Camp Stanley brings Oktoberfest to South Korea
CAMP STANLEY, South Korea — U.S. military and civilian volksmarchers conquered Mount Sorak, the imposing peak behind this camp, on Monday to kick off a daylong Oktoberfest.
The celebration was the first big event at Camp Stanley for soldiers from the 501st Corps Support Group, 498th Combat Support Battalion; 46th Transportation Company; 61st Maintenance Company; 305th Quartermaster Company; Detachment A, 168th Medical Company; 304th Signal Battalion and the 15th Korean Service Corps Company — units that recently took over the base from the 2nd Infantry Division.
One of the most eager participants was Area I recreation adviser Jay Underwood, who was trying to re-enact some of the marches he went on during his 15 years as a U.S. civilian government worker in Germany.
“That was the hardest volksmarch I have ever been on,” he said after arriving back at Camp Stanley.
“You get to where you think you are almost done and you have about 500 steps to go,” he said.
The original Oktoberfest was to celebrate a prince’s wedding in Munich, Germany, he said.
“Everybody liked it so much they kept doing it. There are hundreds of volksmarches in Germany. They do it to get Americans and Germans together,” Underwood explained.
Area I Command Sgt. Maj. Jolanda Lomax said South Korea was the ideal environment for such an event because of the beautiful mountains.
Headquarters Headquarters Company Area I soldier Staff Sgt. Von Kittrell, 49, of Aliquippa, Pa., said he had never been to Germany but had marched during a previous tour to Camp Hovey, South Korea.
“It gives you an appreciation of the scenery, it’s good fitness and we met some Korean people along the way,” he said.
After the march, 501st Commander Col. Jayne Carson of Annandale, Va., tapped the first keg of beer and drank a toast to participants who had gathered in front of a stage behind the camp’s Community Activities Center.
Soon soldiers and civilians were relaxing in the sun, entertained by 2nd ID’s tae kwon do team and rockers Far From Nowhere or sampling German food.
Spc. Jared Carlisle, 23, of Niles, Mich., a 46th Transportation Company soldier, stood out from the crowd of beer drinkers in his Utilikilt — a traditional Scottish kilt with pockets added to carry tools.
Another beer drinker from the 46th, Pvt. Christian Victorine, 24, of Seattle, said the South Korean event reminded him of the first Oktoberfest he attended in Germany, where he was born.
“For $10 you were drinking until you passed out or fell asleep somewhere. I don’t remember the second half of the day,” he said.