Daniel Shinchul Park – First, Lieutenant, United States Army

From a contemporary press report:

Daniel Shinchul Park, 25, died July 23, 1999, when he fell down a rocky coastal cliff on Caines Head State Recreational Trail on Resurrection Bay while on a youth ministry backpacking trip.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at Trinity Presbyterian Church. Dr. George Gilchrist will officiate. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

Lieuenant Park was born June 25, 1974, in Korea. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1996, with a bachelor's degree in systems engineering and history. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he completed infantry officer basics and was qualified for airborne, air assault, ranger and senior jumpmaster.

Lieutenant Park moved to Alaska in 1997. His first Army assignment was as a rifle platoon leader for 2nd Platoon Alpha Co. 1-501st, if the Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Richardson. He continued in Alpha Co. as executive officer. He was about to take over as platoon leader for the TOW Platoon.

The military said: ”During 1st Lt. Park's two-year service, his performance was nothing short of outstanding. His professional competence, commitment to his profession and concern for the welfare of his subordinates elevated him above his peers and distinguished him as one of the finest officers in the battalion.” He was therefore awarded the Meritorious Service Medal upon his death, the highest award given to a soldier during peacetime.

Lieutenant Park led in Trinity Presbyterian Church's Junior High Youth Ministry as a volunteer worker. ”His gifting was being able to draw every kid — no matter who — out into the group and make them feel welcome. He bonded with the kids through wild games, snowbaths, water fights and physical activities. He had a way of speaking to kids at their level and connecting with them. This love for them was genuine and they knew it. His inner strength in the Lord was obvious. He was gentle, but had great physical strength.”

Lieutenant Park enjoyed outdoor activities, swimming, Tae Kwon Do, working out, art, growing to know Jesus better and saxophones. He also sponsored a child through the Christian Children Fund.

His fiancee said: ”Dan was a good and faithful man who loved God. His life, cut short by a tragic accident, was characterized by optimism, deep joy and sacrificial service — service to his country and service particularly to young people through his church. He was a humble and courageous man with a giving heart. In his short life, he received many honors, but he seldom spoke of them. He has left behind many whose lives have been changed by his example.”

Lieutenant Park was to be married September 3.

He is survived by his parents, Jae and Insook Park of Korea; and fiancee, Stephanie Cumberlidge of Anchorage.

Memorial donations in his name may be sent to the Dan Park Memorial Fund for Youth Ministry, c/o Trinity Presbyterian Church, 12310 Lorraine St., Anchorage, Alaska 99507.

DATE OF BIRTH: 06/25/1974
DATE OF DEATH: 07/23/1999

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