Airmen ski, snowboard Korean-style

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Twenty-two Airmen from Osan and Kunsan met on the slopes at Yong Pyong Ski Resort in Gangwon Province Dec. 8 through Saturday.

In all, 68 U.S. Forces Korea servicemembers took part in a two-day ski and snowboarding trip sponsored by the Korea-America Good Neighbor Society. The trip is one of the many ways in which organizations throughout the Republic of Korea express their appreciation to USFK personnel for their service and contributions to Korean peace and security.

"I've been in Korea seven months now and this is the first weekend I've totally relaxed," said Capt. Michael Buchanan, 51st Operations Support Squadron. "I've lived and worked in England, Germany, Holland, Saudi Arabia, Scotland and now Korea for a second time, and I must say, the Korean people are very hospitable and this weekend proved how very gracious they can be, also.

"This past weekend was an experience I have never had before. From the very beginning to Saturday night's dinner, I felt very fortunate to be a part of [everything]," said Capt. Buchanan. "When I was here in '93-'94, I never experienced something like this on such a large scale."

During the two-day trip, servicemembers were provided ski lessons and lift tickets, lodging, meals and entertainment.

"The entire trip was 'chill' and everyone I've spoken to appreciated the opportunity to get away from their respective base or camp for a couple of days and have a good time," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Blair, 51st Maintenance Squadron. "This was my third time away from the local community outside the Osan Main Gate. It was great to see and experience a more formal and traditional side of the Korean culture."

For most of the participants, the trip to Yong Pyong was just what the doctor ordered. For others, it took a little coaxing from leadership and peers.

"At first, I thought about backing out because I had never skied before, not to mention the amount of work I needed to get done at the office, but I'm really glad I came on this trip," said Capt. Reginald Smith, 8th Fighter Wing. "I had a lot more fun than I thought I would and look forward to the next opportunity."

The trip was an approved USFK Good Neighbor Program event and concluded with a formal dinner hosted by Mr. Kim, Yun Pil, KAGNS chairman, at the Naija Ballroom of the Dragon Hill Lodge located at Yongsan Army Garrison. Two of the senior civilian and military leaders who attended the dinner included Mr. Alexander Vershbow, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea and Gen. B. B. Bell, USFK commander. More details about the

Good Neighbor Program can be found at www.usfk.mil