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Mike's Adventures in Korea 1994

Part 3: The Base

Okay, so the first disclaimer I will give you is that I can't discuss much about the base or what I was doing over there.  Technically, the two Koreas are still at war, and so I am not going to get into any details about anything that is not already in the public domain.

The first thing we discovered upon arrival at the base is that we were restricted to the base.  They didn't know where to put us, so they placed us in the barracks with Jim and I sharing a room.  I didn't care; I just wanted a bed so that I could crash.  So, we went to our barracks, where I went to the communal bathroom and puked.  Then, I walked into the room, stood over the bed, and passed out.  I didn't change, I didn't plan to go to sleep, I just laid down on the bed and was out.  I woke up the next day around 7 AM, well rested and adjusted to the time zone - well, except for my stomach; the first week, I was never hungry during the day, but I forced myself to eat so that I wouldn't wake up starving in the middle of the night.

Anyway, we found out that if we went to war, they would be using our system, and as a result, we would have to be available to train the users and maintain the system in that event.  So, as a result, we had to turn in our tickets.  It took 5 days to arrange a return trip home, so the plan of action was that on Monday mornings, we would go request return tickets to the US.  Then, on Friday, we would pick up our tickets.  The local commander would then decide if we could go home; when he decided we couldn't, we would go back to the ticket office, turn in our unused tickets and see what tours were available that weekend.  Our one week trip had turned into an indefinite trip...

Who's the dork in front of the gate?
The main gate to Osan AB.  Note the local Korean police behind me.

Luckily, I had two friends who were stationed in Korea at the base who took care of us there.  If it wasn't for Scott and Joe, I think we would have gone nuts...  More on that later, though.

There is nothing to let you know that you are not in the US any more like being told where your assigned chemical protection gear is and having to pass Patriot missile batteries.  It is a very sobering sight.

There's nothing like seeing one of these babies on every   corner...
Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas any more...  Nothing like seeing a dozen of these surrounding you on your way to work...

One funny story from the base, though.  We had to train some Korean soldiers, so they hired a translator to come and translate for us.  So, all the Koreans are assembled, and our translator begins translating, when all of a sudden, the interpreter gets up and leaves.  He gave no explanation; just up and out the door.  We never saw this man again.  So, anyway, Jim and I are standing there in front of a room of Koreans, and we wait, expecting our interpreter "Mr. Kim" to come back and translate.  After about 20 minutes, we decide he isn't coming back, so I ask the group if anyone speaks English.  One officer turns and looks at me as I said this, and so I said "You, you can be my interpreter."  "Oh, but my English not very good," he says.  I replied, "Your English is better than my Hangul (the Korean word for their language)."  He agreed, and so with his help, we taught the class.  In fact, it was a very educational day, as we learned many useful Korean phrases and they learned how to use the system.

And we never, ever saw the translator ever again...

A cop who didn't arrest me...
Me with a Korean gate guard.  I have a very great respect for the members of the Korean military.

Continue on to Part 4: Song-tan