By Walter T. Ham IV, Eighth Army Public AffairsJanuary 24, 2011
KOREAN DEMILITARIZED ZONE, South Korea - During a 2003 road repair project here, two engineers from two different countries built an enduring friendship that has taken them from the Korean Peninsula to Afghanistan and back.
U.S. Army Maj. Loi Nguyen and Republic of Korea Army Master Sgt. Jung Hae-yul first met in March 2003 while working together on a three-mile stretch of road inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the world's most heavily armed border.
"It was our first combined ROK-U.S. engineer project in the 5th ROK Division area of operations," said Nguyen. "We provided a safe road for the 5th ROK soldiers."
During the two-week project where temperatures often fell well below freezing, the major said he was impressed with Jung's resourceful.
"Master Sergeant Jung was the go to man," said Nguyen. "Whatever resources we needed from the ROK engineers, he got them for us."
More than a year and a half later, Nguyen and Jung met again half way around the world in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush Mountains in Parwan Province.
Nguyen was the chief for an engineering support team on Bagram Air Base and Jung was assigned to a ROK medical unit in Parwan Province.
Jung said he was surprised to meet Nguyen again in Afghanistan.
Nguyen said their service together in Korea and Afghanistan demonstrates the global nature of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.
"Our alliance is not just on the Korean Peninsula, but also aboard to fight the global war on terrorism," said Nguyen, adding that their service there personified the alliance motto of "We go together."
Now nearly seven years later, Nguyen serves on the staff of 8th Army and Jung is back in his native land. And they have reunited yet again on Yongsan Garrison, the U.S. headquarters post in Seoul.
According to Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, Nguyen and Jung personify an enduring ROK-U.S. Alliance that has served on the Korean Peninsula and in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and off the coast of Somalia.
"We are proud of our long and enduring friendship with our ROK allies," said Johnson. "This alliance was forged in the fire of war and it has matured and grown stronger over the last 60 years. Not only does it deter aggression against Korea but it also serves with great distinction around the world."