South Korean Engineers Say Farewell to Afghanistan
By 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan, Dec. 11, 2007 Engineers from the Republic of Korea’s First Vertical Construction Company will be redeploying to their country, having completed their mission here.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrates the completion of the Direct Support Maintenance Facility at Forward Operating Base Sharana, in Afghanistan, and also the end of a five-year mission in Afghanistan for South Korean soldiers. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The company, commanded by Korean Capt. Bo Geol Choi from Seoul, completed its mission of constructing five K-Spans, which are hanger-like buildings, during a 20-week-long period. The K-Spans will enhance maintenance operations for the brigade support battalion and bring more space for supply support activities. Even though K-Spans are not common in Korea, the soldiers were previously trained by civil engineers in their country. Not a single accident occurred during the construction mission, despite the intense heat of July and August and working from elevated areas most of the time.
“Working with various coalition forces for the same goal has been an extraordinary experience. There is nothing that compares to a life under such a rugged environment, and I've been lucky enough to be a part of this great team,” Choi said. “We operated in such an organic, smooth manner. The U.S. Army levelled and graded the ground; Koreans (erected) five total K-Span buildings with Polish engineers taking part … to produce (a) great construction product.”
“Out of all the great memories, the ribbon-cutting ceremony will be a bittersweet, tear-jerking moment,” said Korean Sgt. Kim Min Ki. “We absolutely got to enjoy many activities held to bring all the coalition forces in FOB Sharana (together), like the soccer games between Korean, American and Polish soldiers.”
Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall Bowie, the Task Force Pacemaker construction supervisor, from Anniston, Ala., was one of many American soldiers who worked with the Korean group on a day-to-day basis. He was able to gain the understanding and respect of two engineer armies.
“Overall, I think the experience was educational for me and the Korean soldiers and shows that everyone does construction different that can end with the same final result,” Bowie said.
For the past five years, South Korean soldiers have been supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Korean engineers have conducted over 400 small and large operational facility construction projects. The ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated not only the completion of the Direct Support Maintenance Facility in FOB Sharana, but also the end of a five-year mission in Afghanistan for the Korean soldiers.
(Army 1st Lt. Kenya Virginia Saenz is assigned to Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office.)