YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Jan. 28, 2013) -- American military personnel welcomed Team USA to the 2013 Winter Special Olympics Games in South Korea, Jan. 28.

At a ceremony here at the U.S. military headquarters post in Seoul, U.S. troops, civilian employees and family members cheered on the 152 American athletes who came to South Korea to compete in the winter games.

"This is a great opportunity," said Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea. "It recognizes a great and outstanding group of Americans who are here to compete in the Winter Special Olympics."

Thurman was joined by Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson, Eighth Army Deputy Commanding General for Operations Maj. Gen. Walter M. Golden and many other senior military and civilian officials.

The Winter Special Olympics Games are being held in Pyeongchang and Gangneung in South Korea's mountainous Gangwon Province, the site of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics. During the Winter Special Olympics Games, 3,000 athletes from 115 countries will participate in seven major events, including alpine skiing, XC skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, speed skating, figure skating and floor hockey.

During the welcoming ceremony, Thurman thanked his South Korean allies for hosting the Winter Special Olympics Games, saying it demonstrated Korea's commitment to "global leadership."

On behalf of all American service members stationed in Korea, Thurman cheered on Team USA. The four-star U.S. Army general also encouraged the athletes to do their best and lauded their commitment to representing the United States of America on the global stage.

"You're already true champions," said Thurman. "We're mighty proud of you."