Korean Peninsula Missile Defenders of the Year
January 8, 2013
YONGSAN - A banquet was held here November 9 to honor the peninsula's best crews selected by the inaugural Missile Defender of the Year Competition including troops from both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea.
Three-time Superbowl champion, Riki Ellison, of the San Francisco 49ers, and founder of the non-profit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, hosted the event at the Dragon Hill Lodge here.
The competition included missile defense crew drills as well as core soldier skills such as rifle marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat and a physical fitness test. Contestants also took a written exam to assess their knowledge.
Teamwork was the spirit of the evening, from the opening toasts of, "We go together," or "Kaptchi Kapshida" in Korean, to Ellison's closing remarks.
"What we are doing is bringing our two nations' militaries even closer together as a world champion fighting force," said Ellison.
Patriot crews from the U.S. Army's 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade as well as the R.O.K. Air Force's 2nd Air Defense Artillery Brigade competed in the three-day competition Oct. 28 -- 30.
The Patriot Missile System is employed throughout the world by the U.S. and its allies as defense from airborne threats.
Defense is key to winning wars, just like Superbowl championships, as it provides the offense with "opportunities without repercussions," said Ellison.
Winners from each nation were selected in two categories, the engagement control system and launcher system crew.
The former is the "brains" of the system, sending commands to the missile launcher while the former is the "brawn," actually moving, emplacing and maintaining the launcher to ensure its effectiveness on the battlefield.
The Korean winners were Capt. Young Jin Ju, 1st Lt. Yeong-il Gwon, Senior Master Sgt. Young Bum Kim, Master Sgt. Jung Woo Lee and Technical Sgt. Si Han Kim.
The U.S. winners were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicole K. Hudgens, Sgt. Kinsey A. Harral, Sgt. Bryan S. Seymour, Spc. Joshua L. Francis and Pvt. 1st Class Joseph Little Moon Hernandez.
The winners, each with a guest, were transported from Osan Air Base to Yongsan where they toured the Korean National War Museum. They performed a wreath-laying ceremony there before preparing for the banquet that evening.
The MDAA is a non-partisan organization that seeks to expand public awareness and garner support for missile defense activities for both the U.S. and its allies, according to the group's website.