Jacksonville, Pensacola-based signal units return from Iraq

Written by  //  September 24, 2009  //  Feature Stories

FT. BLISS, Texas (Sept. 24, 2009) — After nearly a year in Iraq, and a 26-hour flight from Southwest Asia, the first group of Soldiers from Florida’s 146th Signal Battalion arrived safely in West Texas this morning.

Florida Army National Guard leaders greet Soldiers from the 146th Signal Battalion as they arrive at Ft. Bliss, Texas, Sept. 24, 2009. More the 400 Soldiers from the unit returned from a year-long deployment in Iraq to Ft. Bliss, where they will complete a week of demobilization activities before returning to Florida. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

More than 50 members of the unit arrived at Biggs Army Airfield and were greeted by Florida Army National Guard senior leaders as they departed from the plane. The small contingent will be joined by nearly 380 more 146th Signal Battalion Soldiers early Friday morning.

According to Sgt. Maj. Reese Lindsey, operations sergeant major for the 146th, the unit provided voice and data communications for U.S. forces at 27 locations in Iraq. He said their mission was to make sure everyone had connectivity throughout the theater, and were able to communicate back to the United States and Europe. The 146th supported a diverse group of units including military police, Iraqi soldier training teams, and even a veterinarian clinic.

“You name it, we supported them at one time or another,” Lindsey, who arrived at Ft. Bliss with an advance team a week ahead of the main group, said. “We probably provided 70 percent of the tactical communications in theater for three or four months.”

He noted that the largest mission the 146th Signal specialists performed was providing communications support for Camp Victory in Baghdad.

“We provided all their communications back to Europe and the United States,” Lindsey said. “That was one of our most important missions, but it went seamlessly.”

Although the Soldiers were sometimes living in remote locations and experienced the periodic indirect mortar attack, everyone returned home safely, Lindsey, a resident of Navarre, Fla., added.

Staff Sgt. Robert Musser, who also returned on this morning’s flight, noted the 146th Signal Battalion proved its worth while in Iraq by constantly providing a high level of technical expertise.

“We did very well during the deployment,” Musser, an Orlando resident, said. “We got commendations everywhere we went for our professionalism and our level of dedication.”

The 146th Signal Battalion is headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., with a separate company based in Pensacola, Fla. The Soldiers are expected to be at Ft. Bliss for about a week before returning to Florida.