By Pvt. Naveed Ali ShahJanuary 28, 2008
TAEAN, Korea (Army News Service, Jan. 28, 2008) -- Volunteers from a company near the Demilitarized Zone in Korea traveled to Mallipo Beach Jan. 27 to help clean up Korea's worst oil spill.
The Soldiers from Company E, 1-72nd Armor, were the first from Area 1 to help with the disastrous oil spill that occurred off the west coast of South Korea Dec. 7.
"I wanted to do something that involved our KATUSAs and U.S. Soldiers to help the Korean environment after this disaster," said Capt. Nathan J. Smith, commander, Co. E, 1st Bn., 72nd Armor Regt. "The entire event was organized by my senior KATUSA."
The event involved a lot of coordination.
"I had to get approval from the commanders, call the USO for a bus, take care of food for the Soldiers, get HAZMAT gear, and call Taean City Hall to coordinate," said Cpl. Seo, In Jun, Senior KATUSA, Co. E, 1st Bn., 72nd Armor Regt.
Despite the amount of planning and logistics, the Soldiers seemed pleased with the outcome of the day. They each took turns talking about the experience and how, for some of them, it was their first time volunteering.
"I want to continue the Good Neighbor Program by aiding the Korean people in this clean-up," said Smith.
"When I first became a KATUSA, I dreamed of having the KATUSAs and U.S. Soldiers work together like this," Seo said. "Thirteen months later, with this trip, I've accomplished my goal."
The Korean nationals who were also volunteering were very grateful to the U.S. Soldiers and KATUSAs for their effort.
"We wanted to help to show that we're not just here taking up space -- that we want to help our host nation," said 1st Lt. Peter D. Cha, executive officer, Co. E, 1st Bn., 72nd Armor Regt. "We've had a lot of Korean nationals come up and thank us for what we're doing."
The event was not only an occasion for U.S. troops to help, but it was also an opportunity for the company to get together outside of the working environment.
"We had a few new Soldiers come in, and they got a unique opportunity to see Korea, to get to know the company and help out," Cha said.
"While the volunteers are accomplishing a lot, the eco-system of the beach is still going to take years to recover, but every little bit helps," said Lee, Won Yol, a coast guard official at Taean.
(Pvt. Naveed Ali Shah serves with the 1st Heavy BCT Public Affairs Office, 2nd Infantry Division.)