Soldiers from a U.S. Army Chemical Corps company have witnessed firsthand why South Korea is one of America’s strongest allies during a deployment near the world’s most heavily guarded border.
American Soldiers from the 181st Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Company (Hazardous Response) are serving on a rotational deployment to support the 23rd CBRN Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division and Eighth Army.
The Fort Cavazos, Texas-based 181st CBRN Company “Double Dragons” are part of the 2nd CBRN Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command.
American Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
Spc. Joshua T. Garland said the Double Dragons visited the War Memorial Museum of Korea in the South Korean capital of Seoul and visited the Unification Tower near the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is 155 miles long and 2½ miles wide and was created by the Korean War Armistice. Signed on July 27, 1953, the armistice was designed to halt major combat operations until a peace settlement was negotiated. A peace treaty never followed.
The Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance is marking its 70th anniversary this year. Garland said the visits to the museum and tower put the situation on the Korean Peninsula into prospective.
“These trips have allowed us to see the culture and history of the people,” said Garland, who grew up in Kosse, Texas. “Soldiers have been able to explore the different cities within the vicinity of Camp Hovey, allowing them to eat Korean food, shop in their stores and see the country’s landmarks and cultural sites.”
Spc. Eliana M. Schrack said working with Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army, or KATUSAs, has been another unique experience during the deployment.
Established to provide support to the U.S. Army during the early days of the Korean War, KATUSAs continue to make a critical contribution to the ROK-U.S. Alliance today.
“We have had multiple opportunities to work with the ROK Army even on a daily basis with KATUSAs,” said Shrack, who is originally from Lima, Peru. “I learned from significant training exercises as well.”
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Johnathan Whitworth, the 3rd platoon leader from the 181st CBRN Company, said Soldiers from the company enjoyed many cultural experiences during the deployment, including Korean barbeque.
“The most unique experiences have been the variety of foods Soldiers chose to indulge. Korean cuisine varies from kimchi and bibimbap to the most popular Korean barbeque,” said Whitworth, a native of Shelby, North Carolina, and graduate of Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. “The availability of fresh cooked food is an experience itself.”
Whitworth said one of the highlights of the deployment was a unit patch exchange with the Republic of Korea Army at the top of Soyosan Mountain near Camp Hovey.
With 70 percent of South Korea covered by mountains, hiking is a national pastime.
“The hike up Soyosan Mountain is deemed an unforgettable experience due to its steepness, but mostly because once your reach the top, the view of Korea is like a once in a lifetime experience,” said Whitworth. “During the patch exchange, U.S. and ROK Soldiers displayed high morale and excitement. This cultural experience created memories that will last a lifetime.”
Source : Army