Soul food: Chaplains and Soldiers bond over burgers

by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Heather A. Denby, 35th ADA Public Affairs
U.S. Army

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – Many people bond while sharing a meal together, the U.S. and Republic of Korea Armies are no different in that aspect.

The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Unit Ministry Team partnered with ROK Army Buddhist, Korean Monk, Catholic, Methodist and Protestant chaplains July 7-8 at a ROK Army 12th Division outpost just South of the Demilitarized Zone.

The group met at a Buddhist temple before grabbing a bite to eat.

“The temple was really peaceful with a giant traditional Korean bell out front,” said Maj. Christopher Offen, 35th ADA chaplain. “I joked with the other chaplains by asking if this was the restaurant they had chosen for us to go to.”

The U.S. and ROK chaplains toured the temple and then headed to a diner where they bought cheeseburgers and drinks for some of the Soldiers that are responsible for patrolling the DMZ.

“We drove up the mountain to meet with this platoon of infantrymen,” said Spc. Kyle Koby, 35th ADA chaplain assistant. “They were coming off several hours of DMZ patrol and were prepared to eat what they eat every other day.”

"Their eyes lit up when we showed them what we had brought and it was literally gone in seconds," said Koby. "They seemed genuinely happy that we had visited them and maybe even more so that we brought burgers."

After their meal, one Soldier took the chaplains on patrol.

“A ROK Soldier took us out along the DMZ where he was required to inspect the fence line for any breaches,” said Offen. “Every so often we could hear someone shout a challenge and our guide would respond with the appropriate pass code before continuing his inspection.”

It was a unique experience to see Soldiers defending and protecting their country with such pride and honor,” he said.

Offen said that the visit embodied the Korean motto of “Kapshi Kapshi Da” or as it translates to English: “We go together.”

The ROK chaplains also said they cherished this shared experience.

“Overall the experience was simply extraordinary,” said ROK Army Capt. Jong Min Lee, a Buddhist monk assigned to 12th Division. “We led a joint ministry and shared some good food; it’s definitely a memory I shall never forget.”

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