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Father, son servicemen greet Lunar New Year off Somalia

About 300 sailors patrolling off Somalia aboard Munmu the Great, a 4,400-ton destroyer of the anti-piracy Cheonghae Unit, wished one another a happy Lunar New Year on Sunday.

Among them were the nation’s first father and son serving overseas at the same time, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They are Warrant Officer Nam Dae-il, 52, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Nam Hyun-jae, 22. 
Warrant Officer Nam Dae-il (left), 52, joins his son Petty Officer 2nd Class Nam Hyun-jae, 22, aboard Munmu the Great, a Korean-made 4,400-ton destroyer of the anti-piracy Cheonghae Unit off Somalia on Sunday. (Joint Chiefs of Staff)
Warrant Officer Nam Dae-il (left), 52, joins his son Petty Officer 2nd Class Nam Hyun-jae, 22, aboard Munmu the Great, a Korean-made 4,400-ton destroyer of the anti-piracy Cheonghae Unit off Somalia on Sunday. (Joint Chiefs of Staff)

On the Lunar New Year’s Day, which fell on Feb. 10 this year, Hyun-jae bowed down on his knees to his father in the morning, and Dae-il replied with well-wishing remarks according to the Korean tradition.

The father and son also said hello to their family back in Korea by satellite telephone.

The Nams belong to a contingent dispatched for the 12th time by the Cheonghae Unit on Dec. 27 to patrol the pirate-infested seas off Somalia aboard Munmu the Great.

Nam Sr. enlisted in the Navy as a non-commissioned officer in 1982. He has served a long time overseas, including spells in the Sangnoksu Unit in 2001, Haesung Unit in 2002 and cruise exercises in 2009. He provides weather information for the unit.

“I first visited the Cheonghae Unit when my ship stopped at Djibouti during the 2009 cruise exercise. After that, I wanted to serve in the unit,” he told the Yonhap news agency.

Nam Jr. joined the navy last year and was first assigned to the 12th Cheonghae contingent. He works in the field of electronic warfare aboard the destroyer.

“It is an honor to our family to serve with my father with the mission of Cheonghae Unit, which represents Korea in the international seas,” Hyun-jae said.

Cheonghae Unit was established on March 3, 2009 to protect ships from pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

It has since convoyed 1,221 ships safely, including 374 Korean-flagged vessels, and expelled pirates on 17 occasions.

By Chun Sung-woo (swchun@heraldcorp.com)
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