Members of the Utah National Guard are among the 200,000 U.S. and Korean soldiers participating in war games in South Korea.
The exercise has been punctuated by helicopter accidents that killed nearly two dozen Americans. No Utah Marines were among those killed.More than 150 members of Utah's National Guard I Corps Artillery Headquarters have spent the past three weeks participating in Team Spirit, where they practiced mobilization and battle skills.
The remote U.N. outpost of Panmunjom is the setting for peace talks between North and South Korea. For Maj. Gregary Maynard of South Jordan, a member of I Corps, being in Panmunjom is a bit of deja vu.
"I had very much the same impression here as I did in the visit to the East German border," said Maynard. "There is an uneasiness here. There are guys over there who want to take a shot at you. It makes a full impression on why we wear the uniform. Visiting here becomes a living and valuable experience that makes a lasting impression."
But Specialist Fourth Class Darcy Peacock, a Brigham Young University student, sees the trip as a bit of a homecoming. She lived in South Korea as a child with her parents.
It is tense around the Joint Security Area, where on Aug. 18, 1976, North Koreans axed to death two Army officers who were trimming a tree.
"The war here has actually never ended or been declared over," said PFC Adrein Leavitt of Payson. "There is just a cease fire. We are up here trying to keep things from happening."
Leavitt said soldiers on either side of the line constantly are armed. "That puts a little more spice into it."
Exercises, such as last summer's FIREX 88 held in the Utah desert and Team Spirit in Korea, help I Corps members hone skills under realistic conditions.
I Corps artillery Headquarters, under the command of Col. Randy Ence of Cedar City, controls about 30 percent of all U.S. artillery assets.