(by Harry Sarles, Army University Public Affairs) The Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth added two inductees to the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame May 16, 2023, in the Arnold Conference Room of the Lewis and Clark Center.
“There are some stories about two great gentlemen that you’re going to hear today that are worth listening to the words that we put together for this,” said Lt. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr., Commander of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth. “Because, when you hear those words, it should leave no shadow of a doubt why Gen. Cherrie and Col. Kim were selected for the Hall of Fame.”
Brig. Gen. (U.S. Army, Retired) Stanley Cherrie, and Col. (U.S. Army, deceased) Young Oak Kim are the 119th and 120th members added to the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame. The hall recognizes outstanding military and civilian leaders who have served at Fort Leavenworth and made significant contributions to the achievement, tradition, or history of Fort Leavenworth and the Armed Forces.
Kim was drafted into the Army in 1941 and served as an enlisted engineer until he was selected for Infantry Officer Candidate School. Upon commissioning in 1943, he was assigned to the 100th Infantry Battalion at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
Kim’s battalion deployed to the Mediterranean Theater in August 1943. While attached to the 34th Infantry Division in Italy, Kim led a patrol and personally drew enemy fire while his soldiers destroyed four German machine guns. Later, Kim observed an enemy company moving into their area. He directed his men to hold fire and waited until the enemy massed together. Kim organized a flanking maneuver, then opened fire killing or capturing the entire force and later received the Silver Star.
In May 1944, Kim and one other soldier penetrated behind German lines and captured two German sentries. The enemy soldiers provided valuable intelligence and helped identify units operating in the area. Kim received the Distinguished Service Cross as a result of this operation.
In 1950, Kim again donned his uniform and deployed to Korea as part of the 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. Kim later assumed command of 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry and became the first Asian American to command a battalion in combat. He returned to the United States in 1952, and became an instructor at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Later, he came to Fort Leavenworth where he served on the faculty of the Command and General Staff College from 1959 to 1963. Afterward, Kim returned to South Korea as a U.S. military advisor to the South Korean army.
He retired from the Army in 1972 but later served on the board of United Way and founded the Korean Youth and Cultural Center. Kim also chaired or co-founded numerous organizations promoting and protecting Asian Americans. He died in 2005 and was buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
Dr. Edward Chang, professor of ethnic studies and founding director of the Young Oak Kim Center for Korean American Studies at the University of California at Riverside represented the Kim family at the induction.
Chang recalled his first meeting with Kim. “I thought he was just a retired military volunteering; I didn’t know anything about what he had done,” said Kim. “I didn’t know it until about 2000, right before he passed away. A book about his life was written in the Korean language, I just wanted to tell him a book about his life was published in Korea and I’m going to translate that into English ‘Unsung Hero: COL Young Kim’s story.’” Chang said I’m going to donate a copy of this book to your library so people can read his story.
“He’s not just an Asian-American Hero, He’s an American Hero,” said Chang. “He’s not only a war hero, he’s a humanitarian human hero. He was truly a champion of underdogs and civil rights.”
Beagle noted the inductees share similar experiences. “I think going forward you’re going to find common ground between our two inductees today. They both served during multiple global conflicts. Both sustained wounds in battle, thus demonstrating extraordinary valor. Yet, both men continued to serve and make a great impact on our Army.”
Cherrie’s service at Fort Leavenworth includes student at the Command and General Staff College graduating in 1976, deputy director and chief of division operations at the Center of Army Tactics from 1985 to 1987, Director of the Center of Army Tactics in 1991 and 1992, and assistant deputy chief of staff for training from 1996 to 1998.
His military service began in 1964 when he was commissioned as an armor officer from ROTC at Rutgers University. He commanded at the platoon, company, and squadron levels. He served two tours in Vietnam. Cherrie was wounded in May 1971 when he stepped on a land mine, losing his right foot, left heel, and two fingers of his right hand.
Cherrie said after he was wounded in Vietnam he was visited in the hospital by Gen. Fred Franks. After finding out that Franks, then a major, was still on active duty following a leg amputation, Cherrie decided to do everything he could do to stay on active duty.
“He [Brig. Gen. Cherrie] refused to let one dark moment define his career,” said Beagle. “Instead, he used it to push himself to new heights overcoming new challenges along the way. The Army not only benefited by continuing to have this great operational thinker on our team, but also by the great example that he set. Soldiers not only learned from him on the battlefield, but [he] also helped develop and train our future leaders during his time here at Fort Leavenworth.”
General Cherrie retired from the Army in 1998. He became a vice president for Cubic Applications in Leavenworth, Kansas. He was also a founding trustee of the CGSC Foundation, served as a trustee from 2007-2019, and was elected as a Trustee Emeritus soon after his last term. He remains active in veterans’ affairs.
Cherrie explained his dedication to teaching and learning. “As long as I’ve got life in these limbs, I’ll be back if someone asks me to come take a briefing. I don’t care what rank it is staff sergeant all the way up to 4-star general. My desire to teach and be in the classroom kind of has me volunteering to guys like Dr. [Mark] Gerges, Pete Im, Dean Nowowiejski, Jim Wilbanks, Davy Goebel, anybody that asks me ‘do you want to come back and take a briefing.’ That’s how you stay in touch with what’s going on in the Army. We’re in tune with what’s going on, and we’re training these young’uns to fight where they just might fight.”