The text messages arrived on Chrissy Royal’s phone at 3:23 a.m.

“I got arrested [help] me,” said one.

Then: “Yongsan police station.”

It was a cool March night in Itaewon — a neon-lit nightlife district in central Seoul — and Royal’s husband Raymond had been out drinking with his best friend, Cory Anderson.

The men were U.S. army mechanics, and they had arranged to be deployed at the same time in South Korea. Pfc. Royal, 22, was based at the Yongsan Garrison, a major U.S. military base near Itaewon. Pfc. Anderson, 20, was stationed at Humphreys, a rural garrison 55 miles south, and he was visiting for the weekend.

They drank; they played pool; they wrestled like muscle-bound, army-trained puppies, grappling into chokeholds until one or the other cried uncle. They got matching tattoos — “friends forever” swirling down their forearms in blue Korean script.

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Image courtesy of Karen Anderson via LA Times