Environmental superstars in South Korea honored by Yongsan Directorate of Public Works
March 30, 2012
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea (March 30, 2012) -- U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan Directorate of Public Works, Environmental Division is dedicated to the stewardship of USAG Yongsan's natural resources and Community outreach.
The hard work of the DPW personnel was highlighted during the quarterly Environmental Quality Control Committee, or EQCC, meeting, March 29.
Environmental Protection Specialist Kwon O-pong was among the honorees. The 72-year-old will retire this month, after serving Yongsan Garrison for 27 years. According to William Rogers, DPW Environmental Division chief, Kwon is a jack of all environmental trades.
"He is the oldest and most energetic among our staff," Rogers said. "He is dedicated to the protection of the Garrison's natural environment."
In his nearly three decades of service, Kwon worked in Hazardous Waste Management, Environmental Compliance and most recently in Cultural and Natural Resources.
"I am an old man. I know the history of Korea -- the history of Japanese occupation," Kwon explained. "When the Korean War broke out, I was 10-years-old. Most of the younger generation don't care or know about cultural resources and history. They only know English and mathematics. They should know our history."
As a testament to his tireless dedication, even though he will be retired, Kwon will return during Earth Week celebrations next month to lead two Cultural and Natural Resource tours on post April 21.
Spcs. Matthew Vela and Lawrence Go, both of Alpha Company 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion, were recognized for going above and beyond in their roles as Environmental Officers.
"With little oversight from their NCOs, since Jan. 2011 these Soldiers performed superbly in their unit's semi-annual inspections," Environmental Protection Specialist Robin Gaines said. "They set the standard for excellence. I can count on them to ensure compliance with proper storage, disposal and documentation."
Also honored at the EQCC was the Hazardous Material Control Center (HazMart) team led by Mark Jolin. HazMart saved Area II nearly $65,000 in costs and disposal avoidance last fiscal year by recycling used antifreeze, and by extending the shelf-life of materials such as paints, petroleum, oil and lubricants.
A spotlight during the EQCC was DPW, Environmental Division's recent Green Neighbor Initiative. DPW plans to build on the success of February's Environmental Awareness Seminar to continue reaching out to younger Koreans -- the nation's future environmental leaders.
"Our focus is on educating the generation 'now'," Gaines said. "The college and graduate students who visited during the seminar said we were very misunderstood. They didn't know what was going on behind our walls, and they left very impressed with our various environmental stewardship programs."
Also highlighted at the quarterly meeting were preparations for Earth Week celebrations April 14-22. Plans include a 5K Fun Run/ Walk and Earth Day Essay Contest. Stay tuned to Facebook and the marquees for more information on Earth Week events.