KATUSA surpasses all military expectations
DAEGU, South Korea - Korean Augmentation to the United States Army soldiers, also known as KATUSAs, are conscripted citizens who, by obligation, put their lives on pause to serve their country.
During their military service with the U.S. Army, KATUSAs have the opportunity to volunteer, excel and lead in areas that are foreign to civilians and Korean soldiers.
Sgt. Hong Su-chan, 25th Transportation Battalion senior KATUSA, took every chance to grow, compete and lead during his two-year service at Camp Henry to set the standard for those who came behind him.
“I have seen several KATUSAs come and go, and he has set the bar for how a KATUSA should act,” said Sgt. 1st Class Angela M. Mallard, one of Hong’s supervisors. “I have watched him grow since he first came here, and he has always been a true professional and so eager and quick to learn.”
Hong started his career taking on a variety of duties such as maintenance, programming and accountability while working in multiple sections.
The high level of responsibility given to Hong while he was a private gave him the thirst to improve his soldiering and leadership skills early in his career before becoming a Non-Commissioned Officer by volunteering for the U.S. Army Warrior Leader Course.
“WLC is about learning leadership skills, training skills and war fighting skills. It was an invaluable experience I would never forget as a good stepping stone for me in becoming an outstanding NCO,” Hong said. “I also learned some important character virtues through the course such as teamwork, responsibility, passion, challenge and perseverance.”
Hong was chosen to be the senior KATUSA of his unit by the Republic of Korea Army Support Group because of his eagerness to lead.
“He always accomplishes his missions with strong work ethic and professionalism,” said Capt. Ko Jae-hun, United States Army Garrison - Daegu Republic of Korea Army support officer. “He has showed and proved himself as one of the most motivated and dedicated soldiers, and that is the reason why he was chosen to be the senior KATUSA of his unit.”
“Even before he became a senior KATUSA, he was the most highly motivated KATUSA soldier in the 25th Transportation Battalion in respect of all the good things that Soldiers in the U.S. Army have to achieve such as Army physical fitness test, KATUSA board, M16 rifle range,” said Cpl. Yoon Sang-soo, Hong’s succeeding senior KATUSA. “He always encourages and takes care of the soldiers around him, and tried his best in every task given to him.”
Hong made a special effort to motivate his KATUSA battle buddies as well as U.S. counterparts during his term as senior KATUSA. He continuously sought out ways to encourage soldiers by competing in various competitions as to lead from the front and raise the bar of excellence.
“He has been a good role model, motivating all KATUSAs in the unit. He always shows great accomplishments so that other junior soldiers can easily follow the way he achieved it,” Yoon said.
“I think he made a great path that every soldier should be heading for.”
Hong received KATUSA of the Year for 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and Area IV Best KATUSA recognitions which led him to compete in the 2012 8th Army Best Warrior Competition.
“I decided to compete in the Best Warrior Competition in order to test my limit as a warrior and see how much I could strive to reach the top with my skills that I have learned as a warrior,” Hong said.
The six-day competition consisted of an Army physical fitness test, written exam, combative tournament, M4 rifle qualification, day and night land navigation, a mystery event, a board appearance and road march.
“I practiced running every day after work and went to gym at least three times a week,” Hong said. “Also, I memorized all the board questions and answers at the 8th Army level exactly as they were written in the study guide in order to earn high marks in the competition.”
“It was an honor to be a part of the 8th Army Best Warrior Competition as a sponsor for Sgt. Hong,” said Sgt. Neal L. Miller, Hong’s sponsor for the 8th Army Best Warrior Competition. “He showed genuine concern for accomplishing the mission. No one can question his motives and ability to overcome adversity.”
The top KATUSA was chosen from each major subordinate command under 8th Army to compete for the championship, but during the 8th Army 2012 Army Birthday Ball, Hong was crowned as the best KATUSA on the Korean peninsula.
“At first, I doubted if he would make the finals, but when I heard he got selected as the winner of the competition, I felt so proud of him and his unyielding perseverance,” said Hong Dae-yong, his father.
“This accomplishment will be a strong back-up for his future, and I’m sure that he can do anything no matter how hard life will be.”
With his military service ending, Hong has set standards that his seniors, peers and subordinates are proud to follow and uphold.
“He has proudly represented KATUSAs of Area IV by competing and being selected as the champion of the 8th Army Best Warrior Competition,” Ko said. “As a senior KATUSA, he also has been taking care of his junior soldiers with particular attention and responsibility.”
Hong’s endeavors and accomplishments have made him a stronger person returning to the civilian world.
“As standing in a leadership position, I have learned not only how to take care of subordinates, but also how to deal with the relationships between seniors, peers and juniors,” Hong said. “It will be a great experience in my future life to deal with other people around me when I become a leader.”