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JBLM soldier at games

Military World Games in Vietnam

The U.S. Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Team and soldiers from the Republic of Vietnam march together into the opening ceremony of Mungyeong Athlete’s Village, Sept. 29, 2015, for the CISM World Games in South Korea. Photo credit: Gary Sheftick

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Vietnamese troops stood side by side Sept. 29 with U.S. servicemembers, including Capt. Andrew Hyres from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, at the opening ceremony of Mungyeong Athlete's Village as delegations began arriving here for the Military World Games.

More than 6,000 athletes from 103 nations will participate in the 6th Conseil International du Sport Militaire, or CISM World Games, in and around Mungyeong, South Korea. The games are held every four years and this time the U.S. will field 16 teams in sports that range from track and field to basketball, martial arts and soccer.

The U.S. vs Republic of Korea soccer match will be the first sporting event, taking place Sept. 30, even before the official opening of the games. So the U.S. Armed Forces men's soccer team was the first American squad to arrive in Korea. Only they and soldiers from the Vietnamese Army stood in front of the stage for the opening ceremony of Mungyeong Athlete's Village.

"It's good not just to participate, but to interact," said Army Capt. Andrew Hyres, an aviation-support company commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and one of two player-captains of the U.S. Armed Forces Men's Soccer Team.

Along with men's soccer, U.S. servicemembers will compete in the following sports at the games: Archery, Basketball, Cycling, Wrestling, Women's Soccer, Golf, Parachuting, Triathlon, Judo, Sailing, Track & Field, Marathon and Shooting.

A Korean television reporter asked Army Sgt. Chris Krueger how it felt to stand beside Vietnamese troops 50 years after American servicemembers fought in that nation. Krueger - a soccer player and member of the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Georgia - reminded the reporter of the CISM motto: friendship through sports.

"It's a great experience being together with other nations," he said, adding that friendship through sports helps keep world peace. "Together through sports is a great way to create a relationship with other nations."

The mayor of Mungyeong was at the ceremony to greet the troops and welcome them to Korea.

"We should all be you who preserve the peace and share friendship and love through sports," said Mayor Yun Hwan Ko through an interpreter. He wished the troops fond memories of their stay in Korea.

Krueger went up on stage to greet the mayor. On behalf of the U.S. delegation, he accepted a gift of two small replicas of the Military World Games mascots - Haeraon and Haeraoni - birds who, according to ancient Korean mythology, live inside the sun.

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