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2nd ID celebrates centennial with mass re-enlistment, time capsule in S. Korea

Soldiers salute the flag at Camp Casey, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.

MARCUS FICHTL/STARS AND STRIPES

By KIM GAMEL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 26, 2017

UIJEONGBU, South Korea — The 2nd Infantry Division looked to the future and the past Thursday as it celebrated its centennial with a mass re-enlistment ceremony for 100 soldiers and a time capsule.

Against the background of a hill covered with autumn foliage, 2nd ID commander Maj. Gen. Scott McKean praised the soldiers for renewing their service while stationed in South Korea, which remains technically at war with the North.

Tensions have been rising in recent months as the communist state increases the pace of its banned nuclear weapons program.

“Volunteering to continue your service in defense of our great nation, and to do it in the face of the enemy, on freedom’s frontier, that Warriors, is a sign of commitment and courage,” he said.

The ceremony on a field on Camp Casey, an Army base near the heavily fortified border that divides the peninsula, marked the start of a day of celebration as the Warrior Division celebrated its 100th birthday.

Sgt. Alyscia Cabrera, 25, of Boise, Idaho, was re-enlisting for the second time.

“I love being in the Army,” she said. “I grew up with it. My grandfather was in the Army and I grew up wanting to be like him.”

The 2nd ID, also known as the Indianhead Division, dates to Oct. 26, 1917, and has remained in South Korea to guard the front lines since the 1950-53 war on the peninsula ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.

It also became the first combined division with South Korean officers in 2015 in what military officials said was a milestone for the longtime allies.

Sgt. Tae Yup Kim, 33, a Korean-American from Manhattan, Kan., who also did tours in Iraq and Kuwait, said it was his third re-enlistment.

“I feel like the threat is getting bigger,” said Kim, who is originally from the nearby area of Uijeongbu. “The guy in the North is kind of crazy. It’s very hard to know what he’s going to do.”

As it marks the centennial, the Warrior Division is in the midst of major changes as it has begun moving the bulk of its forces from the frontier to the newly expanded Camp Humphreys, south of Seoul, as part of a long-delayed relocation.

Officials in Uijeongbu, about 20 miles north of Seoul, thanked the U.S. soldiers for decades of partnership with a new monument and a time capsule in a ceremony later Thursday.

The silver time capsule, which contained more than 50 items ranging from uniforms to challenge coins and magazines, was buried 2 meters deep on a square near the city’s train station — not to be opened until Oct. 26, 2117.

“Even after all the relocation is done, I hope the friendship between the 2nd Infantry Division and Uijeongbu will continue,” Mayor Ahn Byung-yong said before the unveiling.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

 

Maj. Gen. Scott McKean, 2nd Infantry Division commander, re-enlists his soldiers at Camp Casey, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017.
MARCUS FICHTL/STARS AND STRIPES

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