USAG YONGSAN - The KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army) program is the embodiment of the ROK-U.S. alliance. In commemoration of 60 years of that powerful partnership, the 2017 KATUSA & U.S. Soldier Friendship Week took place April 17-21 at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, Humphreys and Red Cloud.
The KATUSA program was initiated in July 1950, during the Korean War with the agreement between South Korean president Synghman Rhee and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Since then, KATUSA has become an important part of the U.S. Army stationed in Korea.
The Area II ROKA Support Group organized and supported the 2017 KUSFW, facilitating unit cohesion and fostering cultural understanding between the two countries. During the week, KATUSA and U.S. soldiers who are exemplary models for ROK-US alliance received Best Friends Awards. Representatives from both parts swore the ROK&U.S. Friendship Oath as hundreds of KATUSA and U.S. Soldiers witnessed. Ensuing performance, by a ROK Ministry of National Defense Drill Team and ROKA Special Forces Martial Arts captured the attention of the crowd.
"The Area II ROKA Support Group and USAG Yongsan have been hosting the annual KATUSA-U.S. Soldier Friendship Week to validate the one-of-a-kind friendship shared between KATUSAs and U.S. Army Service Members," said Lt. Col. Kim, Young-hun, Commander of Area II ROKA Support Group. "This week's slogan is "ROK-U.S. ALLIANCE -- STRONGER THAN EVER!" KATUSAs and U.S. Army Service members train and live together side-by-side, developing a relationship that supersedes our alliance, an everlasting friendship."
Several events to foster stronger friendship between KATUSA and U.S. soldiers were held during the week. Many teams composed of soldiers of both nations participated in softball, soccer and basketball tournaments. The 5K run and various other team sports also brought the soldiers together.
Cultural events including Salmulnori (traditional Korean music) and traditional wedding ceremony demonstration also caught people's eyes. Soldiers showed off their musical gift during the Talent Show and enjoyed the performance of many K-Pop stars during the Entertainment Show.
"We coordinated cultural events including Samulnori to introduce Korean traditional music to U.S. Soldiers," said Cpl. Jeong, Woo-seok, USAG Yongsan ROKA Support Office. "I was a bit worried about low participation because of rainy weather, but several U.S. Soldiers voluntarily came to play Jing and Jangu. (traditional Korean instruments) I was really happy when they enjoyed Samulnori."
During the closing ceremony, the winners of each event and the overall winner of 2017 KATUSA & U.S. Soldier Friendship Week were announced. The 142nd MP Company beat out 65th Medical Brigade for the first time in four years, which came in second, claiming this year's champion flag and trophy. Deputy Commanding General for Sustainment, Eighth Army, Maj. Gen. Tammy S. Smith said. "KATUSAs are truly a unique and special force multiplier that greatly enhances our combined capability. I am extremely proud of our KATUSAs."