Annual beach event a blast for soldiers
June 5, 2007
DAECHEON BEACH, South Korea — Between 600 and 800 servicemembers stationed across South Korea invaded this west coast city for a two-day beach party, the year’s largest event targeting unaccompanied soldiers.
The BOSS Beach Blast Weekend was the 13th annual beach weekend thrown by Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers.
“It’s a quality-of-life issue for our soldiers — being able to come off the installations and see the ocean and have a good time,” said Sgt. Maj. Jason Kim, BOSS program senior military adviser. The event was free for soldiers, who were bussed in from across the peninsula and had to pay only for their hotel rooms.
Single — or unaccompanied — soldiers weren’t the only ones who showed up.
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell flew to the beach with his wife and several other high-ranking officials late Sunday morning.
“I needed to come down here and say ‘hi’ to you for just a minute,” said the general, who decided to attend the event after an Army specialist mailed him an invitation.
“If a young specialist takes the time to invite me to something, I want to come,” he said. “(Unaccompanied soldiers) get a little bit left behind because of our emphasis on families.”
Bell walked across the beach and spoke with several soldiers, including Spc. Sony Mathew, who won a jalapeno-pepper eating contest by gobbling 13 peppers in two minutes.
“It was nice. I wasn’t expecting him to be out here,” said a sweating Mathew, who confessed that he couldn’t remember the post-pepper popping conversation he had with Bell: “I was trying to fight the bird” — or not throw up, he said
Soldiers also participated in a watermelon-eating contest, mud wrestling, a beach volleyball tournament and a hula-hoop contest.
“It’s awesome. Definitely worth the trip from Camp Stanley,” Spc. Randy Neagle said after taking a turn down a mud slide.
Officials said there had been no security incidents involving soldiers as of Sunday morning.