CAMP STANLEY, South Korea -- The sounds of the American and South Korean national anthems resonates through the air while played by the Republic of Korea army's 26th Infantry Division Band marking the beginning of a new chapter in the Lion battalion history.
After more than eight years away from the Korean peninsula, the 23rd Chemical Battalion "Lions" made its way back to Area I, calling Korea home once again. The Lions officially recognized this homecoming with a re-patch and battalion colors uncasing ceremony held on Camp Stanley April 4, 2013.
"My Soldiers, the Lions battalion, we are all excited to be back home in the 'Land of the Morning Calm,'" said Lt. Col. Sean Crockett, battalion commander. "It's something that we knew was coming for a while, so I'm glad we're back to bring our services to the table again."
With 23rd Chemical's history of enforcing the armistice, the unit joins with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, to reclaims its vital role it once had enhancing the division's assets, increasing its ability to fight tonight and conducting full spectrum operations.
Before the Lions were inactivated in 2004, the unit maintained a motto dating back to the Korean War -- "Moong chi ja -- two joined as one." As U.S., ROK army and Korean Augmentations to the U.S. Army Soldiers stood together on the parade field, they signified the motto.
"Our main focus here is to build upon the 60-year alliance between the U.S. and the ROK Soldiers," said Sgt. Allen Tracy, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 501st Chemical Company (Technical Escort). "We have a lot of training coming up so we plan to get to know our ROK counterparts better."
Not only did the trip back to Korea mean the unit will get to reconnect with some past acquaintances, but also for some, the trip was even more like home.
"Being of Korean descent, I think it's cool to be back over here," said Spc. Steven Hong, an Atlanta-native and a decontamination team member with the 501st Chemical Company. "I still have family over here so I get to see them more often plus the unit gets to build on past relationships. I'm looking forward to doing my job and spending sometime with my family. It doesn't really matter if we're in the States or here, the job stays the same -- it's all about saving lives and preventing threats."
The battalion colors have been unfurled and the welcome mat has been officially placed out front of the headquarters building. The Lions battalion is open for business as they incorporate Moong chi ja with fight tonight.