Manchu officers return to leadership roles in Korea
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Aug. 7, 2013) -- During his first visit to Korea since assuming command, the U.S. Army Pacific commanding general discovered that four officers he used to lead in the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment "Manchus," were serving in key leadership positions in Korea.
U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General Gen. Vincent K. Brooks said the continued service of these U.S. Army officers is a testament to the kind of leaders the profession of arms produces.
The current 2-9th Infantry Commander Lt. Col. Shawn Creamer; United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area Commander Lt. Col. Daniel Edwan; 41st Signal Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Ray Wood; and Eighth Army G6 Network Operations Chief Lt. Col. Dan Reynolds, all served in the battalion when Brooks was the commander, from 1996 to 1998.
Brooks led these officers in the Camp Casey-based battalion, which is a part of the 2nd Infantry Division's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team.
The general went to the Korean Demilitarized Zone and Camp Casey during his visit to South Korea, Aug. 2-7.
"The highlight of his visit was his time talking with the current generation of U.S. and [Korean Augmentation to the U.S.] Soldiers and seeing that the battalion was continuing his legacy of excellence," said Creamer, the current 2-9th Infantry commander.
Creamer said his time under Brooks command molded his views on leadership, mentorship and training.
"We had very good officers and very good NCOs (non-commissioned officers)," said Creamer, adding that one of the NCOs in the battalion during that time was Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Dailey, the current command sergeant major for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
"We did a lot of hard training and much of what I learned in those days about training and officership in general has carried me to this day," said Creamer, a native of Hubertus, Wis. "It was a very close knit organization that looked out for the junior leaders and the battalion spent a tremendous amount of organizational energy on their development."
Reynolds, Eighth Army's Network Operations chief, echoed Creamer's sentiments.
"My time in the Manchu Battalion helped shaped my career and provide experience I would have never received in any other unit," said Reynolds, a signal officer from Greeley, Colo.
Reynolds said that Brooks taught him that nothing was impossible when it came to mission accomplishment. He said that the general also focused on developing and supporting his people.
Reynolds recounted when Brooks attended his wedding and "ordered" him to celebrate his anniversary monthly. Reynolds and his wife Chong have celebrated 200 wedding anniversaries since then.
During Brooks visit to the world's most heavily armed border and the truce village of Panmunjom Aug. 3, the general was briefed by one of his former Manchu officers, Lt. Col. Daniel Edwan.
Edwan served for three years as a platoon leader and executive officer during the general's time in command of the 2-9th Infantry. Today Edwan commands the most forward deployed unit on the Korean Peninsula, the United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area.
"General Brooks instilled in me and the unit every day the incredible legacy of U.S. Army Soldiers that have served and are serving in Korea," said Edwan, adding that Brooks used critical readiness exercises, training events and staff rides to instill pride in his battalion.
The JSA Security Battalion commander said that he incorporated the leadership lessons he learned as a Manchu with his frontline troops.
"[General Brooks] is genuine, personable, accessible, and invested in his Soldiers," said Edwan, who is from Plano, Texas. "Because of this, it inspires you to serve. This is the most important element that I attempt to emulate."
Edwan said commanding the security battalion that serves inside the Korean Demilitarized Zone is a rewarding experience.
"The battalion's unique mission and combined [Republic of Korea]-U.S. unit identity have rewarded me with the honor and privilege of being the embodiment of the ROK-U.S. Alliance at the edge of freedom," said Edwan. "It is the sheer weight and magnitude of our cause to preserve freedom and stability for the Republic of Korea that fulfills me and every one of my Soldiers."
Lt. Col. Ray Wood, commander of the Yongsan Garrison-based 41st Signal Brigade, also served in the 2-9th Infantry when Brooks was in command.
The Lithonia, Ga., native said the general's visit gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his former commander and reflect on the legacy of the storied battalion.
A combined arms battalion, the 2-9th Infantry brings together the mobility and might of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrahams Tanks. The Soldiers of the 2-9th Infantry earned their honorary Manchu title during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Twice a year, the current Manchus march 25 miles through Korea's mountainous terrain to earn the esteemed Manchu belt buckle.
Brooks visited South Korea for first time since assuming command of all U.S. Army forces in the Asia Pacific region. Based in Fort Shafter, Hawaii, U.S. Army Pacific covers 52 percent of the earth's surface in an area of operations that stretches from the U.S. west coast to India.
Brooks, who also commanded the 1st Infantry Division and Third Army, said his time as the 2-9th Infantry commander was one of the highlights of his career.
Brooks said Creamer, Edwan, Reynolds and Wood are the personification of our nation's enduring commitment to provide security on the Korean Peninsula and stability in the Asia Pacific region.
"This is about the profession of arms and what it is that causes someone to continue to serve," said Brooks.