• YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Chris Vaia should be taken very literally when he talks about building bridges between people of different ages, races and cultures.

    The retired Army sergeant major, now an environmental engineer technician with the Army Corps of Engineers Far East District, has spent the past 13 years making something constructive from the pain of losing a child.

    The physical symbol of that effort has been Jeni’s Bridge, or the Friendship Bridge, a small, gray span with white pillars tucked away near Zama American High School.

    The bridge is a reminder of his 13-year-old daughter Jeni, who 13 years ago died after falling into a asthma-induced coma.

    Now, Vaia is looking to build a second bridge at Yongsan Garrison.

    The bridges are meant to serve as a reminder that, “unless one person says ‘forgive me’ and another person says ‘I do forgive you,’ there will never be what we all strive for — peace,” Vaia said.

    They are an affirmation of Jeni’s belief, her father says, that “if your heart was right and your motives were pure, as long as you kept talking, you could solve anything.”

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    Vaia, 57, spent 30 years in the Army, mostly as a command retention NCO at places like Camp Zama and the 8th Personnel Command at Yongsan Garrison.

    In the year since Jeni’s death, he has become involved in a number of youth-oriented efforts.

    He helps counsel troubled middle school students; he serves as a caseworker for the Yongsan Red Cross.

    And to some, he is better known as the Balloon Ajossi, due to his penchant for twisting small balloons into animal and heart shapes for young kids.

    His many overseas tours also have given him a particular interest in bridging gaps between children from different cultures.

    In addition to the bridge he hopes to build near Yongsan Middle School, Vaia plans on constructing bridges at schools in Japan and South Korea to help heal the historic enmity between those two nations.

    Eventually, he says, he would like to see Jeni’s Bridges built in South Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and other places he has worked.

    “The symbol of a bridge is what this old world really needs,” he said.

    “The support of a bridge represents the continuing acts and works of keeping relationships healthy. The arch and walkway of a bridge represent the act of bringing together from broken relationships.”

    His hopes are admittedly grandiose, Vaia says, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.

    “I know people can change,” he says. “I have a complete lack of fear of anything. Absolutely nothing worse could happen than to have to bury your child.”

    It is part of the lesson Vaia imparts to those he tries to help.

    “There are a couple of things I know in life,” Vaia said.

    “One, life isn’t fair. Terrible things happen to good people. Two, if someone is in trouble today, I can tell them tomorrow, while it might not be better, will be different. No matter how terrible you think it is, you have the ability to change as long as you are breathing.”

    https://www.stripes.com/news/father-volunteers-builds-to-honor-daughter-and-help-others-1.16696

  • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of AFKNAFKN 1 day, 8 hours ago

    Note from Ira O. Wheeler
    In 1968 and 1969 my office was up in Namsan Antenna (in the military compound called Camp Morse)

    I was Awarded in April 1996 after completion of AFKN Channel2 the 34th Conversion Antenna in Namsan. The project lasted from 1988 till 1996. It was supposed to be completed in 1.5 years. This was the biggest and most powerful transmitter in the AFRTS Worldwide.

    “I had to sign every IT and telecommunications project for the Commander in change back then to accept the project”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bXUMGJBLqk

  • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of Books on YongsanBooks on Yongsan 1 day, 13 hours ago

    Martin Limon, who served in Yongsan Garrison keep being inspired by his days in South Korea.
    His next book is already available on line.
    The Line. George Sueño and Ernie Bascom return for their thirteenth outing, which takes them from Seoul to the DMZ in their most politically charged murder case yet.

    The Korean Demilitarized Zone, 1970s: A battered corpse is found a few feet north of the line dividing North and South Korea. When 8th Army CID Agents George Sueño and Ernie Bascom pull the body to the South Korean side on orders from their superiors, they have no idea of the international conflict that small action will spark. Before war breaks out, they must discover who killed Corporal Noh Jong-bei, a young Korean soldier working with the US Army.

    The murderer could be from either side of the DMZ. How can two US military agents interrogate North Korean witnesses? What George and Ernie discover gets them pulled off the case, but fearing they’ve put the wrong man behind bars, they disobey orders in an attempt to discover the truth.

  • Note from Mr Cho YoungGil
    This poster was from 1971
    We performed in Yongsan Frontier Club in Yongsan garrison every Sunday for 9 years
    This made my band famous
  • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of Yongsan garrison newsYongsan garrison news 1 week ago

    The 65th Medical Brigade was reactivated on June 25, 1958 in Korea as a subordinate unit of Eighth Field Army Support Command, and later on October 1, 1968 as a Major Subordinate Command of Eighth Army. The 65th Medical Group was inactivated in Korea in 1971

    The image below the article shows the old HQ of the 65th Medical Brigade on US Army Garrison Yongsan which once was a Japanese Interment camp.
    Oriental Press #Pulse65Magazine Page36 edition May2018
    Yongsan Legacy 65th Medical Brigade

  • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of N.C.O.clubsN.C.O.clubs 1 week ago

    Note from Doug Ricker:

    During my last tour in Korea, 2005-2014, I attended a briefing to one of the Generals on a subject that I can’t recall. During the course of the briefing, the General commented that he had never been to an installation that had so many clubs on it. I recall at the time I was thinking he should have been at Yongsan in the 80s when there was probably twice as many clubs than in the 2000s. There was the Crossroads, Hideaway, Frontier, Golf Club, JUSMAG Club, Officers Club, Navy Club, Rod and Gun, Embassy Club, Hartell House, later the Main Post Club, another club inside the gate by the KSC headquarters. I’m sure I missed a few but there were a lot of places where one could bond.

  • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of Do you remember when?Do you remember when? 1 week ago

    Note from Doug Ricker
    I remember in the early 80s the command was big on curbing black market activities. For a period of time, they would have uniformed military at the checkout lanes in the PX and Commissary to review what the patrons were buying. They would wear brassards that had “PR” on them. PR stood for Purchase Reviewer. If a patron would purchase a suspected black market item, the PR would anvil a second card and it was forwarded to the ration control office. Not sure what was done with the card but the PR program was killed after not too long of a period

  • YongsanLegacy commented on a Photo in the group Group logo of The Forreys on postThe Forreys on post 1 week ago

    Note from Doug Ricker:
    I was an intern in this building from 1983-1984. Then I worked as a budget analyst in that building 1985-1992. Then AGAIN 2005-2014.

    I was selected for the HQDA Comptroller Intern program in June 1983. When I reported, I noticed that there was no air conditioning in the building. However, the Garrison allowed employees to chip in and purchase window ACs for the office. As for the base, I loved having the golf course on South Post. It was very convenient. During the summers, you could go to the course after work and get in nine holes before dark. The golf club had tee time drawings on Wednesday. There was major bonding during the drawings. Our group would have someone go to the club around 4:00 in order to stake out tables as the club would be packed. The clubhouse was Commiskeys. Those were the days. Great memories from those times.

    I also remember in the early 80s the command was big on curbing black market activities. For a period of time, they would have uniformed military at the checkout lanes in the PX and Commissary to review what the patrons were buying. They would wear brassards that had “PR” on them. PR stood for Purchase Reviewer. If a patron would purchase a suspected black market item, the PR would anvil a second card and it was forwarded to the ration control office. Not sure what was done with the card but the PR program was killed after not too long of a period.

    During my last tour in Korea, 2005-2014, I attended a briefing to one of the Generals on a subject that I can’t recall. During the course of the briefing, the General commented that he had never been to an installation that had so many clubs on it. I recall at the time I was thinking he should have been at Yongsan in the 80s when there was probably twice as many clubs than in the 2000s. There was the Crossroads, Hideaway, Frontier, Golf Club, JUSMAG Club, Officers Club, Navy Club, Rod and Gun, Embassy Club, Hartell House, later the Main Post Club, another club inside the gate by the KSC headquarters. I’m sure I missed a few but there were a lot of places where one could bond.

    One of my funniest memories is from 1984. The MPs patrolled the parking lot between our building and the Arcade/Library. If a car was not moved in a 24 hour period, they would ticket the car. A coworker had a Honda Accord and he was scheduled to go on a one month TDY. His wife worked at Army Audit on South Post and she was frequently TDY throughout Korea. My coworker gave me his car keys and asked me to move his car everyday to keep it from being ticketed. I did that but most days I found the car parked somewhere other than where I left it. I thought his wife was moving it as well but I wanted to make sure so I moved it again. One day my coworker’s wife came to my office and asked if her husband had asked me to move his car. I said he had and I was moving it every day. She said that was funny because there were tickets all over his car. We then walked outside and I pointed to the vehicle and she said that’s not his car. It was the Honda Accord of the Chief of Finance IT office. He was not happy.

    The IT guy said he thought he was losing his mind. I went outside with him and showed him the my coworker’s key worked on the IT’s car as well.

    • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of S.A.H.M.E.SchoolS.A.H.M.E.School 1 week, 1 day ago

      About Seoul American High School
      Seoul is a city of approximately sixteen million people located 35 miles from the North Korean border. The country is about the size of Great Britain, 525 miles from north to south and about 100 to 150 miles wide. The climate is temperate with four distinct seasons and can be compared to that of our New England States.

      Seoul American High School is located on Yongsan Army Base in the center of Seoul, Korea. The school complex is comprised of eight buildings containing over 60 classrooms and special purpose rooms. The school has two well equipped combination faculty lounges and work areas. A library/media center houses 12,000 books and a full complement of audio visual materials. The educator staff of 70 is comprised of the usual range of education specialists in addition to classroom teachers.

      SAHS opened in 1959 with approximately 150 students. The first class graduated in 1960. The classrooms at that time were quonset huts located across from the main Army Community Service building. Daegu, Busan, and Chinhae students boarded at SAHS as there were no high schools in those areas until 1967. In the fall of 1967, Daegu opened its high school which alleviated the long drive for students. Construction began on the new high school in 1981 and was completed in the fall of 1982.

      In addition to the main, arts, and gymnasium buildings a new structure which includes a JROTC section was opened in 1987. The JROTC facilities have two classrooms, three offices, supply room, arms room, four point indoor rifle range, and a hard top area used for inspections and drills. Additionally, JROTC formal inspections are held on Sims Field, the school’s full-sized astroturfed football and soccer field. In spring of 2104, the Fine Arts building was dedicated to Irene Dugdale Lee former music teacher and band director at SAHS. In the fall of 2015, the former JROTC building was renamed as LTC Donald Ray Hedgpath Building in dedication to LTC Donald Hedgpath who had been a long time JROTC instructor and then a social studies teacher at SAHS until his retirement in June, 2015.

      School year, 1995-96 Seoul American High School had 550 students. This year enrollment is 508. SAHS is one of the larger schools in DoDDS Pacific and also has a reputation for being one of the leading academic schools. Every year SAHS ranks in the top 15% of high schools academics, providing students an exceptional education. Most of the students that graduate from SAHS are highly successful in life. We are proud of SAHS. We’re the best!

      School Colors: Blue & White
      Mascot: Falcon
      Grades Served: Grades 9-12
      Enrollment: 508
      Teacher/Student ratio: 1:10
      Computer/Student ratio: 1:1

      Source: https://www.dodea.edu/SeoulAmericanHS/about.cfm

    • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of S.A.H.M.E.SchoolS.A.H.M.E.School 1 week, 1 day ago

      Capturing the old Korea
      Photographer Blends personal with South Korean history in searching out glimpses of the Seoul of his youth | photos and text by George May (former student from SAES and SAHS) born in Korea of a Korean mother and American serviceman in the late 50s not long after the end of the Korean war
    • Note from Mr Nam Sang So
      In early 1970s my wife had a household helper, a teenage girl named Hyonae 현애.
      She was well built, strong and worked very hard in the kitchen and house cleaning. Ham and I were careful not to make any trouble with her.
      She wanted to become a bus-girl who collected bus fares from the passengers. And she has to push in the last passengers hanging out side the bus door. The bus driver can only start move his bus when the girl shouts “all right!”

      She finally quit us and I believe she didn’t have any trouble in becoming a pushing girl at any bus company in Seoul.
      The photo was taken at the History Museum today. It reminded me of Hyonae girl. (The girl with a cap on in the photo is the bus girl)
      Hyonae must be over 60 years old now if she lives.

      H June 7

    • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of S.A.H.M.E.SchoolS.A.H.M.E.School 2 weeks ago

      Thank you Charles Woodruff for this piece of bittersweet as you well say information!
      The cover of the new and last 2017-18 #SAHS yearbook which arrived Friday 1st June 2018
      As part of the #relocation Next year SAHS will be merged with SAMS. Going back to the beginning.

      Photo source: Charles Woodruff @charles-woodruff

    • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of I was thereI was there 2 weeks ago

      Marcia Mason Blom
      Special Education Coordinator for Korea and southern Japan at District Superintendents Office
      December 1986 to June 1999
      Lived on S7116
      Currently resides in USA
    • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of S.A.H.M.E.SchoolS.A.H.M.E.School 2 weeks, 1 day ago

      This photo shows Col. Osborne awarding me the Commanders Civilian Award – 1991-1999.
      Many good years in Seoul. Also worked at Pusan one year and Osan for 6 years.
      While I was at SAES we introduced Korean Immersion classes beginning with first grade and then progressing to on to 4th grade
      Note from Former Principal John M Blom

    • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of S.A.H.M.E.SchoolS.A.H.M.E.School 2 weeks, 1 day ago

      I think what Yongsan Legacy team is doing will be appreciated by many, As I believe most of us that served at Yongsan had wonderful experiences.
      This is a photo from Students getting off several of the 40 some buses that transported students to our school SAES back in the 90’s in Yongsan explains Former Principal John Blom
    • Marcia Mason Blom, special education coordinator at the District Superintendent’s Office for all of Korea and southern Japan and myself explains John Blom
      • Note from Scott Forrey: It is a church today, as far as I can tell, but I think you are on to something re: KCIA. My father, who was Air Force intelligence, always said it was a KCIA building…
        • YongsanLegacy posted an update in the group Group logo of S.A.H.M.E.SchoolS.A.H.M.E.School 2 weeks, 1 day ago

          This is picture of me and my wife Marcia Mason Blom standing in front of the Dolphin mascot that was dedicated to me by the PTO. It was done at a school carnival that shows a reflection of the crowd in the school’s Windows.
          I was wondering what they would do with Dolphin after the school closes. A tree was also planted in my name but died.
          I was sad to leave SAES but DODDS required principals to move after a number of years at one school
          SAES had 1600 students.
          I taught at SAES from ’74 to 77. I was assistant principal from ’83 to ’85 and principal from ’91 to ’99 explains John M Blom
          • Marcia Mason Blom, special education coordinator at the District Superintendent’s Office for all of Korea and southern Japan and myself explains John Blom

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