Seoul, Korea / November 2012
Across the Hun River, in Seoul, Korea, MDAA hosted the historic Inaugural Peninsula Missile Defenders of the Year Award Ceremony, bringing together the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) and the United States (U.S.) at the Dragon Hill Lodge to honor and recognize each country’s best missile defense crews.
The Peninsula Missile Defenders of the Year for 2012 are:
Republic of Korea
CPT. Young Jin Ju
1LT. Yeong il Gwon
MSgt. Kyung Bum Kim
MSgt. Jung Woo Lee
Tsgt. Si Han Kim
United States of America
CW2 Nicole K. Hudgins
SGT. Kinsey A. Harral
SGT. Brian S. Seymour
SPC. Joshua L. Francis
PFC. Joseph Little Moon Hernandez.
The R.O.K. and U.S. winners were selected by a peninsula-wide competition held by each country’s missile defense units, the R.O.K’s 2nd Air Defense Artillery Brigade and the U.S.’s 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
These crews proved their technical and tactical proficiency in missile defense in a grueling three-day competition held from Oct. 28 – 30. They also competed in core soldier skills such as rifle marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, and tests of physical fitness.
My words to our joint members and joint team in attendance tonight from the United States Forces Korea, the 8th Army, the U.S. 7th Air Force, the U.S. Navy Forces Korea, the 35th ADA Brigade and the 2nd Korean ADA Brigade are below.
This slogan symbolizes the meaning of teamwork and that is what this night is all about. Translated into English as, “We go together,” this slogan is personified by the great teams of U.S. and R.O.K. soldiers and airmen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, and especially our distinguished air defense crews here tonight:
On behalf of our 13,000 alliance members, thank you for attending the first ever Peninsula Missile Defenders of the Year Award Ceremony.
It is a great honor to be among you heroes tonight. We have brought our two nations’ militaries even closer together as a world champion fighting force.
Tonight we recognize the commitment to excellence of 2012’s best Air and Missile Defense Patriot Crews on the Korean Peninsula.
Your joint team protects not only your fellow soldiers but also the people of the R.O.K. and the very existence of this great nation from the threat from the North.
This is both humbling and awe-inspiring.
This is the first Missile Defender of the Year event we have done with an allied country.
There are 21 nations that share missile defense partnerships with the United States. Among them are Israel, the Persian Gulf states, and Japan. The fact that we chose the R.O.K. speaks to just how important our friendship is.
Through your combined efforts and steadfast partnership in missile defense, you have helped to prevent war and to preserve peace.
The people in South Korea are able to live and to work here because of the mantle of security that you provide.
We are eternally grateful for what you do, what you represent, and your will to win. Your legacy reaches back more than 60 years. It is the mutual sacrifice, including the ultimate sacrifice, which we visited today with our winners and laid a wreath in honor of the fallen who died in the defense of freedom.
As missile defenders, your contributions are largely unheralded, your heroism largely unsung. Yet, you are the tremendous asset that shapes the fight even before it is fought.
You engage the enemy first. You establish the defense that ensures our survivability and allows for our combined offense to be unleashed.
Your proven missile defense is crucial to ensuring a swift and decisive victory. This assurance of victory, this solemn oath to protect the peninsula from airborne threats is backed up by your incredible skill that we honored tonight.
In American Football and in Soccer, it is defense that wins Super Bowls and World Cups. Defense sets the tone of the game and provides the offense with opportunities without repercussions.
In professional sports as in the military, defense is always unheralded, under paid, and unappreciated from the public view. However, no world championship and no war was ever won without great defense.
However, your joint teams are much more than just the defense that keeps the Korean Peninsula safe.
You are extensions and true teammates of all your brothers and sisters in arms, from both nations, who together prevent conflict and preserve peace.
“KAHM-SA-HAM-NEE-DA,” thank you for being the Peninsula’s peace makers. Our two nations’ militaries are teammates for life. “KA-CHEE-KOP-SHEE-DA.”