SEOUL, Republic of Korea -- Army Garrison commands throughout the Eighth Army footprint hosted athletics, recreation and cultural events as part of the 2015 KATUSA-U.S. Soldier Friendship Week from April 13-17.

This year's friendship week, is the 39th annual edition for the celebration intended to build esprit de corps and camaraderie amongst American Soldiers and Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army, commonly referred to as "KATUSAs".

Throughout the weeks festivities attendees competed in a wide variety of sporting events and were treated to Korean Pop music, martial arts performances, and authentic Korean food.

Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. Bernard Champoux wrapped up the week-long festivities at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul by addressing Soldiers and KATUSAs on the importance of the friendships shared between Korean augmentees and their American counterparts.

"The time spent between KATUSAs and U.S. Soldiers promotes a mutual understanding of both of our nation's cultures, customs, and histories," said Champoux, "and through that experience we develop a common bond that ties us together for life."

"No other country in the world voluntarily allows their sons to serve under the command of a foreign military," Champoux continued. "That the Republic of Korea has done so for over six decades is a testament to the level of cooperation that exists between our two nations."

Also speaking during the ceremony, Yongsan Garrison Commander, Col. Maria Eoff congratulated participants and encouraged them to carry on the esprit de corps that they had established as they return to their normal duty positions.

"You should be proud of your accomplishments this past week," said Eoff. "I challenge you to carry that pride with you as you continue to serve side-by-side in the defense of freedom on the Korean peninsula."

Earlier this year, Eighth Army established the Staff Sergeant Kim, Sang-Won Distinguished Former KATUSA of the Year Award as a way to highlight the important role that KATUSAs play in the U.S.-ROK Alliance.

Chairman Yoon, Yoon-Soo, the CEO of Fila and the Acushnet Company, was the inaugural awardee for his lifelong efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and South Korea and his support to the Eighth Army Good Neighbor Program.