Sky Dragons build lasting friendship with ROK Army during UFG
The U.S. Army XVIII Airborne Corps celebrated its 68th birthday Aug. 25 with some of its closest friends, the Third ROK Army. Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commanding general XVIII Airborne Corps (left), shares the cake cutting ceremonies with Pvt. Carlos Martes (center) and Gen. Lee Hong-kee.

CAMP YONGIN, South Korea - The XVIII Airborne Corps "Sky Dragons" were officially greeted by the Third Republic of Korea Army as they launched the beginning of Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2012 here on Aug 24.

"With the symbolic slogan 'We Go Together,' the two forces readied themselves for a week of military exercises and comradeship. The slogan was actually a promise made by Gen. Douglas MacArthur to General Paik Sun-yup in the Korean War, which symbolizes the undying bond between the Korean people and the U.S.

While the TROKA band played military music, Allyn passed in review and inspected the ROK Soldiers in attendance and presented his staff to his TROKA counterpart.

The OPCON ceremony was celebrated at TROKA headquarters, and a baton was handed by Gen. Lee Hong-kee, TROKA commanding general, to Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps, symbolizing a passing of operational control to the Sky Dragons for this exercise.

Allyn and his paratroopers were greeted as true comrades by their Korean hosts as they gathered to prepare for the annual training exercise known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian. This is one of two Combined Forces Command exercises held here annually to promote cooperation and security among a host of participating nations. The exercise seeks to sharpen skills and strengthen the bonds that have existed for more than 62-years between South Korea and the U.S.

UFG 2012 is named after the famous Korean general "Ulchi" of the 7th century. His heroic stance against Chinese invaders at the time earned him a permanent place in Korean history and his legacy continues even today with this exercise.

After the formal military ceremony, the two staffs attended a dinner in honor of the continued friendship and partnership between South Korea and the U.S and in specific between TROKA and the XVIII Airborne Corps.

The TROKA commanding general and his staff sponsored the exquisite dinner, which also included several live traditional Korean musical performances as well as several American favorites.

Members of the Korean Army serenaded the crowd and moved them with a dynamic rendition of traditional Korean percussion music called Mo-deum-bouk. But one of the highlights of the evening was a rendition of the song "We Go Together," composed by a U.S. Soldier. The song symbolizes the strong bonds between the two militaries and is a tangible sign of the partnership and mutual respect that exists between the two countries.

Two ROK Soldiers, Pfc. Chung Ji-won and Cpl. You Min-jae sang the duet paying tribute to the comradeship that has existed since before the Korean War.

Another highpoint of the evening were the toasts offered by the two militaries, symbolizing the continuous building of lasting relationships between the two armies.

Lee spoke fondly of America's commitment to South Korea and especially the bond that has been steadily building for more than 62-years between the two respective militaries. He had special high hopes and praise for this exercise and for the paratroopers from Fort Bragg.

"I toast for the solid development of the alliance and complete victory over the 2012 UFG exercise and additionally for the glory of the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps … We Go Together," said Lee.

He added, "We can further enhance the ROK-U.S. Alliance as I work with General Allyn and his major staff members, sharing in sincere comradeship."

"There is a Korean proverb that states, 'A great leader only yields a great follower,' I believe this proverb perfectly applies to the case of General Allyn and his service members. General Allyn, thank you again for your outstanding leadership as a torch for your men and women," said Lee.

Moved by the graciousness of the evening, Allyn said, "… a very special bond exists between the two armies, which will show the teamwork on the battle field."

"For the last 60 years, we have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with this great nation, we will continue to stand alongside," said Allyn.

In his closing remark, Allyn recalled the fondness and sentiment he shares for this country, "This event shows me again what I learned 25 years ago, that no one can match the hospitality of the Korean people."

Page last updated Wed August 29th, 2012 at 00:00