News: Exercise participants from Okinawa visit children's social service center
Story by 1st Lt. Adrian Rankine-Galloway
Soldiers, Sailors and Marines embarked on USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, took advantage of a brief pause in Exercise Key Resolve-Foal Eagle by spending time with the young residents of the Hee-Rak-Won Child Social Welfare Center in Busan, South Korea.
The Hee-Rak-Won Center, founded in the early years of the Korean War to care for children orphaned by the conflict, now serves as a home and school for children, ages 8-18, who come from troubled homes.
During the visit, the service members donated gifts and supplies and spent time playing with the children. They were also treated to a tour of the facility by Cindy S. Park, the center's director.
"I am so grateful for all of you for coming," Park said to all of the visitors. "It really helps the children's [self] esteem when the U.S. military visits the center. You get to learn about us and we get to learn about you."
After the tour, the children put on a percussion performance using drums, pots and pans. The performance, titled "Nanta over Flowers," received a standing ovation from the service members and concluded with a well-organized march off the stage.
After the mini-concert, the children shed their instruments and joined the U.S. personnel for soccer, kickball and basketball.
"Those kids were happy," said Sgt. Nancy Ayon, an administration Marine assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Force. "My favorite thing was kickball. It reminded me of being a kid again - the same games. Kickball is international; everyone knows how to play."
The service members' visit ended with a soccer game against the Korean children. The Hee-Rak-Won team beat the service members 2-1.
"Those kids really had a good time," said Capt. Joshua Montero, an artillery officer temporarily assigned to the III MEF staff. "What I really like is that you don't even need to speak the same language to have fun with kids."
After the soccer game, as the service members departed the center to return to USS Blue Ridge, the children lined up and shouted "Thank you!" in unison as the bus rolled away.
Key Resolve-Foal Eagle is an exercise designed to improve the South Korea-based Combined Force's Command's ability to defend South Korea.
The exercise included a full range of equipment, capabilities and personnel designed to help teach, coach and mentor military service members while exercising senior leaders' decision-making capabilities.
This work, Exercise participants from Okinawa visit children's social service center, by CPT Adrian Rankine-Galloway, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.