News: Retirees gather in fellowship, appreciation at Yongsan
Story by Staff Sgt. Luke Graziani
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea – U.S. military retirees from all over Korea were recognized for their service, Nov. 16, during the annual Retiree Appreciation Day on U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan. The event began with a color guard from the local ROTC presenting the colors. Col. Michael. E. Masley, garrison commander of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, gave opening remarks, thanking the retirees for their service and their continuing support in the community.
“Each year, here in Area II, we set aside a special day for some very special people: men and women who represent what is best in America,” Masley said. “Even though you don’t wear the uniform any longer, I am proud to be among all of you who gave so much while in uniform, and will continue to contribute to our country and the great ROK-U.S. alliance. I thank you for that service.”
Two seasoned veterans who served in the Korean War, and one in WWII, were presented awards to honor their sacrifices.
Chief Warrant Officer (R) Joseph C. Shepard and Staff Sgt. (R) Robert E. Pierce were both recognized at the event for their sacrifices to their country. Both men are Korean War veterans. Pierce was honored for being a World War II veteran as well. They both were presented awards and humbly accepted the praise.
USAG Yongsan has undergone many changes, and a garrison shutdown and relocation plan is in action. Retired Col. Paul Stuart, deputy garrison commander explained the progress and purpose of this move to the attendees, many whom served on Yongsan during their careers.
Concurrent with a slideshow presentation, Stuart explained the plan to move providers and services out of Yongsan. He answered several questions, including how the schools will function during the transition, and how services would be altered or where they would be relocated.
During this discussion, Stuart offered words of encouragement to his fellow retirees.
“Thank you for your service,” Stuart said. “You made a decision back then to contribute to our great nation; we appreciate that service.”
Entertainment was provided by a classically trained singer dressed in a sparkling gown and belting out the classic tune, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Later, world-renowned Yoga master, Yogi Daniel, demonstrated some stress relief techniques and a few master level Yoga poses before deftly cramming himself into a two-foot by two-foot clear Plexiglas box.
The afternoon wasn't all talk and ceremony. There were a multitude of service providers and vendors in an adjoining room offering free gifts and services to the retirees.
The booths ranged from Army Community Services to the Veterinary Clinic. Just a quick tour around the room and the retirees were able to fill not only a bag with goodies from each provider, but also helpful information about all the benefits available to them.
“It's just a way of showing our appreciation to [the retirees],” said Robert Chapman, ACS financial readiness specialist. “They can come here to see what is offered to them throughout the community. They appreciate it a lot.”
Everyone eventually settled back into the main area to have lunch, provided by the Dragon Hill Lodge, and mingle with other retirees before the event concluded.
“I spent 22 good years in the service,” said retired Air Force Master Sgt.Larry Taimanglo. “The event today was really very informative. This was my first (time attending this). I met a lot of my fellow veterans and that was a good feeling.”