By Cpl. Jihoon JungNovember 25, 2013
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - The Religious Retreat Center, located 2.5 miles from U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, was decommissioned during a solemn ceremony, Nov. 21.
The RRC served military members and their families for decades, and will continue serving the Area II community from its new home at the South Post Chapel.
Following the Korean War in 1953, U.S. Army chaplains searched for a retreat location for their soldiers. They ultimately received permission from the Korean government to use a site which was previously a Buddhist shrine. The shrine was respectfully transformed into what became known as the RRC.
"The RRC served the community as a place to conduct retreats," said Cpl. Jung Jaehee, an administrative specialist who worked there since 2012. "An annual average of over three thousand soldiers, family members and other authorized personnel visited the RRC chapel for comfort and to find peace. I think this ceremony is an opportunity for us to look back at what the RRC has done for us and remember it."
The ceremony was highlighted by the many chaplains who attended to honor the history of religious service there. Chaplain Lt. Col. Stanley. E. Whitten, a former commander of the RRC, spoke of his feelings about the RRC closing its doors.
"When I first got here, people told me that I had the authority to give out [command] coins. Although, I was not able to use all those coins, during my three years of service in the RRC, it is a memory that I cannot forget," Whitten said. "There was rain, and there was snow. It was not an easy come-and-see job to manage this chapel. But what held me up was the pleasure watching people receive spiritual comfort through many programs of the RRC. Now that it is being decommissioned, I am sure that I will miss it. However, everything has its time to perish and as RRC [on this site] has met its time, and we commemorate [its service]."
Whitten's comments were followed by the transfer of the RRC bell and a prayer for continued service to the community and positivity for the future.
The newly relocated RRC at South Post Chapel of USAG Yongsan began providing services in October 2013. In keeping with the RRC's tradition it offers the finest religious functions. Meanwhile, the land previously occupying the RRC is being returned to the Korean government as a part of the Area II transformation plan.