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NEWS | Dec. 15, 2017

Warrior Division Soldiers recognized by US Embassy, USFK

By Master Sgt. Kevin Doheny 2nd Infantry Division

Five Warrior Division Soldiers were formally recognized for saving the life of a North Korean defector Nov. 13 by the Honorable Marc Knapper, charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy-Korea, and Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Forces-Korea/United Nations Command/ROK-US Combined Forces Command commanding general during a ceremony at the Habib House, the U.S. ambassador's residence in Seoul, Dec. 14.

The quick actions by Soldiers from the Joint Security Area and an aero-medical evacuation crew from 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, performed emergency life-saving procedures, which resulted in saving the life of the defector who was shot five times and was minutes from dying from his injuries. 

"What goes unnoticed, in much of the telling of these events, is the hard work involved in building and maintaining the relationships that allowed for such a successful operation," said Knapper. "It is not just our capabilities, our training, our equipment, or our knowledge that provides strength to the Alliance. It is our ability to work together in using these tools that makes the Alliance so strong."

"The North Korean security forces, who fired at the soldier defecting to the South, tried to break his will for freedom," said Brooks. "ROK-U.S. service members with other goodwill broke into the situation and took positive action to rescue the soldier."

Thirteen individuals were honored Thursday for their contributions to the life-saving effort. Among them, the 'Dust Off' medevac crew, which included Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Tirro, Sgt. 1st Class Gopal Singh, Spc. Carroll Moore, and Pfc. Karina Lopez. The fifth crew member, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nathan Gumm, who piloted the rescue transport, had already transitioned from Korea at the time of the ceremony; however his recognition will be forwarded to his next duty station.

According to reports, the JSA trauma team that originally treated the defector contacted the MEDEVAC crew, based out of Camp Casey, 15 minutes by air from the DMZ. The flight crew arrived on-site where the defector was loaded onto their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and immediately began performing first aid, and continued during the 80-kilometer transport to Ajou Hospital, Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. 

Once they arrived at the hospital the flight crew then carefully transported the defector to the trauma team where surgeons began performing more extensive medical treatment, which continued for several days.

The defector is currently in stable condition and continues to recover from his injuries.
"ROK-U.S. service members really made a big difference," said Brooks. "Years of training and cooperation between our two countries made this possible."

"You and your actions represent what the alliance is truly about," said Knapper to the honorees. "I am honored to recognize your contributions and to celebrate with you today."



Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility Welcomes ASC Personnel
Twenty-eight ASC [formerly known as the Australian Submarine Corporation] personnel pose for a photo at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF), Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 16, 2024. The team is part of the Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS) enhanced trilateral security partnership. They will be trained and certified on various aspects of submarine maintenance to support the AUKUS Pillar 1 program that is supporting Australia’s acquisition of sovereign conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines. PHNSY & IMF is a field activity of NAVSEA and a one-stop regional maintenance center for the Navy’s surface ships and submarines. It is the largest industrial employer in the state of Hawai’i, with a combined civilian and military workforce of approximately 6,400. It is the most comprehensive fleet repair and maintenance facility between the U.S. West Coast and the Far East, strategically located in the heart of the Pacific, being about a week’s steaming time closer to potential regional contingencies in the Indo-Pacific.

The AUKUS Integration and Acquisition Program Office is responsible for executing the trilateral partnership to support Australia’s acquisition of sovereign, conventionally armed, nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines at the earliest possible date while setting the highest nuclear stewardship standards and continuing to maintain the highest nonproliferation standard. The AUKUS partnership is a strategic endeavor that will uplift the industrial bases of the three partners and promote a safe, free and open Indo-Pacific, ensuring an international, rules-based order is upheld in the region.

To learn about AUKUS Pillar 1 and the Optimal Pathway, visit ---- FACT SHEET: Trilateral Australia-UK-US Partnership on Nuclear-Powered Submarines | The White House

(U.S. Navy photo by Claudia LaMantia)
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