Germaye Beyene Tesfaye
Germaye Tesfaye enlisted in the Ethiopian army in 1951 and fought in the Korean War beginning in 1952. Germaye Tesfaye explains that Haile Selassie sent Ethiopian troops due to his sympathies regarding Korea’s colonization by Japan. Ethiopia’s colonization by Italy represented a similar struggle. Germaye Tesfaye includes his two grandsons in the interview. He has shared his experiences as a soldier in Korea with his grandsons, and they appreciate the relationship between Korea and Ethiopia. Both wish to join him as he visits Korea for the 70th anniversary of the Armistice.
Helping Starving Civilians and Funding Orphanages
Germaye Tesfaye witnessed terrible destruction in Korea. Arriving in 1952, he encountered Koreans in dire circumstances. Many civilians lacked basic food. Rather than throwing away uneaten food as directed by fellow American soldiers, Ethiopian solders gave their leftovers to hungry Korean people. Further, many Ethiopian solders donated their salaries to fund the creation of orphanages for Korean children who had lost their parents in the conflict.
Shooting Chinese from Hidden Vantage Points
Germaye Tesfaye was a heavy machine gunner for the Third Battalion. While manning the front lines, he and his battalion hid under heavy cover to avoid being discovered and killed. Using heavy weaponry to shoot the enemy from a distance, he and his fellow Ethiopians killed numerous Chinese. At one point he was shot in heavy fighting.
Stopped by the Armistice
Germaye Tesfaye left Korea in 1953. So many people had died by that time. He still wishes the Armistice had not prevented him and his fellow Ethiopians from continuing their fight. They really wanted to take over North Korea. Germaye Tesfaye praises Korea's surprising progress since the 1950s. He is happy that the nation he fought to protect has achieved such economic success.
Proud Grandsons Planning a Trip to Korea
When asked about his desire to travel to Korea, Germaye Tesfaye affirms that he wants to see a peaceful Korea before he dies. His grandsons also want to visit. They are proud of their grandfather's service. Germaye Tesfaye is thankful for the relationship between Korea and Ethiopia.