News: Warrior Brigades plant trees for Arbor Day
Story by Capt. Kelly McKenzie
DONGDUCHEON, South Korea – Soldiers from 210th Fires Brigade and 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, joined the citizens of Dongducheon to plant 1,500 trees to celebrate Arbor Day on April 5, 2013.
More than 50 soldiers and 100 Dongducheon citizens joined in the effort to revitalize a hillside in the southern part of the city to make a positive impact on the environment and solidify the strong relationship between soldiers and Korean citizens.
Dongducheon Mayor Oh Sea-chang addressed the volunteers and encouraged them to work with care while planting the trees.
“I encourage you to plant the trees with your best will; that is the way to show your love for this country,” said Oh.
The Arbor Day observance is a longstanding tradition that celebrates the enduring partnership between the military and the city of Dongducheon.
“Today is the 68th Arbor Day event, and we do it together with 2nd Infantry Division,” said Nam Sang-man, a Korean who works in Dongducheon City Hall. “It is for promoting friendship together.”
Senior division leaders enthusiastically supported the community effort.
“The planting of trees is a great activity for us to do together because it’s very much like the relationship the 2nd Infantry Division has with the city of Dongducheon,” said Col. Louis Rago, commander, 1st ABCT.
“Today we’ll do a little bit of work, and it will be a little hard, but over the years the trees will grow and become stronger, just like our relationship has over the 60 years that we’ve been good friends,” he continued.
The volunteers climbed steep, bare hillsides and planted baby pine trees together, sharing laughs and stumbles along with the hard work. U.S. and Dongducheon citizens alike carried bags of trees to each other, helped dig holes and carefully placed new trees in the landscape.
“This was on my bucket list,” said Sgt. Pedro Bulgado, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico and a signal support systems specialist from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st ABCT. “I never imagined I would do it – plant a tree in another country. I know they use a lot of wood to warm themselves in the winter, so I guess I’m helping.”
After planting more than 1,500 seedlings, the volunteers gathered around tables to share a traditional chicken meal and friendly conversation.
“We do this Arbor Day event every year. Government employees participated in this always with U. S. soldiers,” said Ko Hyun-jin, a Korean who works in the Dongducheon City Hall. “Understanding each other and sharing each others’ opinions through this event are beneficial.”
The event is a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the community partnership between 2nd Infantry Division and the citizens of Dongducheon, working together as good neighbors to make the community a better place.