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Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a laugh with members of the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment at Camp Casey Tuesday.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a laugh with members of the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment at Camp Casey Tuesday. (Joseph Giordono / S&S)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a laugh with members of the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment at Camp Casey Tuesday.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a laugh with members of the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment at Camp Casey Tuesday. (Joseph Giordono / S&S)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tours the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment motor pool at Camp Casey.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tours the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment motor pool at Camp Casey. (Joseph Giordono / S&S)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld greets a member of the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea, on Tuesday. The soldiers were taking part in Air Assault qualifications.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld greets a member of the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, South Korea, on Tuesday. The soldiers were taking part in Air Assault qualifications. (Joseph Giordono / S&S)

CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Perhaps Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld missed his true military calling. On his first stop of a whirlwind tour of U.S. installations Tuesday in South Korea, Rumsfeld wowed soldiers by hitting seven of seven targets in an Army tank simulator.

Later, Rumsfeld visited with 2nd Infantry Division soldiers completing Air Assault training and stopped by a tank motor pool to chat with soldiers doing maintenance on a line of M1A1 Abrams tanks.

After starting at Yongsan Garrison on Tuesday morning, Rumsfeld and his entourage of aides and traveling Pentagon press corps were helicoptered to Camp Casey, did a fly-over of Camp Humphreys and, finally flew on to Osan Air Base.

Also Tuesday, U.S. Forces Korea announced that Rumsfeld asked Gen. Leon J. LaPorte to serve another year as commander of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea.

“Gen. LaPorte has agreed,” read a USFK statement. “It is not uncommon for a commander in this region to extend.”

At Camp Casey, Rumsfeld spent part of the morning with members of the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment who were training on tank simulators in the Close Combat Tactical Trainer facility.

As soldiers and officers waited outside the cramped simulator, sounds of mock battle could be heard emanating from within. One officer poked his head in the door, then turned and reported Rumsfeld had hit his first target with the simulator’s main gun.

“Is he going to take your job?” Maj. Gen. John Wood, 2nd ID commander, jokingly asked Sgt. William Vaughn, a tank crewmember.

“I hope not, sir. I like my job,” Vaughn replied.

A few minutes later, Rumsfeld visited with soldiers who were six days from completing the rugged Air Assault qualification course.

“Thank you for what you are doing,” he said, shaking hands and asking soldiers where they were from.

“How’s the training going? Are you going to get through this phase?” he asked one soldier.

Throughout the open hangar-like building where the training was being held, soldiers sounded off with replies of “Second to None!” and “Kill the Enemy!”

Across the way at the motor pool, Rumsfeld greeted more 1-72 Armor soldiers who were doing maintenance on their Abramses.

“It’s not often that you would see anyone of his caliber visiting all the way down to a tank company,” said Capt. Joseph Brocht, commander of Company D, 1-72 Armor.

“It really means a lot to the soldiers when someone up in the chain of command comes by and really wants to see what’s going on and how they are doing.”

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