Air Force captain returns home to S. Korea
ICHEON, South Korea. – A United States Air Force Captain celebrated a return to her childhood home of Osan Air Base during Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2017 this month.
Capt. Uiri Han currently serves as the Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group Executive Officer at Air Base Hurlburt Field, Florida, with the Air Force Special Operations Command.
During the exercise, Han is a member of the Combined Joint Special Operations Liaison Element, where she helped coordinate, deconflict and integrate special operations air, surface, and subsurface operations with conventional air operations.
Han’s bi-cultural upbringing gives her valuable skills and insights, and helps her unite her U.S. and Republic of Korea teammates.
“Creating relationships with the U.S. side and the ROK side, I’m very grateful to be a part of that now because it personally merges my cultures,” she said. “I am glad to see the mutual respect. Being intel [an intelligence officer], the nature of the work is sometimes hard to convey or share because of classification. It’s been interesting to see how we communicate with them [ROK service members] under the security umbrella.”
Han grew up on Osan AB, near Songtan, South Korea, where she had the opportunity to join Junior ROTC, and follow in the footsteps of her father, who was also an Air Force special operator.
JROTC is a Title X program designed "to instill in students in [United States] secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment."
After high school, Han enrolled as a cadet in the ROTC program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
“The major reason why I started JROTC was because my dad was in the Air Force, and he is still in that field today. Me being able to talk to him on that level means a lot to him and me,” Han said. “It’s brought everything full circle.”
Han says that the diversity between ROK and U.S. forces are what makes the teamwork and the alliance stronger. She spent years training for exercises like UFG 17, and enjoys experiencing both cultures at the same time.
“These exercises are great because it highlights those differences. To see how we work together, all the information that must be shared with each other and how it all comes together is awesome. I got a very positive vibe out of this exercise,” she said.
Spending some much needed time with her sister is something Han looks forward to at the end of the exercise. She is excited to enjoy her homeland and wear the U.S. military uniform simultaneously.
UFG 17 is computer simulated defensive exercise designed to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula. The exercise highlights the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations, help to ensure peace and security on the peninsula, and reaffirm U.S. commitment to the Alliance.