HELEMANO MILITARY RESERVATION -- An initial group of 30 Alpha Company, 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Soldiers were welcomed home, here, Tuesday, following a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan where they provided vital signal support to three Regional Commands.
The company deployed last November in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Under the command of the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Co. A 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 will return within the next two months.
After welcoming home and commending his Soldiers, 307th ESB Commander, LTC Mark Miles released them to reunite with their loved ones and friends, gathered at the unit's dining facility to receive and salute their returned Warriors.
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 single day from home here, in Hawai`i, to ask if she was returning earlier than expected.
"They were beyond anxious to have me back," said King.
While deployed throughout 19 different regional command locations, Alpha Company supported network operations, satellite communications, signal systems integration, trouble shooting and help desk operations (including solving division-level end user problems) --and pulled even guard duty-- to ensure services were sustained.
King was pleased with her Soldiers' performance, particularly since --for most-- it was 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 pre-deployment multi-tasking and cross training to the extent that they could 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 assignment as current operations officer was 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 a division level allowed me to see exactly how the Signal Corps is integrated in order to accomplish mission success."
Off duty, the Soldiers could teach classes, run marathons, and perform community service like Operation Care which sends amenity care packages to isolated Soldiers, and the Cat in the Hat Program where Soldiers read to Afghan youngsters or record books to send home to their own children. After dark came nights dedicated to salsa, hip hop, country music, and open mic, or competitive events like basketball or poker tournaments, other card games, and dominoes.
Opportunities aside, the Soldiers of Co. A 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.
Computer/Detection Systems Repairer Spc. Caven Hudson agreed.
"It's amazing! It's not as hot and I don't have to worry about all of the dust," he said, adding, "Overall, I'm happy to feel safe."
Once all Alpha Company Soldiers have rejoined the 307th ESB in Hawaii, and received 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.