CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – Soldiers representing various organizations across U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, stood at attention on the 2nd Infantry Division’s Robertson Parade Field, May 30, as the Korean and United States anthems were played. The event was part of the opening ceremonies that kicked off the 73rd KATUSA Friendship Week – a celebration designed to build the relationship between U.S. service members and Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) Soldiers.
“The whole purpose of this week is to promote friendship, highlight the culture of our Korean counterparts and to share that culture with our community here at Humphreys,” said Master Sgt. Daniel Rocks, non-commissioned officer in charge at the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization & Security for the USAG Humphreys.
“Another priority of the week is to recognize all the contributions the KATUSAS have provided to our Army in the 73 years we have worked together. To be honest, one week is not nearly enough time, but it is a small token of appreciation for all that our KATUSAs do for us on a daily basis,” added Rocks.
The opening ceremony on the parade field was followed by a Taekwondo demonstration and a series of cultural events in the Downtown Plaza area of Humphreys. The entire event spanned from May 30 until June 2 and encouraged participants to build friendships through sports competitions, enjoying entertainment and by experiencing Korean culture through calligraphy, cuisine, and trying on hanboks (Korean traditional clothing).
“KATUSAs are a huge part of our team,” said Sgt. Guy Mingo, with the garrison’s Visual Information Branch. “They are given the same duties and responsibilities as U.S. Soldiers. We couldn’t run our shop without them. They bring a local understanding of the culture and the people of Korea.”
Rocks, who served as the garrison lead for the event for the past two years, said the coordination began more than six months ago. Coordination included determining the best location for sports contests and curating entertainment, to include a film festival showcasing five Korean films over three days. Films included action-comedy movie, “Luck-Key,” a romance-mystery film, “Decision to Leave” and a historical-period drama, “The Night Owl.” Tuesday evening an awards ceremony took place following the first movie. The films were free to attend.
“For me, the highlight was the film festival where a Korean movie, Luck-Key, was featured and we even got to meet one of the main actors, Jo, Yun-hee,” said Cpl. Haon Park, a KATUSA who works at Special Operations Command-Korea. “Overall, this week has been a very uniting and memorable experience.”
Thursday’s events included a Korean-pop concert which featured six musicians performing on Balboni Field near the Soldiers barracks. The location provided easy access to those living in the barracks who typically do not have vehicles. For Cpl. Min Su Kim, a KATUSA serving with VIB, the sports contests were the best part of the event.
"Even though we are from different countries and we're all different races, it really motivates and inspires me when we all come together like this and work toward a common goal," he said.
All events ended Friday with a tug-of-war in the morning and closing ceremonies at 1 p.m. During that time awards were presented to the winners of the sports competitions.
“There is something about healthy competition that brings Soldiers together, both on the field and in the stands,” said Rocks. “We hope that by the end of this week, new friendships have been forged and new memories made. Who knows, maybe at the 100th KATUSA Friendship Week, we’ll have old KATUSAs and old U.S. Soldiers meeting up talking about the epic championship basketball game or the tug-of-war – because that’s what this is all about, strengthening those ties with one another.”