USFK’s top ‘neighbors’ hit the slopes for weekend getaway
SEOUL — Sixty U.S. troops from across Korea were treated to a two-day ski trip and holiday party this weekend by the recently formed Korea-America Good Neighbor Society.
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon J. Laporte, 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles Campbell and senior members of the society joined the troops for a dinner in the Sungnam Golf Course restaurant Saturday night.
The KAGNS vice chairman, Kim Yoon-pil, gave opening remarks on behalf of chairman Park Kwan-yong.
“I hope the 60 outstanding soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who participated in the goodwill ski tour had a wonderful time on the beautiful mountains of Yong Pyong,” Kim said. “I want you all to know that the Korea-America Good Neighbor Society thanks and appreciates your service to preserve peace and freedom in the Republic of Korea.”
Kim also presented a $10,000 check to LaPorte in support of the USFK Good Neighbor Program.
“Well, I’m going to take this to the bank and see if I can cash this,” LaPorte joked while holding the oversized check.
“The ROK-U.S. alliance is a family” born on the battlefield during the Korean War, LaPorte said.
He told the military members their various commands selected them for the ski trip because they symbolize the dedicated servicemembers who work daily across Korea.
“We want to be good neighbors and we thank you for being good neighbors to us,” he told members of the society.
Army Spc. Andrew Martinez, of the 19th Theater Support Command, said he learned a lot about Koreans — and about the other branches of the military — during the trip.
“The Marines were awesome,” he said of friends he made while skiing. “I’ve never had the chance to intermingle [with the other services].”
The Crystal Falls, Mich., native has skied for about six years and said he enjoyed talking to the Koreans at the resort.
At his table was Spc. Gayle Bronner, of the 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion.
Bronner, from Wilson, N.C., said she’d never had been on skis before and appreciated the free lesson she took.
“I did pretty good,” she said. “I just couldn’t stop when I got going really fast and I’d just fall down.”
But her favorite part of the trip was the food.
“It was the first time I tried kimchee,” she said about the Korean staple of fermented vegetables seasoned with garlic, chili, green onions and other spices.
All the participants received door prizes donated by society members.