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A room awaits occupancy by two junior enlisted soldiers in the newly-built four-story barracks at Army's Camp Henry in Taegu, South Korea.
A room awaits occupancy by two junior enlisted soldiers in the newly-built four-story barracks at Army's Camp Henry in Taegu, South Korea. (Galen Putnam / Courtesy of U.S. Army)

PYONGTAEK, South Korea — When Pfc. Christina Thompson moves into a new barracks at Camp Henry in Taegu, South Korea, next week, you may find her spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Not that having a kitchen is new to her. The barracks she’s in now, at Camp Henry’s Building 1631, has one. Sort of.

“It’s so old some of it doesn’t work and some of it does work,” said Thompson, 21, a customer service clerk with Detachment C, 176th Finance Battalion.

“Like the oven. We can’t bake in it or cook in it because it doesn’t cook all the way,” she said. “So we can’t really use the oven for very much. So we’re going into brand new barracks with everything, which is nice.”

The new $6.9 million, four-story structure, Building 1110, will house 216 troops, all E-6 or below, in 116 rooms. Occupants who are E-4 and below will live two-to-a-room; noncommissioned officers E-5 and E-6 get single rooms, said James Hamilton, Taegu public works chief for the Area Four Support Activity at Camp Henry.

Camp Henry has six other barracks, all two-story structures dating to 1979.

The new building will be equipped with about $500,000 of new furniture, Hamilton said.

All rooms have a refrigerator, microwave oven and bathroom, he said. Each occupant gets a desk, and each is assigned storage-room space.

“That makes it nice,” said Capt. Robert Hubble, commanding officer of Detachment C, which will move 20 of its troops into rooms next week. “They can store [extra items] in the storage area and not have it around their room or in their wall lockers.”

His unit is set to sign for furniture Friday.

Besides those from his detachment, troops from seven other units are slated to move in.

In addition to its second-floor kitchen, the new barracks has a third-floor day room and a fourth-floor game room.

On the first floor is a “mud room” where troops can clean boots and gear. A laundry room on the same floor has washers, dryers and built-in ironing boards.

Thompson’s current building lacks ironing boards.

“We had to purchase our own,” she said.

She and other soldiers got a tour of the rooms at the new barracks recently. The new rooms are somewhat smaller than their current ones, she said, but she’s still glad to be moving.

The new rooms “are actually really nice,” she said. “It’s kind of a transition because ours are just a little bigger … But again, these barracks offer a lot of areas, like a storage area, which is also nice because we don’t have that much storage” currently. “We also get our own desk.”

Construction began in February 2003 and was completed in October, said Hamilton. The Shin Il Engineering Co. Ltd. did the work under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Overall, the project went very well,” Hamilton said. “The contractor finished 55 days ahead of schedule and had no safety accidents on the job.”

Hubble said that as a unit commander, he welcomes the new building, in part because it’ll mean greater convenience and safety for his troops.

Now, he said, some soldiers in his command “live on Camp Henry, which is our office location, and then I have six soldiers who live on Camp Walker,” a nearby Army post. “So it’s definitely good news. It’ll get everybody in one place. … From a commander’s point of view, having the NCOs on the same floors as the soldiers is a nice benefit” to “keep an eye on the soldiers.”

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