Keimyung University's faculty and students welcomed Soldiers of the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command to the university's campus for a special event celebrating the organizations' community connections and longtime friendship Nov. 14, 2018 at Daegu, Republic of Korea.
Keimyung University's President, Dr. Synn, Il Hi said his university and the 19th ESC enjoy a special connection. He recalled a significant day in April 2011, when the then commander of the 19th ESC, Brig. Gen. Thomas Harvey, led a group who planted dogwood trees at KMU's campus in respect of an Arbor Day Ceremony, symbolizing the 19th ESC and U.S. Army's Alliance with the Republic of Korea.
The relationships continue to this day with Brig. Gen. Michel M. Russell, Sr., who is now the Commanding General of the 19th ESC. Russell and Synn initially socialized this event in January 2018, and through their partnership, the leaders were able to organize this 19th ESC-Keimyung University Combined Organization Day, also known as "Keimyung-Team 19 Friendship Day."
Russell, who has 34 years of service to the U.S. Army, led an interactive discussion between students, himself, and Soldiers from many levels of leadership within the 19th ESC.
"What brings us here is you (KMU students and faculty)," said Russell.
He continued with his vision of Soldiers and civilians of the 19th ESC bonding with the community of Daegu and Republic of Korea. He said events like this demonstrate the Alliance's strength.
"We impress upon the new ROK officers and the future of Korea how close we really are," Russell said.
The 19th ESC leaders who accompanied Russell for the discussion illustrated the unit's diversity and experience. Panel members were: 1st Lt. Shandricka Jackson, who recently returned from a 9-month-long deployment to Syria; 1st Lt. Jin Yoo, a contracting officer with 25th Transportation Battalion; an 11-year veteran and platoon sergeant from Camp Carroll in Waegwan, Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Garcia; a first sergeant with 7-years of combat tour experience, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hasbun, a second lieutenant in the beginning of her career, movement control officer, 2nd Lt. Abigail Tomkovich, and ROK Army Capt. Kim, Young Ki, an aid de camp to Gen. Russell, who earned his commission in 2014.
Gen. Russell indicated the 19th ESC is rich in diversity, and it is from this diversity that the unit draws its strengths.
Like that of newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Abigail Tomkovich, who was the first female from the University of Alabama's reserve officers' training corps program to graduate from the U.S. Army's Air Assault school.
Gen. Russell remarked on the female cadets from KMU attending the discussion and indicated his support for them as they progressed in the program. He recognized significant achievements in the Korean Army where females have elevated to the rank of General Officer. Russell also noted how the U.S. Army has progressed recently in adding females to combat arms positions, while recognizing recent female Soldier accomplishments in graduating the U.S. Army's Ranger School.
Gen. Russell's discussion on diversity, along with dialogue from 19th ESC female officers 2nd Lt. Tomkovich and 1st Lt. Jackson, inspired 3rd-year female KMU cadet, Yoo, Hui Jae, to join in on the discussion, which further offered insights into successful practices as a female officer.
Other cadets, including 3rd-year cadet, Yoon, Seung Kyu, and 4th-year cadet, Kim, Ki Jong, were curious about nuances of career life and structure of the U.S. Army and the Korean Army.
Gen. Russell graciously thanked Dr. Synn and his university for the warm welcome, and the day's visit continued with cultural demonstrations and activities throughout the university's campus.
The first performance of the day was by the Eighth U.S. Army Band from Camp Humphreys, who provided musical entertainment featuring popular American music hits from yesterday and today.
The visiting guests from the 19th ESC, comprised of approximately 70 Soldiers, were treated to a demonstration by KMU's talented Taekwondo team. Astonishing high-flying kicks coupled with pinpoint accuracy demonstrated the level of discipline and commitment to excellence the university and its students possess in the Martial Art of Taekwondo.
A visit to KMU's chapel reminded Soldiers, students and faculty of the importance KMU places in spiritual encouragement and education.
The group continued through KMU's sprawling campus taking in the beauty of the fall season enjoying the colors and foliage as they made their way to more cultural activities.
Soldiers and students donned traditional hanbok dress clothing as they participated in a simulated traditional Korean wedding ceremony.
Other activities included demonstrations in Korean Traditional Drum playing and Fan Dances. Guests were allowed to join in to drum and dance with the performers. Participants even had a chance to play traditional Korean games like Paeng-I (a spinning top game), Je-gi (similar to hacky sack), and Tu-ho (an accuracy game similar to cornhole, but with sticks).
Finally, everyone was treated to making and eating Gimbap, which is a delicious roll of rice and other ingredients rolled up into a Gim (dried sheets of seaweed), then sliced into bite-sized pieces.
Leaders of KMU and 19th ESC enjoyed each other's company as their teams interacted with each other throughout the day. They were pleased to see the work they began 10 months ago had come to fruition and that their community partnership continues its lineage of success.