RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, South Korea (Oct. 1, 2013) -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited South Korea in celebration to the 60-year Alliance of the Republic of Korea and U.S.

As part of his four-day Asia visit, the 2nd Infantry, the only permanently forward-stationed division in the Army, was one of his first places to observe training.

Hagel observed qualification training and presented coins to Soldiers from 2nd Infantry Division, Sept. 30, at Rodriguez Life Fire Complex.

Hagel and his team arrived at Rodriguez Life Fire Range Complex and were given a briefing by the command team of 1st Brigade Combat Team, about the status of operations and equipment in the Republic of Korea, or ROK.

After the briefing and demonstration, Hagel made his way to the formation of Soldiers, where he addressed ROK and 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, Soldiers.

Hagel began by first thanking the Soldiers for their service, and he asked the Soldiers to thank their families for their sacrifice and support.

"It is, as you know, an immense responsibility for each of you to be part of something so important for the United States of America," said Hagel. "I am very honored to serve as Secretary of Defense. It, of course, is a personal privilege, but more than that, it is an opportunity to serve with America's finest men and women who render as selfless a service as I know."

Hagel presented Department of the Defense coins to the Soldiers in attendance for their dedication and hard work.

"We are getting a coin today for our professional experience from hard work pushed by the great non-commissioned officer support channel and chain command," said Sgt. Patrick Braunshausen, an Easton, Minn., native and cavalry scout from Troop A, 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry. "I feel so honored to be getting a coin from the Secretary of Defense."

Soldiers said they were inspired to continue working hard every day with missions and training.

"I feel so motivated to be getting a coin from the Secretary of Defense for all my hard work," said Pfc. Alex Staples, a Laconner, Wash., native and cavalry scout from Headquarters and Headquarter Troop, 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry. "This encourages me to continue to do my best every day."

"This is such an important recognition to me," said Staff Sgt. Donald Shepard, a Missoula, Mont., nativewith Troop C, 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry. "It is not every day that you are presented a coin by the Secretary of Defense, let alone be able to meet him."

Following his remarks, Hagel opened the discussion up to questions. The first question was in regards to his service in the military.

"My prior service in the Vietnam War has taught me about sacrifice for war and families," Hagel said. "Also, whatever you learn from past job experience can always be applied to future jobs."

Another question asked by one of the Soldiers, this question was in reference to the impact of tuition assistance with the budget cuts.

"I'm all about helping military service members, their families and veterans," said Hagel. "I helped write the new G.I. (Government Issued) Bill in support of service members and their families; this included allowing family members to use the G.I. Bill."

In the following days, Hagel will participate in the ceremony celebrating 60th Anniversary of the Korea-U.S. Alliance.

Page last updated Wed October 2nd, 2013 at 06:30