CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Soldiers who return from deployments or exercises normally face hours of maintenance, cleaning and stowing of their equipment at their home base. The Soldiers of 304th Expeditionary Signal Battalion returned from exercise Key Resolve on March 24 to something extra--encouragement, cheers and refreshments in appreciation for the service they provided during the exercise.

Chaplain (Capt.) Kim, Jueun, 304th ESB command chaplain, organized a Key Resolve 2017 Victory Party to celebrate the Soldiers' return and "Victory" from the long exercise. This is the second welcome back event he's set up, the first was for exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian in late 2016.

"Our Soldiers have been deployed out for almost a month. They were all over the peninsula so we wanted to recognize what they've done out there in the field. It's just a little gesture for all our Soldiers that we care for--praise for coming back and for their 'victory,'" Kim said.
Key Resolve is an annual military command post exercise U.S. Forces Korea conducts with the Republic of Korea Army. During the exercise many Soldiers left their post, home and families to participate.

304th ESB deployed to the field on Feb. 26 to setup communications in support of the exercise. The battalion finished the exercise in late March and then dismantled, collected and cleaned all the equipment when they returned to Humphreys.

Families of Soldiers packed 400 brown bags with chips, sandwiches and little notes to welcome the Soldiers back from the long and exhausting month.

As Soldiers passed through the hallway, Kim called them over for the refreshments and that put smiles on the Soldier's faces. Soldiers were shy at first, hesitating whether they should grab and go or not, but in the end with the encouragement and cheerfulness of the welcome party and music in the hallway, the Soldiers could not resist and smiled as they passed through with a brown bag of snacks and a bottle of water in their hands.

The family of Capt. Joseph McCandless, a company commander in 304th ESB, took part in the welcome party Soldiers.

"So it's just fantastic to know that the Family Readiness Group is willing to support Soldiers. Especially when a lot of our Soldiers were gone for more than 30 days supporting all different missions all over the Korean peninsula," McCandless said. "They can come here and actually see that the people care about them and that they're valued as Soldiers."

Kim plans to hold welcome home parties after upcoming exercises the battalion participates in; the next is Ulchi Freedom Guardian in the fall.

"We will definitely do this again for after every exercise: for UFG and Key Resolve," Kim said.