2014 Peninsula Defender of the Year

Seoul, Korea / November 21, 2014

On the Korean Peninsula, around 28,000 U.S. Soldiers and Airmen are stationed alongside around 650,000 Republic of Korea (ROK) active military forces, with 4.5 million in reserve. These forces stand ready to protect the South Korea, where an armistice with North Korea has held for the past 65 years. This provided MDAA’s backdrop for its third annual recognition awards in Seoul, Korea for the best “Peninsula” Air and Missile Defenders of the Year in 2014.

With a “we fight tonight” attitude, readiness and training that is pervasive throughout the ROK and U.S. militaries, the joint Air and Missile Defense forces stand ready to defend offensive air and land forces and population centers against the first provocation and strike. By providing this defense, these forces shape the will of North Korea to go to war.

These ROK and U.S. Air and Missile Defense forces deployed in Korea are focused around the major city populations, major Air Force Bases, and supply ports. They are also focused on protecting Counter Artillery Fire Systems such as the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). These systems can eliminate most if not all of the fixed and mobile North Korean artillery threatening Seoul and other key assets.

The primary Air and Missile Defense systems between the two countries are the Patriot Air Defense system and the Short Range Area Defense (SHORAD). The Patriots provide terminal defense inside the atmosphere to defend small areas, while SHORAD, equipped with stinger missiles, provides defense against air-breathing threats seeking to eliminate U.S. and ROK counter-artillery assets.

In addition the ROK Navy has three Aegis Ships and Green Pine early warning radars that provide early warning and tracking of incoming missiles. Overhead defense satellites are also on station to detect heat signatures of launches and provide initial tracking. An Air Operations Center in South Korea coordinates this information to provide queuing and battle management of all the deployed missile defense systems, as well as offensive coordination.

All of these pieces are critical to keep the Korean Peninsula safe. Of even greater importance are those men and women in uniform who command and operate these systems, who demonstrate every day outstanding leadership and skill with a commitment of superior excellence above all their peers. MDAA was honored this past Friday to recognize their achievement of making the Republic of Korea safe by keeping the status quo and armistice in place.

To honor the recipients’ achievements and merit, commanding leaders from each of the military services from United States and the ROK attended and participated in the event. These distinguished leaders were the 8th US Army Commander, LTG Bernard S. Champoux; the Commander of ROK Air Defense Missile Command, MG Lee Yun Soo; Commander of the 3rd ROK Brigade, BG Choi; Commander of the 2nd ROK Brigade, BG Yoo; 94th U.S. AAMDC Commander, BG Eric Sanchez; Deputy Commander of the U.S. 7th Air Force, Brig Gen Russell Mack’ and RADM Lisa Franchetti , Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea.

The 2014 Peninsula Missile Defenders of the Year are:

From the United States of America:

Major Thomas A. Garvin
607th Air and Space Operations Center

First Lieutenant Megan Parris
HHB/6-52, 35thADA BDE

Sergeant Andrew Coleman
E/6-52, 210 FA BDE, 2ID

Sergeant Joseph O’Bryant Huerta
HHB/6-52, 35th ADA BDE

Specialist Matthew Wilke
HHB/6-52, 35th ADA BDE

Private First Class Cristian Reyes
E/6-52, 210 FA BDE, 2ID

From the Republic of Korea:

Captain Jong-Joon Yoon
Commanding Officer, ROKS Seo-ae Ryu Seong-ryong (DDG 993).

First Lieutenant Jin Bum Jun
551 Battery, 3rd ROK BDE

First Lieutenant Ju Hyun Kim
557th Battery, 199th BN, 2nd BDE

Master Sergeant Won-Kyoung Jung
3rd ADA BDE 553 FP

Master Sergeant Chan Woo Lee
558th Battery, 199th BN, 2nd BDE

Master Sergeant Kiljoo Lee
552nd Air Defense Missile Battery

Master Sergeant Ki Hoon Park
557th Battery, 199th BN, 2nd BDE

These young men and women are the best of the best at what they do in the protection of millions of lives and balance of regional power in one of the most volatile regions in the world. They represent leadership at its best and as a united, integrated joint team between these two nations are the counter, competitor and winner that can fight tonight with a provocative North Korean Leader and his best forces.

On the week of Thanksgiving, we salute our ROK ally and U.S. servicemen and servicewomen that are deployed in a distant land in Asia and say thank you for all that you do.

Defenders of the Year