'Devil' brigade Soldiers promoted by family members in South Korea
CAMP HOVEY, Republic of Korea -- Military deployments are often synonymous with spending long periods of time away from family. However, for two Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, deploying to the Republic of Korea meant catching up with some of their immediate family members and having the opportunity to be promoted by them in front of their peers.
Newly promoted Sgt. Austin Soelberg and Sgt. Benjamin Yandall, both tank crew members with 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, had their new rank pinned on by their father and sister during a promotion ceremony on Camp Casey Nov. 1.
Soelberg's father, Maj. Brent Soelberg, the automations management officer for the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea, and Yandall's sister, Pfc. Josephine Yandall, a human resources specialist with 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, were not only able to attend the promotion ceremony, but played an active role in the promotion of their loved ones.
"Not only are we both in Korea at the same time, but his promotion comes up at this time," said Brent. "It's been an excellent opportunity."
Austin expressed how he couldn't think of a better person to pin on his newly earned rank then his father.
After finding out about the promotion "I told dad right away," said Austin. "Who else would I have promote me if I had the opportunity?"
The Soelbergs, originally from Ogden, Utah, weren't the only ones excited about the opportunity to have a family member actively participate in the promotion ceremony.
"It feels great; it's awesome," Benjamin said of his sister promoting him.
For both families, this is the first time either group has had the opportunity to cross paths professionally.
"I was excited," Josephine said of seeing her brother for the first time after he arrived in Korea. "I haven't seen him for almost two years."
Brent explained how he knows his son will do great things as one of the Army's newest sergeants.
"Austin has always been a leader, even if he hasn't always known it," Brent said. "I look back at his time in high school, no matter what he did, he ended up being a leader and other people would follow him."
As a sergeant, Austin is now responsible for the training and moral of the Soldiers he leads, to include the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army, or KATUSA, soldier he now supervises.
"I'm going to train him up to know everything he needs to know on the tank," Austin said. As for "my other Soldier, I want to develop him as a Soldier and help him out as well as the other ones in my platoon."
Military service is a tradition in the Soelberg family and this hasn't been the first time members of the family crossed paths while serving.
"It's happened before; the Soelbergs have been in Korea together at the same time," Brent said. His father served "in Korea back in the 1950s and then again during the Korean War. His first time here, he was with his brother."
For the Yandall's, both from the island of Samoa, Benjamin has started the tradition of military service, one that his sister followed when she joined the Army 15 months ago.
"He was the first one to join out of my family," Josephine said. "I always look up to him and now he's a (sergeant) so I have to catch up with him."
While deployed to South Korea, the 1st ABCT is responsible for supporting the U.S. security commitment to the nation, deterring external aggression and defending the Korean Peninsula while strengthening the Republic of Korea -- U.S. alliance and maintaining the military armistice in Korea.