Warrior Friendship Week 2015 April 17, 2015
CAMP CASEY, South Korea - June marks the anniversary of the 65-year alliance, which began as an informal agreement, uniting the Republic of Korea and U.S. forces to defend against northern aggression during the Korean War. Initially the agreement filled deficiencies within each nation's force. With the introduction of the Korean Augmentation to the United States Army program, integrating Korean soldiers into U.S. Army ranks, a new bread of warriors were born. The partnership combined the tactical skills and strengths of each nation, forming a united front ready to take on a common goal.
That same warrior spirit is alive and well spreading through Camp Casey and Camp Hovey, South Korea April 13 with a competitive 5k race and Division Run led by Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, commanding general of 2nd Infantry Division, and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew J. Spano, senior enlisted advisor in 2nd Inf. Div., kicking off the 39th Annual Warrior Friendship Week, April 13 - 17.
"Warrior Friendship Week celebrates the alliance we have with South Korea and the KATUSAS," said Spc. Joseph Garcia, automated tactical data systems specialist in Battery B, 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Inf. Div. "It's about embracing our friendship as Soldiers, working alongside the KATUSAS."
Soldiers and KATUSAS partnered together to compete in various athletic events including soccer, basketball, tug of war, relay races, jok-ku, a Korean sport combining the skills of soccer and tennis, and ssireum, traditional Korean wrestling. ROK soldiers were also invited to compete.
"It's a great way for us to have friendly competition with the other units," said Sgt. Brent Atkinson, Company B, 302nd Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Inf. Div. "It breaks up the monotony of work everyday. Everyone gets to come out here to play some sports, watch some sports, and have a good time."
Despite the number of the KATUSAS in many of the units' formations, not everyone gets the opportunity to work with them on a regular basis, explained Atkinson.
"It's definitely a chance to get out and get to know your KATUSAS better and also the people you work with," said Pvt. Cole Fritzsche, fire support specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 210th FAB, 2nd Inf. Div. "It makes it easier to approach your KATUSAS and hang out with them more. You feel like you know more about them."
Warrior Friendship Week provides the opportunity for everyone to get acquainted and strengthen bonds within the alliance.
"It helps build a stronger bond among the Soldiers and KATUSAS, so I definitely think it's a good idea," said Garcia.
Embracing the Korean culture and taking a break from competition, Soldiers also enjoyed a variety of cultural performances as part of WFW. Bright colored ensembles filled the field of Schoonover Bowl, Camp Casey and wowed spectators with a traditional sword performance, martial arts, and drum performance in addition to a drill and ceremony demonstration by the Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense Royal Guard.
Warrior Friendship Week provided U.S. Soldiers, ROK soldiers, and KATUSAS the unique opportunity to work together and create lasting memories within the alliance.
"Once we get back into the office, everyone is going to remember that time we were all on the same team doing something together," said Atkinson.