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TAEGU, South Korea — About a month ago, the Army in Taegu began to seek new ways to keep protesters or other would-be intruders from getting into Camp Henry.

Welders narrowed installation gates’ openings; workers removed some of the rungs from telephone poles nearest the walls to deny intruders footholds. And new concertina wire went in at key points atop perimeter walls.

A significant chunk of that job, including the concertina work, went to members of the Army’s 32nd Korean Service Corps Company, part of the U.S. Army’s noncombatant Korean Service Corps Battalion.

“The KSCs … carried a lot of that burden,” said James Hamilton, Taegu public works chief with the Army’s 20th Support Group at Camp Henry, a logistics headquarters. “We had to do it very quickly. They worked a lot of hours, weekends, and did a high-quality job very quickly to increase force protection.”

And recently, for its work in 2002, the Army named the 32nd KSC Company “the overall best” company among the 15 in its KSC Battalion.

The battalion, headquartered at Camp Kim in Seoul, boasts 2,185 personnel. In peacetime, KSCs provide skilled and unskilled labor in a range of jobs: They work in warehouses, commissaries and equipment repair depots; they’re ambulance drivers and nursing assistants and fill many public works jobs.

In wartime, their tasks would include digging fighting positions, filling sandbags, stringing concertina, putting up concrete barriers, hauling ammunition and medical supplies to combat zones, helping with chemical decontamination efforts and facilitating the removal of soldiers killed in action.

To emerge the best in its battalion, the 32nd KSC Company competed against the other 14 companies in personnel management, safety, logistics, resource management and handling “common tasks” including first aid, map reading and familiarity with weapons.

“They placed very high,” said Sgt. Maj. Harold Mullen, the battalion’s sergeant major. “The significance of the 32nd earning the recognition is that it just creates more pride and motivation” for the unit while giving the 14 other companies “incentive to improve their performance … in the coming year.”

In Taegu, 32nd KSC Company members fill 25 percent of Hamilton’s public works crew. They work in carpentry, paint, metal and heating shops; they operate forklifts, fill potholes and, before field exercises, set up tents and sandbags while providing daily support for U.S. troops.

Hamilton thinks they’re “indispensable.”

“They have skilled tradesmen and laborers, and that supports our operations,” Hamilton said. “Our entire heating shop is comprised of KSCs. So they do all the work on the heating systems that we have. But also, we have carpenters, painters, metal shop workers and some other tradesmen that work in DPW that are KSCs.”

Kim Po-sung, a mobilization specialist with the 32nd KSC Company said he was “happy” his unit won the award. Of his KSC company being named “overall best company,” he said, “I’m proud.”

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