Korean employees set to deploy in Middle East
May 28, 2009
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea -- "We go where you go," is the slogan of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service dating back to Desert Storm when AAFES services were needed for Soldiers deployed in Kuwait and the Middle East.
Now with the war in Iraq, AAFES has been called once again to assist Soldiers while being deployed. Many AAFES employees from all ethnic backgrounds and AAFES stores have been called to deploy except for one group: Koreans.
Korean employees were unable to deploy because of the restrictions set in their contract by their country. Despite their courageous acts requesting to be sent to stores in combat zones, none were approved until earlier this month when two Warrior Country AAFES employees were notified they could deploy to Kuwait this summer.
Yi Sung Chun, a lead sales associate at the USAG-Casey main Post Exchange, and Pak Hyon Su, manager of the 70th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division PX, were both approved to deploy to Kuwait, marking the first time any Korean employee has been deployed to the Middle East.
Yi said he wanted to deploy and show how much he supports troops and their efforts in the war. Pak, on the other hand, volunteered to deploy because of the AAFES slogan.
"I volunteered because I think it is a good chance to improve my life," Pak said. "AAFES says 'We go where you go,' and I want to make the slogan come true for the troops. It is a good chance for me to experience another culture and a new lifestyle."
"'We go where you go' is fitting when speaking of AAFES," said Ken Limtiaco, Warrior Country AAFES Korea Northern Exchange general manager, "because no other organization can do what AAFES does. We go in, set up operations, and provide goods for Soldiers while deployed. Soldiers need basic daily products while deployed just as they do all other times. It first started with health and beauty items, tobacco, and food products. Soldiers began telling us they needed electronics, so we brought in televisions. Providing those needs to deployed troops caused AAFES to grow. Soldiers find AAFES stores in Iraq the same as in the states."
The men will be going through a week long orientation about what to expect while deployed. From there, they are off to Fort Benning, Ga. to get their medical needs, and other requirements taken care of before moving to Kuwait. Both Pak and Yi will take management roles when they arrive.
"It is an excellent opportunity for us and I am excited to be the first going to Kuwait," Yi said.