BUSAN, Republic of Korea -- Sailors assigned to Commander, Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Jeong Do-Il delivered care packages from Operation Gratitude to ROK Sailors stationed in the vicinity of YeonPyeong Island, Jan. 29.
This event not only helped to boost morale among Korea’s front line force stationed on the Northern Limit Line (NLL) but also served to strengthen ties between the partner nations.
“Today, we had an opportunity to take the generosity given to us, from Operation Gratitude back home, and share that generosity with our partners in the ROK Navy,” said CNFK Command Master Chief Chris Detje. “If you come up here to the NLL, you see the conditions that these young men are enduring while being stationed here, where they’re isolated on an afloat staging base or ashore on isolated duty for multiple months at a time. These Sailors are working hard every day, and if we have an opportunity to make their lives a little bit better, I think we should take it. Taking the opportunity to come up here and share happy feelings and good will just seemed like the logical thing to do.”
Detje said part of CNFK’s mission is to strengthen the alliance and while meetings between senior Sailors are routine, events where senior Sailors meet junior Sailors are relatively rare. He added that this event served as opportunity to demonstrate to these junior Sailors the ironclad nature of the ROK-U.S. alliance and that they have friends and partners in the U.S. that care about them.
“We invited the Korean MCPON, and he just jumped at the opportunity,” Detje said. “The biggest portion of it is that we want the junior Sailors to understand that we are a family. Very often, senior people go out and work together on all kinds of events, but how often do we go out and say thank you to junior Sailors? This was that chance to say ‘thank you.’”
YeonPyeong Island is located closer to North Korea than it is to South Korea. The Sailors stationed there work around the clock to keep everyone on the Korean peninsula safe from the regional threats.
“Even though they’re still in their home country, this is essentially a deployment for them,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Jeremy Gifford. “As someone who has done multiple deployments myself, I can understand the circumstances that they’re in and the weight that’s been put on their shoulders being part of that first line of defense. Seeing that smile that comes across their faces as they’re digging through the care packages just gives me a feeling that I’ve done something great today. They are our brothers in arms, and I would gladly do this again at any time.”