By Capt. Kelly McKenzie (2d ID)November 13, 2013
SEOUL, Korea -- A team of 18 Soldiers from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division completed the JoongAng Seoul Marathon together in Seoul, South Korea Nov. 3.
Capt. Robert E. Auletta, A Battery commander, heard about the marathon from his partner Republic of Korea Army officer. He decided to sign up and encouraged others in his command to join him as a way to build camaraderie.
"My intent to run the marathon was to get out and see the community and our neighbors," said Auletta, a native of Massapequa, N.Y. "I have been in Korea for a while and I wanted to get out with our hosts, get some good exercise, and see the community as a whole."
Auletta enlisted the help of Sgt. 1st Class Rhett D. Massey, a multiple launch rocket system platoon sergeant from Longview, Texas, to train volunteers from his unit for the race. Of the 19 Soldiers attempting the course, only Massey was an experienced marathon runner.
The training regimen included Sunday runs along the local river near Camp Casey, the unit's home station. While some Soldiers were initially reluctant to sign up, they developed strong motivation through team training.
"I am not big on running, but I wanted to do something special and memorable," said Pfc. Lee Ji-hoon, a Korean Augmentation to U.S. Army Soldier from Seoul and a fire direction specialist with A Battery.
During the long Sunday practice runs, if any member of the team fell behind, other Soldiers would carry them so the team stayed together. The encouragement and teamwork motivated the Soldiers to succeed.
As the last Soldier from A Battery crossed the finish line of the race, the group shouted their unit motto, "Lightning Strikes!" After months of preparing, the Soldiers achieved their ultimate goal, to finish the marathon as a team.
A Battery marathon team:
Capt. Robert E. Auletta, A Battery commander, Massapequa, N.Y.
Sgt. 1st Class Rhett D. Massey, platoon sergeant, Longview, Texas
1st Lt. James Becker, A Battery executive officer, Cumming, Ga.
1st Lt. Edward Crowe, platoon leader, Saint Marys, Pa.
1st Lt. Madison Sumpter, B Battery, 1st Bn., 38th FA Regt. executive officer, Montgomery, Ala.
1st Lt. Joshua Sumpter, battalion adjutant, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
2nd Lt. Brian Sears, platoon leader, Waynesville, N.C.
Staff Sgt. James Janda, fire direction chief, Houston, Texas
Sgt. Christopher Betances-Leblanc, display operator, Union Grove, Wis.
Sgt. Nathaniel Fisher, display operator, Suffolk, Va.
Sgt. Joseph Houde, 6th Bn., 37th FA Regt. schools NCO, St. Johnsbury, Vt.
Spc. Matthew Burian, multiple launch rocket system gunner, Wayne, N.J.
Spc. Jacob Ritchie, fire direction specialist, Pikeville, N.C.
Spc. Anthony Ford-Richardson, multiple launch rocket system gunner, Kauffman, Texas
Pfc. William Knighten, fire direction specialist, Mount Airy, N.C.
Pfc. Matthew Gonzales, fire direction specialist, Lajara, Colo.
Pfc. Keith Harley, fire direction specialist, Scranton, Pa.
Pfc. Dalton Lopez, fire direction specialist, Wichita Falls, Texas
Pfc. Lee, Ji Hoon, fire direction specialist, Seoul, Korea