By Mr. Mark Steven Hoover (IMCOM)April 18, 2013
CAMP HUMPHREYS -- As they do each and every day -- whether it is in the motor pool, orderly room or field environment -- Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Soldiers worked and played together, side-by-side, during the 2013 KATUSA-U.S. Friendship Week activities, which began Monday in Zoeckler Gym and conclude today.
During most other weeks of the year, especially in the evenings, you will find KATUSA Soldiers usually playing soccer games against each other, while their American counterparts are playing softball, basketball or flag football. But, for this one week, "We Go Together" has a greater meaning, when they combine to compete against other units in several sports.
"Today is special, because we officially kick-off a week of friendly competition, camaraderie and fun, with our annual KATUSA-U.S. Friendship event," said Brig. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the 2nd Infantry Division deputy commanding general support and the senior responsible officer for Camp Humphreys.
"During the next few days, you will be tested and challenged in a number of sporting events and activities," he said. "And remember, no matter how heated the competition or tough the opponent during this week, we are friends and we are comrades."
KATUSA Soldiers have been serving with the U.S. Army in Korea for more than 60 years. The program was born in 1952, during the early days of the Korean War, when then General of the Army Douglas MacArthur and Korean President Rhee Seung-man, formed the KATUSA program to augment U.S. Army units here.
At its peak, in 1952, 27,000 KATUSA Soldiers fought side-by-side with the Americans. After the war, the number of KATUSAs was reduced to today's total of about 3,500. Following the opening remarks, the morning featured a performance by the Republic of Korea Army Honor Guard, traditional folk songs and instrument performances and a talent show. After lunch, various Korean music artists performed.
Tuesday through Thursday morning, teams competed in soccer, softball, basketball, volleyball, Korean wrestling, arm wrestling and relay races. On Thursday afternoon, they attended the Korean Culture Experience.
"I believe this week is a good opportunity to show my U.S. comrades, who don't know much about Korean culture, what we are all about," said Cpl. Park Jin-sol, the Senior KATUSA for C Company, 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. "It is also an opportunity for us to get out from the routine work and have downtime. Moreover, both KATUSA and U.S. Soldiers have a good time together throughout this event week. So, I think it is very meaningful."
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Leon Mcbeth, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 304th ESB said, "It's a good experience to play sports with the KATUSAs during this friendship week. Since I'm from Ireland, we play a lot of soccer. This is also good to have a chance to get to know each other's culture and interests in sports. It was a good experience and fun camaraderie."