By Staff Sgt. Carlos R. Davis, 210th Fires Brigade Public AffairsJuly 17, 2013
POCHEON, South Korea -- What started as a simple mission to set up a couple of military vehicles and answer basic questions from spectators turned out to be a whirlwind turn-of-events for two Soldiers assigned to Battery C, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Spc. Armando Avila, from San Diego, Calif., a multiple launch rocket system crewmember, and Spc. Anthony Strauch, from Hazlehurst, Ga., a multiple launch rocket system operations and fire direction specialist, assisted local citizens to extinguish a house fire at the Ottogi Festival in Ildong, Pocheon June 8.
"On the second day while we were there, Strauch and I were with our counterpart, Cpl. Jo, a Republic of Korea Army soldier assigned to the 8th Division, and we were walking down the festival looking at the displays and tents," said Avila. "While we were walking, we saw a big cloud of black smoke, fresh black smoke, and a firefighter running towards it. So my natural instinct was to follow and see if we could help."
Avila and Strauch sprang into action and helped out where they were needed.
"We wanted to make sure everyone was okay," said Avila. "The flames were growing. The house was burning quickly. Everyone around didn't know what to do. Women were crying and everyone else was just watching. So we started telling everyone to get back. The biggest thing was to get the children back away from the smoke and flames."
The U.S. and ROK Soldiers assessed the situation as they worked together to contain the fire.
"I'm thankful we had Jo with us at the time," said Avila. "He was translating everything we said to the people; it was amazing how we worked together."
Avila and Strauch believe the Korean people would have done the same for Americans; for anyone in the same situation.
"It was the right thing to do," Avila said. "Being here is like being part of a family, and I believe they would do the same for us."
As members of the U.S. and ROK Alliance, the Soldiers were able to show the local population their commitment to this country's safety. Strauch added he would gladly do it again if he needed too.
A mission that was supposed to be just a simple static display turned out to be a story that these brave Soldiers can tell for a lifetime.
"Once we felt like everything was under control, we walked away and returned to our static display," said Avila. "We took pictures with the citizens, answered questions about the MLRS, and pretty much tried to build a positive relationship with them."