CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea - The 2nd Infantry Division soldiers often see stars, but few have seen the bright stars of the Army’s top general in person.
A towering figure, all eyes were on locked on Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the 38th Army chief of staff, as he moved his way through the different displays showcasing the division’s newly acquired equipment during his visit to Camps Casey and Hovey Jan. 11, 2013.
“I thought his visit boosted the morale for the soldiers and it gave everybody an excellent opportunity to showcase their technical and tactical skills,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Sumpter, the Battery B executive officer, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, 210th Fires Brigade.
Odierno made an effort to spend one-on-one time with the soldiers he met in the division. He listened as the 2nd Inf. Div. soldiers talked about their jobs and their training on the peninsula.
“He seemed genuinely interested in everything I had to say and was very attentive,” said Sumpter, a native of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Odierno told soldiers that a Korea assignment is not only a cultural experience, but gives the soldier a stronger military experience as well.
“You have the opportunity to work with one of our closest allies on a daily basis,” he said. “You have the opportunity to operationally work through missions that I think is a greater opportunity than anywhere else we have in our Army. So really, in my mind, this is a great opportunity for soldiers to improve their own capabilities with their own technical and tactical mission that they have.”
Odierno addressed the future of the Army is taking and provided his reassurances to the soldiers.
“We’re looking into what the characteristic and capabilities of our Army need to be for the future,” he said. “As we do this we keep in mind the impact it has on soldiers and families. That’s very important on both myself and the secretary of the Army [John McHugh] to insure we put the policies in place so our soldiers and families can continue to perform admirably as they continue to serve. And if they choose not to serve, we’ll provide them that great opportunity as they leave the Army to be successful.”
Splitting their movements to make the most use of their time, Odierno’s wife, Linda, met with the spouses of the 2nd Inf. Div. soldiers and listened to their brief on the command sponsorship program and ideas on how to improve life for families in Korea.
“It was nice that someone that high up would take time out of her busy schedule and see what our opinion is,” said Melissa Jacobs, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Jacobs, 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, and a Creston, Ohio, native. “She really seemed to be concerned on how we felt.”
After almost five years in the Army, Spc. Leah Weiss, a CBRN specialist with 4th Chemical Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st ABCT, had never met anyone with that many stars on his chest, until now. Originally from Bethlehem, Pa., Weiss said of her five-minute conversation with Odierno that he made her feel at ease with small talk about being stationed in Korea.
Odierno’s amiable personality left a strong mark on those he met in the 2nd Inf. Div. And even hours after Odierno’s flight left the Korean peninsula, Weiss said “We’re still talking about him.”