Col. Dan Shanahan (right), commander of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, presents coins to Spc. Davide Emerson and Pfc. Dameion Maxey for their efforts in operating the 100th video teleconference for the brigade during its deployment to Iraq. Maxey and Emerson are from Company C, 615th Aviation Support "Cold Steel" Battalion, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq - When Soldiers deployed to Kuwait for Operation Desert Storm, opportunities to contact the home front were extremely limited.

This was the era before cell phones and high-speed internet. Communication technology consisted of hand-crank phones and Soldiers found themselves in this far-flung region, far away from familiar faces.

With the advent of Joint-Network Node technology, Soldiers may now participate in state-of-the-art Video Teleconferences that connect them to their families back home. These technologically-advanced capabilities far exceed those of the 20th Century war fighter. Currently, Service members may conveniently meet face-to-face with wives, husbands, and other family members live via satellite, said Lockhart, Texas native Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Basey, JNN platoon leader, Company C, 615th Aviation Support "Cold Steel" Battalion.

The 615th ASB, 1st Air Cavalry "Warrior" Brigade, reached a milestone on Oct. 13, with its 100th VTC at Camp Taji. The event was a crowning achievement in the history of the Warrior Brigade.
Traverse City, Mich., native Colonel Dan Shanahan, the brigade commander, was the chairperson for the 100th VTC.

"You are doing great, important work and we appreciate your efforts for these VTCs," Shanahan said of the efforts of the Soldiers, from Co. C who run the JNN.

After making remarks to Co. C Soldiers, Shanahan recognized Spc. David Emerson, from Knoxville, Tenn., and Pfc. Dameion Maxey, from Dallas, with commander's coins.

The teleconferences enhance command capabilities by allowing commanders face-to-face communication in real time over secure lines. Nearly 300 hours, many late into the evening hours, have been logged by Co. C for VTC operations.

Sixty-four Family Readiness Group teleconferences have been facilitated by the Soldiers of 1st Platoon since their deployment to Camp Taji in October 2006. Spearheading these duties was the section sergeant for the Enhanced Position-Location Reporting System Network Manager, Staff Sgt. Thomas Childers, who calls Chattanooga, Tenn., home

The teleconferences also have connected Soldiers to their children's high school graduations in cities in Texas, including Copperas Cove and Nolanville.

One of the more emotional teleconferences captured a high school graduation in Killeen, Texas.
Atlanta native Spc. Travis Cantrell was one of the Soldiers who made the teleconference possible.

"Students who were graduating could see school banners, hats, and t-shirts set up in our conference room over VTC," Cantrell said. "At the end, there was private time for family members to talk. It was good because ... it gave them a chance to witness their kids growing up."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16