The blue paint looked as cold as the icy glares from the Soldiers guarding the buildings. For many III Corps troops, this was their first encounter with Republic of Korea soldiers and the North Korean military as they toured the historic Demilitarized Zone Aug. 11.
The DMZ encompasses a four kilometer-wide strip of land straddling the 150 mile-long Military Demarcation Line. Being there gave III Corps Soldiers time to reflect on a country for which their ancestors helped fight.
"Visiting the DMZ personalizes the events that happened during that time," said Lt. Col. Chauncey Nash, G3 Space at III Corps, whose father served in the Korean War. "It gives me a better understanding of the bloodshed fought over it."
This understanding, along with the ties his father had with Korea, are some of the reasons he attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and received his commission in the Army.
"My father's experience in the Korean War and in the Army is what motivated me to join," he said.
The DMZ visit was also emotional for other Phantom Corps Soldiers who shared strong connections to the Republic of Korea.
"Having a Korean background, and a mother who visits here every couple of years, makes me proud of the partnerships and alliance the U.S has with Korea," Maj. Timothy Hamilton, a III Corps operations officer with the G7 staff, said. "I'm very proud of my heritage and what it means to be Korean."
Although Soldiers who fought in the Korean War might have never seen the results, the impact was clear to III Corps Soldiers.
"The visit today shows the end result of what we have and built," Hamilton said. "If you went back 50 years, you could see the benefits of the strong alliance and relationship."
Even though some Soldiers shared direct Family connections to the DMZ, others thought it brought III Corps Soldiers together.
"It's been great for the Soldiers and has brought us together as a corps," 1st Lt. Brauli De Jesus, III Corps battle captain with the Fires Cell said. "It's important we come together for peace and build strong relations with other countries."