At Camp Humphreys, a Holiday Miracle Only the Exchange Could Offer

We are calling it the “Miracle at Camp Humphreys.”

Many of you are familiar with the classic holiday film “Miracle on 34th Street,” which centers on a Macy’s Santa Claus claiming to be the real St. Nicholas and a young girl who learns to believe in the magic of the holidays. The Exchange’s miracle is even better.

We are privileged to honor the service and sacrifice of our Warfighters and families in South Korea with an experience that rivals anything found in America to deliver a true taste of home.

Our holiday miracle happened just before Thanksgiving in South Korea. At Camp Humphreys, we opened the third largest Exchange in the world—and our team did it four months earlier than planned. Opening months ahead of schedule took more than magic. Partnership with the Republic of Korea, Army Corps of Engineers and Eighth Army, along with the unwavering commitment, passion and hard work of our team, made this dream of spreading holiday cheer to 25,000 Americans heroes come true.

It was just this past spring when LTG Tom Vandal, Eighth Army commanding general, asked the Exchange to open the Humphreys main store, mall and food court in time for the holidays. The necessity of the request was immediately clear. U.S. forces from USAG Yongsan and areas north of Seoul are relocating to Humphreys, where the population is expected to swell to nearly 45,000, up from less than 10,000 a few years ago.

Associates in the Pacific Region as well as Merchandising, Services & Food, Real Estate, IT, Logistics, Human Resources and Loss Prevention immediately moved out to hit the target of opening a brand-new shopping center in South Korea before Thanksgiving. Hundreds of our teammates throughout the organization left their homes, many for weeks at a time, to bring the magic of the holidays to Warfighters and their families on the Korean peninsula.

As you might expect, the Exchange team made another miracle happen. On Nov. 20 (three days before Thanksgiving!), our Senior Enlisted Advisor CMSgt Luis Reyes, Pacific Region Senior Vice President Karin Duncan, Pacific Region Commander COL Scott Maskery and I were honored to join LTG Vandal and his team to open the Camp Humphreys shopping center.

Crowds of happy shoppers poured into the main store stocked with name brands, including Armani Exchange, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Apple and Bose. Soldiers gathered at the food court (which opened even earlier, on Oct. 30) with familiar tastes of home, and families cruised the mall much like they would find in America. It was an amazing sight!

Shoppers have been more than satisfied. During the first three days, sales were up more than 400 percent over the same period last year. It’s clear service members and their families at Camp Humphreys appreciate the Exchange motto of “We Go Where You Go!”

That’s not a miracle. That’s simply the Exchange at its finest.

The Exchange was there for my brother, John, in 1973 when he served at the DMZ, and we continue to be there for those on duty in South Korea. John so appreciated his time in the Land of the Morning Calm and became friends with many South Koreans during his tour. Korea and its people—including those at Camp Humphreys today—hold a special place in the hearts of my brother, me and many others.

Soldiers assigned to Korea and their families face an ever-changing climate. They are serving at the tip of the spear, and their mission is critical.

The incredible shopping center at Camp Humphreys is a reminder that the Exchange truly serves the best customers in the world. We are privileged to honor the service and sacrifice of our Warfighters and families in South Korea with an experience that rivals anything found in America to deliver a true taste of home.

That’s not a miracle. That’s simply the Exchange at its finest.

Customers crowded into their new Exchange at Camp Humphreys. Watch the grand opening video on facebook. See more photos in the Exchange Post grand opening special edition.

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