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Far East District Breaks Ground on new Osan chapel

Far East District
Published April 18, 2021
Far East District Breaks Ground on new Osan chapel

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Far East District (FED) participated in a ground-breaking ceremony at Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, Republic of Korea, Apr. 13. Distinguished guests, from left to right: Maj. Shin Soh (51st Wing Chaplain), Col. David Bowlus (Chaplain, Combined Forces Command/ U.S. Forces Korea), Col. Pyo In Tae (Republic of Korea Design and Construction Agent, Ministry of National Defense U.S. Forces Korea Relocation Office), Col. Garrett Cottrell (U.S. Design and Construction Agent-Transformation, FED), Col. Christopher Crary (commander, FED), Command Master Sgt. Justin Apticar (Command Chief, 51st MSG), Col. John Gonzales (commander, 51st Wing), Col. Jonelle Eychner (commander, 51st Mission Support Group), Col. Michael Staples (Engineer, 7th Air Force), Lt. Col. Ryan Walinski (commander, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron), Mr. Kuk Han Kim (CEO, IlKwang Construction), and Dr. Jum Sik Chae (Chief Project Manager, MURO), broke ground, signifying the beginning of the new construction.

Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, Republic of Korea -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Far East District (FED) participated in a ground-breaking ceremony at Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, Republic of Korea, Apr. 13.

The ceremony was held to signify the beginning of a new construction project that FED, MURO (Ministry of National Defense U.S. Forces Korea Relocation Office), PMC (Program Management Consortium), and the 51st Engineering Squadron will work together to oversee.

Over 100 personnel have been involved in programming, planning, designing, citing, negotiating, and executing the project. The project was programmed 24 years ago, and funded three years ago for $15 million, with the assistance from the Republic of Korea.

The previous, now demolished, chapel was built in 1973 and serviced about 7,000 members per month.

“When you add up the last 48 years of chapel services and programs, approximately 4 million Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Families and Republic of Korea personnel have passed through those doors,” said Col. John Gonzales, 51st Fighter Wing commander.

The new chapel’s seating capacity will increase from its previous capacity, accommodating a 500-seat sanctuary, with a 150-seat multi faith worship space.

With the growing number of families and joint units on Osan Air Base, the previous chapel did not have the capacity to adequately support the growing population.

The newly acquired space, and aesthetic value that will be provided by the new chapel, will greatly enhance the quality of life for all service members and their families who are stationed at Osan and in the surrounding community.

“The Republic of Korea supports the new chapel facility for the Osan community and USFK (U.S. Forces Korea) not only to ‘Fight Tonight,’ but also care about the ‘Quality of Life’ of service members stationed here,” said Gonzales. “In addition, because of the Yongsan Relocation Program, the ROK government agreed to provide the base with the funding necessary to meet the spiritual needs of the Airmen and Soldiers on Osan Air Base.”

Lt. Col. Ryan Walinski, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron commander, was grateful to those who contributed to the success of the build.

“This project has been a win for the peninsula that we could not have accomplished without our allies,” said Walinski. “Further, I would be remiss not to mention my own team. The members of the engineering flight often work in the background and take years to build up to a ground-breaking.

“I am proud to be here today to witness the physical fruits following decades of dreaming,” he said. “While I may not be here for the final product, like many military members before me, I see this as a mark that I have left Osan better than I found it, and moving in a constantly improving trajectory.”

USACE Far East District is the premier engineering, design, and construction agent for all DoD agencies in the Republic of Korea. Since its inception, the Far East District has played a critical role in the security and stability of the region and in strengthening the alliance between the US and the ROK. As such, it also fulfills a unique mission; the only “maneuver” district within USACE, FED must always be prepared for war, even while building for peace on the Korean peninsula. The Far East District is responsible for executing a multi-billion-dollar program, the largest construction program managed by the U.S. Army.