By Col. Dave Hall (USAG-Yongsan Commander)April 21, 2008
This week, we had a true success story. Thousands of Korean and American Soldiers participated in the 2008 KATUSA-U.S. Soldier Friendship Week. This is a prime example of how strong the U.S.-Korea alliance can be.
Korean Augmentee to the U.S. Army Soldiers play an enormous role in our ability to meet the challenges of protecting the Korean peninsula. This week, we have learned about each others cultures, competed on our sports fields, enjoyed a great talent show and shared some excellent time together building friendships.
What a great opportunity for Americans to learn first-hand about the Korean people. Korean Soldiers stand in our formations, live with us, eat with us and learn about our alliance through us. These KATUSA Soldiers are ambassadors for their country and I'm proud to serve with them.
The KATUSA program was born out of necessity during the Korean War. South Korean Soldiers fought along side Americans providing critical translations, navigation and cultural insights that helped immensely in the defense of their young democracy.
In the 58 years since the beginning of the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance, countless KATUSA Soldiers have served with U.S. Army units. These young men went on to become leaders in industry, law, politics and all sectors of Korean society. Without a doubt, our KATUSA Soldiers are the future of Korea.
The friendships that are forged by working side-by-side in our alliance are lasting ones.
In Seoul, there is an initiative to organize a KATUSA veterans group. The fact that there is high interest among former KATUSA Soldiers to come together again means the bonds that brought us together are still strong.
As a Soldier, I take pride in the Army story. Our Soldiers do great things in all corners of the globe. The warrior ethos that led Soldiers to victory in battles during the Korean War is the same lineage that drives Soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq today.
This entire city where Yongsan Garrison stands was once taken and occupied by the enemy. Together, Korean and American Soldiers fought bravely to repel the invaders and restore peace, prosperity and security to the Republic of Korea. This should serve as a strong reminder that the KATUSA-U.S. Soldier relationship is battle-tested. It is a relationship that works.
Serving in uniform, in my opinion, is one of the most patriotic things a person can do. We need to remember that our KATUSA Soldiers are all volunteers. They are required to serve, but they applied for the KATUSA program and passed rigorous language tests. They are their nation's best and brightest. I am proud of their accomplishments and contributions to the mission.
I am also proud of our U.S. Soldiers. At this important juncture in history, we are an Army at war. The American people are asking more from her volunteer Soldiers than at any time since the Revolutionary War. Yet, we continue to attract and retain quality Soldiers. Our men and women are up to the task because we are a professional fighting force,
Together Korean and American Soldiers form an unstoppable force. We stand together ready for the fight.
During this KATUSA-U.S. Soldier Friendship Week, we had an opportunity to better understand one another; to learn more about each other's cultures; and to enter into some exciting competitions. As a result, we built stronger friendships and helped to strengthen the alliance between our great nations. If you have the chance to thank a KATUSA Soldier for the part they play in the alliance, by all means, give them a pat on the back, a handshake and a sincere, "Kam-sa-ham-nida!"