CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of South Korea – The average person experiences 12 different jobs in their life and a medium tenure of 6.8 years; Chang Park never experienced neither of those. He would spend over 45 years serving as a supply technician.
Born in 1955, in the coastal city of Gyeongju, Republic of South Korea, Park began a long prosperous life. He joined the Republic of South Korea Army and was automatically selected as a Korean Augmentee to the United States Army in 1976. KATUSAs hold a unique role working directly with U.S. forces stationed in the country building strong relationships with the people he worked with.
Park was assigned to the 257th Signal Company as a supply technician stepping into what would be his job for the next 45 years.
“I worked with a lot of the American soldiers and had the opportunity to travel with them and learn their culture. We played a lot of volleyball, and went to the beach to have barbecues there,” said Park. “I was in my 20’s and had the chance to make a lot of friends while I was serving.”
A combination of positive experiences and strong relationships made it easy for Park not to leave. The brigade commander at the time appreciated Park’s hard work and asked him to continue working as a Korean National civilian employee as his military service end date approached.
“The people I worked with became a family to me, so when I had the choice to stay with the 1st Signal Brigade as a civilian worker, I chose to stay,” Park said, reminiscing about his past.
Park officially retired from his military service in December of 1978 and immediately start working as a civilian. He married Kim that same year, had a family and moved to Pyeongtaek, the city outside of Camp Humphreys. Park and Kim have been together for over 44 years and have two children together.
He has spent 45 years working for the1st Sig. Bde., becoming the longest civilian employee in the brigade. Park has seen many things change after working there for so long; he said technology, infrastructure and people come and go.
“The buildings looked a lot different back then, we never had two story buildings, and we had to use typewriters instead of the computers we have now,” Park said. “Life was a lot different then,” he even remembered the brigade having security dogs patrolling.
“When we're looking for new ideas, he's the one that brings that extra component to the table,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Lockett, 1st Signal Brigade S-4 sergeant major. “Because of his knowledge and experience being here for so long. He brings a lot of value, he's that one who has that extra insight to the team,” Lockett added.
“I get a lot of satisfaction from working here, I have been able to learn about my job throughout the many years being here. There was no reason to leave after forming such good relationships, and having a job that I love,” Park said.
Park will retire in February of 2024 and plans on spending much of his time traveling and climbing with his wife. His service with the signal brigade has been outstanding, profound, and he says he is grateful to have been here for so long.
Like Parker, the U.S. Army 311th Signal Command (Theater) has thousands of soldiers and Department of the Army civilians with highly technical, specialized and professional skills that are proudly serving the nation across 16 different time zones around the globe.