Last Prayer

501st Change of CommandLast year on 22 July I posted about my first prayer, which wasn’t actually the first time I prayed, but my first official prayer as the Brigade Chaplain. Today, I prayed my last prayer which, undoubtedly, won’t be the last prayer I pray but my last official prayer as the Brigade Chaplain before I leave for home. This was a prayer for the brigade Change of Command ceremony, as the outgoing Brigade Commander passes authority to the incoming Brigade Commander.

Prayers are traditionally a part of military ceremonies and in my experience have not resulted in any issues; though to listen to some media reports you would think that they will be the cause the end of the civilized world.

There are a lot of customs and traditions which symbolize all sorts of history which has been preserved in military ceremonies for years, the Change of Command ceremony is no exception.

501st MI BDE Change of Command
Brigade Primary Staff (which doesn’t include the Chaplain or the Lawyer, who are both Special Staff)

The colors moving into place for the change of command
501st MI BDE Change of Command
The colors in place
501st MI BDE Change of Command
The INSCOM Commander (MG Ballard) speaking to the brigade and guests
501st MI BDE Change of Command
Outgoing brigade commander (COL Arnold) addressing the brigade and guests
501st MI BDE Change of Command
Incoming brigade commander (COL Lee) addressing the brigade and guests

The “Passing of the Colors” as part of the Change of Command ceremony

As usual, there aren’t any pictures of me praying, but that’s OK. I was there. Here’s what I prayed:

Most Gracious Heavenly Father:

Thank you for this day that you have given to us and for this occasion that brings us together which always reminds us of the strength of our military and the freedom it defends, and today, the role that the 501st plays in the defense of freedom here in Korea.

Thank you for Colonel Arnold and for his committed and faithful service as the Brigade Commander. Thank you for the positive impact he has had on the Soldiers and mission of the brigade as he has served with honor and integrity.

I pray that you will continue to be with him and his family as they move on to their next assignment here on the Peninsula. Please return to them blessing upon blessing, as they have been a blessing to so many.

I also pray that you will be with Colonel Lee as he assumes command of the brigade. Provide for him everything that he needs to serve with faithfulness, courage and integrity as he continues the great work that Colonel Arnold has begun.

Finally Lord, I pray that you will bless this time that we share together with your  presence, and pray that everything that is said and done here today will be pleasing to you, as you continue to bless us, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America.

In your precious and holy name I pray, Amen.

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501st MI BDE Change of Command

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Advanced Missile Defense Coming to Korea

NK-Submarine-Missile-Launch
(Photo from Sputnik News website)

The peace that exists on the Korean Peninsula continues to be a precarious one based on the Armistice Agreement signed in 1953 ending the combat operations of the Korean War. Over the years there have been many provocations that have resulted in both military and civilian deaths and drawing observers to the edge of their seats.

With the recent missile tests that North Korea has engaged in, it has become necessary for the Republic of Korea (ROK, commonly referred to as South Korea) and those who assist in protecting its people to step up their defensive posture. United States Forces Korea (USFK) has recently announced the culmination of discussions between the ROK and U.S.A. resulting in the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system onto South Korean territory.

North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)
North Korean President Kim Jong-un (photo from Real Clear)

Other countries have already voiced their disapproval over the deployment of THAAD to Korea (not surprisingly, Russia, China and North Korea) and with the way nation-level thugs often respond to defensive measures as though they were offensive, I’m glad that my tour of duty in Korea is coming to an end, though I remain concerned for the Korean friends I have made here, and all of those who live under the continued specter of war. According to the U.S. Pacific Command’s Facebook page:

North Korea’s nuclear test and multiple ballistic missile tests, including the recent intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launches, highlight the grave threat that North Korea poses to the security and stability of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the entire Asia-Pacific region.

In response to the evolving threat posed by North Korea, the United States and the ROK have been conducting formal consultations regarding the feasibility of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery operated by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) since early February, as a measure to improve the missile defense posture of the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

Based on these consultations, the ROK and the United States made an Alliance decision to deploy THAAD to USFK as a defensive measure to ensure the security of the ROK and its people, and to protect Alliance military forces from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile threats.

Through the past months of review, the ROK-U.S. Joint Working Group confirmed the military effectiveness of THAAD on the Korean Peninsula and is in the final stage of preparing its recommendation for both the ROK Minister of National Defense and the U.S. Secretary of Defense regarding the optimal site in the Republic of Korea for the system’s effectiveness and for environmental, health, and safety requirements.

The ROK and the United States are working closely to ensure the swift deployment of THAAD and will develop specific operational procedures.

When the THAAD system is deployed to the Korean Peninsula, it will be focused solely on North Korean nuclear and missile threats and would not be directed towards any third party nations. The THAAD deployment will contribute to a layered missile defense that will enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.1

And here’s the official press release from USFK:

July 8, 2016 — YONGSAN GARRISON, SEOUL, Republic of Korea – The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States of America (U.S.) agreed today to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to the Republic of Korea, in response to North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missile technology in contravention of six United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

This Alliance decision was recommended by ROK Minister of Defense Han, Min Gu and Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, and U.S. Forces Korea commander, and was approved by the ROK and U.S. governments.

“This is an important ROK-U.S. decision,” said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea commander. “North Korea’s continued development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction require the Alliance to take this prudent, protective measure to bolster our layered and effective missile defense.”

The decision to deploy THAAD underscores the ironclad commitment of the United States to defend the Republic of Korea. THAAD will be focused solely on North Korea and will contribute to a layered missile defense that would enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against North Korean missile threats.

This announcement follows the February 7, 2016, announcement that the ROK and U.S. had begun formal consultations regarding improvements to the Alliance missile defense posture, specifically the viability of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system operated by U.S. Forces Korea.2

This is an illustration of how THAAD and the current Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems will work:

 Ãà»çÇÏ´Â ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀå (¼­¿ï=¿¬ÇÕ´º½º) ¹Ú»ï±¸ ±ÝÈ£¾Æ½Ã¾Æ³ª±×·ì ȸÀåÀÌ 14ÀÏ ¼­¿ï Àá½Ç ·Ôµ¥È£ÅÚ¿¡¼­ ¿­¸° ÇÑÀÏ ±¹±³Á¤»óÈ­ 50Áֳ⠱â³ä¡®ÇÑÀÏ ¿ìÈ£ °ü±¤ ±³·ùÀÇ ¹ã¡¯Çà»ç¿¡¼­ Ãà»ç¸¦ ÇÏ°í ÀÖ´Ù. 2015.2.14 <> photo@yna.co.kr/2015-02-14 23:40:23/
(Graphic from The Korea Herald website)

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There are many places around the world that need our prayer, places where people not only live under the risk of armed conflict, but daily their citizens are being persecuted, tortured or killed. Most of us can’t go into those areas to help, but as believers we can pray for them. Pray that evil will not triumph. Pray that the faith of believers will remain strong under the most brutal trials. Pray that Jesus will return soon to put an end to Satan’s reign over the hearts of so many who cause terror in our world today.

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U.S. Pacific Command Facebook page

U.S. Forces Korea webpage

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Sunday Chapel (x2)

Since the service I was pastoring on post has ended due to the U.S. military moves to Camp Humphreys (more on the final service can be found here), I’ve been able to attend other worship services. Last week I was at Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene north of Seoul. This week I attended two services: the “Traditional Protestant” service at the hospital chapel and the Episcopal service, also at the hospital chapel.

Traditional Protestant Service

Yongsan Traditional Protestant Service
One of the Traditional Protestant Congregation members welcoming everyone to worship (he also offered the prayer)

The Traditional Protestant service is the one most of the congregation from my service at Memorial Chapel chose to attend. There were 20 of them there today, that’s about half of my previous congregation and almost half of the attendance today. As I walked in, it felt like a reunion as many from my congregation greeted me as though it had been months or years since they last saw me, even though it had just been two weeks. It was a great feeling!

The makeup of this congregation caused me to think about what has gone on in the United States over the past couple of weeks. There was an almost even mixture of white Americans, black Americans, Korean Americans and Korean nationals. It was not a surprise that everyone got along -contrary to what you see on T.V.- since we’re all part of the family of God. The time of worship and fellowship was reminiscent of a family gathering of siblings and cousins. We’re not all the same, but we have a common purpose: to love, serve and worship God, our common creator and Savior.

As it turned out, the pastor of the congregation was away, so there was a visiting chaplain there (Chaplain Yoo, the 65th Medical Brigade Chaplain). He shared a message from Jabez’s prayer about praying boldly and earnestly to our God who loves and cares for us. He also sang a song as part of his sermon-a tool I’m not gifted to be able to do! The rest of the service was a customary traditional service with hymns, prayer and an offering. Communion is just celebrated twice a month in this congregation, which will take some getting use for my congregation since we were accustomed to celebrating it every Sunday. It was, however, a good service, with familiar elements making the presence of God felt and acknowledged.

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Episcopal Service

Even when I was pastoring the Liturgical Service at Memorial Chapel, when I got away in time I would often attend the Episcopal service at the hospital chapel.  I have filled in and preached there before, as has the Episcopal chaplain for my service. I enjoy the liturgy and sacramental emphasis of the service and always leave spiritually nourished. Not being sure if I would be able to attend next week (my last Sunday in Korea) I stayed to attend it after the Traditional Protestant service.

Yongsan Episcopal Service
Chaplain Budez, the Episcopal Chaplain, preaching from the Parable of the Good Samaritan

The chaplain preached from the Gospel Lectionary lesson for this Sunday, the parable of the Good Samaritan, tying in the tragic events of the last couple of weeks in the U.S. This service, being a “flagged” Episcopal service, followed the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) so included all of the elements normally part of a liturgical or sacramental service, including the celebration of communion.

Yongsan Episcopal Service
Chaplain Budez preparing to serve Communion

The Episcopal service has a small choir of 3 which, along with the organist, greatly contributes to the service. Members of the congregation participate not only in the responsive readings and prayers, but also as Scripture readers and prayer leaders. Since it is a specific denominational service, it is smaller, but the size also lends itself to a family feel with a strong sense of community.

Yongsan Episcopal Service
Me and Chaplain Budez, the Episcopal chaplain and friend.

I always enjoy the service when I attend and today was no exception. I’ve appreciated the ministry and friendship of Chaplain Budez as we have shared a common liturgy in our worship services and a strong desire for a “sacramental” worship service in the Yongsan community.

Just for fun, here’s a short video of part of the Communion liturgy from the Episcopal service. Sorry for the poor quality, but it will at least give you a glimpse of this part of the service:

 

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Suwon Hyanggyo Confucian School (수원향교)

In the city of Suwon, not far from the Hwaseong Fortress where I take Soldiers new to the brigade, is the Suwon Hyanggyo Confucian Temple and School. It “is one of the Confucian temple and school[s established] to teach local students in the Chosŏn Dynasty period (1392~ 1910). The Suwon Hyanggyo houses the memorial tables of Confucius, Mencius, and twenty-five notable historical Korean figures. The structure was originally built in the 22nd year of King Wonjong’s rule during the Goryeo era (918-1392) by Hwaseonggun, but was moved to its current location when Hwaseong Fortress was constructed.”1

I stumbled across it on one of our trips when I walked a different direction, trying to explore other areas of Suwon. I wasn’t able to go into any of the buildings the day I was there, but took several pictures of the buildings and art.

Suwon Hyanggyo
“The Suwon Hyanggyo, one of the national educational institutions of the Joseon Dynasty period, originally located at Bongdam-myun, Hwaseong-si, moved to Paldal mountain in 1789 (Jeongjo 13).
Hamabi and Hongsalmun displays its authority and building arrangements follow Junhakhumyo conventions (Myungryundang: frong, Daesungjeon: back). Masonries made of rectangular stones level up the floor height from the wuesammun to the Daesungjeon (Ikgonggae building with ornamented double-eave-gable-roof).
Memorial tablets of 18 saints of Korea along with those of Confucius, Mencius are enshrined. As Confucianism head temple and historic sight known for the visits of JeongJo (1795), ceremonies for saints are carried out until today, although it stopped functioning as an educational institution after the Gapoh reformation.”
Suwon Hyanggyo
Beside the compound is the memorial of some kind.
Suwon Hyanggyo
This artwork is on a wall in the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
This artwork was on a wall in the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
One of the traditional buildings on the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
Another building on the compound
Suwon Hyanggyo
More buildings on the compound, with a statue of Confucius at one end.
Suwon Hyanggyo
A closer view of the statue of Confucius.
Suwon Hyanggyo
A view of the traditional part of the compound from above
Suwon Hyanggyo
A building above the traditional part of the compound which I think is part of it.
Suwon Hyanggyo
A pagoda beside the above building. It looks like it was sponsored by the Lion’s Club.

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Visit Korea website

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Paju

After the worship service at Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene and our walk through Ilsan Lake Park we headed to Paju to go to the Odusan Unification Observatory overlooking North Korea. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the gate had just been closed 4 minutes! But there were still several things to see in the area before we had dinner then headed back.

Odusan Unification Observatory
You can see Odusan Unification Observatory on the hill in the distance. Sadly, it was closed by the time we got there…

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Heyri Art Valley (헤이리 예술마을)

“Korean artists of various specialties such as writers, painters, actors, architects and musicians constructed the cultural town of Heyri. Within this community there are residences, workrooms, art galleries and museums. Artists make a living by opening exhibitions, trading or selling their art. Currently, there are about 40 museums, exhibitions, concert halls and bookstores, and around 30~40 more are expected to be added. Currently about 10 cafes and food courts are included in these buildings for the convenience of its visitors.

“Heyri Art Valley was constructed to blend in with surrounding structures. The local construction regulations require all buildings to be no more than three stories tall. Just by glancing at these buildings you will admire their artistry since architects constructed each building with its own unique characteristics.” 1

This was a really neat village that we drove through. We didn’t take time to to get out, but it would be a fun village to walk through, enjoy a tea or coffee or maybe lunch…with so much art and crafts, though, you would need to be sure to bring plenty of cash!  Here are some pictures of our drive through, but I noticed later that I probably should have cleaned the windshield a bit!:

IMG_20160703_172301943 IMG_20160703_172335920 IMG_20160703_172355647_HDR IMG_20160703_172403111 IMG_20160703_172411215 IMG_20160703_172427605 IMG_20160703_172544861 IMG_20160703_172549437 IMG_20160703_172619722 IMG_20160703_172631343 IMG_20160703_172655470 IMG_20160703_172711419 IMG_20160703_172809933_HDR IMG_20160703_172848640

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Gyeonggi English Village (경기 영어 마을)

We just drove by the English Village, but it’s such an interesting concept that I wanted to mention it and share some pictures. According to their website:

Gyeonggi English Villages are for the residents of Gyeonggi Province and the Republic of Korea to experience the English language and the cultures of English-speaking countries. It is our intent to provide strong support for the public and private English education system of Gyeonggi Province and for Korea as a whole. In addition to learning and studying the international language, we want to instill in students a better sense of their role in the global community. 2

Gyeonggi English Village
This picture is from the website, but a better one than I could get from driving by.

 

Gyeonggi English Village
One of the large English-style buildings and the roofs of several others.

 

Gyeonggi English Village
A small replica of Stonehenge outside of English Village

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Dinner in Paju City

After a all of the site-seeing and walking through Lake Park, we had gone hungry to the they took me to dinner at a restaurant in Paju City. It was a neat place, with several buildings in a “compound.” We had a traditional Korean meal with several sides, hot soup, and grilled beef to eat wrapped in leaves/lettuce.  While there, I learned that Koreans are the only ones who actually eat the leaves of the sesame plant, which was on the plate of “wraps” for the meat. Here are a few pictures for dinner, all take by Pastor Kim’s wife, except the one that she’s in (I’m not sure why I didn’t take any pictures here!):

 

The three of us in the courtyard of the restaurant (I'm the one on the right).
The three of us in the courtyard of the restaurant (I’m the one on the right).

 

John and I still eating...
John and I still eating…

 

John and I enjoying plum juice and coffee...and the cooling evening.
John and I enjoying plum juice and coffee…and the cooling evening.

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It was a long day, but a really great time spent with friends and seeing Korea. I’m really thankful that I met Pastor John Eun Yup Kim and his wife, and for all of the kindness they’ve shown me while I was in Korea!

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Imagine Your Korea website.

Gyeonggi English Village website.

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Ilsan Lake Park

Following the worship service at Tree Planted by the Water Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Kim and his wife took me on a tour of the area. One of the sites we saw was Ilsan Lake Park, which is one of the largest man-made parks in Asia. “The park offers visitors a lot to see and do including the Riverside Square, artificial islands, a 4.7 km bike path, children’s play ground, natural experience site, musical fountain, 100 species of wild flowers and a dense forest with 200,000 trees.”

It was a beautiful day to walk through the park where there were many families enjoying the park and nice weather. Around the lake is a walk/bike path with several areas to enjoy as you walk. We didn’t walk around the whole 4.7 km path around the lake, but we saw much of the park. Here are some pictures of from our walk, the pictures that have me in the were taken by Pastor Kim’s wife (thanks!):

Ilsan Lake Park
Checking out a map of the area.

Ilsan Lake Park

Ilsan Lake Park

Ilsan Lake Park

Ilsan Lake Park

 

Ilsan Lake Park Ilsan Lake Park

John is showing me how to play Yutnori,  which is “a board dice with four wooden sticks, is one of the most popular traditional games of Korea and is usually played on the first day of the New Year by two players (or teams). Each player (or team of two players) takes turns throwing yut sticks. Each stick has two sides (round and flat), which makes the stick roll. Five combinations are possible with yut sticks: do, gae, geol, yut and mo. A player achieving a yut or mo is allowed to roll again. If a board piece lands on a space occupied by an opponent, it is returned to the start and the player goes again. If a piece lands on a space occupied by one’s own team, the pieces can go together (counting as one). The combinations determine how the board pieces are moved, and the team which moves all four pieces around the board first wins…”2

Ilsan Lake Park
I’m not sure how much longer this board would have held out!

Ilsan Lake Park

Ilsan Lake Park
John and me by the Lake.
Ilsan Lake Park
This is part of the Rose Garden
Ilsan Lake Park
In the Rose Garden
Ilsan Lake Park
My wonderful hosts, Pastor Kim and his wife, at the entrance to the Rose Garden.

 

 

Ilsan Lake Park

 

Ilsan Lake Park
There are several pieces of art throughout the park. This one is a commentary on television.

Ilsan Lake Park

 

Ilsan Lake Park

Ilsan Lake Park

One of the attractions of the park is a small cactus display in a nice greenhouse:

IMG_20160703_153330038 IMG_20160703_153345562_HDR IMG_20160703_153358268 IMG_20160703_153411865 IMG_20160703_153521052 IMG_20160703_153546062 IMG_20160703_153600172 IMG_20160703_153613072 IMG_20160703_153644007 IMG_20160703_153656433

Ilsan Lake Park
Me and John in the Cactus greenhouse.

Ilsan Lake Park

Ilsan Lake Park
They also had a large variety of cactuses (cacti?) that could be purchased.

 

https://chaplainnews.com/2016/07/05/worship-at-tree-planted-by-the-water-church-of-the-nazarene/

The stone lion statues have been regarded as symbols of power and dignity in China, so they used to be displayed in front of residences of the upper classes (above the 7th grade of feudal bureaucratic system) and government offices.

Among the common people, the statues were used to decorate incense burners, houses and pavilions. In order to expel devils and avoid misfortunes they are usually exhibited outside the gates with their majestic airs, as the sign of wealth and prosperity.

Stone lion statues are usually displayed in couples. The male lion steps on the ball by his right forefoot that symbolizes power, while the female lion sets her left forefoot on the small lion, that means prosperity of descendants and the fact that there must be a prominent leader among them.

These stone lion statues are presented for Koyang city from Binzhou Prefecture in People’s Government of China in commemoration of the World Flower Exhibition Koyang, Korea 1997.

Ilsan Lake Park

 

Ilsan Lake Park

The city of Qiqihar in Heilongjiang Province, People’s Republic of China, has constructed and is donating this Hakgoejeong (a traditional Chinese pavilion), to its sister sity of Goyang in Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea, to reinforce the friendly relationship and to celebrate the opening of the World Flower Exhibition Goyang 2000. “Hak” stands for Danjeonghak which is the city bird of Qiqihar, “Goe” stands for roses which are the city flowers of Goyang, and “Jeong” for a pavilion. This Northern Chinese traditional style pavilion represents the long history of cultural exchanges between Korea and China at the same time. The pavilion, situated in Lake Park surrounded by beautiful flowers, symbolizes wishes of peace, happiness, development and prosperity for the both cities of Qiqihar and Goyang. The granite stylobate of two steps shows the friendship of the two cities is as firm as a rock and the paintings of Danjeonghak and roses decorating its eaves amplify the splendor.

Ilsan Lake Park
A view of the Music Fountain, though not flowing at the time…
Ilsan Lake Park
A water fountain that the children can play in (which they seemed to be enjoying on this hot day).
Ilsan Lake Park
The fountains randomly turn on!
Ilsan Lake Park
One of several horse-drawn carriages beside the park.

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“Imagine Your Korea” website

Wikipedia, “Traditional Korean Games.”

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Company Change of Command

It’s not often that the Brigade Chaplain prays at a company-level Change of Command ceremony (except for the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company), but one of the brigade’s battalions  is currently without a chaplain, so I was called on to offer the prayer. Company Change of Command ceremonies are enjoyable for me as I watch young captains hand over -or take on- command often for the first time. They have much of their Army careers still ahead of them, so it’s an honor to pray for God to bless and help them to be courageous, honorable and Soldiers of integrity.

Here are a few pictures from the ceremony, though it’s not often when there’s a picture of the chaplain praying. I’m not sure if that’s because the photographer pauses to pray so doesn’t take a picture or because the prayer is just peripheral to the main event.

B-Co Change of Command
The Battalion Commander addressing the attendees (you can see me sitting to the right, having already prayed)
B-Co Change of Command
The outgoing commander addressing his troops and the guests at the ceremony (there I am again)
B-Co Change of Command
The incoming commander addressing his company, and the guests
B-Co Change of Command
The new commander taking charge of his troops
B-Co Change of Command
The new commander at the front of the formation of his new command

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Photos from the 719th MI BN Facebook page.

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