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DAEGU, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell recognized approximately 60 Daegu soldiers on Thursday for traveling to South Korea’s west coast to help clean up the country’s worst-ever oil spill.

Bell passed out his commander’s coins to the troops during a ceremony at Daegu, and he told the soldiers they had helped lessen the environmental impact of the 10,500-ton oil spill and helped the region’s recovering fishing and aquaculture industries.

“You may have saved their entire future,” he said.

Spc. Cejohn Blake said he spent 3½ hours wiping oil off rocks at the coastline, working alongside South Korean volunteers. “There was good camaraderie,” he said.

Several hundred U.S. soldiers and airmen from across the peninsula have helped clean up oil from the Dec. 7 spill, caused when a barge collided with a Hong Kong supertanker seven miles off the coast.

Soldiers at Daegu said they were glad to help.

“What if it was us, and the shoe was on the other foot? They’d come and help us,” said Sgt. Eboni Whitfield.

She said the cleanup was fun, despite the snow, rain and hail and a five-hour drive to get to the beach.

“I know if it was the other way around, people would be willing to help the U.S. clean up,” said Spc. Tramaine Carey.

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