By Gary SheftickJune 1, 2016
FORT MEADE, Md. (Army News Service) -- 1st Lt. Yeeun C. Youn is in Normandy, France, this week, overseeing logistics for the task force helping commemorate the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.
"June 6, 1944, is a date that will be forever remembered," she said. On that day, 156,000 allied troops landed on five beaches in Normandy, fought their way through mine fields and scaled steep cliffs stubbornly defended by the Germans. There were more than 10,000 casualties, but a beachhead was gained.
"There are events in history that continue to amaze and inspire future generations," Youn said, explaining that D-Day is one of those.
Some of the surviving veterans of that offensive will return to Normandy this week, one last time, to remember that day. They will see elements of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions re-enact the mass jump into Caen, June 5, with Soldiers from the 173rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 425th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and other units. Not far from their drop zone at Sainte Mere Eglise is a life support area, or LSA, that Youn helped establish for the U.S. forces.
About 350 U.S. service members are with Youn on the task force maintaining the LSA and helping with a week of events that include ceremonies on Utah Beach and on top of the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc. There are 29 ceremonies in all scattered across Normandy, she said.
Youn helped arrange the bus contract that will take Soldiers to those ceremonies. She is also managing the tent contract, the food catering contract and the ones for the showers and portable restroom facilities. She's making sure all the logistics run smooth at the LSA.
The D-day anniversary is the biggest event she's had to support so far, with a lot of moving pieces. But it's no problem for her, she said, as she considers herself to be very detail-oriented.
"If you give me a task, I'll do it, and I won't give an excuse," she said. "I'll just find out ways to accomplish it."
Although Youn was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, her family returned to Korea when she was 8 years old. She attended an international Christian school in Uijeongbu near Camp Red Cloud.
She played piano, the cello, and did taekwondo.
Her high school chemistry teacher, retired Col. Wayne Kirkbride, was an alumni of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and Youn said she admired his discipline, compassion and dedication.
"He was my mentor," she said. "He was a very great example to me and a role model."
Kirkbride suggested that she apply to West Point, so she did. She was accepted and attended the school from 2009 to 2013.
She still considers Seoul her hometown though. Her parents, brother, grandparents and cousins are still there in Korea. Aside from family, her favorite thing about Seoul is the public transportation, the subway. "You can go anywhere, anytime," she said. "It's so easy."
When she was young, Youn said she wanted to become a doctor. Her grandmother had a stroke 26 years ago and is still in a coma, Youn said.
"When I was a kid, that really had a big impact on me," she said. She figured if she went to medical school, she might be able to help. And she's still considering it. What she'd really like to do now is become a medical doctor for the armed forces, she said.
After she graduated West Point, Youn went to the Basic Officer Leaders Course at Fort Lee, Virginia, and became a quartermaster officer.
She has been in Germany for more than two years now. First she was a platoon leader and then executive officer for the 317th Support Maintenance Company in Baumholder. She moved to Wiesbaden in September to serve in the U.S. Army Europe headquarters.
The key to leadership for her is respect.
"If you are able to respect all the people around you, you'll know how to handle yourself and how to communicate to other people," she said. "It's all about communication."
It's also important to be able to listen to what others are saying, she said, "and value them as a person."
In Germany, she has tried to take advantage of any time off to tour Europe. "All the four-day weekends, I just go to see Europe."
She's been to Poland, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Spain and Croatia. She's been all over Germany, and now she's in France.
"This whole D-day commemoration" is her biggest challenge to date, she said. She's working close with the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and 409th Combat Support Brigade in Kaiserslautern to make the logistics happen.
She supervises the sustainment team on the mayor's cell. She attends meetings to make sure the LSA is looking good, to make sure nothing is wrong and to maintain the life support area.
A lot of pre-planning went into the logistics, she said. She participated in onsite pre-planning visits to Normandy in December and again in February. Now she's excited to see it all come together.
"I can't wait ... to see everything rolling," she said.
The World War II veterans are all heroes, she said. "We want to make sure we remember and honor them," Youn said. "We never want to forget."