The 1st Infantry Division Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, never envisioned their tour to the Republic of Korea meant gate duty to protect the force; however, that has not stopped them from appreciating their mission.
Shortly after the first service member confirmed positive with the coronavirus in the southeastern city of Daegu, earlier this year, the U.S. Forces Korea implemented stricter entry measures at the gates to protect the force.
The 1st ID Soldiers are tasked to screen people entering the installation; protecting the force by actively checking for indicators of the coronavirus. They interview personnel coming through the gates to assess potential risk and conduct temperature checks prior to their I.D. checks.
Currently, Soldiers from A Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, serve at the Adams Gate, located near the Exchange. The team work in tandem with the military police and the Korean gate guards.
“Our simple questions get people interested,” said Sgt. Tristan Purcelli. “And we don’t mind being here. We are a tight-knit unit and we boost each other up when we need to.”
The Soldiers feel a sense of purpose in their work, knowing that their role is vitally important to the garrison.
“What we do show people is the reality of the situation and how we are taking this epidemic seriously,” said Spc. Charles Bracken.
While they take their new positions seriously, their interactions with the children make their days extra special.
“The kids really lift up your day,” said Bracken. “Many of them wave, and some say ‘cheese’ because they think that the thermometer is a little camera. They put a smile on our faces.”
Diane Oh, a military spouse, appreciates the Soldiers for their hard work.
“I think these Soldiers are doing an excellent job,” she said. “This is a very important necessary precaution measure to keep us safe. Our community appreciates them very much.”