The Joint Tactical Ground Station at Osan Airbase, Korea, Charlie Detachment, 1st Space Company, runs a 24-hours-a-day operation. Their in-theatre early missile warning support mission never stops, not even on Thanksgiving Day.
Usually the holidays are a time when airports are crowded so people can fly home to spend time with their families. This Thanksgiving, the leadership team from the 1st Space Brigade boarded a plane and came more than 5,000 miles to spend this holiday with their Soldiers overseas. Col. Eric P. Henderson, 1st Space Brigade commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas L. Eagan, command sergeant major, 1st Space Brigade, have flown in from Brigade headquarters in Colorado Springs to enjoy a tradition known to many of those who wear the uniform, a holiday meal eaten in the local dining facility.
"I relish the opportunity to be in the company of Soldiers, particularly those soldiers who more often than not, are far away from their family during the holidays," said Henderson. "I want them to understand that they are appreciated by every level of this command, and that due to their diligence and vigilance, thousands of their fellow service members can enjoy their holiday in safety and security because the Soldiers of JTAGS are on watch."
The leadership team sat down for a Thanksgiving meal with just over two dozen Soldiers from the site, many of whom are here without their families. But the Soldiers at C Detachment are more than just coworkers.
"…with this being a small unit, the camaraderie becomes a military family in itself. In fact, I plan on doing Thanksgiving with some of the Soldiers and their families again tonight," said Staff Sgt. Alan Soderberg. "It's nice to have the senior leadership here today. They have taken time away from their families to spend Thanksgiving with us. It shows how much they care."
This holiday meal with the Soldiers is the first holiday Eagan has spent with Soldiers at SMDC.
"There is no greater honor than spending the holiday in the company of Soldiers," Eagan said. "Coming here was the right thing to do, and there was nowhere else I would rather spend this Thanksgiving. These Soldiers work long hours to accomplish their mission. Coming here is just a small token of our appreciation for their selfless service and their commitment to the Army values."
While advances in technology do let the leadership team speak with outlying units via video teleconference, there really is nothing that can replace an in-person visit with the sites.
The mission at JTAGS is an important one and one that never rests. A trained and ready crew is always on watch.
"We are on a 24-hour-a-day mission here in Korea," said Spec. Brandon Schoen, JTAGS operator. We help provide the overall picture to the lower echelons in theatre and make sure they are protected on a 24-hour basis against any incoming missiles, and of course working with CONUS.
While making personal sacrifices is nothing new as a Soldier--one of the Army Values is Selfless Service, the dedication level of these Soldiers doesn't go unnoticed by their leaders.
"It's really motivating to the Soldiers to see their leadership giving up their holiday and time with their families, to fly overseas to spend the time with them. The Soldiers get a sense of how important their mission is over here, and it re-energizes them. We have a tough mission, and we work a lot of long hours. A visit like this, especially on a holiday, will keep these Soldiers motivated to continue to serve," Said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher L. Barber, C detachment noncommissioned officer in charge.
Charlie Detachment is commanded by Capt. Corey H. Ruckdeschel and expertly run and lead by Barber--who are hosting their Brigade leadership team for the first time since they have been in command of the detachment.
As the world's only space brigade, the 1st Space Brigade is arrayed across the globe, making travel by the leadership team a challenge, albeit one they embrace. "It is great the brigade command team came out to Osan, taking time away from their families during Thanksgiving, spending time with our Soldiers here who don't get a chance to see the brigade command team often," said Ruckdeschel. "It is really nice to have them out here."