BUSAN, Republic of Korea – USO Korea hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) Sailors, their families and Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy Sailors in Busan, Nov. 20.
This event not only helped to celebrate the holiday with service members and their families but also to share American culture with allied forces to strengthen ties between the two nations.
“Something we want to share with [ROK Sailors] is our American culture of Thanksgiving, but most importantly it’s the fact that we’re bringing together friends and family,” said Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, Rear Adm. Michael “Buzz” Donnelly. “As we operate together and increase the strength of our alliance and the strength of our two navies and increase our social time together, we share a relationship as a family.”
Donnelly said opportunities like today’s lunch help both U.S. and ROK Sailors to feel kinship even though they are away from their families. Events like this remind them that they have friends and family to support them throughout the year, including during the holiday season.
“ROK Fleet has been an incredibly gracious host to the CNFK staff ever since we moved to Busan,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ben Li, who helped coordinate the Thanksgiving event. “We are not only sharing the ROK base, we are also sharing a bond of brotherhood. There is no better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by sharing an American meal with our hosts, our friends, and our brothers and sisters in ROK Fleet.”
The event was hosted by the South Korean branch of the USO, an organization that offers outreach programs to service members and their families who don’t have access to a local USO.
“This event came about from a request from CNFK to provide an American cultural experience that we can share with our ROK allies,” said Douglas Boltuc, the country director for USO Korea. “We thought about a traditional American Thanksgiving meal with all the trappings of home. This really accomplishes two things. For our sailors and their families, it’s the connection back to home, family and country. Secondly—and equally as important—is building the ROK-U.S. alliance with our Korean Navy allies.”
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