The whistle blew. The hundreds of Soldiers cheered on their teammates. The excitement got intense as the players wrestled while the sand was thrown everywhere. The U.S. Soldier put the KATUSA onto his back in the sand and had won the Korean wrestling competition.
Camp Humphreys kicked off the 2015 KATUSA/U.S. Friendship Week (KUSFW) on April 13 in the MP Hill Gym with opening remarks from Brig. Gen. Clayton M. Hutmacher, the deputy commanding general of support for the 2nd Infantry Division, and Maj. Park, Sung-Gon, the Area III Republic of Korea Army Support Group Commander. After a jaw-dropping performance by the ROKA Honor Guard and exciting drum playing by a Korean traditional music team, the 2015 KUSFA officially began.
This year's KUSFW events included soccer, softball, Korean wrestling, arm wrestling, volleyball, an all ranks relay and tug-of-war.
"KATUSA Friendship Week is important for both U.S. Soldiers and Republic of Korea Army Soldiers to understand one another. Sweating together, winning together or even losing together, we grow stronger partnerships and teamwork," said Pfc.Sang Uk Kim, a medical specialist from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, after he won second place in the Korean Wrestling event.
"KUSFW is very special because it builds fellowship and promotes cohesion with one another," Chief Warrant Officer 3 Negron D. Jorge, the human resources technician from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade. His team won first place in volleyball. Jorge said he has played volleyball since he was 11 years old and lived in Puerto Rico. "Although I've played volleyball for a long time, I could not have won the game without my teammates. This week was beneficial to me because I learned more about KATUSAs and became much closer to them," he said.
On April 16, the KUSFW officially ended after a closing ceremony with remarks from Lt. Col. Ott, the 4-58th Airfield Operation Battalion Commander, Mr. Cha Suk Geun, the vice-president of the KATUSA Veteran Association and Maj. Park, Sung-Gon, the Area III Republic of Korea Army Support Group Commander.
"The KATUSA program represents solidarity and friendship," said Ott. "I hope you all had a wonderful week and remember the great heritage that our predecessors built. The strongest alliance in the world. We go together!"
"I have no doubt that KUSFW will be a memory to cherish throughout your time in service," said Park. "Through the sports competitions and sweating together as one team, I hope it is the chance where the Republic Of Korea and U.S. Alliance can be affirmed again."
KUSFW represented an opportunity to confirm the strong bonds between the U.S. and ROK. This four-day event showed the true value of the Korean and U.S. friendship. It was a week of meaningful and unforgettable memories shared between longtime allies and new friends.