8th Army GIs expect big things at D.C. race
September 15, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Last year, a team of 16 men and women from 8th U.S. Army placed second in a 10-mile run that drew American soldiers and officers from around the world.
This year, the team is hoping for more.
“What do you need that you don’t have?” U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte asked the team Tuesday morning as he wished the runners good luck in the Army Ten-Miler, slated for Oct. 2.
There was a long pause before Maj. Sylvia Bennett of the 19th Theater Support Command spoke up.
“Really good weather, sir,” she said, drawing smiles from everyone.
The 16 soldiers and officers will compete in early October in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference. The run kicks off the conference, and later the runners will man a booth promoting South Korea as an assignment for other servicemembers.
“You’re great ambassadors for 8th Army when you go,” LaPorte told the group.
Last year, the men’s and women’s teams both won second place out of more than 200 teams participating in the run, Bennett said.
The team is sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea; the Korea Region Morale, Welfare and Recreation office; and 8th Army’s AUSA group. The entire trip costs about $70,000. MWR pays for about $60,000 of that, including airfare and hotels, said Tom Higgins, sports director for Korea Region MWR.
The AUSA chapter provides a $400 stipend to each runner to help pay for meals and in compensation for them working the convention, said Dave Ciesinski, senior vice president of the Morning Calm chapter of AUSA.
Before heading off for a two-week training camp at Daegu, LaPorte, 8th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell and USFK Commander Sgt. Maj. Barry Wheeler thanked the group for keeping in shape and running on behalf of 8th Army.
Training for the race is all part of maintaining readiness on the peninsula, Campbell said, and he encouraged the runners to bring that message to other Army members at the convention.
“That story needs to be told,” he said.