Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Soldiers competed together in various activities, including tug-a-war, during the KATUSA-US Friendship Week, April 29-May 3. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Erikah Schaible)
Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Soldiers competed together in various activities, including tug-a-war, during the KATUSA-US Friendship Week, April 29-May 3. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Erikah Schaible)

Strengthening the US-ROK Alliance during KATUSA-U.S. Friendship Week

by Sameria Zavala
USAG Humphreys

Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Ar-my (KATUSA) and U.S. Army Soldiers, came together to participate in friend-ship week activities, April 29 - May 3.

The week was first observed in 1977, in an effort to boost morale and strengthen the relationships between the two nations through various American and Korean sport activities, including Korean-style wrestling, arm wrestling, basketball, soccer, softball and volley-ball.

The 8th Army Camp Humphreys host-ed the event to honor the tradition. Lt. Gen. Michael Bills, 8th Army command-ing general, presided over the opening ceremony.

"The KATUSA program shows that the alliance strength lies in the relationships that we have built for the past 69 years," said Bills. "The trust and confidence that comes from working together as part-ners has brought our societies and cul-tures together."

Bills encouraged Soldiers to keep building on relationships, teamwork, and comradery while having fun during the week.

The Republic of Korea-Army Support Group Commander, Col. Jong Sik Ha; Command Sgt. Maj. In Hyun Shin, Command Sgt. Maj. Kim Hae Sung, and a representative from the KATUSA Veterans Association also gave their remarks, followed by performances from the ROK-A Taekwondo team and the Korea Department of Defense Honor Guard.

Sgt. Jaylen Webster, a supply technician for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, who participated in the sport activities and on his second tour in Korea, said that the relationships built during the friendship week is invaluable.

"This is the time of year when the morale of Soldiers and KATUSAs is at an all time high," he said. "We get a chance to get away from our normal work schedules and get to laugh and enjoy sports together. We build friendships that last. I met my best friend here in 2016.

"The outcome of this event is priceless," he added. "KFW gives us a chance to build our friendships even stronger and show how athletic we are and to see how talented KATUSAs are."

Pvt. Ohy Un Kweon, a KATUSA assigned to the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, competed in Korean wrestling and won the match.

"It was a great experience," he said. "U.S. Soldiers and KATUSAs were able to compete as one team. This was my first time participating and I enjoyed it. Some KATUSAs are so busy with their job that they don't get an opportunity to meet a lot of U.S. Soldiers, but this event gives us that opportunity."

On May 3, the unit winners for each event were announced during the closing ceremony.

Winners were: Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 8th Army in basketball and arm wrestling; 65th Medical Brigade for volleyball and tug-of-war; 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in soccer; 3rd Armored Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2nd Infantry Division) in softball and Korean wrestling. The top score of the week went to 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

For more photos of the event, please visit KATUSA/US (https://www.flickr.com/photos/usaghumphreys)

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