Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Belgian Brown berets

The Belgian United Nations Command (B.U.N.C.), also known as the Belgian Volunteer Corps for Korea or "Brown Berets", is the name given to the Belgian-Luxembourgish military force sent to fight in the Korean War. The battalion served in Korea between 1951 and August 1955.
By the end of this period, 3,171 Belgians and 78 Luxembourgers had served tours of duty in Korea.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Belgium was experiencing a period of turmoil. Belgium had been occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War between 1940–4 and reconstruction was still very much in progress. Politically, the country was torn over the issue of the so-called Royal Question. With the centrist parties thus occupied, both Communist and right-wing Flemish nationalist parties enjoyed considerable support. The Prime Minister in office, when the UN declaration calling for soldiers to be sent to the aid of Korea was sent, was Joseph Pholien of the Christian Social Party who was politically opposed to the rise of communism abroad and wished to gain support from the United States. Both the Belgian and Luxembourgish governments decided to comply with the UN request to send troops to assist South Korea.
Over 2000 Belgians volunteered for service in B.U.N.C. Of these, initially only 700 were selected for training at Leopoldsburg. After training, volunteers received their characteristic brown berets. Soldiers from Luxembourg who were trained alongside the Belgians were organised into 1st Platoon, A Company of B.U.N.C.
BELGIANS CAN DO TOO! was a slogan written across the windshield of Padre of the Unit's (Padre Vander Goten) Jeep during the battles around the "Iron Triangle." Seeing the exhaustion of the troops, the Padre copied the motto of the US 15th Infantry Regiment ("Can Do") alongside whom the Belgians were serving at the time to try to raise morale. The phrase was made famous in Belgium and is thought to summarise the spirit and courage of the Belgian contingent.

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