FORT HOOD, Texas - Approximately 200 soldiers from the 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, headed overseas on Jan. 28, 2014, after a ceremony at the West Fort Hood Physical Fitness Center here.
The soldiers of the 57th ESB deployed to Afghanistan to conduct various communications support missions for combat units throughout the region in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and last deployed there as a battalion in April 2009.
In August 2011, Company B also deployed to the same region and was followed by Company C in February 2012.
As family members, friends and other soldiers gathered to show their support for the deploying unit, four soldiers received the added honor of being promoted from the rank of private first class to specialist right before the ceremony started.
Newly-promoted Spc. Nathaniel Abbey, Company A, 57th ESB, was all smiles as the promotion orders were read.
His spouse, Spc. Kellie Abbey, removed the old rank from his multi-camouflage Army Combat Uniform top, and placed the new specialist rank on for him.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Abbey.
Of the soldiers deploying, there was an even mix of those that had deployed at least once before, and some that have never deployed at all. Deploying can be a nerve-wracking experience, but holds a certain level of excitement for those on deployment number one.
“I’m looking forward to the experience and leaving the country for the first time,” said Abbey. “Also hurrying back and seeing my son because my wife, Kellie, is pregnant.”
A four-time veteran, 1st Sgt. Marlin Jones, first sergeant, Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 57th ESB, did not hesitate when he shared his feelings on what he was looking forward to for this deployment.
“Accomplishing the mission and bringing the soldiers back safely,” said Jones. “Coming back and saying we accomplished the mission for the 11th Signal Brigade.”
As the ceremony officially began, Lt. Col. Darlene Straub, battalion commander, 57th ESB, recognized the hard work and dedication the soldiers and leadership of the unit have put into preparing for the deployment.
“You guys are trained, you’re ready, and we’re ready to make this mission happen,” said Straub.
Before the soldiers departed for the airfield, Col. James C. Parks III, commander, 11th Signal Brigade, wished them well and reiterated the faith he had in the soldiers.
“You are great soldiers,” said Parks. “This is a great time. You have a mission that you were trained for, and I know you will execute that mission to the best of your ability.”
As the brigade commander, Parks understood the impact that the soldiers and their families had on past successes, and continued impact on the future successes of the 11th Signal Brigade, and wanted to show his gratitude for those in attendance.
“I want to take this opportunity to say thank you.” said Parks. “Thank you for everything that you’ve done. Thank your families for everything that they’ve done to prepare you for this.”
With the ceremony coming to a conclusion, Parks shared some final thoughts with the soldiers of the 57th ESB.
“Be safe,” said Parks. “Take care of each other and take care of yourselves, Lightning Warriors.”
With those words, the soldiers of the 57th ESB filed out of the gym and loaded onto the awaiting buses. As family members, friends and other service members waved and showed their love and appreciation outside, the bus doors closed and took the soldiers to their awaiting plane.