Commentary by Lt. Col. Stephen Renner
25th Fighter Squadron commander
5/10/2011 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Pil Sung! is the war cry of the 25th Fighter Squadron. Pil Sung! can be used to show approval or gratitude, as a greeting or salutation, and is a suitable closing remark at any squadron function.
Furthermore, it is the response required of any Assam Draggin who hears the words "two" and "five" (or variations thereof) in close proximity to each other in a sentence. This will occur, of course, when directly referencing the squadron ("the 25th"), but can also be heard during weather briefs ("wind 2 to 5 knots"), when making appointments ("the office will open at 0925"), attending Wing staff meetings ("25% of your evaluations are late") and out-processing ("expect your orders in two and a half weeks").
Within the Draggins, finding ways to insert the squadron's numbers into normal conversation is considered a demonstration of keen intelligence and wit, and failure to use them in any circumstance in which they may be remotely accurate is poor form indeed. Innocent bystanders may find this tradition amusing or obnoxious.
It may be both, depending on the circumstances, but the Pil Sung! war cry is also a powerful component of esprit de corps, and serves to connect members of the 25th Fighter Squadron to each other and our mission. Pil Sung! carries a message of identity, vision and commitment, and is for that reason worthy of further consideration.
Osan is no stranger to squadron cheers -- everybody has one (or wants some, as the 51st Logistics Readiness Squadron would have it). Some are funny, some martial, and some are quite elaborate call-and-responses. All are on display during wing award ceremonies and all serve a similar function: to shape a common identity out of a disparate and transient populace.
The U.S. Army has succeeded brilliantly with a two-syllable nonsensical utterance beginning with H (sound familiar?). In this regard, the Draggin war cry is no different. Giving a hearty Pil Sung! clearly identifies you as a member, supporter or admirer of the 25th Fighter Squadron.
However, Pil Sung! has intrinsic value well beyond its function as an identifier: "Pil Sung" means "Certain Victory" in the shared language of our ally and adversary. The language is critical; it ties the 25th FS to this place, at this time, and gives lie to the notion that "the AOR" is somewhere else.
The words are even more critical. "Victory" is our vision; it is a concise summation of the squadron's mission statement, "Defeat the threat and annihilate the enemy." The 25th Fighter Squadron is not in the exit strategy business. We believe, as Churchill did, that victory is necessary: "Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival."
While victory is the core concept, "Certain" is no throw-away modifier. It reflects a sustained commitment to excellence in preparation and execution. While recognizing that true certainty can never be attained in any endeavor as complex as warfare, we also know that anything less than complete dedication will result in definite failure.
Thucydides, like Churchill an honorary Draggin, wrote of the Spartans' confidence before battle in the Peloponnesian War: "For they had learned that safety was to be found in long previous training, and not in eloquent exhortations uttered when they were going into action."
A strong sense of identity, a shared vision of success, and a common commitment to excellence -- these are values demonstrated daily throughout Team Osan.
Consider the Draggin war cry a gentle reminder of your crucial role in the relentless pursuit of certain victory, and the next time your caramel macchiato bill tallies $4.25, reward yourself and the barista with a Pil Sung.