Son of Bulverde couple is on guard in South Korea
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – At first glance everything about this U.S. air base just south of the capital city of Seoul makes it look like any other base around the world. Modern barracks, plenty of American restaurants, tons of local shopping – even a golf course make the base one of the better assignments in Korea. But for the son of a Bulverde couple, it’s not the obvious that makes this assignment also one of the most tense in the world.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Pablo A. Copple, son of Don and Carmen Copple of Onion Creek, Bulverde, is often awakened to early-morning siren blasts and ominous messages over the loud speaker and forced to don gas mask and weapon in preparation for an enemy that sits in wait not more than 50 miles away.
Copple is an intelligence analyst with the 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment, part of a unit that is literally the first line of air support should a conflict ever be sparked between democratic South Korea and their communist neighbor to the north.
“I am part of the Army liaison between the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force and our host country Republic of Korea Air Force and Army,” said Copple who graduated in 1983 from Douglas MacArthur High School, San Antonio, Texas.
As the most forward deployed wing in the world, the soldiers and airmen of the 51st Fighter Wing are capable of providing combat ready forces in a moment’s notice. Recent events in North Korea have reinforced the need for the soldiers and airmen to always be alert and ready for action.
“The situation in North Korea keeps us working very, very closely with the Republic of Korea forces and the U.S. Air Force,” he said.
Living in Korea, where the sights and smells are like nothing ever encountered in the United States, is an eye opener for Americans stationed here. “The mountain ranges and sea shores around the Korean countryside are very beautiful,” said Copple. “The thing that has left a lasting impression on me is how the Korean people are very hard working and, like us, want the best life for their children.”
Even though they have some of the creature comforts of home, being separated from loved ones can make it hard to stay focused on readiness. “The holidays bring the reality of how far from home I really am. But without the commercialization, the true holiday spirit comes out with friends and comrades,” Copple said.
Although most soldiers and airmen consider this to be the “garden spot” assignment in Korea, Copple and his fellow Soldiers and Airmen, know that danger is only minutes away.
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