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More than 2,400 soldiers, family members ‘in limbo’ after Army halts moves from South Korea, Italy

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  • More than 2,400 soldiers, family members ‘in limbo’ after Army halts moves from South Korea, Italy

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    A sign posted outside the transportation office informs customers of suspended movement at Camp Humphreys, South Korea, Wednesday, March 11, 2020.

    MATTHEW KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES



    SEOUL, South Korea — Maj. David Watkins and his wife, Irina, must be out of their apartment by next week and already have plane tickets to Fort Belvoir, Va., later this month.

    But they’re worried about more than inconveniences after the Army halted moves to new assignments from South Korea and Italy during the next two months to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

    “My husband has PTSD and has been having suicidal thoughts, and at the end of February, we found out that he has a brain tumor as well,” she said Tuesday. “It’s been so scary and stressful for the past six months that I can’t even think about the option of not being able to leave.”

    More than 2,400 soldiers and family members in South Korea alone will be affected by the order, officials told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.


    Caught off guard


    The sudden decision, which was announced during the weekend and included Italy, sparked major confusion as military officials scrambled to work out the details.

    “Frankly, it came as a bit of a surprise to all of us,” USFK commander Gen. Robert Abrams said Wednesday during a question-and-answer session with the American Forces Network at Camp Humphreys.

    The command has sent more than 100 requests for information to the Pentagon seeking clarification, he said, adding that he has asked for general officer-level waiver authority to approve exceptions.

    South Korea-bound travelers were kicked off a military charter flight at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Monday, with many told to go back to their former units.

    Lt. Gen. Michael Bills, the Eighth Army commander in South Korea, tried to fix the situation by authorizing movement from Seattle-Tacoma to Osan Air Base because they were in transit, not initiating travel.

    “If you’re a soldier or an Army family member and you were told to get off the Patriot Express on Monday, March 9th, and you are still in the Seattle Tacoma area, we need you to return to the Seattle Tacoma Airport now,” Bills said in a message posted Tuesday. “We are ready to receive you.”

    However, the largest impact was on soldiers and their loved ones who already had vacated homes, shipped household goods and sold cars in anticipation of moving.

    Veterinary services on post offered Wednesday to extend paperwork for free for people who already had finished requisite vaccination and other time-sensitive procedures required to transport their pets.

    “The current stop move will affect over 2,000 soldiers and nearly 400 family members slated to leave the Republic of Korea between now and May 6,” Col. Robert Sketch, the Eighth Army’s head of personnel management, said in an email.

    “Eighth Army leadership is looking into ways to mitigate the stress and inconvenience experienced by those affected,” he said.

    U.S. Army Garrison Italy has said it had been expecting about 200 soldiers to change assignments, known as permanent change of station, or PCS, during that period.

    https://www.stripes.com/more-than-2-...italy-1.621983



  • #2
    trump says if the people all die we can ship them back to the us as cargo once they are in their coffins !
    good thinking prez !
    good thing you also got corrected on that whole cargo embargo blunder you made! world economy PLUMMETED after you said that, no hard feelings, right ?

    Comment


    • #3
      That's my old unit. 2nd Infantry Division. Hang tough, guys.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Rohirrim View Post
        That's my old unit. 2nd Infantry Division. Hang tough, guys.
        Wow you were a puppet soldier for the great capitalist hegemon?!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by nyuk nyuk View Post

          Wow you were a puppet soldier for the great capitalist hegemon?!
          You are quite a distasteful little weasel. Why do you come here? No friends? Waiting for your mustache cream to work?

          Comment

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