Vice Commander of Naval Forces Korea and Korean Fire Chief Share Common Careers and Goals

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Story Number: NNS140825-12Release Date: 8/25/2014 3:36:00 PM

From U.S. Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs

BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Two professional firefighters who live worlds apart were brought together Aug. 23 in Busan, Republic of Korea, through their connections to naval service.

Capt. Darren Hanson, vice commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea, Navy Reservist, and professional firefighter from Seattle, had the opportunity to meet Fire Chief Kiok Lee, a former Korean navy officer turned firefighter, during a tour of the Busan Fire Department (BFD) emergency headquarters and special operations division. Hanson met with Lee and other BFD personnel during a pause from a major bilateral military exercise with the Republic of Korea.

Hanson, who also serves as the commanding officer for the U.S. Naval Forces Korea Reserve Detachment in Port Hueneme, California, is deployed to Busan along with members of his unit to support the U.S. 7th Fleet and the Republic of Korea navy during exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

Lee, of the BFD fire safety and audit division, has been a friend of the U.S. Navy for years through his support for a U.S. military good neighbor community outreach program that helps connect American service members with Korean citizens for friendship and cultural engagements.

"We have a lot in common through our service to our countries and service to our cities," said Hanson. "Firefighters share a unique camaraderie through common experiences in serving our communities. The same goes for those who serve in the Navy. No matter where we serve in the world, we are a family of service professionals."

The two men also have similar career paths. Hanson and Lee both graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in engineering and both men earned commissions as naval officers for their respective nations in 1988.

"I think we have similar goals in life," said Lee. "Those goals are centered around service. Capt. Hanson is allowed to serve both his country and his city as a naval officer and firefighter. I admire him because he chooses to serve for the American people and for the citizens of Seattle."

The fire station tour ended with each firefighter exchanging unit patches from the Seattle Fire Department and BFD.

"I feel like we built an important friendship today," said Lee. "I hope this relationship develops into a closer partnership between Busan firefighters, the U.S. Navy in Korea and with firefighters in the city of Seattle."

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea, visit

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