Suriname – Paramaribo

Veteran Stories

>> Hi, everybody, from Paramaribo, Suriname. This is the Surinamese River, and I am going to take you to the Korean War memorial at this Independence Square. So it's very fitting today. I'm going to have to be careful because I don't want to fall into water, but today is Independence Day in Suriname, and that's why there's a lot of activities going on in the background. Suriname gained independence in 1975 on November 25th, and obviously today is November 25th, and they gained independence from the Netherlands. So the reason why I'm here in Suriname is because they were a former Dutch colony, and during the Korean War in 1950, the Surinamese, 115 of them ... Whoa! >> Watch out. >> Went to Korea, and two were killed. So you'll see over there, there is a memorial with three statues. Again, this is the Independence Square. And I was so happy because it seemed like obviously there's so many people here. It seems like a lot of people knew about this memorial. It was 2008 when the Korean government dedicated, donated money so that they could dedicate this memorial [INAUDIBLE]. This rain has [INAUDIBLE] a couple times throughout the day like a storm, so it's a little bit wet. So a Korean soldier, and this was erected [INAUDIBLE] monument in memory of Surinamese [INAUDIBLE] in 2008, June 25th. As you guys know, June 25th is the day that the Korean War started, 1950. So there's the beautiful Korean soldiers. If you look at them, they look a lot like the American soldier. If I'm correct, and I'll have to find out more, but the Dutch soldiers were attached to the 2nd Infantry of the U.S. Army, the Indianheads. That's probably why they're wearing, like, American uniforms. So I'll show you the [INAUDIBLE]. This side, so it basically says that it was dedicated to 102 Surinamese veterans, and like I said, two passed away. And on the other side ... Look, the [INAUDIBLE]. There are the names of everyone, and I am extremely excited because there are currently ... Among these, there are only three living, and so tomorrow I'll be meeting Mr. Gom and two more others, and we will be here in the morning to lay a wreath, so I am extremely grateful, and thanks to [INAUDIBLE] for filming and taking me around today ... >> You're welcome. >> ... and showing me this ... >> You're welcome. >> ... beautiful, beautiful country. I have learned so much from you, thank you, about the groups here, and I just wanted to quickly point out that the Surinamese are extremely diverse here, and I'll explain why a little later, but the flag has a star in the middle, and that star symbolizes the unity of all ethnic races, so ta-da. I'm wearing yellow to symbolize unity because I, wherever I go, pray for unity among just all of us, but at the same time, I keep praying for unity and peace between North and South Korea so that they become one Korea. So thank you, everybody. I will see you tomorrow. Bye.

>> Hello, everybody, from Paramaribo, I am extremely excited to be here again at the Korean War Memorial dedicated to the 102 Surinamese young men who went to Korea and fought for me, and there are only three remaining Surinamese Korean War veterans, and I got to meet two, so I am happy like a girl. So these are my two grandpas, Surinamese grandpas. In fact, Suriname is the only Caribbean country that fought in the Korean War, and he, despite how he looks, is 93 years young. Right?

>> Yeah, yeah, yeah.

>> Grandpa, what is your full name and so everybody knows.

>> I’m named Edward Derdrick.

>> And when did you fight in Korea?

>> That’s … When was that?

>> 1955, no?

>> ’40?

>> ’52 or ’53.

>> ’52, ’53 and …

>> No, ’52, ’53.

[ Chatter ]

>> Until the last day of the cease-fire.

>> Oh, until July 27th.

>> Yeah.

>> Okay, yes.

>> Yes, July 27th.

>> Yes, and, Grandpa, what is your full name? Tell them.

>> Wilfred Herman von Hom.

>> Von Hom, and he is 87 years young, so he, compared to him, is a young chicken, right? Well, guess what?

>> I was one of the youngest that left Suriname when I volunteered to fight in Korea.

>> Why did you volunteer?

>> Yeah.

>> Why did volunteer?

>> Because when I hear of the problems in Korea, and my father was a German, during the war, because we are Netherlanders here and Dutches, we got problems. We got problems, and with all the problems, when I hear about the problem in Korea, I go fight.

>> Oh.

>> Very good, tenacious.

>> Wow.

>> Yeah.

>> Oh, I, of course, showed them and expressed my love and gratitude [FOREIGN LANGUAGE] which is, I think, a thank-you in, muah, their local English, thanks to Diego right there.


>> You have to show the patch.

>> This one?

>> Yes, so, everybody, you know how I go crazy about the Indianheads, the 2nd Infantry Division? Yes, so …

>> 2nd Division, oh, we’re the 8th Division of the eighth army in Korea.

>> Yes, so, they fought alongside the American 2nd ID. They’re called the Indianheads.

>> Yeah.

>> And this is their patch, their symbol, and so when I went to Netherlands, I saw that as well.

>> Who is that? That’s on the video.

>> See, this is his wife, and she’s wearing Surinamese colors. Surinamese colors are red, green, yellow and white, and red stands for love.

>> Yes, yes, yes.

>> So I wore red specifically for them. Grandpas, come with me to the memorial, and, Tanya, say hello. My local friend, say hello.

>> Hello, everybody, this is Tanya.

>> And, Raphael, come on. Don’t go away. Say hello. Raphael, say hello.

>> Hello, everyone.

>> Hello. I met Raphael and Georgiano yesterday through Chuuri, and I’m going to pull him over, but because he, we found out yesterday, is the grandson of a veteran. He didn’t know his father’s name was on the panel, so we’re going to show them the panel, okay? Georgiano, do you want to join us for a sec?

>> Grandson, granddaughter …

>> Yes.

>> Can you tell us about, anything about your grandfather’s service?

>> Okay. Then I have to begin at the beginning. My grandfather, he also fought in the Second World War.

>> Oh, Russia.

>> And I think because he was still in the army, the officer sent him to the Korean War out of Japan. What can I tell about my grandfather?

>> Did he say anything about the Korean War, tell any stories?

>> No, I was too young.

>> Okay.

>> But don’t keep telling me that then because I have a book, and it’s actually a funny story because the war, in 1954, they have … They published a book with all the fun stories about the veterans, and it’s a book by him.

>> Okay.

[ Chatter ]

>> There is a book with some of the veteran’s stories. I forgot to bring it in today.

>> It’s okay. I’m going to ask you for a favor, and that is to ask your father about any stories that he might have heard from your grandfather, pictures, and send it to me on PDF for me, okay?

>> Okay, I will do that.

>> Okay, I need to tell you something awesome about Georgiano. Georgiano is what we would look like if we all … He has white blood, yellow blood, brown blood and black blood, right?

>> Yes.

>> It’s amazing, right? What is it, Chinese?

>> Chinese, Javanese, Indonesian.

>> Javanese.

>> I have African.

>> African.

>> And I have Dutch.

>> And Dutch. Isn’t that wonderful? So he represents unity of all races, so I will now take you to the Korean War Veteran Memorial with Grandpa here. Grandpa Hom, so this memorial was built in 2008, right, that memorial?

>> Yeah.

>> Were you here for the ceremony?

>> Yes.

>> Yes, okay, let’s go, and I think I saw a picture of you in Korea?

>> Yeah.

>> You visited Korea?

>> After the war, I visit Korea two times.

>> Oh, you visited two times.

>> Yeah, visited two times.

>> You went in 2000, huh, 2010, 2010?

>> 2010, I was in Korea and before, in ’82.

>> Mm, what did you think when you went to Korea?

>> When I went in …

>> Over there. What did you think?

>> About Korea?

>> Yes.

>> Oh, it’s a nation that built its country. The time that I … The first time that I visit Korea, I … Yes, the Yellow River was only one bridge.

>> Oh.

>> In ’82, there was 60 bridge across the Yellow River to Seoul, from [FOREIGN LANGUAGE] …

>> Yes.

>> … to Seoul.

>> Wow.

>> Sixty bridge and a double bridge, there was one of a double bridge to get across, that go this way. They pass under, under the second stair, and otherwise, that go this way, they pass on the upstairs.

>> Everybody, all the veterans, are so amazed that Korea was able to become such a international giant and make progress. So that was thanks to your sacrifice and the sacrifice of your brothers in arm, so I will finally show you.

>> Here?

>> The names of all the veterans, and you’re … Where’s your name?

>> My name is there, or …

>> Right here.

>> Let me see. I will have … They have one …

>> Right here, so this is Grandpa … How do you pronounce your … Gohm?

>> It’s von Hom.

>> Von Hom.

>> Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, von Hom.

>> Von Hom, thank you so much, everybody. I am going to interview them at length, and we’re going to go for lunch, so I have been happy and excited like a girl, and that’s what they make me feel like. The Grandpas make me feel like a little girl because the last time I saw my own grandfather was when I was 6 years old, and so I miss him every day, and so when I see you, I think of my grandfather. I become 6, and that’s what makes me so happy, and so, everybody, I shall see you guys tomorrow, bye.

Paying Tribute

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    Memorial Site

    The Republic of Suriname, a former Dutch colony, participated in the Korean War from January 1951 to December 1954. Suriname, which is located in the northeastern part of South America, sent soldiers to Korea as part of a Dutch contingent. It gained independence from the Netherlands on November 25, 1975.

    In total, 115 Surinamese soldiers fought in Korea, 20 were wounded and at least two died.
    The Korean War Memorial in the Republic of Suriname is located in Paramaribo on the waterfront of the Surinamese River. This memorial at the Onafhankelijkheidsplein (Independency Square) was built in 2008 by the Korean government to honor the 115 Surinamese who served in the Korean War.