News: ‘Messengers’ embark on mission to Kuwait for Operation Spartan Shield
Story by Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold
FORT HOOD, Texas – Approximately 200 soldiers from the 62nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion deployed overseas after a ceremony at the Abrams Physical Fitness Center Sept. 2 here.
These signalers are led by Lt. Col. John Gregor, battalion commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Woody Carter. The battalion last returned from deployment in October 2011 as one of the last units to return home from Iraq.
On Sunday, the soldiers of the 62nd ESB, 11th Signal Brigade, deployed on mission to Kuwait and the surrounding areas in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
“Today, the mighty warriors of the 62nd ESB depart for their deployment to Operation Spartan Shield,” said Maj. Michael Bush, rear provisional commander, 62nd ESB. “I want you to know that I am extremely proud of you, and I know you are going to do great things down range.”
With a combination of veteran soldiers and new recruits throughout the battalion, there was an even mixture of those that have been deployed before, and those younger soldiers that were awaiting their first trip.
The thing that echoed the most among soldiers that were new to the Army and never deployed before was an eagerness to put their training thus far in the military to the test.
“I’m looking forward to doing my job out there,” said Pfc. Blake Carney, Company A, 62nd ESB. “I can’t wait to do what we learned in my Advance Individual Training teachings.”
For some junior soldiers, the emphasis on the deployment centered on time with their battle buddies and going overseas in general.
To be able to form a stronger bond with other soldiers will be nice, said Pvt. Dominique Armstrong, Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 62nd ESB. It will be nice getting to see a different country, too, he said.
Although this is the first deployment for a lot of soldiers, some have been in the Army for a while, and have multiple deployments to show for it. For these battle-tested veterans, there is one important thing to look forward to on this deployment.
“I’m looking forward to coming home,” said 1st Sgt. Michael Knowlton, first sergeant of Company A.
This deployment had an added significance to these signal soldiers. The day they left for deployment also marked the 70th anniversary of when their brigade, the 11th Signal Brigade, was first constituted on Sept. 1, 1943.
“Today is the brigade’s birthday,” said Col. John Parks, III, commander, 11th Signal Brigade. "It’s an important day in the history of the brigade and an important day in the history of this battalion. I couldn’t think of a more important way to spend it than to wish the Messengers off on a safe and speedy mission because no one else in the Army, the world, can do what you do.”
As the 62nd ESB Messengers travel overseas defending the freedoms America holds dear, the importance of the jobs soldiers do in the military, and how only a small portion of the American population can relate.
“These are important days and these are important times,” Parks said. “You do what less than 1 percent of the American public does every day, and it’s hard.”
Right before the soldiers loaded onto the buses to the airport, there was just one final piece of business to attend to. Seeing the soldiers standing tall, together, inside the gym, their brigade commander had one request of them.
“Be safe, we are proud of you,” Parks said. “Take care of each other and bring everybody back in one piece.”
With those final words, the 62nd ESB Messengers gathered their equipment and gave those in attendance one final glance before getting on the buses and embarking on their next mission.