By Mr. Kenneth David Hall (IMCOM)March 25, 2009
HUMPHREYS Garrison - Air traffic control Soldiers from 4-58th Airfield Operations Battalion trained with Republic of Korea Army aviators while working on air traffic control operations certification near Kumwong, March 12.
Throughout air traffic controller training exercises, U.S. and ROKA troops exchange common radio language to maintain familiar terms used during ground to air operations. On this mission, 4-58th and ROKA Soldiers went a step further.
"We train as much as we can with ROKA aviators so they know what our intent is, and we know what their intent is," said Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Adams, platoon sergeant, 4-58th AOB. "During this training we've had them over for chow and they've invited us over to their dining facility," said Adams. "Spending time together during meals has improved our rapport with ROKA pilots and soldiers."
Adams said Korean augmentees to the U.S. Army have been instrumental in their mission success because without their coordination support, a lot of things wouldn't get accomplished.
Pfc. Kim, Nen-yoon, a KATUSA serving with 4-58th provides a critical link between Korean and American Soldiers during training. Before serving in the Korean Army, Kim gained much of his English language experience attending school at Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
"I work with great Soldiers and NCO's and it's important we train together because the U.S. has supported Korea's security for more than 50 years and training exercises like these help us cooperate better," said Kim. "Working in air traffic control operations has also given me job training I would not have gained anywhere else."
Sgt. 1st Class Park, Mi-soo, ROKA Noncommissioned Officer in charge of tower operations said exercises with American ATC units allow his Soldiers to prepare for possible threats from North Korea or other countries.
"This training gives me the opportunity to learn how to be a good leader and be responsible for my Soldiers," said Park. "Working together in tower operations gives all of us better respect for how we work together. I will be able to use leadership skills I've gained working with Americans in my civilian professional life after I have completed my Army service."
Spc. Rune Duke, ATC, 4-58th AOB said he has learned much from working with the ROKA aviators; he also credit's the battalion's KATUSA Soldiers for their contributions to interoperability.
"Talking with Korean Army pilots has taught me a lot about the Korean culture," he said. "They've told me about places I should visit, but it's been our KATUSA's who've really enabled us to talk effectively with the Korean aircraft and it's the only way we could really be out here doing what we do."
Duke said he enlisted in the Army to be an air traffic controller and will complete his tour of Korea in April. Another 4-58th ATC Soldier is also about to finish her tour of duty here but has no intention of leaving anytime soon.
"I chose to serve another two years in Korea because I love it here," said Spc. Myranda Spear, ATC, 4-58th AOB. Spear recently reenlisted to continue Army service, but waived her reenlistment bonus to be able to serve another tour in Korea.
"Serving in 4-58th has been like working in one big Family and our chain of command has been very supportive of all the Soldiers in our unit," she said. "I plan on traveling and seeing different places and I hope to stay long enough to see the upgrades to Humphreys Garrison completed."
Spear said in high school, she wanted to be an Army pilot but after enlisting as an ATC, there is no better job for her in the Army. "I love my job and even if I could be a pilot, I believe I would still prefer working as an ATC," she said.