Siblings symbolize ROK-US alliance

August 9, 2014
Yoon Ye-eun, left, and her brother Sup hope to join forces when ROK-U.S. joint drills take place.

Yoon Ye-eun, left, and her brother Sup hope to join forces when ROK-U.S. joint drills take place.

By Jun Ji-hye

As members of a military family, Yoon Sup and Yoon Ye-eun are proud of themselves for being symbols of the staunch alliance between South Korea and the United States.

Older brother Yoon Sup, 25, is a 1st lieutenant in the South Korean Air Force assigned as an air traffic control English instructor and interpreter. His sister Ye-eun, 23, is a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

The latter is stationed in Baumholder, Germany, where she serves as an electronics maintenance platoon leader leading a group of soldiers that maintains and repairs radio and electronics devices for units in the area.

“We feel honored to protect national security in our assignments, although we wear different military uniforms,” said the brother in a recent interview. “I believe the ROK-U.S. alliance is the strongest in the world, and I agree with the perception that I and my sister are symbols of this alliance.”

The brother left for the U.S. with his parents right after birth, while Ye-eun was born in the Midwestern state of Indiana. The family returned to Korea in 2001, and the two attended international middle and high schools here.

After graduating from Wheaton College in Chicago, Yoon-sup was commissioned into the South Korean Air Force in July 2012.

“I spent most of my boyhood and went to university in the U.S., which gave me proficiency in English and a rich understanding of American culture. I wanted to use these acquisitions for my home country,” he said.

Ye-eun was commissioned into the U.S. Army in May of last year after graduating from West Point, which is extremely rigorous.

“I wanted to go to West Point since the beginning of my junior year of high school. I actually had a mentor, Mr. Wayne Kirkbride, Class of 1972, who encouraged me to apply. He helped me with all the administrative parts of the process and advised me to prepare mentally to take on this challenge,” she said.

One of the main reasons she wanted to become an officer is because of the countless opportunities to grow not only professionally, but also personally, she said.

“I don’t know when this started, but I always felt obligated to do my best with whatever I was tasked. I always need a challenge and to strive for excellence for personal edification. The Army is the best place where I can achieve this by taking the initiative to seek out challenges and accomplish them to the best of my abilities,” she said.

The sister added, “Just as the ROK-US alliance is strong and based on a partnership, my relationship with my brother reflects this aspect, even more so because we have been close siblings for a long time.”

One disadvantage is that family reunions are harder to organize, she said.

“I want to be stationed in Korea perhaps right after my tour in Europe, because I want to use my skills to contribute to the U.S. Army’s mission in Korea. Also, another big reason is because of my family,” she said.

Yoon-sup is also hoping for the same.

“I hope that my sister and I will be able to join forces when the R.O.K-U.S. joint drills take place here,” he said.