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    Houston welcomes home signal Guardsmen

    Houston welcomes home signal Guardsmen

    Photo By Sgt. Elizabeth Pena | Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Holloway, of the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion...... read more read more

    HOUSTON, TX, UNITED STATES

    08.05.2016

    Story by Sgt. Elizabeth Pena 

    Joint Task Force 136th (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade)

    HOUSTON, Texas – Soldiers from the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion were welcomed back from their recent deployment by family members and the local Texas community during a ceremony hosted and sponsored by the Houston Astros at the Minute Maid Park, in Houston, Texas, August 5, 2016.

    This overseas mobilization marked the first time for a Texas Army National Guard unit to be sponsored by a major league association.

    “Having a sports team that’s willing to sponsor a unit is really cool,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Gonzales, an information systems technician for the 136th ESB. “I’ve never heard of anything like it. The fact that we are able to do these events here and partner with them where we can see the community that supports us and the community can see that we are here for them and its all just tied in by the Astros.”

    The signal battalion just completed a nine-month tour in Kuwait and surrounding areas. During their deployment, the unit was responsible for providing communication capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Freedom Resolve, and Operation Spartan Shield.

    “They did a fantastic job,” said Lt. Col. Tanya Trout, commander of the 136th ESB. “We were dispersed to 18 different locations across eight countries. At the end of deployment, both our brigade commander and the theater signal command said we exceeded expectations of any signal battalion that had been there before.”

    The Guardsmen concluded their successful mission with a ceremony to uncase their unit colors. During this time-honored Army tradition, a unit or higher headquarters undergoes a permanent change of station signified by the guidon or colors being “cased” and placed inside a canvas cover, marking the end of operations at that location. The colors are then “uncased” at the new location to signify that the command is operational at its new station.

    The Houston Astros supported the battalion throughout their entire mobilization, hosting their original casing ceremony more than a year ago just before game two of the Lone Star Series against the Texas Rangers.

    “Being able to go out there in front of thousands of fans kind of brings almost tears to your eyes; just knowing what we are doing is defending this great nation,” 1st Lt. Jeffrey Houser, of the 136 ESB.

    Like most Texas Guardsmen who work a civilian job and drill on the weekends, many of these Soldiers will be returning back to their respective employments.

    “I actually work in the medical field,” said Spc. Sophonie Billings, a multichannel transmissions operator with the 136th ESB. “I would never trade the experience, it was something I needed as a person, to grow as a Soldier, and as a civilian. It builds character, and to know that I can go through that helps to know that I use the character I built to be a better person on my civilian side as well.”

    As the service members transition back to their normal duties, they can use the experience gained from deployment for their stateside mission.

    Coming home to Texas, “our soldiers feel trained and confident,” said Trout. “They know how to do their mission; they understand how to get communications in the way customers need and I think they’ll be able to do that when it comes to domestic operations or another contingency operation.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.05.2016
    Date Posted: 08.10.2016 12:43
    Story ID: 206689
    Location: HOUSTON, TX, US 

    Web Views: 59
    Downloads: 2
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