By Sgt. 1st Class Vincent AbrilJanuary 9, 2014
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Area III Republic of Korea Army Support Group commander, Maj. Soon Keun Hong, relinquished command Dec. 23, 2013 to incoming commander, Maj. Seung Gon Park, in the MP Hill Fitness Center at Camp Humphreys.
Hong, a native of Seoul, South Korea provided leadership and direction to all Korean Augmentees to the United States Army assigned to Area III for the past year. His reputation working to enhance support to U.S. commanders and the local community earned him praise by the Eighth United States Army ROKA Support Group commander, Col. Suk-Jae Lee, during the change of command ceremony here.
"Maj. Hong has maintained strong combat support readiness ensuring the successful operation of the combined forces through continuous liaison work with the Eighth United States Army," said Lee. "He also planned and supported various ROK-U.S. friendship events and formulated a detailed wartime KATUSA management plan."
Lee went on to praise Hong for establishing positive relationships with the local community by providing English classes to children of low-income and multi-cultural families while starting various programs for the disabled and senior citizens who live alone.
Hong earned a positive reputation as the Area III ROKA Support Group commander but is perhaps better known for his service as the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade's ROKA Support Group commander during his tenure from July 2011- Nov. 2012 where he led KATUSA's assigned to the aviation brigade. Known as a motivated commander, Hong never hesitated to include U.S. Soldiers in KATUSA training such as his regular quarterly ruck marches. His contributions to the effectiveness of teamwork between U.S. and KATUSA Soldiers were well received by senior leaders within the brigade.
"Major Hong's was such a great guy to work with and I feel he represents the true meaning of [we go together]," said 1st Sgt. Mark A. Bedwell with Company B, 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd CAB and native of Broken Arrow, Okla. "His leadership and dedication to the KATUSA's and U.S. Soldiers is a key component to the continued strengthening of our Alliance and I will certainly never forget what he has done for 2nd CAB and Camp Humphreys."
During his drive to ensuring the Alliance remains strong, Hong placed a strong emphasis on reaching out to U.S. Soldiers while conditioning and mentoring the KATUSA's under his direction by instilling pride and a sense of purpose in them.
"KATUSA's, you are the representatives of a 75-yearlong ROK-U.S. combined force," said Hong during his final remarks during the ceremony. "The rapidly changing situation in north Korea is threatening the safety of our nation and there could be a provocation at any unexpected moment. In such a reality, KATUSA's become more important as they show the unity of the ROK-U.S. Allied Forces. KATUSA's should engrave the true meaning of their existence and place the ROK-U.S. Alliance in your hearts to further strengthen this combined force."
Park, a native of Jeonju, South Korea, supersedes Hong and has vowed to dedicate himself to the mission he inherited. Hong will move on to another position in the ROK Army as he continues to serve his country and soldiers.