After several days delay in Washington State, U.S. service members and their families finally arrived on Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 13.
The families were delayed after the Department of the Army made an announcement on March 8 to stop movement of all Army personnel in and out of the RoK in response to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.
“The trip was long and stressful. We stayed in the SeaTac area for six days before getting a flight,” said Sgt. Michael Small, a Soldier who arrived from Ft. Bliss, Texas with his wife and child. “We wanted to go back to what we knew and that was El Paso, but my first sergeant said to wait it out and see what happens.”
About 70 people, including approximately 15 families, boarded the flight to Korea on March 12, after Eighth Army’s commanding general, Lt. Gen. Michael A. Bills, put out a message on Facebook telling service members and their families that Eighth Army was ready to receive them.
“There was a lot of misinformation everywhere, so we just got a hotel and stayed there for a few nights,” said Sgt. Albert Cartagena. “We stayed there until the three star general told us that we were welcome to come to Korea.”
After receiving the message from Bills, Cartagena said that he, his wife, and three children, who were coming from Ft. Benning, Ga., were very relieved when they boarded the plane heading to Korea.
When the plane arrived, Maj. Gen. Daniel Christian, deputy commanding general of sustainment for Eighth Army, spoke to service members and families, welcoming them to their new home.
“We know what it’s like to be sitting where you are right now,” said Christian. “Donna and I have done this flight multiple times. We’re glad to have you here and welcome to Korea.”
Christian finished his brief informing them that the protection of the force and their families is Eighth Army’s number one priority.
When they arrived on Osan Air Base, service members and families, underwent a brief health screening, which included a questionnaire and temperature check. The health screening is used to maximize containment of the virus and is similar to the current process to enter military installations in Korea.
Cariza Redila, the spouse of Sgt. Noel Redila, both coming from Ft. Drum, said she liked seeing the precautions that were being taken for the coronavirus.
"This our second time here, we love Korea and asked for it,” said Redila. “It was very difficult getting here, but now that we’re here it is much better … and we are very happy.”
The next step for these service members and their families starts Mar. 16, when they will begin in-processing on Camp Humphreys.
“Since getting here, everything has been simplified and smooth,” said Cartagena. “There has been so much relief … and everyone has been super helpful, especially the people and sergeants at the airport.”