By Pfc. Dasol Choi
1st ABCT Public Affairs, 1st Cav. Div.
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea - A few Soldiers deployed for nine months to South Korea got the opportunity to talk with their hometown mayor May 4.
Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and natives of Michigan, shared their experiences with Southfield, Michigan, Mayor Kenson Siver at the Thunder Inn Dining Facility at Camp Casey.
Siver was in the area visiting Southfield's "sister city," Dongducheon City, South Korea, and was joined at the dining facility by Dongducheon's Mayor, Sechang Oh. Southfield has a population of more than 73,000 people; Dongducheon had more than 82,000 residents according to a 2006 census.
Siver and his delegates, after visiting local universities, libraries, businesses and the War Memorial of Korea, were escorted to Camp Casey by Mayor Oh and other Dongducheon City officials.
After a briefing on the security situation in Korea by Brig. Gen. Brian Mennes, deputy commanding general for maneuver, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division, to Dongducheon and Michigan officials. As a part of Siver's visit to Camp Casey, six U.S. Soldiers and one Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army from 1st ABCT were invited to a luncheon.
The "sister cities" relationship is based on a memorandum of understanding between Dongducheon City, South Korea; and Southfield, Mich. The nearby military community at Camp Casey and Camp Hovey play an important part for both cities.
"The meeting was very informative for me," said Sgt. Kyle Mexicotte, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st ABCT. "It's good to see our city government partnering with Dongducheon and reaching out."
As Soldiers talked with civilian officials from Michigan, they were able to share their military experiences in South Korea.
"It is important for people to know what different places in the world are like, and what kind of things Soldiers are experiencing overseas," said Pfc. Nicholas Condron, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st ABCT. "The partnership is an important change in the culture."
Siver highlighted out the importance of the military mission in South Korea.
"Meeting with Soldiers from Michigan capped off a great visit with our South Korean partners," said Mayor Siver. "With the threat of North Korea, the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea is very important."
The Southfield mayor said the trip to Dongducheon gave him a better understanding of the concerns of some of his citizens back home.
"With a large population of Korean Americans in Michigan, I'm leaving with better understanding of the U.S. presence in South Korea," said Mayor Siver.
Siver and his delegation, including members of the city council and a district judge, arrived in South Korea on May 1 and signed the sister cities partnership agreement on May 2. Dongducheon City has partnered with the city of Southfield, Mich., since September 2013.