Korean War Legacy Project

Myron Bruessel


Myron “Myke” Bruessel was born in 1932 in what he describes as a very German part of Wisconsin.  He was raised by his German-speaking grandmother who ran a boardinghouse. After high school, Myron Bruessel moved to California and intended to join the National Guard.  Before he could complete the process, the Korean War began and he was drafted into the United States Army.  He was trained as a signalman, but he ended up being assigned to a Technical Service Unit working on atomic bomb testing in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Nevada.

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Atomic bomb testing

Myron Bruessel was assigned to the 9677 Technical Service Unit (TSU), a branch of the military that worked on atomic and nuclear bomb testing in the United States to bomb anywhere in the world. He was assigned to a TSU unit in Hawaii because the island had large antennas necessary for the program. This testing was based on earth movement (electromagnetic force) and it used all the radio antennas to monitor radio waves.

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Nuclear Fallout and Test Pigs

Myron Bruessel recognized all the United States soldiers who were "guinea pigs" during the nuclear fallout. In 1953, nuclear tests were from the air and balloon to see if buildings could withstand nuclear bombs. Pigs and cows were placed in testing areas and that scientists would subsequently examine their organs to measure the amount of radiation that was present after a nuclear test.

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Operation Upshot-Knothole

In 1953, Myron Brussel constructed 4 different antennae systems in Puerto Rico with different frequencies with a mile-long antenna. A portable rhombic antenna was used because it was very accurate to determine if they could find radio waves associated with atomic bombs. These tests were part of a group of nuclear tests and detection called Operation Upshot-Knothole.

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

M:       My, my given name is Myron, and last name is Brussel, It’s a German.  It’s, uh, spelled

B R U E S S E L. My nickname is Myke with a Y.  M Y K E.

I:          M Y K , not M I K E.

M:       Yeah.

I:          Okay.

M:       The old English for I was a Y. It was in the connotation within Myron.  Uh, I appreciated Myke, and it’s been that way for


I:          But you are German descent?

M:       Yes.

I:          Um hm.

M:       By way of Wisconsin.  But a lot of the Germans are by immigrants came to the U.S., uh, as immigrants in the 1940’s where there was quite a migration from Europe to the, uh, Americas through Ellis Island.  Well, the, in German, my last name would be, have an umlet over the R. But in the, at Ellis Island they changed it to the U E.


I:          I see.

M:       And anyway the

I:          When is your birthday?

M:       My birthday is April 16, 1932.

I:          So you are quite young.

M:       Yes, yes.

I:          And tell me about your family when you were growing up with your parents and your, uh, siblings.

M:       Yeah.  I have two other brothers, and we grew up in, like I say, Wisconsin in a very German part of Wisconsin.  We, uh,


had a, uh, well, it was during the Depression years.  Uh, the Depression didn’t hurt us much at that time because we were all, all were farmers.

I:          Farming and

M:       And farming.  But being farming, in a farming community, there was always enough to eat which, uh, sometimes it didn’t hold true in the end for larger cities.  But the, uh, my, uh,


parents divorced at, uh, at uh, which was very unusual in that period of time, in 1938.

I:          Um hm.

M:       So, uh, I was raised by my, my grandmother in a, in a boarding house.

I:          Hm.

M:       You don’t hear of that any, these days’ but at that time, and the old boarding reach was, uh, quite prevalent at that time. But she spoke to us in German.  We replied in English.  So uh, when


it, uh, during World War II.

I:          Um hm.

M:       we, uh, first off did they, uh, we were very young. We was, [INAUDIBLE] hoeing beets as, uh, as kids and because the, uh, the war was on.  Everything was for the war effort, but the, they had victory gardens, and since a lot of the young men that were


were serving in the military and, uh, working mothers.  I remember, uh, President Roosevelt came out with a hot lunch program

I:          Yeah.

M:       for that reason and, uh, but I was going to a one-room schoolhouse, and the hot lunch program there was a hot plate.

I:          Hmm.

M:       That was the extent of it.

I:          When did you, did you graduate high school?

M:       Yes.

I:          When did you graduate, and what high school, tell me, please.

M:       1950

I:          Uh huh.

M:       Graduated from Hartford High School.

I:          Hartford.  So you are the friend


of Step, Stephens.

M:       Um hm.  He was one year, he graduated in 1949.

I:          ’49, yes.

M:       And shortly after that is when the Korean War.

I:          Did you know anything about Korea at the time that you graduated?

M:       No.   That was quite a, quite a, I shouldn’t say shock, but to have, we’re

J:         Could you speak up a little bit?

M:       Universally,

I:          Um hm.

M:       We said where is Korea?

I:          Uh huh.

M:       We, uh,


I:          What, were you at the University?

M:       No, no. I was, uh, I had just, after graduation, I was in the National Guard in Heavy Mortar Company, uh, my aunt was working at a plant. She was the, uh, Vice President of the plant in Los Angeles. She says come on out and, come to work at this factory making sun visors [INAUDIBLE]  that was quite a thing.  Sun visors and


fender skirts.  She says come on out. I have a job for you.  So I got out, and I think it was only, probably two to three weeks, and the Korean War started.

I:          And you didn’t know anything about Korea?

M:       No.

I:          You didn’t learn from school?

M:       No.  Uh, it really didn’t come up in, we did a lot of Geography lessons and History.  But, uh, Korea did not come up at that time.

I:          Um hm.  And did


you think that you going to be dragged into Korean War?

M:       Well, I, uh, course at that time, when you turned 18, you registered for the Draft.  While I was there, and I can’t remember the exact date, uh, by the way, uh, when I got there, the National Guard Commander, uh, said come on down and re-enlist with the California Division which I had planned on doing.  I didn’t make it that week, and that following week is


when war was declared, or not war but, uh, the, uh, that United Nations Police action started, so I, I didn’t go.  I thought I would, I’ll wait and see what the developments were.  It was, I got a draft, uh, notice to go to, uh, get my physical.  Took my physical at the Bell, the, uh, Mojin Host country,


Hoseve, Mojit Hosve Company in Bellflower, California, yep.  And two weeks later I was told to report to Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

I:          When was it?

M:       1951.

I:          ’51.  And you know that there were Korean War broke out

M:       Oh yeah.

I:          Um hm.  And where did you get the basic?

M:       In, Fort Sheridan is where I took my, uh, uh, Aptitude test.

I:          Um hm.

M:       They said I had an aptitude for Morse Code.


So they assigned me to a signal corp.  A signal corp. basic training was much different than the Infantry and others because mostly people that were going to the were telephone company workers, linemen who were immediately needed in Korea.

I:          Yeah.

M:       So I, uh, had a very short signal corp. type basic at Camp Gordon, Georgia.  And it


was very, uh, like I say, brief.  They showed us an M1, for example.  They said this is what it looks like.  You’ll never see it again.  Uh, they, after, like I say very abbreviated, I was sent to Fort Mommoth, New Jersey at Signal school.  I graduated, uh, in there at, uh, what do they, MOS of pick station radio repair.

I:          When?

M:       1959,


somewhere in ’50. It had to have been ’52, that’s right, beginning of ’52.

I:          Uh huh.  So January, February?

M:       Maybe, maybe March, April, I think somewhere in there. I’m not, I’m not exactly sure of the dates.

I:          Okay.  And then, when did you leave for Korea?

M:       I didn’t.

I:          You didn’t.

M:       I was assigned to the 9677thTSU, Technical Service Unit

I:          Um hm.


And we were assigned, uh, the fact that I was, my mother said why are the, uh, FBI here? Well, I was getting a top secret clearance.  Our mission as a technical service unit was the, uh, atomic bomb testing, nuclear test program.

I:          Oh.

M:       And we were determining ways of testing to see any


atomic bomb tests throughout the world.  And, uh, we were, we were assigned at that time, of course we, we were just a little cog in that whole system.

I:          Um hm.

M:       We, we knew our little part of the whole overall project, and that was, we were to see if we could detect it through radio wave, uh, different frequencies.  We were assigned


to another signal corp. unit who was doing a testing by earth movement.  Any movement of the earth would, on a,

I:          Yeah.  Electromagnetic

M:       Right.

I:          Yeah.

M:       Uh, so we, we used, uh, mag, uh, antenna fields

I:          Um.

M:       Our first mission was in

I:          Where?

M:       Well, first off was Hawaii.  We, what we

I:          Hawaii?

M:       We drew assignments.  I drew Hawaii.  And that was because it had a huge antenna field.

I           Um.


M:       At that time, all radio messages from Asia, from Asian, uh, Pacific campaign had to go through Hawaii to be relayed to Washington. So you had to have an antenna park and which we used their antennas.  We knew when these tests were taking place, and we’d try to detect them through radio wave.  And the second series, that was a, uh,


the ones in ’52, uh, at, uh, Marshall Islands.  In ’53 I was assigned to Puerto Rico.

I:          Um.

M:       And there we, uh, we constructed four different antenna systems with different frequencies.  It was developed four-gun oscilloscope.  It had four, oscilloscope with four different inputs, uh.  We had one that was a, for example, a mile-long antenna,

I:          Hm.


M:       on top of, uh, 10’ poles, copper wire 10, a mile long, oriented, and that was for the eal extremely, uh, long way, and we did, we had a portable rhombic antenna.  I don’t know if knew what a rhombic is.  It’s a, kind of a, [INAUDIBLE[ scaped a, or a, antenna that, uh, you could point



and, really was accurate for different frequencies, and we had two other antennas that, uh, we used on that, it was a Naval

I:          Um hm.

M:       antenna park.  We were trying to determine if we could detect any, uh, radio waves associated with atomic bomb tests.

I:          So you were in Hawaii, and them we, you moved to where?

M:       Puerto Rico.

I:          Puerto Rico, and then after that?


M:       That was the two that I was in.  Now that, there was a whole series in there, like the one

in ’53 was a, uh, upshot nozzle.  Within those tests

I:          Um hm.

M:       There were probably 10 or 12 shots, atomic shots was all spanning probably at least six months or better.

I:          Where was it?  Where did the nuclear test occur?

M:       Nevada.

I:          Nevada.

M:       Those were all in Nevada.

I:          Uh huh.  And you were there?

M:       No.

I:          You were measuring those.

M:       Right.

I:          Where, in Puerto Rico?


M:       We were trying to see if we could detect any

I:          detect those, yeah.

M:       throughout the, We had different sites throughout the world, and we can [INAUDIBLE], and the earth movements worked real well. We, we detected everything from earthquakes to any, any underground tests or any ground movement.  That worked real well. Now, with the equipment we had at that time, that was in ’52, ’53, there were still tombs

I:          Um.

M:       And the old batteries [INAUDIBLE]


[INAUDIBLE] not acid but the, uh, you know, dry cells which were really pretty unreliable.  If we went ahead, the electronics that are available today, maybe even, even without the satellite, we would probably, we did detect it.  We knew exactly when they were, but to get that separated from all the other, at that time, was almost impossible to do.


But we were, that was the whole purpose of those nuclear tests is we didn’t, we didn’t learn to, the scientists were still trying to figure out what in the world we were working with and how we were going to deal with it.  Uh, well that’s what these guys that were on site

I:          Um. hm.

M:       Uh, last month at that, uh, nuclear, we went to the nuclear, uh, uh, the atomic bomb testing museum which is over here and, uh, just down the road from here


which is quite interesting if you ever get to see that, it is really, well, well worth the war, yeah.

I:          Um hm.

I:          We also had a trip to the, uh, testing grounds themselves.  They now call it the Nevada Nuclear Security Site.  Well, a lot of those GIs were literally guinea pigs for the, uh, fallout, uh. Most of those tests in ’53 were,


they were all above ground.  Some were air drops.  One, one or two of them were balloons.

I:          Um hm.

M:       Uh, the, they were trying to see what, you know, how they could handle fallout and how, how they could construct the buildings to, uh, withstand atomic bombs, uh, the different building materials, how the radiation would


affect organs, for example, with one shot the, uh, this was ink ’53 you had, actually had pigs in pens, and they had a dairy with, uh, milking cows and they sent the, tested the milk after the, after the shot for, uh, radiation in the

I:          Um hm, um hm.

M:       And the pigs, we had one guy that said he had to chase after the pigs to get them, they, they butchered and sent the organs to a laboratory


because of hog, the pig, uh, um, the, um, livers, the organs are very similar to ours.

I:          Um hm.  And what happened?

M:       They, you know, we never did find out the results

I:          Ah.

M:       They did send, and for the see how the radiation affected those organs, whether the, uh,

I:          Right.

M:       The media now would, what was, they knew that


the, uh, they probably knew what the long range was because after the Hiroshima and, uh, the test and the, uh, the bomb,

I:          Um hm.

M:       Japan.  They knew it was gonna be, uh, had some, affected people long after the, t h e, uh, the bomb itself.  But, uh, we, you know, like I say, we were a small little part of it.  When I, uh, said I was not really on site but


I was, you said that you were there as part of that testing program.  You were an atomic vet and also this was during the Korean

I:          Korean War.

M:       War.

I:          Um hm.

M:       But, uh, I said even though you weren’t there, you were still a part of it.

I:          Yeah, oh yeah.  It’s so Korean War era veteran.

M:       Um hm.

I:          Yes.

M:       So, it was, the atomic testing and nuclear testing that, uh, I was involved in and, that was

I:          Um m.


M:       it was a necessary part of how we are going to deal with the effects of an atomic bomb.

I:          Um.  Did you know what’s going on in Korea at the time that you serve?

M:       Well, yes.  We

I:          What did you hear from home?

M:       Well, mostly it was, uh, veterans and the, uh, because we were coming back, uh, after the, uh, tests, we went to,


back to Fort Mommoth, and we had a lot of vets coming back and forth, and a lot of the, uh, the Signal Corp, was involved in communications,

I:          Um hm.

M:       And we’d hear from the, the guys that were on the, uh, on the radios.  They, we were repairing the walkie talkies, the, uh, backpack radios and the angry nines which were, uh, mounted on the, behind the 65.

I:          What did they say about their experience in Korea at the time, at the time?


M:       I know that, uh, well, I turned the one, uh, set that was, uh, they weren’t with the angry nines which was a, a, it was a, uh, radio transmitters right on the front line, and I, it had a 6×6 standing there, and they had a generator they were pulling that, uh, power, you put your antennas up, and the, uh, and would transmit from the, to the back echelon,


and they said they had a, they had a clock that they set for, I forget how many, um, minutes they said, but as it, as it ticked down, it immediately started, they’d pull the antenna down and pull out, and the mortars would start dropping behind them because the, uh, the, uh, tubes they’d call them, but, uh, uh, triangulate and start dropping the mortars.

I:          Hm um.

M:       So he said we only had a, a short period of time.  These are some things that, you know, they


brought back and were telling us about that and, of course, we, we [INAUDIBLE] them, uh, really front lines was a, uh, walkie talkie is.  Yeah, they had tubes, and right, and batteries, just, you know, they, nothing like what we have today.   So they were continually going up.  Uh, we, when, when I went to Signal School, we had almost, we had 10 hour, 10, 10 hour classes every day


And at the end of each day, we’d have a test.  If you passed the test that day, you went to the next day.

I:          Oh.,

M:       If you did not,

I:          Uh huh.

M:       They, we’d, we’d call them tube dusters.  They call them technicians.  They was sent to Korea, and that’s what they did on the front lines

I:          Uh huh.

M:       They go these walkie talkies that weren’t working, they’d be placed all tubes and battery.  Send it back if they worked, they sent them back up front.  If they didn’t work, then they’d send them into the rear restaurant.


M:       We’d call them tube dusters.  That’s all they did was [INAUDIBLE] tubes.

I:          So you might have been in Korea if you failed the test.

M:       If you failed the test, yeah.

I:          So you avoided because you succeeded it. You passed the exam.

M:       Yes., and I graduated.

I:          Oh, okay.

M:       We had a, we had one, one day, uh, a couple of guys that had, uh, flunked out.  They got sent to Central America

I:          Oh.

M:       I said oh.  Maybe there’s some openings there so they flunked on purpose.  And to Korea they went.


I:          Ha.  So what do you think about those soldiers who went to the Korean theater, Korean soil, while you were staying here?  What do you think about that?

M:       You don’t, you don’t, we never gave it a thought, like in Vietnam which was a very unpopular war

I:          Um hm.

M:       [INAUDIBLE]  We were, we were still, uh, we were, we were still known as heroes

I:          Yep.

M:       for serving, and never gave it a thought, uh, during


Vietnam, a lot of, a lot of people left to go to Canada to avoid the draft.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And did anything to get out of it.  We never gave that a thought.  We, this was something that we had to do.   This is what

I:          Um hm.

M:       Well, uh, and it was never any thought.  I think, uh, President Truman had a lot to do with it, and the, to, between Korea and Vietnam, there’s so much differences in, in


public opinion.

I:          Yep.

M:       We came back to a public that really, uh, embraces as we did our, we did a great job in preserving Korea from Communism

I:          Um hm.

M:       because that was the big thing.  It was that, was Communism.  And Vietnam seemed to be, well, first place, Vietnam, I think


had the, the French had been in there. So the, the legacy from beginning of Vietnam was much different than the start of the Korean War.

I:          Um hm.

M:       Because when North Korea invaded the, that was an, a, act of aggression, and they immediately asked the United Nations, they should, not the United States or the United Nations, that’s where a lot of people go wrong, and that


this was not a United States war.  It was the United Nations, and it was United nations police action.

I:          Um hm.

M:       It was not declared a war until 1995 I believe it was. But it still was a war.

I:          Absolutely.  Absolutely. What do you think about the current Korea, modern Korea?  Have you been back to Korea?

W:       No, I have entertained


I:          the idea

W:       They, I’m getting to the point where I’d, is, it’s hard right, well like I said, we were in, as you mentioned, I’m 85.  It’s getting harder to travel, uh.  I would like to go now that I have many grandchildren, and we have many great grandchildren and the first, expecting a great grandchild.  Opening it up to grandchildren


may make it, maybe that would have, I would have representation.

I:          Um hm.

M:       In Korea.

I:          What do you know about the modern Korea?  Do you know about modern Korea?  Tell me about the knowledge of your

M:       Well I, I like to, I get Arian, and my, uh, tv and satellite, and I

I:          Oh.

M:       Been watching that.

I:          Our rerun tv?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Ah.  So you pretty know much about the modern Korea.

M:       Yes.  Kimchi, I’d love to see Kimchi, and the Korean restaurant


I;          Uh huh.

M:       I think they have, uh, tremendous, tremendous, um, uh, recovery and, uh, the, it’s so, I’ve got all the books and I’m part of the Post in Mia.  It, but for a long time

I:          Um hm.

M:       it was, and they talk about the Forgotten War, and it was

I:          Why?

M:       You know, it’s, it’s a good question. I think back now


for, I got, I got, uh my separation in ’53, in October not too long after the truce, and I immediately forgot, uh.  Well, I had a family to raise, uh, had to earn income.  I tried to get some education and got married and that, uh, kind of side tracked that for a while.

I:          But the same thing, you know.  The World War II veteran, when they returned, the


had to work on their life.

M:       Right.

I:          It’s the same thing to you, too, I mean the Korean War veteran.  There must be something that makes this war forgotten in the minds of the American people.

M:       You know it was truly forgotten for I’d say, I really didn’t get back into getting back, well and another part of that was because my records


were burned in the fire, the records fire in 1973.  To this day, we’re still trying to reconstruct those records, and that probably was the first thing that reignited

I:          Um hm.

M:       my interest in Korea.

I:          Um.

M:       And trying to discover and reconnect to my, uh, the heritage that I had with my unit which is no longer listed anywhere.           It’s, it’s a, it’s gone.

I:          um.

M:       I’m trying to reconstruct it now.  I


just sent a, uh, a number of papers to the, uh, uh, it’s a review board in Arlington, Virginia, to review why the records I had kept that say there is actually a 96th, ’96, ’77 PSU.  They don’t have any record of it.  So that kind of started it, uh, and I’d say that was about, uh, 15 – 20 years ago.


I:          Um hm.

M:       I was, my business, uh, [INAUDIBLE] kind of was winding down, and my business and my, the children are grown, and we’re getting grandchildren and, uh, my first wife had died and my, uh, wife, I have, now I have, uh, we have known each other as couples and our kids got us together which doesn’t always happen.  We have a blended family, and that started the  reigniting my interest in Korea.

I:          Got it.  What do you think is the legacy of the


Korean War and Korean War veterans if you asked to say it?

M:       The legacy I think was that we did, and you did, as youths, and Korea so appreciated our, our service, uh, that it really, reignited our, it, people are good, and this was the greatest thing that could have happened.  I think that, uh, we could have left


it but, and this is what happened in World War I when we walked away and forgot entirely about it, we had Hitler develop, and South Korea, Korea did not want this to happen, and they did, both the military, uh, really, uh, did a great, wonderful job in reconstructing Korea


because now, did I understand the 10thlargest economy in the world?

I:          Yes.

M:       That is fabulous.

I:          Yeah.

M:       That is fabulous.

I:          Just. just little bit bigger than Indiana without not much natural resources.  We don’t have a drop of oil.  You have plenty of them, and it was completely destroyed.   Now it’s a 10thbiggest, largest economy in the world.

M:       But we have to, we have to be partners and together in this.

I:          Exactly.


So that’s why we are doing this.  we are doing this so that the young childrens and students will know.

M:       that, uh, I’m gonna have to get involved in this because everyone I talk to, especially the younger people, the 30 years, 40 year olds, they don’t know, and they’re, they’re eager to learn for this knowledge.

I:          Um hum.

M:       Right.  I was in, uh, Lofton, and


went over to, uh, the brewery across the Colorado Valley, there was a young man that, uh, or the bartender came over and said there’s a man down here at the counter would like to buy you a, a beer.  And I, that’s great.  He said he’d like to come and talk to you.  He said I notice you’re, you had your Korean War Veterans hat on, and he was eager to find out why, know what the Korean War was all about.


He, he said we don’t really know, and, but we talked for a long, long time, and he said there are many things I did not know.  He was [INAUDIBLE] but he, he didn’t even know that this was a, originally a police action with the United Nations.  He always thought this was about a U.S. war.  It was, and I told him it’s not the U.S. war.  It was the United Nations, and we were the United Nations, the United States


was a big part of that.  But it was not a United States war.  It was the United Nations.  And be sure to see that Korean memorial in Washington.  I was on the, uh, Honor Flight.  I was honored to be on the Honor Flight in 2013.  The government shut down, they shut down the memorials, and we were the veterans that opened them up.  Uh,


we, the Veterans of Southern New Mexico and El Paso, all of us took various and opened up the uh, memorials, and there was a couple that came up to me at the memorial after we had opened the [INAUDIBLE] and said we would like to take a picture with a Korean veteran.  Well, we

exchanged with the man and wife, and, uh, somebody came along to take the pictures of the three of us.  Turned out they were


from Columbia.

I:          Um hm.

M:       South America

I:          Yeah.

M:       They said we, we came to Washington not only for the South Korea but for the Korean Memorial.

I:          Yeah.

M:       But we, uh, we, that was one of our [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah.  Columbia, Columbia sent, uh, veterans there,

M:       Yes.

I:          To the Korean War.

M:       Well, they had a wall with all the names and countries on it, and countries you wouldn’t have anticipated like Lichtenstein,

I:          Um hm.

M:       And, and Columbia was there.

I:          Yeah.

M:       So people, you know, they, thy, history in schools need to know this.


I:          Exactly.  That’s why we’re

M:       Want to know this.

I:          Yep.

M:       A lot of, it’s been a long time, it’s been 66 years since the, uh, start of it, and but the history, I think, is getting so dry in some subjects, and, uh, there’s a teacher I know I, when I was in school, had a teacher that


tried to teach History, not by dates.  You memorized dates, took a test, and then you would forget all of it.  He wanted to be involved with all history.  He, would, we would run skits on the Civil War, uh, what causes, action, how did it participate, precipitate?  Uh, what happened, and how was it resolved?  Was it resolved in, uh, a way that, uh,


was good, bad, indifferent?  And I think we have to do this with

I:          Yep.

M:       History.  Keep getting it at, so it’s a dry subject that the, uh, kids just try, they memorize and forget.

I:          Right.  That’s why we are doing this, and my Foundation is making digital history teaching material about the Korean War.  So we are doing this, and I want you to support us, okay?

M:       I most surely will.

I:          Alright.  Myron, it’s so good to talk to you, and thank you very much for your service, and we make sure that your voice will be heard among young generations to come.

M:       I’m privileged, I’m privileged.

I:          Thank you very much.

[End of Recorded Material]