DONGDUCHEON, South Korea (Nov. 30, 2017) - When the weather gets cold, sources of heat are essential to live through winter. However, there are a lot of families in Dongducheon that don't have enough heat.
To help these citizens who are in need, Soldiers from 210th Field Artillery Brigade and 2nd Brigade Combat Team both with 2nd Infantry Divison/ROK-US Combined Division, participated in 2017 Dongducheon Charcoal Distribution.
This event was planned to deliver charcoal to local citizens who don't have enough heat source to help them stay warm through the winter, that can drop to as low as -16 degrees Celcius.
"Economic polarization is very widely spread in South Korea," said Han Soo Yu, the head of the Department of Resources Development in Dongducheon Charcoal Bank, "Rich people are still rich, and poor people are still poor. That's why we deliver these to needy families, so we can give them strength and consolation."
In this event, Soldiers delivered a total of 5,000 charcoal to local citizens. They covered 40 households, and 2~300 charcoal were delivered to each household.
After the opening speech, the Soldiers were divided into two groups. Then they put on their raincoats and gloves, and started to deliver charcoal to households. Ji-ge, a Korean tool used to stack up and carry objects on your back and handcarts were used.
In this event, the Soldiers had the opportunity to meet the citizens face to face while they delivered charcoal to their households. The locals were very thankful of the Soldiers, and some of them even had tears in their eyes.
"Thank you, thank you very much for the help," said Gwang Ja Kang, one of the local senior citizen who received the charcoal. "I can't thank you more. The weather is very cold, but you're all here to help us. Thank you so much."
Even though the charcoal were heavy, the Soldiers were enthusiastic to, especially after they saw the locals' faces.
"When we first brought our charcoal into their house, you could tell how much they appreciated them," said Sgt. 1st Class David Newton, a civil affairs specialist assigned to 2nd Infantry Division Civil Affairs, 2ID/RUCD, "and we appreciate their support for their understanding for us."
"I thought it was a good way to help people in need," said James Bearden, a Mechanic assigned to 696th Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th FAB, 2ID/RUCD. "It makes me feel I'm doing a very meaningful thing. The Army is doing this every year, and I'm going to participate next year as well."
This event was for the Soldiers to share their strength to the locals as a part of the community.
"I want the Soldiers to learn that it's not all about the military. It's more like being part of the community," said Capt. Anderson Kim, the battery commander for Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 210th FAB, 2ID/RUCD. "I also want them to learn that it's not about ourselves, and it's not just about the Army. It's about the community that we're a part of."
This was also a chance to show the Soldiers' responsibility for the community, that they are not by themselves, but they care about the city.
"We want our warm hearts to be delivered to the citizens, just as a charcoal delivering heat," said Simon Chang, the brigade chaplain for 210th FAB, 2ID/RUCD. "Also, we want the locals to think of us as neighbors. We're not here as visitors, but we are friends of Dongducheon and South Korea."
This event was another chance to strengthen the ROK-US alliance, because the Soldiers harmonized with the community.
"I think the harmony between the U.S. Army and the community is the basic of ROK-US alliance, because with the locals' support, the fighting spirit rises," said Min Chul Kim, the action officer of Gyeonggi Province ROK-US Alliance team. "So, by helping people and making a good image for the 2nd Infantry Division, the ROK-US alliance will be much stronger than before."
"I also want the Soldiers to realize why they are in South Korea," Kim added, "because the purpose of the Army is not only about fighting. They also have to protect the people, and harmonize with them. I want them to be worthwhile by contributing to the alliance between the two countries."
Despite the cold, the participants did their best to deliver all the charcoal to give heat to the community. Thanks to this special event, the Soldiers made warm memories and took another step forward to enhance the ROK-US alliance.