Far From Home

Far From Home

6,600 miles, by air, I flew as a young soldier who was born and raised in small-town Mecosta County, Michigan.  Prior to this trip to a region with a vastly different culture, different language, different alphabet (for goodness’ sake) – the furthest away from home I had ever been was to Washington, DC for my senior trip.  Long before the DC trip, my family went to visit relatives in a bordering state, about 300 miles away.  One of my mom’s favorite stories about me traveling was that I asked if they spoke English there – in Indiana!  I was probably about 5 years old, so gimme a break!  There was also a little bit shorter trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – where I supposedly wanted to camp on the pull off spot ON THE BRIDGE!!!  I suspect that I was even younger then than I was on our trip to Indiana.

Culture shock – that was what I felt for the first few weeks in Korea.  I wanted to make the best of it though, to experience this culture, to experience a country so rich with historical traditions and landmarks.  I really wish I had kept better track of the places I visited.  20 years of life experiences has wiped away many of the details of those places.  Some places I remember visiting includes the Summer Garden in Seoul; Jejudo or Jeju Island, also known as the “Island of the Gods” (more on this below); North Seoul Tower; and Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul.  Other memorable experiences include using mass transit with very little spoken Korean, being a traditional Korean dinner guest, shopping in Itaewon, and partying in Itaewon (because a girl’s gotta have some fun).

Now, back to Jejudo.  There was an Army school on the island to learn Australian Style rappel.  That is where you face forward instead of going butt first.  Pretty scary – right?  My job did not involve ANY rappelling, but I was lucky to be selected to go through the school during their down time.  This is when there aren’t enough “real” students to form a class, so they invite various other Army people to participate in a shorter version of the class.  It was a ton of fun.

Here is a picture of me in my harness.

Australian Rappel harness, Jeju-do, Korea
Australian Rappel harness, Jejudo, Korea

Here is a picture of me hanging 1/2 way down the wall.  😉

Australian Rappel, Jeju-do, Korea
Australian Rappel, Jejudo, Korea

A picture of the beautiful scenery.

Jeju-do, Korea
Jeju-do, Korea

Beautiful beach – too bad it was Spring.  And look at all that HAIR I had 20+ years ago!!!

Beautiful beach, Jeju-do, Korea
Beautiful beach, Jejudo, Korea
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18 thoughts on “Far From Home”

  1. Found your blog while searching for pics of Cheju-do’s rappelling school. I was there in Spring of 1995 (I think.) Great fun!

    With regards to mass-transit in Seoul, you forgot to mention being crammed into a subway car with 500 Koreans, in 90 degree weather, all of whom subsist almost entirely on Kimchee… 🙂

  2. Wow how amazing is that I spotting your rappelling picture and I said to my buddy that rock face is in cheju-do I was a instructor there from 1989 til 1990 do you have any other picture would love to see so many students came through

    1. Norman Manasan, I was there when you was there..I am Brown that worked at the Dining Facility after SGT.Cooper left.

      1. What’s up hit me up and shoot me an email so we can chat that awesome lots of catching up to do

  3. Wow, I too found your images while searching for Cheju do island and the US Army rappelling school. I took the full course while stationed there in 1988. I was there for the Seoul Olympic games. Good times.

      1. I have a few pictures, but none of instructors. I don’t remember who they were, especially since I only went through an abbreviated course.

  4. Hello, I was stationed at the Chejudo Rappelling School from Jan 1991 to Jan 1992. I was fortunate enough to be one of the instructors as a younger soldier. That picture looks very familiar. I think that was during the time I was there.

  5. Hello, I was stationed at the Chejudo Rappelling School from Jan 1991 to Jan 1992. I was fortunate enough to be one of the instructors as a younger soldier. That picture looks very familiar. I think that was during the time I was there.

  6. Hello, I’m Will Smith I was stationed there also from Oct 1991 – Oct 1992 as instructor. My tour there was a blast, too bad it had to close down. Hit me up if you like at will22485@yahoo.com Yeah it was a blast

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