- Brief History
- Readers Comments
Brief History of the 304th Signal Battalion - "Ready, Always Ready!"
[History supplied to The Korean War Educator by Donald Oschwald, Versailles, Kentucky]
|Pre-World War II
The 304th Signal Battalion was constituted on 29 July 1921 in the Organized Reserves, and allocated to
the IV Corps Area. It was organized in March 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia. The unit’s motto was Je Suis Pret
("I am ready").
On 3 November 1941, the 304th Signal Battalion was withdrawn as an inactive unit from IV Corps Area,
allotted to the Chief Signal Officer, and reserved as an affiliate unit of the Southern Bell Telephone
Company. On 8 December 1942, the battalion was re-designated as the 304th Signal Operations Battalion. On
20 January 1943, it was re-affiliated with the Northwest Bell Telephone Company.
World War II
The battalion was again ordered into military service on 1 June 1943 at Camp Swift, Texas. The
battalion was equipped at Camp Swift, but conducted most of its field training at Camp Bullis, Texas. In
early 1944, the unit proceeded to the Louisiana Maneuver Area where it completed its preparation for
overseas movement in the summer. In September 1944, the battalion departed from Fort Sam Houston, Texas,
On 19 November 1944, the unit debarked at Hollandia on the Pacific Island of New Guinea. The unit’s
first operational mission was on 6 December 1944 during some of the bitterest fighting of the General
MacArthur’s Pacific Campaign. The unit was assigned the mission of providing tactical communications to
Headquarters, Eighth United States Army (EUSA). At the time, the EUSA advance had reached Leyte,
Philippines, and Rear in Hollandia, New Guinea, and the battalion established communications systems in
both countries. For its efforts in the Philippines, the battalion received the Philippines Presidential
Unit Citation (Streamer embroilered 17 October 1944 to 4 July 1945).
On 30 August 1945, three days before the Japanese capitulation, an 80-man contingent of the battalion
landed with the 11th Airborne Division at Atsugi Air Base, Japan, and provided radio communications with
Okinawa and the Philippines. Eighteen days later, on 17 September 1945, the battalion headquarters was
established in the Imperial Silk Mill at Yokohama, Japan, and began operating in the ballroom of the New
Grand Hotel. The battalion’s mission was to supply communications throughout Japan for Headquarters,
Eighth United States Army.
For its outstanding service during World War II, the battalion received a Meritorious Unit Commendation
Award (Streamer embroilered Asiatic-Pacific Theater). The unit received campaign participation credit for
the New Guinea and Leyte campaigns. On 25 March 1948, the battalion entered the Organized Reserve Corps
(the Organized Reserves were re-designated as such).
On 25 June 1950, hostilities began in Korea when North Korea attacked across the 38th parallel into
South Korea. The battalion was alerted on 7 July 1950 and ordered to prepare a communications task force
to set up an advanced headquarters for Eighth US Army Korea (EUSAK). Seventy-two hours after the movement
order, known as the "July Cocktail Party," the battalion had equipped its men, prepared its equipment for
shipment, loaded aboard ships, and departed Japan. The unit established its initial signal sites in the
central part of South Korea near Taegu. Thus began a four-decade association between the battalion and
During the latter part of August 1950, with the North Korean offensive at its peak, the battalion’s
forward-deployed VHF, RATT, and CW teams withdrew from areas north of Taegu to Pusan. At the same time,
the battalion’s main body left Taegu, arriving in Pusan about 21 August 1950. Within a few days, the
battalion rear echelon, which had been in Japan, joined the main body in Pusan.
By mid-September 1950, the North Korean offensive was stemmed and the battalion advance headquarters
moved from Pusan back to Taegu. From 11-13 October 1950, other elements of the battalion proceeded north
with EUSAK through Seoul, which had fallen to, and was since retaken from, the Communist forces. As the
North Koreans fell back in disorder, and EUSAK advanced, the battalion established communications systems
in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. As EUSAK continued its drive north to the Yalu River, teams from
the battalion advanced as far as Sinanju, North Korea.
During the closing days of November 1950, Communist China’s entry into the conflict forced the outlying
teams of the battalion to withdraw while the battalion itself regrouped in Pyongyang. The battalion left
Pyongyang on 3 December 1950, moving southward by train and truck. One detachment stopped at Seoul, while
the main body continued south to Taegu.
When the Communist offensive was stopped in the spring of 1951, teams from the battalion moved
northward again, establishing switchboard facilities at Yongdongpo, South Korea (near the DMZ). Other
communications facilities were set up to expedite plans for the anticipated United Nations
On 6 July 1951, the EUSAK operational command post was established north of Seoul in Munsan-ni, South
In early 1952, the battalion was widely dispersed, with its main headquarters in Taegu, an advance
group in Seoul, and numerous detachments functioning separately throughout Korea. In February 1952, the
main headquarters of the battalion moved to Seoul, where it remained for more than 25 years. On 9 July
1952, the Organized Reserve Corps became the Army Reserve; the battalion thus became a member of the Army
On 25 January 1953, the 304th Signal Operation Battalion was reorganized under a new table of
organization and equipment (TOE) and re-designated (again) as the 304th Signal Battalion. The new
organization provided signal communications and photo service for echelons of Eighth US Army headquarters,
a joint operations center, and air-ground liaison teams.
During April 1953, the battalion played a vital part in the history-making "Operation Little Switch",
the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war among the participants of the Korean War.
In June 1953, the battalion’s present shield and motto were approved by the Department of the Army. The
former battalion motto Je Suis PrÍt ("I am Ready") was replaced by Pret Toujours Pret ("Ready, Always
Ready"). On 15 June 1953, the battalion was withdrawn from the Army Reserve and was allotted to the
Regular Army. Two years later, the battalion’s coat of arms was amended to delete the Army Reserve crest.
On 27 July 1953, the armistice was finally signed at Panmunjom and the battalion was present to handle
communications for this historic event. For outstanding service during the Korean War, the 304th Signal
Battalion was awarded two Meritorious Unit Commendation Awards (Streamers embroilered KOREA 1950-51 and
KOREA 1952-1953). The unit received campaign participation credit for ten campaigns: UN Defensive, UN
Offensive, CCF Intervention, First UN Counteroffensive, CCF Spring Offensive, UN Summer-Fall Offensive,
Second Korean Winter, Korea Summer-Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter, and Korea Summer 1953.
During the period 1954-1966, the battalion consolidated its elements and established its headquarters
at Camp Coiner, Yongsan Garrison. In addition to maintaining its capability to perform its tactical
mission, the battalion operated and maintained the garrison communications centers and telephone exchanges
On 8 August 1957, the 258th Signal Company (Construction) became a part of the battalion.
During President Eisenhower’s visit to Korea in June 1960, the battalion supplied most of the
communications required to support him, his party, and the press corps which followed him during his
In 1961, the battalion underwent several locational and organizational changes. The unit’s Message
Center Company moved from Camp Coiner to Camp Humphreys. Designations of the companies of the battalion
were changed at that time: Wire Company became Company A, Radio Company became Company B, and Message
Center Company became Company C. In addition, the 181st Signal Company (Photo) was formed from the 6th,
12th, and 96th Photo Detachments and was assigned to the battalion. The 181st Signal Company was moved
from Camp Tracy to Camp Coiner. Also, the 258th Signal Company (Construction) was moved from Camp Davis
into Camp Tracy. In July 1965, the 258th Signal Company was removed from the battalion.
This configuration lasted until March 1966 when Company C moved from Camp Humphreys to Camp Baker in
Yongdongpo. Then, in order to conform more closely with Army-wide T)&E structures, Company C was
re-designated as Company A and Company A as Company C. As a result, Camp Baker became the home of Company
During his Asian-Pacific trip, President Lyndon B. Johnson stopped in Korea for a three-day visit
starting 31 October 1966. The battalion was given the major role of furnishing communications for the
President, his staff, and accompanying newsmen. Eight VHF and HF systems and two press centers were set up
and made operational during his stay in Korea. In recognition of the excellent communications that were
provided, the unit received a Presidential medal from the White House Communications Agency.
On 1 November 1966, the US Army Strategic Communications Command established STRATCOM Group Korea which
assumed much of the garrison communications mission being performed by the 304th Signal Battalion. As a
consequence, the 57th Signal Company (Support) and the 181st Signal Company (Photo) were reassigned to the
STRATCOM Group Korea. This altered the battalion’s mission and made it strictly a tactical battalion.
Later, in December 1966, these units were attached back to the battalion for administrative and logistical
In May 1977, the battalion headquarters, HHC and C Company were relocated from their facilities in
Seoul to Camp William H. Colbern, located on the eastern edge of the city of Seoul. The camp is situated
in the foothills of the remote Kumdan-san Mountains, 18 miles east of Yongsan Garrison. Sitting within the
city limits of Hanam-shi, Camp Colbern has a picturesque view of forested hills and mountains to the west
and east, and is bounded on the west by Highway 10. The camp was named in honor of MG William H. Colbern,
US Army, whose 39 years of military service included participation in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. The
camp is situated on 72 acres, has 35 buildings, and has installation property valued in excess of $40
million. The Battalion Commander serves as garrison commander of Camp Colbern.
Throughout the 1980s, the battalion participated in two major field training exercises a year (e.g.,
Team Spirit and Ulchi Focus Lens) and numerous command post exercises. New equipment field/force
modernization continued throughout the decade. In the early 1990s, the battalion began the transition from
ATACS equipment to the Digital Group Multiplexers/Tri-Tactical (DGM/TRI-TAC) family of equipment. In 1992,
the DGM equipment fielding continued into 1993 when the unit received the DGM Antenna Mast Program (DAMP)
antennas and Digital Troposcatter Radio Systems.
In fiscal year 1995 the battalion participated in over 10 exercises and hosted a visit by the Army
Chief of Staff, General Gordon R. Sullivan. Also that year, the battalion won the EUSA Army Community of
Excellence (ACOE) award and received a Honorable Mention Award at the Department of the Army competition.
The battalion won the United States Army information Systems Command (USAISC) Philip A. Connelly Award in
1995 in the "Small Dining Facility" category. The battalion also won the Brigade Olympics in 1995.
In March 1996, the 229th Signal Company (TACSAT) was put under the operational control (OPCON) of the
battalion. This placed all of the 1st Signal Brigade’s tactical satellite terminals within the 304th
Signal Battalion. The unit ended its distinguished association with HF radios when it turned-in its Radio
Teletype (RATT) assemblages.
Also in 1996, the battalion won its second consecutive United States Army Information Systems Command (USAISC)
Philip A. Connelly Award in the "Small Dining Facility" category. The unit was again a Department of the
Army-level finalist for the Philip A. Connelly Award. The battalion won its second consecutive Brigade
Olympics in 1996. Three cooks were selected to attend the Culinary Arts Institute; eight soldiers were
selected as Brigade NCO/Soldier of the Month/Quarter in 1996. The battalion won the USAISC Retention NCO
of the Year, the Brigade NCO of the Year, and the Brigade Soldier of the year. At the end of fiscal year
1996 the brigade received Honorable Mention, Small Garrison Category, as an Army Community of Excellence
for Eighth U.S. Army and received a check for $25,000.
The battalion started off fiscal year 1997 by winning its third consecutive United States Army
Information Systems Command (USAISC) Philip A. Connelly Award in the "Small Dining Facility" category. The
unit competed as a Department of the Army-level finalist for the Philip a. Connelly Award in November
Today, the 304th signal Battalion is a forward-deployed; Echelon above Corps tactical signal battalion,
consisting of four companies garrisoned at four widely dispersed locations in the Republic of Korea. The
battalion’s HHC and C Companies are both located at Camp Colbern. Company A is located in Pyongtaek at
Camp Humphreys. Company A moved from Camp Red Cloud in February 1997. Company B is located in Wonju at
Camp Long, 60 miles southeast of Seoul.
The 304th Signal Battalion’s mission is to provide a combat-ready, forward-deployed, theater tactical
signal battalion for responsive signal support to CINC, UNC, CFC/ROK, USFK and warfighters in the Eighth
US Army (EUSA) across the spectrum of operations. The battalion provides tactical command and control
communications systems, including telephone, message, and data communications, to support warfighting
The battalion provides communications support on Eighth US Army’s annual series of training exercises,
which include Ulchi Focus Lens; Foal Eagle; and Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integrations (RSOI).
The unit also participates in Team Spirit exercises (when held). Quarterly, the unit conducts in-house MOS
Signal Schools, holds maintenance stand-downs, and participates in brigade/battalion-level field
exercises. Annual, the unit conducts a Sub-Unit Evaluation (SUE) for all signal teams and conducts
Infantry Week for all unit personnel.
(Click the letter for a larger view)
Burton, Kenneth G. -
I read your history of the 304th Signal Battalion. I was a member of that Battalion from January 1966
through May 1967. I was initially assigned to Company C 304th Signal Battalion and then transferred to the
258th Signal Company - 304th Signal Battalion.
I noted one thing in the article that is inaccurate in this write up. I know for sure that the
statement that the 258th Signal Company was severed from the 304th Signal Battalion in 1966 is definitely
I was the Supply Sergeant for the 258th until approximately May 10th of 1967. As of my departure date,
the 258th was still part of the 304th Signal Battalion and I knew of no plans to do so. I left the company
and was discharged from the Army in Ft. Lewis on May 12, 1967. The 258th may have been severed after my
departure but I have no idea when that might have been.