‘Watchdogs’ of 8th MP Brigade welcome ‘pups’
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Tables full of barbecued hamburgers, coolers of icy juice boxes, balloons, games and soldiers were nothing more than a blur as a group of orphans arrived on base Sunday morning.
After getting out of the bus, the 39 kids from the Sung Ro Won orphanage bolted for the two inflatable bounce houses at the end of the soccer field.
“Man, you could see a dust cloud,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Barnes, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Military Police Brigade.
The company adopted the orphanage about four months ago and Sunday was the first time the kids visited Yongsan, Barnes said.
Sunday’s event was dubbed “Watchpup Olympics,” playing off the unit’s name of the “Watchdogs,” Barnes explained.
Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Doucet was key in the monthlong preparation. He worked with Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the Youth Center in designing the event for the visitors, 3 to 9 years old.
Games included a three-legged race, long jump, balloon toss, egg carry, softball throw and soccer ball kick.
About 40 of the unit’s soldiers, including the Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army (KATUSA), volunteered to assist. Their only fee was handing out hugs.
Chun Ok-ja, the orphanage assistant superintendent, said the kids were so interested in the bounce houses that they didn’t even want to eat.
“They wanted to come here so bad they were causing a ruckus” when going to bed Saturday night, Chun said through an interpreter.
Brigade commander Col. Falkner Heard was on hand to observe the events.
“It’s a great opportunity to return some of the wonderful hospitality that Koreans show the brigade on a daily basis,” Heard said. He called the day a “win-win situation for everyone.”
Barnes said the soldiers get a lot from the event.
“We’re ready to fight tonight,” he said, “but we’re going to play today.”
He jokingly said he volunteers with the orphans out of greed because “it makes me feel good.”
“It makes us all feel good … to see them smile out here,” he said.