부사령관 메이어 중장입니다. 반갑습니다. G-DAY.

Can I first express my thanks today for my wife, Susanne. I am a lucky man who is blessed by a wife who is not only an awesome mother but a great friend and partner. 

My last year in Korea will always be my happiest year as I got to share the experience with you, and together we were able to support our team mates and their families in the United Nations Command, to enjoy some adult time together and to explore this amazing country. Korea is always going to be a happy chapter in our life. Now and forever, thank you. 

………Thank you to the Ambassadors that have attended today; Your Excellencies I have been grateful for your advice and direction while I have been at the Command, and I am honoured by your presence here.

………I would like to express my sincere gratitude to General LaCamera. Thank you not only for your kind - and undeserved - words this morning, but thank you also for the spirit of change you have brought to all three headquarters and your willingness to challenge stale ideas and precedents. 

Your desire to challenge the status quo has not always been comfortable for our teams, but it has made us better already, and will continue to do so. To work for a boss that believes in the power of ideas more than the security of precedent, and who embraces risk as being the currency of leadership is a rare thing; I am very grateful to have been able to experience it here in UNC.

………..To General Kim, sir thank you and Mrs Lee for making the trip down and representing our team mates from CFC and similarly  to Lieutenant General Jung for representing the JCS colleagues today. The recent round of senior ROK appointments make this week in general, but today in particular very busy for you all and I am aware that this is a large imposition on an already busy day. I am very grateful for your presence.

……….To colleagues and friends from USFK, UNC and Eighth Army thank you also for being here. I am grateful also for our Mayor and my friend Mayor Jung making time this mornings ceremony, as well as so many wonderful colleagues and friends including my Dong Saeng, DG Kim here to represent my Hyung Nim, Minister Hwang from MPVA. I am very moved by all of you making the time to come here today, and for the experiences we have shared together while I have served in United Nations Command. 

……….In 1961 the US Chief of Naval Operation Admiral George Anderson, observed the Navy has both a tradition and a future ─ and we look with pride and confidence in both directions. 

So it is with United Nations Command. We are in equal measure proud and grateful for the service of the members of the command in 1950 and confident about the difference the Command will continue to make in the pursuit of Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula today and into the future. 

I have been amazed by the way in which the people of Korea remember with genuine gratitude the service of the UNC veterans.

 I have had the opportunity to attend a number of Return to Korea events hosted by MPVA and while each are a little different, the conversation you inevitably have with the veterans is the same. 

At some point during the meal each of the veterans starts to tell you about their experience in the war, the cold, the friends that they lost and the sacrifices that they made. Then each of them tells you about how amazed they are at what Seoul has become since 1953, how happy and prosperous the people have become and how grateful the people are for what they did. The each of them without fail pats you on the arm and will say ‘you know it was all worth it’.

…………The UNC story is a powerful story. At a time when the world was rebuilding itself after a devastating second World War, 22 nations sent forces to a country they had never seen and to a people they had never met. They did this because they believed then, as many of us believe now, that all that it takes for evil men to prevail is for good men to do nothing. 

Our UNC forebears that suffered in the snow and the heat of the battlefields, and their commanders and yes even their political leaders believed in a notion that a just world was grounded in the collective action of a community of nations committed to a fair peace. They believed so much that they were prepared to die for that belief, and the UN Memorial cemetery in Busan is a physical demonstration of this commitment.

When we look back to the traditions of UNC we see a history of which to be proud, and one that should be remembered and honoured as an example of how the world community works, when it works at its best.

………….Similarly, when we look to the future and consider UNC we can look ahead with the same mixture of pride and confidence. Pride that seventy years after we first committed to the endeavour of restoring peace and security to the Peninsula 17 of those nations remain a part of the Command and share an unbroken commitment to peace in Korea. 

In the 70 years of UNC’s history there has been plenty of change, and as these changes have emerged we have adapted, adjusting the form of UNC to meet the need. There is more change ahead and we will adapt to these changes as well. 

As with all change their will be periods of adjustment, growth and some discomfort. We are experiencing this now, but as we have in the past we will work through the discomfort, we will adapt and we will continue to deliver on the commitment our nations have made to the people of Korea. 

We may change shape, but we will not change our mission or commitment. UNC will remain an expression of the international communities support to peace and security, and this expression will find its form in the shape of 17 nations striving under one flag to meet our mission. 

……….It is equally true for us to say that UNC has both a tradition and a future and we look with pride and confidence in both directions. It is certainly how I feel after completing two and a half years serving as the Command’s Deputy Commander.

Before I close I would like to thank a few people, in particular all my team mates who I have served with here and to their commanders within UNC; 

To Captain Matt Kemelek of the awesome UNC Honor Guard – you guys truly are the best of the best; it has been an honour to watch the team thrive with expanded missions and under great leadership – keep going!

To Group Captain Lyle Holt and the small group of over achievers in UNC-Rear, you guys routinely do more than we have any reason to expect, maintaining operational readiness and being our strategic face in Japan - thank you.

to Lieutenant Colonel Rick Luce who stands in front of them all with his combined ROK-US UNC Security Battalion; you guys embody the best of the ROK-US alliance and are without any doubt the very best scout infantry unit on the Pen.

to Colonel Burke Hamilton our UNC Military Armistice Commission Secretary who brings experience and pragmatism to one of the toughest jobs on the Pen and who leads a team which alone can claim they serve in front of those who stand in front of them all, 

and finally to our UNC Chief of Staff Major General Mark Toy, the UNC Directors and the team in UNC Headquarters thank you for always taking on the hard jobs and finding a way to get it done when we provide you with neither sufficient resources nor sufficient time. You are building the plane as we fly it. 

To Mark in particular, thank you for your efforts to forge and grow our headquarters team. No one can question your and May’s commitment to our people and the fine work you have done here is an embodiment of your superior skills as a leader, mentor and soldier -diplomat.

Excellencies, the men and women from your countries that serve in our Command are first rate representatives of your country and of their service. It has been a highlight of my 38 years in uniform to serve with soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians from so many of the UN Sending States. Thank you for sending them to us, and please remember we are very happy to take more….

Finally I would like to share that as we have been meeting in this auditorium this morning I am very proud to say that our newest grandson, Charlie Mayer, has entered the world. Charlie is literally entering the world as we speak and we cant wait to meet number 2 grandson. While we are sad to leave Korea it is now two years since I have been home and we have children to hug and grandchildren to meet. 

It is time to say farewell, but not goodbye. Korea will always be part of our story, our memories and in our heart. The people make it and we shall miss you all. Thank you for your friendship and for the experiences we have shared. 

But for now I will leave Korea and the Command, and pass the role of Deputy Commander in the very able hands of my successor Lieutenant General Andy Harrison – Andy best of luck – the job is going to keep you on your toes, but you are going to love it. 

Sue and I will now return home to a new chapter in life and to start my next most important mission – spoiling grandchildren. I shall be ever proud of being a part of a Command with a historic mission serving the people of Korea, while working with colleagues from 17 nations serving in a Command with 70 years of history united Under One Flag.

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