CAMP HOVEY, South Korea - In 1950, when retired Col. Jong-hwan Lee was 17, his countrymen were fleeing Seoul and other northern cities from advancing communist forces.
After spending five days in basic training and firing only five bullets during that training, the young Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army, Pfc. Lee, was assigned as a cannon crew member to Battery A, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
He started as the loader, or the "number one man," on a howitzer and would eventually rise in responsibility to gunner.
"I remember seeing so many artillery rounds at the battle of the Naktong River, and I was one of the ones helping load and fire the artillery," said Lee, through an interpreter.
This week about 200 Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment "Dragon," 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, added to Dragon history by firing the first rounds in Korea since the unit was last here during the Korean War.
Crews manning M109A6 Paladins fired 155 mm rounds to certify crews and fire direction control teams. But the gunnery was about more than certifications.
"It helps Soldiers connect with the history of the unit and all those who went before them," said Lt. Col. Douglas Hayes, commander, 1st Battalion, 82nd FA. "It's also special when you have Col. Lee visit and talk to troops and tell all of his stories while he was a Korean augmentee with the 82nd Field Artillery during the War."
The Dragon commander has his own personal connection to Korea.
"My grandfather, retired Col. Douglas Hutchens, during the Korean War was a lieutenant," said Hayes. "He was an aerial observer. He liked flying so much that after the war he went to flight school and became a pilot."
On July 18, 1950, the 82nd FA came ashore with 1st Cavalry Division and helped halt the advance of North Korean forces at the Pusan Defensive Line to defend the Korean Peninsula.
Their actions in the defense of the Pusan Line would earn the Dragons the "Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation" during the battle at Taegu, South Korea.
Today that history continues on. Much like Lee, Cpl. Tae-young Cho with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 82nd FA, is also becoming a "number one man" on a Howitzer with the 82nd FA.
"It is very awesome," said Cho. "It feels like I'm in our history."