OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Soldiers travelled to the United Nations First Battle Memorial in Osan, April 23, 2016 to meet with local Korean War veterans to discuss their stories of resiliency and learn more about the Battle of Jukmiryeong and the legacy of Task Force Smith.
The trip is one of two planned resiliency trips for students in the Patriot Master Gunner Course being held at 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade headquarters, here.
"When Soldiers are stationed in distant places overseas, it's important for them to understand what brought them here." 35th ADA Brigade Chaplain, Maj. Christopher Offen, said. "Today's event brought history to life for them."
Prior to the trip, many of the Soldiers had never met a veteran of the Korean War or had heard the story of TF Smith. For some, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage with these battle-seasoned warriors who helped secure freedom for the Republic of Korea.
"I was impressed to see how passionate these gentlemen were in regards to being a veteran," said Sgt. 1st Class Didric Miller, the Operations Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 6th Battalion, 52nd ADA Regiment. "It really illustrated for me how important the alliance is and why we are still here today."
Many of the veterans shared stories of their hardships during the war, where many lacked uniforms, weapons and other supplies to repel the communist invasion forces.
"Bringing their experiences to light, allowed us to see that we take our own readiness for granted," said Staff Sgt. Robert Young, a PMG student assigned to HHB, 1-1 ADA in Okinawa, Japan. "These men went into battle with nothing; readiness needs to be at the front of our minds at all times."
The veterans were paired in groups of two while Soldiers rotated between the groups to hear stories from the veterans and ask questions about their service in the Korean War.
Eung Chae Koh, a local Osan resident and ROK Marine veteran who fought alongside U.S. Marines at the Battle of Dosol Mountain, was one of the veterans who participated in the event.
"Today, I had an opportunity to share my story with these Soldiers so that they could learn about things they didn't get the chance to experience and I enjoyed it very much," Koh said. "Our alliance was forged a very long time ago and we are so appreciative for the partnership that we still share today."
This gratitude forged on a battlefield over 60 years ago, resonated with Soldiers as well.
"These veterans really appreciate our involvement in the Korean War," Young said. "Their experiences are engrained into who they are."
Illustrating how warriors can return from combat and remain ready and resilient was part of the reason these PMG students travelled to Osan.
"These Soldiers have been doing some pretty intense training," Offen said. "Today was a way for them to continue that training while building esprit de corps and being able to see the reason for that training with lessons learned from TF Smith."
Following the engagement, Soldiers toured the UN Forces First Battle Memorial Museum and learned more about the early days of the Korean War and the hardships endured by TF Smith.
The UN Forces First Battle Memorial offers free admission to the public and is open 7 days a week from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.osan.go.kr/family/un-fw.