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In May 1951, Max Bonzo of Cedar City was a member of the 213th Artillery Battalion just outside Gapyeong, South Korea, when his unit was overrun by 4,000 Chinese soldiers.

When the dust settled, the Utah soldiers had captured 800 of the enemy and buried 350 Chinese troops. Only four soldiers were wounded in Bonzo's battalion. That violent event has led to a peaceful association between Cedar City and Gapyeong, which was celebrated Tuesday when the mayors of both cities signed a sister city agreement that included an exchange of gifts and the Gapyeong delegation laying a wreath at Cedar City's memorial to Korean War veterans.

Bonzo was one of seven veterans from the 213th (now the 22nd) attending the signing ceremony in City Council chambers. The Gapyeong delegation was given a miniature copy of the statue at the Cedar City memorial.

"It was by the grace of God we didn't lose anybody," he said of the battle.

Gapyeong Mayor Lee Jin-Yong said his city of 70,000 is in a mountainous area and draws 3 million tourists a year. Like Cedar City, the 520-year-old Gapyeong offers educational opportunities, agriculture, outdoor recreation and such activities as an annual jazz festival and two premier bicycle races.

"Korean veterans and people of Cedar City, we wish you the best in health and happiness," Lee said. "I hope the relationship lasts forever."

Cedar City Mayor Gerald Sherratt explained how Cedar City was settled in 1851 when the area was the edge of the Western frontier. "These pioneers were hardy, courageous souls and examples of the spirit that settled the West," he said.

After the ceremony, Lee said he was encouraged by the spirit of cooperation. "I am impressed that the veterans came," he said "The people in Cedar City are all very friendly and a lot of them know about Korea."

Sunny Lee, who left Korea 33 years ago and now lives in Springdale in Washington County, was instrumental in bringing the cities together. She said when she heard Cedar City was raising money to build a memorial to Korean War veterans, she contacted the Ministry of Patriotic and Veteran Affairs in Seoul, which donated $40,000 to the project dedicated last year.

"After that idea, I kept on going," said Lee.

She organized a delegation of 150 Cedar City residents, including veterans, who visited Gapyeong in May (another contingent plans to visit next year) and began discussions about a sister city relationship. Sherratt subsequently invited the South Koreans to the southern Utah city of 26,000 residents.