Missile battalion wrapping up 13 years in South Korea
Stars and Stripes June 12, 2007
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The Army missile unit set to leave South Korea after 13 years has made sure its soldiers can take their foreign brides home with no immigration glitches.
The 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery is moving to Fort Bliss, Texas, after having been stationed in South Korea since 1994. The battalion, headquartered at Suwon Air Base, is part of the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
The battalion will turn over its Korea mission to the 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, in a 10 a.m. ceremony Friday at Suwon Air Base.
But the 1-43 ADA’s soldiers aren’t the only ones heading for Texas. Foreign spouses are going, too.
About 13 of the unit’s soldiers have wives from foreign countries — South Korea, Romania and Uganda, for example, said commanding officer Lt. Col. John Chavez.
“When we got word on the rotations, that was one of the things that popped into our head — ‘We’ve gotta help those guys’” make sure their spouses can enter the United States, Chavez said.
In many cases they had to work “very diligently” to arrange passports and visas for the spouses, Chavez said.
The battalion also has been heavily focused on working in to its new stateside duty station.
As part of that focus, the battalion chaplain has held briefings for married soldiers who’ll be rejoining stateside spouses after a year or so apart. And the battalion has arranged for chaplains at Fort Bliss to be ready to help families adjust to the new circumstances, Chavez said.
Driver safety also is a big focus because some soldiers haven’t driven in the United States for at least a year, Chavez said.
Troops who want to make long road trips to bring family back to Fort Bliss must plan them wisely with the help of an online service from the military. It includes road safety tips and has mapping software and other materials for planning a safe, efficient trip.
The resulting plan needs a supervisor’s OK, Chavez said.
“The last thing we want someone to do is to arrive at Fort Bliss, sign in at the unit, fly to New York, and try to drive straight back to El Paso, Texas,” Chavez said.