- In der Welt der Spezialkräfte gilt Erfahrung viel. In den USA gilt als Idealalter: zwischen 30 und 45 Jahre alt. In der DELTA Force des Heeres sind die Operators im Durchschnitt 35 Jahre alt.
- Ausserhalb der USA gibt es Armeen, die da weniger streng sind. Das “Special Forces Magazine” widmet dem seines subjektiven Erachtens ältesten Operator eine Würdigung: dem Südkoreaner Joo Ho Han.
- Joo Ho Han starb als aktiver Operator im Alter von 53 Jahren, als er nach der Versenkung der Cheonan (PCC-772), einer Korvette der Pohang-Klasse, versucht hatte, südkoreanische Seeleute zu retten. Am 26. März 2010 sank die Korvette in eine Seemeile südwestlich der Insel Baengnyeongdo im Gelben Meer, abgeschossen von einem nordkoreanischen U-Boot. Dabei starben 46 Südkoreaner.
- Wie die japanischen Streitkräfte verfügt Südkoreas Armee über vorzügliche Kader und Soldaten. Sie stehen in der alten fernöstlichen Wehrtradition.
The oldest SOF operator in the world
Warrant Officer Joo Ho Han (1957-2010) was a legend amongst the South Korean UDT/SEALs and the active-duty world’s oldest SOF operator. Well known for his incredible physical fitness even at his old age. FYI, the UDT/SEAL along with the 707th battalion is the most elite unit in the ROK military (South Korea). During daily PT he was well known for training alongside and leading his younger UDT/SEAL comrades despite his old age.
He was essentially a key pioneer for the UDT/SEALs since he served the unit from its early establishment. He was definitely the definition of a “superfit operator.” However, his undying devotion and commitment ultimately led to his tragic death in 2010 where he has died during the mission at the age of 53.
During the unprovoked shocking Cheonan Sinking in 2010 in which a North Korean submarine sunk a South Korean corvette killing 46 crewmen on board, the whole nation’s grief was even worsened when the news broke out that WO. Han had died during the rescue mission.
He was well known in Korea as he had previously appeared on a UDT/SEAL documentary about 10 years prior which was very popular at the time due to its rare access to one of the most classified military branches in South Korea.
“We are men of steel/ We sacrifice our lives for our country/ We live and die with faith and loyalty/ Let us go to the sea, our paradise,” sung a group of underwater demolition team members past and present, moving their right arms up and down with the rhythm of the song during his funeral.
He had lost consciousness while trying to reach the sunken corvette and later died in hospital due to oxygen deprivation. It was particularly saddening as, at his age, he didn’t have to take part in the mission and should’ve stayed out of the water.
However, due to the extremely rough weather conditions at the time, he insisted he joins his younger comrades in the water to oversee the mission despite being urged not to. Following his death, the nation erected numerous memorial statues around the country to honor his legacy.