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Col. John G. Rossi, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade commander, gives an award to Maj. Gen. Lee Gwang-hee, who heads the South Korean Air Defense Artillery Command, during a ceremony Friday at Osan Air Base, South Korea.
Col. John G. Rossi, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade commander, gives an award to Maj. Gen. Lee Gwang-hee, who heads the South Korean Air Defense Artillery Command, during a ceremony Friday at Osan Air Base, South Korea. (T.D. Flack / S&S)

The following correction to this story was posted on Dec. 20: "A Dec. 18 story about the 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, should have stated the Dec. 15 gathering was to celebrate the unit’s one-year anniversary, not a flagging ceremony."

KWANGJU, South Korea — The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade celebrated its one-year anniversary in South Korea with ceremonies on Thursday and Friday.

The brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery — located at Kwangju — celebrated Thursday with a flagging ceremony. The brigade arrived a year ago from Fort Bliss, Texas.

About 400 battalion soldiers, U.S. and South Korean guests gathered in the theater at Kwangju, a South Korean Air Force base, on Thursday. The ceremony began with a brief slide show of soldiers working and playing on base and in the community.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Marcus C. Black thanked Lt. Gen. Charles Campbell and Brig. Gen Ko Kyung-yoon, respectively the 8th Army and South Korean 1st Fighter Wing commanders, and former South Korean ambassador Park Young-chol for attending.

Campbell lauded the soldiers’ round-the-clock, 365-day-a-year service, saying they epitomize the “ready to fight tonight” concept.

He also thanked them for creating an “exceptional partnership” with the community, while saying that would have been impossible without Park’s help.

Park, the Korean American Friendship Society Kwangju chapter president, traveled to Fort Bliss to foster a relationship with the leaders before they moved to Korea. He also worked with the Kwangju community as U.S. soldiers moved to the base.

Operations Sgt. Maj. Javier Fernandez arrived with the advance party in October 2004 to help prepare for the unit’s arrival. He said the South Korean military has been key to his battalion’s success.

According to information provided by the battalion, soldiers adopted two local orphanages, helped prepare a home for the handicapped for winter, partnered with South Korean military forces and hosted an open house. And in their first year at Kwangju, they volunteered about 1,000 hours in the off-base community.

On Friday, brigade commander Col. John G. Rossi hosted a ceremony at Osan Air Base and was joined by Maj. Gen. Lee Gwang- hee and Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes Jr., commanders respectively of the South Korean Air Defense Artillery Command and 51st Fighter Wing.

Rossi cited two Patriot unit rotations, joint basing on South Korean facilities, acquiring 24 Avengers and Sentinel radar units and a constant commitment to readiness as among the brigade’s accomplishments since arrival.

He said his troops are spread out across the peninsula, from Camp Casey near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea to Kwangu in the peninsula’s southwest portion.

While most one-year rotations on the peninsula are soldier by soldier, the air defense soldiers are the only ones to rotate entire fire batteries in and out. The Army is adopting that system as part of transformation, Rossi said, “and we’re at the forefront.”

A Pyeongtaek Korean American Cooperation Branch member read a speech from Pyeongtaek Mayor Song Myung-ho pledging continued support of the brigade.

Rossi also thanked Reynes, saying the only phrase to sum up their relationship is “one team — one fight.”

“You are a leader we’d follow in combat without question. My only regret is that you are not an Army officer,” he said to laughter in the audience.

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