The Cottonbaler Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, welcomed their new Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army (KATUSA) Soldiers into the battalion through friendly competition and a formal Patching ceremony, November 16, 2020, Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea.
Each company, along with their new KATUSA Soldiers, competed in physically rigorous circuits while wearing their body armor and M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask. The Soldiers performed multiple iterations of 25 squats, 25 push-ups, and 5 burpees.
Once Soldiers completed the set of exercises, the company commanders read part of the battalion’s history before moving to the next station and another round of exercises.
KSgt. Yong Jae Choi expressed his excitement with the Cottonbalers’ high motivation during the event, as well as the opportunity to participate alongside his U.S. counterparts as a cohesive team.
“We hope we can continue this tradition [because] we believe that this is a true partnership between the U.S. and ROK armies,” said Choi.
Many of the competitors echoed Choi’s sentiment of feeling welcomed and part of the 2-7IN team.
The Patching ceremony occurred immediately following the competition. During the ceremony, each companies’ KATUSA and U.S. Soldier counterparts stood side-by-side with smiles hidden underneath their face masks.
2nd Lt. Jeremy Tuggle, the battalion adjutant, began the ceremony with an explanation of the history of the 70-year-old KATUSA program.
“The KATUSA Program is a visible symbol of the strength and relationship between our two countries,” said Tuggle. “No other nations puts its sons under the direct command of U.S. Army NCOs.”
Following that introduction, Maj. Seth Varayon, battalion executive officer, briefly explained 2-7IN’s long history and the importance of the KATUSA program.
Lt. Col. Christian Durham and Command Sgt. Maj. James Ott, 2-7IN’s senior leaders, then welcomed the KATUSAs to the battalion.
After this, each U.S. Soldier removed their KATUSA partner’s previous unit patch and replaced it with the 3ID patch. The KATUSAs then followed suit by reaching over and sticking a replacement 3ID patch on the left arm of their fellow Soldier. This brought the ceremony to a close.
The newly patched members of the Cottonbaler team were welcomed by their leaders and peers.
“The rotation may have just started, but the last time I was here, KATUSAs were essential to meeting my unit’s mission requirements,” said 2nd Lt. Gregory Ulseth, battalion chemical officer. “I think that this mission is even more important and that they will prove to be even more crucial.”
2-7IN will continue to integrate their new augmentees into their team and look forward to continuing the tradition that was established 70 years ago.