HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION, Hawaii (August 6, 2013) --Having accomplished their mission to provide signal support to three Regional Commands throughout Afghanistan, an initial group of 30 Soldiers from Alpha Company, 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion were welcomed home, Aug. 6.
The company deployed in November of 2012 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Under the command of the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Alpha Co. supported Regional Command East at Bagram Airfield, Regional Command North operating out of Camp Marmal, and Regional Command South's cable/hub team on Kandahar Airfield.
The Soldiers remaining in Afghanistan are scheduled to return home in the next two months.
After welcoming home and commending his Soldiers, 307th ESB Commander, Lt. Col. Mark Miles released them to reunite with their loved ones and friends who were gathered at the unit's dining facility to welcome their Warriors home.
1st Lt. Rashia King, who was assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-101, Combined Joint 6 as the Current Operations Officer in Charge and Battle Captain, was greeted by her parents, Arthur and Deborah, who had emailed her every day from home in Hawaii, to ask if she was returning earlier than expected.
"They were beyond anxious to have me back," said King.
To ensure secure communications services were sustained, the Soldiers of Alpha Co. supported network operations, satellite communications, signal systems integration, trouble shooting and help desk operations which included solving division-level end user problems. They also pulled guard duty while deployed throughout 19 different regional command locations.
King was pleased with her Soldiers' performance, particularly since it was, for most of them, their first deployment.
"Overall they did an outstanding job," she said. "They went on this deployment with confidence and left with a sense of pride knowing they were part of the mission's success."
The Soldiers' success was amplified by multi-tasking and cross training during pre-deployment preparations. This gave them the flexibility to fill in for their teammates, allowing each other the time to attend Signal University on Kandahar Airfield, where one third of the company received at least one signal-specific certification.
King's dual-hatted assignment with a combined joint task force served as her education. "This deployment has opened my eyes to the broader scale of how the military operates," she said. "Only being in (the Army) for two years, I was limited to the garrison platoon leader experience. Having the opportunity to work at the division level allowed me to see exactly how the Signal Corps is integrated in order to accomplish mission success."
While off duty, the Soldiers had the opportunity to teach classes, run marathons, and perform community services like Operation Care which sends amenity care packages to isolated Soldiers, and the Cat in the Hat Program which allows Soldiers to read to Afghan youngsters or record books to send home to their own children. To unwind in the evening, Soldiers could sing karaoke to salsa, hip hop and country music, play card games or dominoes, and compete in basketball or poker tournaments.
Opportunities aside, the Soldiers of Alpha Co. were overjoyed to be past the nine-month deployment and 27-hour-flight through Kuwait, Germany, Baltimore and San Francisco.
"It feels great to be back to Hawaii and far from where we've been," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Diaz, a Cable Systems Installer-Maintainer Supervisor.
"It's amazing! It's not as hot and I don't have to worry about all of the dust," said Computer/Detection Systems Repairer Spc. Caven Hudson, "Overall, I'm happy to feel safe."
Once the rest of the Alpha Company Soldiers rejoin the 307th ESB in Hawaii and receive their equipment back from reset, they will resume responsibility for providing tactical command, control, communications, and computer capabilities in the Pacific Theater, through the U.S. Army, Pacific's Theater Security Cooperation Program.