CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea - Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew C. Kim of B Company, 4th Attack Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade is no stranger to Camp Humphreys. Born Kim Chang-Joong, he was raised near Pyeongtaek, and grew up with visions of flying helicopters one day. His journey to his current position as an Apache pilot has taken him from the heights of South Korean Aviation, all the way across the world to America, working full time for a food distributor while going to school and raising a Family, and finally back to the skies as a pilot for the U.S. Army.
During the 1990s, ROK Army Capt. Kim served as a pilot for the 109th Aviation Unit and operated three different types of helicopters. After nearly 350 hours of flight experience in the ROK Army and seven years of service, he decided to move his Family to the United States so that he could further envelop his love for aviation at an American university.
However, settling down in America was not easy for Kim's Family. The language barrier was a big issue and the exchange rate between the Korean won and American dollar became a serious problem due to the ongoing International Monetary Fund crisis in South Korea. With all of the aforementioned issues already on his plate, Kim received bad news: his son was extremely sick and had to undergo a delicate heart operation.
Due to the urgent circumstances surrounding his son's surgery, Kim decided to relocate his Family to Los Angeles to afford his son the best surgical care possible. Unfortunately, in order to make the move feasible, Kim had to make the decision to forego admission at Southern Illinois University.
Remarkably, Kim's son recovered in only six months and their Family was able to move to Houston, where he was able to attend Houston Community College. While attending school, Kim worked at a local food distribution company and took care of his Family while bottled up with an unquenchable thirst to one day return to the air.
Following his introduction to the U.S. Army during basic and advanced individual training, Kim got his first look at U.S. Army aviation with the 25th Aviation Brigade out of Hawaii.
About a year later, Kim finally saw his first opportunity to return to the skies as a pilot of a U.S. Army aircraft. His warrant officer candidacy was accepted and he completed the necessary warrant officer flight training. Upon graduation from the Army's Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Ala., things finally came full circle for Kim when he was assigned to not only his native country of South Korea, but merely a couple of miles down the road from where he grew up in Pyeongtaek.
His experience as a pilot for both the U.S. and ROK Armies allows Kim to serve as a liaison officer facilitating communication between the ROK and 4-2nd Avn. during missions.
His bilingual nature allows him to strengthen ties between American Soldiers and the Korean community by coordinating events through the Good Neighbor Program and serving as a Status of Forces Agreement representative to help American Soldiers with legal problems.
"Matthew Kim is a company asset as well as a battalion asset. His ability to communicate both in English and Korean proves to be an excellent benefit on many occasions as a liaison when dealing with ROK Army officers," said Capt. Matthew R. Taylor, commander of B Co., 4-2nd Avn., 2nd CAB. In his capacity as the company's safety officer, Kim is able to inform the company commander on safety-related issues and always has the answers or knows where to find pertinent information for any issues that come up, he said.
Recently, Kim was selected to become a pilot in command.
"His abilities as an excellent aviator and his experience as a Korean pilot have allowed him to be selected for pilot in command in only 14 months," said Taylor.
Kim is currently an aviation safety officer and an AH-64 Apache Longbow pilot with 4-2nd Avn. at Camp Humphreys. He was recently selected for Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. He will be the first U.S. Army commissioned officer who formerly served in the ROK Army as an officer. Following OCS this fall, Kim will become a second lieutenant.
Kim has raised the bar by working to become the first person to formerly serve as a ROK Army officer and then make the transition to the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer. After completing OCS, Kim is unsure of where he will be stationed or what he will be doing, but for him there is one thing he can be sure of.
"I will do my best to complete my missions as an Apache pilot in command. As an officer, I would like to help Soldiers and other officers by giving them counseling. Moreover, I am willing to support the ROK Army so that we can enhance the friendship between ROK and U.S. Armies," he said.