About 35 citizen soldiers from Lexington and the surrounding area are in South Korea, participating in a joint U.S.-Korea military training exercise.
The soldiers, all members of the Army Reserve's 7241st Medical Support Unit, flew to South Korea on Friday. The group will be overseas for about two weeks, said Lt. Col. Timothy Evans, the unit's commander.
"We take a large group of people on a training exercise every year, but this will be our first overseas mission," Evans said. "All our soldiers are very excited about it."
The 7241st has been preparing for the assignment for about the past year.
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The medical outfit is made up of about 75 reserves from Central Kentucky and Ohio, most of whom work in medical fields in civilian life, including critical care, nursing and emergency response. Evans is a pharmacist at the University of Kentucky. First Sgt. Michael Moffit is a Lexington firefighter.
The basic mission of the 7241st is to provide medical services, processing and support for soldiers who are deploying to go overseas or returning home from tours of duty.
In South Korea, however, unit members will be assigned to Camp Casey, a major U.S. base near Seoul, where they will provide medical support and treatment for U.S. and Korean soldiers participating in the joint training exercise, which is designed to help prepare for the defense of South Korea.
In turn, members of 7421st will use the opportunity to boost their own preparedness.
'We will be the real-world ER (emergency room) when we get there," Moffit said. "So we plan to hit the ground running."
More than 10,000 soldiers will participate in the Korea exercise, which is called Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2010. That includes U.S. troops in various locations at Pacific bases and in the United States.
Evans said members of the 7241st will be separated from their families, and taking time away from their jobs, during training.
"We're grateful to all of the employers for their support, and for all the family members as well," Evans said.