Read Part 17 HERE

When 9/11 came, South Korea had already been taking terrorism far more seriously than the United States ever did. The Detachment wanted to go to war but found themselves stuck in South Korea. “Me and the commander came up with the international play of sending the Koreans. SOCKOR took it to ROK Special Forces who went to government and it got approved,” Detachment Sergeant Major Jack Hagan said. The idea was that Det K would accompany Korean Special Forces into Iraq when the invasion kicked off, but 1st Special Forces Group stole that job away from them and Tae Kim was the only Det K liaison permitted to go. “They took a company of engineers, company of medics, and one platoon of 707. Later teams from other brigades were mixed,” Hagan said.

The Koreans had done a peace keeping deployment to East Timor and filled some support roles in Afghanistan, but this would be their first time rolling into a real combat zone. Detachment K helped provide them with pre-mission training prior to deployment. Det K liaison Tae Kim described that initial deployment saying, “In the initial push in from Kuwait they had a US escort with US Special Forces NCOs from 1st Group to help them with the convoy. Going out it was the same thing. Every time they went outside the fence, they would be prepared. We would go meet with the local people and US SF was with them.” The Korean contingent consisted of a civil-military organization that was called Zaytun (Arabic for olive branch) division and was stationed in Erbil, Kurdistan.

Tae described how impressed he was with the Korean civic projects in Iraq as they set up a mechanics school, a computer school, built a sports stadium, a police station, a library, and ran a hospital. Fifty years ago US Army units stationed in South Korea would sponsor a local school or orphanage to help the impoverished country. Now, the Tiger of Asia was providing assistance to less fortunate souls.