U.S. Men's National Team to Tour Korean Demilitarized Zone on Friday at Invitation of U.S. Armed Forces
SEOGWIPO, Korea (Thursday, December 6, 2001) - The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team will visit U.S. Military Camp Bonifas, located just 400 meters south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, on Friday (Dec. 7) at the invitation of Major General James Soligan, the Deputy Chief of Staff for the United States Forces, Korea, stationed at the Yong San military base.
The day-long trip will see the U.S. team transported from their southern training site on the island of Jeju in two Chinook CH-47 helicopters, a two-and-a-half hour trek north into the Joint Security Area (JSA), which is home to Camp Bonifas and the U.S. and Korea Republic forces which patrol and protect the DMZ. The U.S. team is scheduled to depart from Jeju at 8 a.m. and will spend four hours at Camp Bonifas.
“It is an absolute honor to be given this opportunity to meet these individuals who sacrifice so much for our country,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “Seeing the commitment, dedication and discipline of these servicemen and women is inspiring. Because of the day-long time commitment in making this trip, we needed to make the trip voluntary for the players. However, every single player and staff member here was excited to take the time to visit with these American heroes.”
The U.S. team is in Korea for a match against the 2002 World Cup co-hosts in Seogwipo on Sunday (Dec. 9) at 3 a.m. ET (5 p.m. local time). Fans can watch the match on tape-delay on Monday (Dec. 10) at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN, or follow the action line at ussoccer.com on U.S. Soccer’s Philips MatchTracker.
Once the team arrives at Camp Bonifas, the coaches, players and staff will receive a tour of the JSA. The team will also interact and dine with the 800 soldiers from all four branches of the U.S. military stationed at the base.
In addition to presenting the base with a number of autographed jerseys for display, the U.S. players will record holiday messages which will be broadcast around the world on the Armed Forces networks. More than 40 media outlets will be covering the team’s trek to Camp Bonifas, including the Associated Press, Reuters, the Korean ABC affiliate and the Armed Forces Network Korea.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is an area of land encompassing a four-kilometer wide strip of land straddling the 151-mile long Military Demarcation Line (MDL). The July 27, 1953, Armistice Agreement established the DMZ along the approximate line of ground contact between the opposing forces at the time the truce ended the Korean War.
As the base camp for the United Nations Command Security Force, Camp Bonifas was previously known as Camp Kitty Hawk before being named after Captain Arthur G. Bonifas in 1986. Bonifas and UNC security officer Lieutenant Mark T. Barrett were slain in the line of duty in the area in 1976.
Last week, the U.S. was drawn into Group D with Portugal, Poland and World Cup co-hosts Korea Republic in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. The U.S. will open Group D play against the highly-regarded Portuguese on June 5 in Suwon, and will follow that game with matches against the host Koreans on June 10 in Daegu and against Poland on June 14 in Daejeon.