41, SOUTH KOREA
SOYOSAN, South Korea – Thoughts about demons are usually associated with fear and death. When U.S. Army units adopt the moniker “Demon,” they typically want to project a strong and almost ghostly image on the battlefield.
The leadership from Company D, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, decided to set aside all the door-kicking, tank-firing, boot-scuffing and range training, even lay aside the hardcore demon persona to volunteer at a homeless shelter Feb. 23, 2013.
Just days after a field training exercise, 10 “Demon” soldiers spent a Saturday afternoon at the Sung Kyung Welfare Foundation, located in Soyosan.
“While we’re here in Korea, we’re not only here to work, but we’re also here to serve,” said Sgt. Matthew Hart, a native of Redding, Calif., and tank gunner with Co. D. “We’re here to get to know the residents. We’re going to provide them with a little entertainment, some arts and crafts, eat lunch, scrub a few dishes, and then whatever else the organization needs from us.”
The staff at the Sung Kyung Welfare Foundation care for nearly 200 mentally handicapped, homeless and recovering alcoholics. “Demon” soldiers were able to lend a hand by providing residents with some entertainment, then by helping the staff clean.
“I’ve been volunteering with my Family since I was a kid,” said Hart. “It feels great to be able to give something back to your community. You know you made a difference when they [the residents] begin trusting you enough to start talking, laughing and joking.”
Soldiers within the unit donated money to buy pizza and drinks for some of the residents during the visit.
“Helping others is like instant gratification,” said 1st Lt. Michael Ariola, a native of Chicago and the executive officer of Co. D. “It’s also great that soldiers want to volunteer their time for events like this. I actually had to turn down soldiers because the foundation could only accommodate so many volunteers.”
The residents of the foundation weren’t the only ones who appreciated the soldiers’ visit. The staff was grateful that the
“Demons” dedicated an afternoon for the visit.
“I’m glad to see that the soldiers would take time off to help us out,” said Kim Young-jim, a human-development director, for the Sung Kyung Welfare Foundation. “When the soldiers volunteer in the community, it helps to remind Koreans and anyone else that we are all the same.”
Ariola stated that his soldiers volunteer every two to three months to promote the Good Neighbor Program.
“When you first arrive in country, you’re told that you’re an ambassador for the U.S. in the Republic of South Korea,” said Staff Sgt. William Staneck, a Carrollton, Ga., native and a tank commander in Co. D. “So it’s actually nice to go out and perform that role in a formal way. Our leadership gives us downtime when they can. However, when you take that personal time and dedicate it to other people, then it has a little more meaning.”
When the day at the Sung Kyung Welfare Foundation was over and the “Demon” soldiers pulled out of the parking lot, they made sure to put on their hardcore persona before heading back to Camp Casey. As they entered post, they stepped back into the mindset of the hard-charging, door-kicking, tank-driving, range-running warriors.
This work, Demons work with community outreach, by SSG Kyle Richardson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.