By Jim Cunningham IMCOM KOREAFebruary 25, 2009
PAN MUN JOM, South Korea - In an act that could be construed as an act of staunch resolve, Pvt. Keith Bell and Pfc. Jasmine Bell took the Army re-enlistment oath Feb. 24 on the 'Bridge of No Return' located in the Demilitarized Zone.
They took an oath swearing to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic on one of the most contested pieces of land on earth, while North Korean soldiers looked on. Although they are not the first to do so in recent history, they are the first Army couple.
"Re-enlisting here is actually different from just taking the oath in our office," Pfc. Jasmine Bell said. "When we learned we could re-enlist at the DMZ we decided to do so because it was unusual. It is a once in a lifetime thing to do."
Not only are the couple newly re-enlisting in the Army, they are also newlyweds.
"We have been married for 10 months now," Keith Bell said. "We plan to re-enlist next year on the DMZ again."
Re-enlistments on the DMZ have been done in the past, but not promoted well enough to get the attention of most Soldiers serving in South Korea, said Command Sgt. Maj. John Justice, Command Sgt. Maj. of the Joint Security Area.
"I sent out an e-mail with photos of the first re-enlistment on the bridge I did toward the end of last July," Justice said, "mostly to every Sgt. Major on the peninsula, and my Sgt. Major class. It continued from there."
Since the re-enlistments on the bridge started, more than 60 Soldiers have re-enlisted. Weather conditions do not make much difference to the Soldiers when they go to re-enlist.
"We did a lot of re-enlistments when it was very cold," Justice said. "We did one two Fridays ago and it was below zero and the wind was blowing. That was rough."
For Soldiers in theater, re-enlisting on the Bridge of No Return is a very unique thing to do, Justice said. One thing is for sure, it is a hotly contested area for a Soldier to show his resolve and dedication to his country.
"You can't re-enlist like this anywhere else," Justice said.
"Nowhere else can you re-enlist on the Bridge of No Return. This is good publicity for the boys at Pan Mun Jom. We are trying to let everyone know there are still U.S. Soldiers on the DMZ. This not only shows the Army working as a team within itself, it also shows the Army works as a team with other freedom loving countries within the United Nations.