REPLUBLIC OF KOREA — In Korean, “jawon bongsa” means to volunteer and it plays a significant role in their culture.
For the Greywolf Brigade, volunteering is a way to connect with Korean allies and to also pay forward the kindness they have shown, as well as continue to build a strong and lasting relationship.
Over the past six months of the Brigade’s deployment to Korea, every battalion has given back to the Korean community in various ways, including delivering coal to the homes of the needy to help them heat their homes as the months turn cold. Recently, Soldiers from 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, in conjunction with 210th Fires Brigade, delivered more than 1,200 cylinders of coal to the needy in the city of Dongducheon.
“I felt like I really contributed to the community,” Spc. Marcus Neal, a cavalry scout with Troop C, said. “There’s a lot of stuff we take for granted and heat is one of them. Helping others is always a good feeling.”
According to Pfc. Jose Benedette, also with C Troop, the coal was bigger than he expected.
“When you think of coal, you think of charcoal, but these were about the size of a large tin of nuts.”
The volunteers formed a human chain from the truck that delivered the coal to the home in need. They then passed the coal up the chain. They were not alone either, as the mayor and other citizens came out to assist in the effort.
“It really felt like a community effort,” Spc. Eric Whipple, Troop C, said. “We got pretty dirty, but I had a great time and felt good when we were done.”
Of course, this is just one of many examples of the volunteer opportunities the Soldiers have had the chance to participate in since arriving in July. Other battalions have volunteered to teach English to students, help with disabled children, make kimchi for the hungry and deliver gifts to orphanages.
It isn’t just the battalions and companies volunteering, but also individuals like Staff Sgt. Jamil Green, a squad leader with Company C, 1st Battalion, 12th Cav. Regt., who started volunteering in Korea when he was stationed here in 2017 and has picked up where he left off, volunteering almost every weekend he has free.
“It’s very humbling to see the impact you make on someone’s life no matter how minor you may think it is,” he said. “I learned from this experience just how much we take for granted. Volunteering helps me get a better perspective on life.”
For Capt. Tristan Laicer, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 1st Bn., 12th Cav. Regt., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div., whose company has volunteered for numerous events including serving food at a soup kitchen, interacting with kids at a local orphanage and supporting the USO, volunteering has had a major impact on the morale of his Soldiers.
“Not only do we give of ourselves to others, but we get in return,” he said. “My Troopers come back from these events, energized and excited. Many are wondering when they get to do it again. It is great for building a solid team within your formation, and for also building on the partnership.”