Army Air Defense Artillery Soldiers participate in annual Hwaseong Parade
SUWON AIR BASE -- Marching to the beat of ceremonial drums, a procession of local citizens weaved a path through the streets of Suwon to the famous Hwaeseong Fortress, a trek similar to a journey made by an influential Korean king over 250 years ago.
The hour-long parade was a reproduction of a procession taken by King Jung-jo and thousands of his subjects in 1759 to visit the royal tomb of his father, Prince Sa-do. This time around, more than 2,500 local citizens donned historically accurate costumes while replicating King Jung-jo's historic trip and thousands more local citizens gathered to watch the procession.
In a show of solidarity with the local community, nearly 100 Soldiers from the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, also known as the Iron Horse, from nearby Suwon Air Base joined in the festivities.
This year marked the Iron Horse battalion's 6th consecutive year participating in the annual parade, highlighting the air defenders' continuing efforts to maintain a strong relationship with their Korean hosts. Soldiers joined marchers while wearing the traditional attire of the Chosun Dynasty and sported traditional weapons like swords and bows.
"I'm new to Korea, so this was a good opportunity to take in some Korean history and culture," said Pvt. Andrew Dickinson, an engagement controller with headquarters and headquarters battery, 6-52 ADA. "It was a good experience."
Dickinson, a native of Bath, New York, emphasized the importance of community events such as the Hwaesong parade and the opportunities events like these create to enable service members to interact with the local community and promote a positive image of U.S. Soldiers in Korea.
Service members of all ranks engaged the community during the parade.
Lt. Col. Ethan L. Hall, commander of 6-52 ADA, rode along on horseback dressed as the Chosun Dynasty's Minister of Defense and led the formation of Soldiers through winding crowds finally reaching the historic Hwaesong Fortress, a well preserved cultural site and landmark in Suwon city.
U.S. Army Soldiers and South Koreans were excited to see one another.
"This was my first time watching the Hwaseong parade, and I was surprised to see foreigners marching in this traditional event," said Kim Ji-yoon, 18, of Seoul, South Korea. "It's good to see people from both countries marching together to honor our history."