News: Alpha Company 324th ESB Gets the Signal to Deploy
Story by Pfc. Joseph Chapman
GREENVILLE, S.C. - Serving in the military requires service members to make sacrifices like missing out on time with the people they love and care about. Families and friends miss them especially around holidays and celebrations. They miss out on valuable one-time events that parents look forward to having with their children like a child’s first steps or first words. This reality is evident in the forced smiles on the faces of the family members who realize this is one of the last times they will see their loved ones before they leave for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
The members of Alpha Company 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion demonstrate their commitment to the nation as they prepare to leave their civilian lives behind, spending time with their friends and family at a pre-deployment ceremony in Greenville, S.C. April 4.
There is a common goal amongst the soldiers going on this deployment. Capt. Daniel C. Barnes the company commander, highly praises his soldier’s commitment to carry out their duty.
“My biggest concern is making sure all my soldiers come home safe,” said Barnes. “We’ve come a long way in the last year and the company of soldiers that I have, they are without a doubt ready to go,” he added.
Barnes is set to deploy for the first time in the 13th year of his Army career and has plenty of experienced soldiers around him.
“About half of these soldiers have never deployed and some have deployed up to four times, so we have a good mix of experience and we use it to our advantage when developing teams,” said Barnes.
He is leaving behind a wife and three young children. Barnes is grateful to know that he will be able to stay in contact via video chatting and consistent telephone communication.
Barnes also has support from his students. His civilian occupation is teaching health and coaching baseball at a high school in Cumming, Ga.
The entire school put together a huge banner that was signed by all of the students and they sent me seven or eight huge boxes filled with everything from toothpaste to beef jerky that I plan to share with my soldiers, explained Barnes.
Sgt. Phillip K. Wasson II, a multi-channel transmission system operator, will be going on his fifth deployment, making this his second time to Afghanistan. He admits after four deployments, the anxiousness of knowing it’s time to leave has worn off. Despite this, the support he has from his family remains unchanged.
“My dad is as strong as ever and all my sisters support me as much as they can,” said Wasson.
Wasson is also a road deputy with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta, Ga., and says the everyday dangers he faces at home are different than the dangers he will face in Afghanistan. It’s a different situation because there is a general idea of what’s to be expected over in Afghanistan, but as a deputy there is no way to know from one minute to the next what dangers might come when on the road, explained Wasson.
Spc. Csilla M. Dumitru, a multi-channel transmission system operator, is also going on her first deployment. She feels that being a soldier is what she was meant to do. Originally from Romania, she became a citizen of the United States and immediately wanted to become a member of the Army.
“It was my calling, I felt it was my duty to go and serve,” said Dumitru.
She is leaving behind a husband who supports her decision and two children who don’t want to see her leave but understand what she is doing.
“My husband is proud and amazed that I am doing what I am doing,” said Dumitru. “They understand that mommy has a job to do and will come back home safe,” she added.
The soldiers of Alpha Company 324th embody the Army values like selfless service, loyalty and duty. Indeed their motto is “Be the Best.”
Putting aside their civilian lives for one year to fulfill their military obligation is one way they demonstrate their willingness to keep their commitments and strive to keep America safe.