USFK recognizes 2ID's 'good neighbors'
June 18, 2008
We can hear this Korean sentence, which means 'We go together' in English, in almost every speech in the United States Forces Korea. It reflects the hope of every USFK Servicemember who wants to get closer to the host country's community. These days, many people carry on the spirit of the sentence in practice daily.
USFK distinguished two people who bridged 2ID and the local community during the sixth annual USFK Good Neighbor Programs Award ceremony June 12 at the Dragon Hill Lodge, Yongsan Garrison.
Among the awardees were Kim, Kyoung Cha, the chief of the Dongducheon Volunteer Center, and Maj. Richardson Blair, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, DSTB.
"Through programs such as the Good Neighbor Program, our alliance has evolved from one of mutual security to one of great social and economic prosperity through personal relationships," said Gen. Walter L. Sharp, USFK, United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command commander in his remarks during the ceremony. "You all are out there working in a community of people, building bridges every day and joyfully opening your hearts to enhance the close friendships that make up this alliance."
A Korean organization and seven Korean civilians were selected as USFK Good Neighbors, and a U.S. Marine unit and three Servicemembers were honored with Ambassador of the Alliance, which started being presented this year. They received a plaque and a medal as tokens of appreciation for their achievements.
"It is my great honor to get this big award," said Kim. "I couldn't even imagine that I would be one of the awardees of the Good Neighbor Program award. I realized that when getting a letter from Gen. B. B. Bell, the former USFK commander."
Kim started his history with the Good Neighbor Program two years ago by establishing the official Sisterhood Agreement between 210th Fires Brigade, 2ID and the Dongducheon Volunteer Center. Since then, he has coordinated various programs, which include the Adult English Language Program taught by U.S. Soldiers from the 210th Fires twice a week, and the Korean culture tour for American English teachers, as well as the Sincheon River Cleanup.
His efforts allowed the Soldiers and the community to build a strong friendship and bond.
"We, the U.S. Soldier and Dongducheon community, are a Family living in the same location," said Kim. "I hoped we could establish the harmonious relationship through the things I worked on."
The story of Blair's volunteer work goes way back to 1987 when he was first stationed at Suwon Air Base as a second lieutenant. He has taught English at many local schools, including Kyungmin Middle School, located close to Camp Red Cloud.
"I think it's really fun speaking English with kids and watching their English improve," said Blair. "Plus, I learn many things about Korean culture and Korean language."
He also volunteered at orphanages and holiday gift drives with many ROK and U.S. volunteers. He has also initiated many sports matches with his ROK counterparts, and he appeared in the local news because of his selfless volunteer activities and fluent Korean language skill.
"I had a really great time, so I'm not doing any hard work," said Blair. "That's why I like to do this."
This hope was realized as the Good Neighbor Program began in 2003 by the proposal of the former USFK Commander Gen. Leon LaPorte. Since then, every subordinate units of USFK, including 2ID, have been actively participating in the program.