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U.S.-ROK Military Team up for Pohang Service Project

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070402-29
Release Date: 4/2/2007 6:12:00 PM

From Task Force 76 and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs

POHANG, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from the United States and Republic of Korea (ROK) extended their hands in friendship and collectively extended a hand to help a women’s hospital and elderly home here April 1.

Sailors of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ESXARG) and Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) teamed up with Sailors from one of the ROK Navy’s tank landing ships and also Marines from Regimental Landing Team (RLT) 2 to complete a handful of landscape projects for St. Mary’s Hospital, which also serves as a home for the elderly.

The project came at the end of Foal Eagle 2007, giving the service members a chance to work together in goodwill after working together in combined amphibious operations.

Participants said the service project was not only a way to help out but to increase the bonds and relationship with their counterparts.

“It was fun and an all around good time; after awhile, we became friends and conversations were natural,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Michael D. Jones, a member of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, which is the afloat command staff aboard USS Essex (LHD 2). “It felt good to be doing something positive together.”

Sailors and Marines of both nations helped put trees into a garden and pavilion area. The participants also moved rocks to build a rock wall behind the trees.

While conducting the project and during breaks, service members interacted with each other and shared conversations. One of the ROK Marine officers explained the ROK ranking structure and then gave the names of the ranks in Korean as U.S. Marines and Sailors intently listened.

“I am glad to see the ROK/U.S. Navy and Marine Corps cooperate to help. This helps the alliance and builds friendship,” said ROK Marine Sgt. Jong-kyu Yoon. “This project helps build communication and trust between each other.”

Service members of the ARG-MEU team have attempted to establish this trust and strong relationship not only with their fellow service members but also with the community at large through community service projects during Foal Eagle and as part of the MEU’s predeployment training in-country.

The MEU Marines and Sailors conducted three ROK community service projects prior to the start of Foal Eagle at a social welfare center in Pohang and at two orphanages in Kyung-Ju City.

“The Marines and Sailors that have participated in these projects have enjoyed the interactions and relating with children, adults and their fellow military counterparts,” said Cmdr. Alfonso Concha, the MEU chaplain. “I think this builds a strong relationship with the community and friendship among our people.”

“It’s like we know each other already,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class You Young Park, a ROK radar operator. “Today, we have worked together and have had fun together.”

At the end the day, the projects were complete and every participant admitted to making a new friend, or "chin gu" in Korean.

Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 / Task Force (CTF) 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan. The 31st MEU is permanently forward-deployed from Okinawa.

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