Freedom Shield ‘23: Roeck’s Trip to South Korea

A small insight in Glen Roeck’s trip to South Korea for the army reserve.



Roeck alongside Korean soldiers during Freedom Shield ’23

Cayla Pierce, Staff Reporter

The American military supports a vast amount of countries and sends various branches out for different purposes. One of the branches frequently sent is the U.S. Army Reserve. The reserve participates part-time, allowing them to continue civilian activities whilst still serving.

Grayslake Central history teacher, Glen Roeck, is in the U.S. Army Reserve. One of the events Roeck participates in with fellow reserve members is Freedom Shield. According to a press release from United States Forces Korea, “The word ‘Freedom’ in the name refers to the strong will in protecting freedom as an immutable value of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, and ‘Shield’ symbolizes the defensive nature of the exercise.”

Roeck, a Lieutenant Colonel, was assigned to the U.S Army Garrison Daegu, a military base in Daegu, South Korea. Roeck stated that this “is the name of a city of 2.4 million people and there are these little bases or camps around there, and I was at Camp Henry. Camp Henry was established by the Japanese in the 1920’s when they occupied South Korea.”

The Freedom Shield exercise took place from March 13 to March 23, 2023. While in South Korea, Roeck got to experience the atmosphere of the country while not actively working. “You could just walk right out of the base and you could go into the town,” Roeck said. He also mentioned that there were no foreigners and people spoke little to no English.

“I found the iPhone has a translator app already. I went into a grocery store and I wanted to bring something [home] for my family and [I put everything] into the translator app: “Can you please show me authentic Korean cookies?” And the lady at the register said “okay,” and she took me around and I got the cookies. I paid for them with the Korean won, which is a form of currency. Then I stood there waiting for her to give me a bag. I didn’t know you had to buy bags. So I took out a coin and she said no. I took out another coin and this Korean restaurant across the street where we ate, the lady saw me struggling, so she ran over with the bag from her restaurant and gave me it for free,” Roeck said.

Roeck described the living arrangements as high rises with no subdivisions. He also talked about street markets in underground tunnels that were built to defend South Korea during the war.
While working, Roeck worked alongside Korean augment soldiers, who are very skilled at speaking English. Roeck also mentioned “Korean men graduating high school or college age join the army active duty. No excuse. Everybody joins and then after you get out for your few years, you go into reserve until age 55. South Korea can get an army of like 2.3 million men within a matter of months because of their reserve system.” Roeck could not divulge specifics of his most recent service, due to confidentiality.
“There are people from all different backgrounds,” Roeck said, “You join the army or the military, you’re going to be with people who don’t necessarily look like you. They come from different backgrounds. And I’ll tell you – that that’s one of the strengths of the military.”