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Mar 13, 2023 | In The News

A Placentia post office was dedicated Monday, March 13, to fallen U.S. Army Pfc. Jang Ho Kim, nearly 17 years following his death in Iraq.

A crowd of around 100, including friends and family of Kim, veterans and members of the community, gathered for the dedication in a small lot at the back of the facility at 1400 N Kraemer Blvd. Among them was Rep. Young Kim, who introduced the federal bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in December renaming the branch, along with his father, Seop Kim, mother, Sangsoon Kim, and sister, Michelle Kim.

“This day is just very special to our family,” Michelle Kim, 36, said. “My brother gave his life 17 years ago and this community is still remembering him today, and we’re just so proud of him for leaving behind this legacy.”

Seop Kim said the family will promise to never forget the soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice, adding they are “deeply grateful to the U.S. government” for honoring his son in this way.

The plaque honoring Kim will be installed on the building’s main entrance wall by next week, said Postmaster Javier Flores, who said Kim “set an example that should inspire all Americans.”

Renaming a post office requires a unanimous vote from the state’s congressional delegation to move the legislation to the House floor. Rep. Kim said persistence and “not taking no for an answer” paid off.

“I’m grateful that God has put me in a position to honor his legacy, not just in the memory of his family, but those of us who served with him, went to school with him,” she said. “We’re so glad we’re able to do this in the community where Jang Ho Kim grew up.”

Kim, R-Anaheim Hills, currently represents the 40th congressional district but represented Placentia in the previous Congress before the decennial redistricting process moved her to a new district. The city is now represented by her colleague, Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Seal Beach, under the 45th district.

Placentia Mayor Ward Smith emphasized the city’s commitment to veterans and publicly thanked Kim’s parents for bringing to Placentia “a young man of character.” He pointed to several city projects that cater to veterans, including the Placentia Veterans Village, a community for homeless veterans, which was the first of its kind in Orange County when it opened in 2020.

Pastor Gi Hong Han, who currently resides as senior pastor at Grace Ministries International, recalled Kim as a “man of genuine faith.”

“I truly count it as a privilege and honor to have been his pastor,” he said.

Another pastor, U.S. Army Chaplain Edward Choi, who served as Kim’s chaplain, said Kim chose to forego college to join the Army, where the young soldier was one of few Korean Americans in a battalion of more than 500 soldiers.

“If you’re not Korean, you don’t know what I’m talking about. You don’t just skip college,” Choi said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “You might ask the question, why does a young man who has his future ahead of him join the Army and ultimately lay his life down? He did it for love, to continue the story of a great legacy of soldiers before him and after him.”

Greg Schwabe, one of several veterans in attendance, got emotional as he described what events like this mean to him.

“I think days like this are really special to take time out to remember soldiers who didn’t join to give their lives, but to make life better,” the Pasadena resident said, fighting back tears. “As a veteran, it was my duty to come and support.”


The Orange County Register

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