South Korea-U.S. friendship is feted at event in Seoul
Stars and Stripes June 16, 2007
SEOUL — The Korea America Friendship Society held its annual Friendship Night on Thursday at the Seoul Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The event, held to thank U.S. troops for their contributions to the South Korea-U.S. alliance, featured pre-dinner speeches that left many “hungry” for dinner.
“They say Korea has been fated to be sandwiched between China and Japan, between continental and maritime powers … between the norms of nonproliferation and North Korea’s nuclear weapons,” KAFS President Park Keun said during opening remarks. “Once we start enjoying … American beef sandwiches and Korean ginseng tea, we will no longer have to fear being ourselves ‘sandwiched.’ We will gladly eat them all up.”
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell cooked up his own sandwich speech — describing the United States and South Korea as each being a slice of bread.
“The stuff in the middle, the stuff that makes the sandwich work, is the Korea America Friendship Society,” Bell said. “It sets us on a healthy path.”
Bell said the society and organizations like it help keep the relationship strong.
Sandwiched between the opening remarks and Bell’s speech was the presentation of awards to one member of each branch of service.
Those honored were:
Marine CorpsGunnery Sgt. Windle Riles was recognized for his efforts with the Marine Corps’ Toys For Tots program over the past two years.
In 2005, he directed the collection of more than 3,000 toys that were distributed to 15 orphanages in South Korea. The following year he netted more than 5,000 toys and distributed them to 19 orphanages.
Riles, who’s been in the Corps 19 years, said his involvement with Toys For Tots goes much farther back than 2005. When he was 5 years old, he received a toy firetruck for Christmas from the program.
“As a kid I received toys from Toys For Tots,” he said. “That was part of the reason I joined the Marines Corps. I think it’s a great program.”
Riles also helped distribute gifts to military families that are not command-sponsored.
NavyPetty Officer 1st Class Kevin Goodman, Commander, Naval Forces Korea, received his award for coordinating his unit’s sponsorship of the Hye-Shim-Won Orphanage in Huampong.
He organized 15 to 20 orphanage events yearly for between 35 and 40 orphans.
He also organized the annual CNFK Korean Childrens’ Christmas Parties and Angel Tree programs, and mentored Korean elementary students.
“I enjoy helping orphans. It’s a good way to get out and see Korean culture, and share our culture with them,” Goodman said.
“It gives me a good feeling.”
Air ForceLt. Col. Paul Cannon, a chaplain, was recognized for coordinating community relations efforts for Air Force personnel stationed at Kunsan Air Base, including orphanage visits, manual labor at a nursing home and English classes and Bible study sessions for South Korean airmen stationed at Kunsan.
Though it is not his first time overseas, Cannon said his tour in South Korea was the first time he’d done so much for the local community because there were more opportunities here than other places he’d been.
“We could do just American-centered things,” he said. “But we feel it’s important to go beyond just our community.”
ArmySgt. Richard Kripplebauer had hoped to come into the Army as a linguist. Unfortunately, the job was unavailable when he enlisted.
That didn’t stop him from becoming conversational in Korean within a year of being stationed at Camp Humphreys or from spending almost two years teaching conversational English to members of the Korean air force and local elementary school students.
He said he has always liked teaching and hopes to do it professionally when he’s out of the Army.
Kripplebauer also organized monthly events geared toward helping members of his unit learn more about Korean culture, and he helped Korean augmentees improve their English.