Vietnam Veterans visit 1st Signal Brigade
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea -- Members of the 1st Signal Brigade Alumni Association, before travelling to Vietnam, stopped by here Sept. 11 - 13 to see how the current 1st Signal Brigade operates in today's Army.
Soldiers from the 1st Signal Brigade held a welcome ceremony for the veterans at Commiskey's Community Activities Center. Stories, laughs and cake were shared between alumni members and current Soldiers.
Both sides expressed great appreciation for the other and a traditional coin exchange took place when retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Charles D. Valen, an alumni board member, presented a coin to Col. Paul H. Fredenburgh III, Commander of 1st Signal Brigade.
"We are all very pleased to be here and thankful to be reintegrated with the Army, especially 1st Signal Brigade," said Valen.
The veterans' day continued with a tour of the brigade's headquarters and a briefing from Fredenburgh.
The command team presented a video to the alumni that documented the history and mission of the 1st Signal Brigade from its creation in 1966 during the Vietnam War through its relocation to South Korea and its current mission today.
"Because of what you guys did, we are able to do what we do today," said Fredenburgh. "And for that, we are thankful for your service."
For lunch, the veterans visited a familiar site; the Army's dining facility. The commander and Soldiers from the brigade dined with the visiting alumni.
After lunch, the veterans met with soldiers from the 41st Signal Battalion and received coins from the battalion's Command Sergeant Major and Commander. They were also taken on a tour of the battalion's facilities to see how the brigade operates with today's technology.
Included on the tour was a trip to Seoul Tech Tower, one of 1st Signal Brigade's many technical control facilities and tower sites. The veterans were able to learn about the site's functions while looking down on the city of Seoul.
The following day some of the alumni members continued to tour Seoul while others visited the Geon Christian Children's Home. Soldiers from the brigade also attended.
The group arrived at the children's home in the middle of a thunderstorm, but the rain didn't ruin anyone's spirit. The children welcomed their new friends with a song and the group learned about the mission of the children's home and its rich history.
The Geon Orphanage was founded in 1966 by Yoon Kwon and Geon Chae, when there were many abandoned Korean children in Towon-dong, one of the largest poverty areas of Seoul at the time.
The Chaes began to fight poverty and welcomed struggling children into their own home. They provided food, clothing, education, but most importantly, the Chaes provided love.
For over 40 years, the orphanage has given children an opportunity to a better future, and today there are over 70 children at the home.
The staff then gave the visiting alumni a tour of the home's facilities that included four houses where the children live, a library and a playground.
After the tour, the 1st Signal Brigade Alumni Association presented a $1,500 donation to the orphanage.
We wanted to do something to give back to the community in Korea and help out, said Valen.
The day concluded on post for lunch at the Navy Club when all of the alumni members returned from their trips.
After receiving so much from the 1st Signal Brigade and the 41st Signal Battalion, the alumni wanted to thank the Soldiers for their hospitality.
Coins and awards were given out to those who contributed most to making the alumni's trip possible. The alumni also received more gifts from the brigade.
Retired Master Sgt. Jesse Jones, a 1st Signal Brigade alumni member, said that nothing beats the Army's comradery. "It existed then and just being here the last couple of days, you can see it still exists now."