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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2021

Korea Defense Veterans Association hosts annual education conference for Junior Service Members

By Tech. Sgt. Kristin S. High 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Korea Defense Veterans Association (KDVA) hosted their 3rd annual luncheon at Osan Air Base, Nov. 24, 2021. This education conference was established in 2018 to help educate junior service members on the importance of the Republic of Korea (ROK)-US alliance and provide opportunities to share their ideas and experiences.

Col. Joshua Wood, 51st Fighter Wing commander provided the following opening remarks.

“Here in Korea, we have a unique opportunity to both learn from and work alongside our host nation counterparts; an alliance that has been around for the past 68 years,” Wood said. “Today in this room, everyone has served in the military, past or present, in protecting the Republic of Korea and the freedoms of the 51 million citizens of this nation.”

In 2017, KDVA was founded by former U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. (Ret.) Vincent Brooks. Currently, the Korean chapter is headed by Maj.Gen. (Ret.) Seo [Soh] Young Lee. Their mission is to enhance the ROK-US alliance by advocating for and supporting the people who built and serve its cause.

The organization consists of former and current USFK members, Combined Forces Command Service Members, Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army (KATUSA), and headquartered in Washington D.C. U.S.A. This year, Lee was the appointed keynote speaker for the luncheon. Lee provided in-depth insight on the various beneficial impacts the alliance has had globally from his own experience.

“We have a very strong alliance built and forged in blood,” Lee said. “There were 1,798,000 U.S. participants in the Korean war. More than 30,000 were killed in action; 100,000 wounded and 8,000 still missing in action.” He pointed to an image showing a Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., “There is an important saying inscribed on it, ‘freedom is not free’.”

He went on to show a slide show of many war memorials throughout the world dedicated to the US and the ROK fighting side by side for decades.

Staff Sgt. Keosha Middleton, 51st Force Support Squadron contract officer, attended the conference with additional members from her unit.

“My purpose for coming here today was to understand our posture and the importance of the alliance between the U.S. and Korea and just to become more educated on things I wasn’t previously aware of,” she said. “I learned about the background history. There were some things I knew but to hear from a Korean General himself brought a different perspective. It’s nice to see that even after [Lee’s] service has ended, he’s still giving back and educating us and keeping that partnership strong between us.”

From the Vietnam War, to Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the ROK-US alliance has persevered and continued to maintain a combined defense posture in order to preserve the balances of power around the world.

A vital KDVA priority is to equip Airmen and Soldiers serving in the ROK with an understanding that will enable them to better understand importance of their individual contributions to the mission.

For more information on how to join the KDVA, visit their website at www.kdva.vet.

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