By Christopher DunneMarch 11, 2011
CAMP ARIFJAN, KUWAIT - The 54th Signal Battalion commemorated 20 years of service in Southwest Asia during two days of activities Mar. 1-2 at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Duane Green got the idea for the celebration a year ago while he was checking out artifacts from the unit's history on the headquarters wall. "I noticed the battalion had been activated on 1 March 1991," he said. "I felt it was my duty as commander to make sure that the organization was recognized."
A battalion run kicked off the celebration, which also included an Organization Day, Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Induction Ceremony and Town Hall meeting. The anniversary events culminated in a formal Dining In.
Col. Maria Barrett, 160th Signal Brigade Commander, and Col. Keith June, U.S. Forces-Iraq Deputy J6 and a former commander of the 54th Signal Battalion, joined Soldiers for the 5 a.m. battalion run. Col. June was also guest speaker for the Dining-In.
Organization Day brought out the battalion's competitive nature. Flag football, basketball, volleyball, a physical fitness competition and other events were scored to determine which company would take home the championship. A tug-of-war gave teams one last chance to score points; when final results were tallied a combined team from 519th and 581st Signal Companies shared the trophy-and bragging rights for the year.
Fourteen recently promoted Sergeants were inducted into the ranks of the professional noncommissioned officer corps during the NCO Induction Ceremony. 54th Signal Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Darris Curry led the new inductees in reciting the Charge of the NCO, and guest speaker Gerald Tyce, 160th Signal Brigade Command Sergeant Major, talked about setting examples.
"As NCOs our Soldiers look to us to be their example, and give them the drive needed to inherit a warrior--and winning-spirit," Tyce said. "It is important to train our Soldiers to standards that they will meet and exceed."
The Town Hall meeting was also an event to remember, as a battle streamer ceremony added new streamers to the unit colors. "My battle colors were adorned with 20 or so battle streamers," Green said. "But the last battle streamer was from Vietnam in 1971. I knew that we had contributed significantly to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and now Operation New Dawn, as well as in the past."
Research turned up seven additional battle streamers that the unit was authorized, but only two arrived in time for the ceremony. Nevertheless, new battle streamers adorned the battalion colors for the first time in forty years.
The 20th anniversary festivities closed with a battalion Dining In. It was an affair to remember for officer and enlisted alike, with Cpt. Darius Glover as Master of Ceremonies and Sgt. 1st Class Yara Silva serving as Madame Vice; as battalion commander, Green presided over the evening.
Theater regulations regarding the prohibition of alcohol necessitated a few modifications to event protocol. The wine sampling and official toasts included a recent vintage of grape juice, and the "Desert Nectar" produced during the Grog Bowl Ceremony was a potent mix of carbonated beverages, juices, brown sugar and a dirty sock.
2nd Lt. Kathrynn Robinault, who proved to be the "Most Expendable Member of the Mess" due to her junior rank, was the first of many officers and enlisted personnel to drink from the punch bowl, which bore a striking resemblance to a porcelain toilet.
A cake-cutting ceremony and sumptuous meal of Middle Eastern cuisine followed the official toasts, and skits performed by each company entertained guests as they enjoyed their meal.
Col. June congratulated the battalion for 20 years of service in Southwest Asia. "Since it's reactivation in 1991, the 54th has roamed throughout the desert," he said. "Like nomads of old, you have roamed from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait to Iraq-all over Iraq-back to Saudi Arabia, then back here to Kuwait--all over Kuwait--and to Qatar. And only the good Lord knows where this battalion will end up."
June noted that the 54th Signal Battalion has grown, while the rest of the Signal Corps has gotten smaller. "Perhaps better than any entity in the Army, you have successfully combined Soldiers, Dept. of the Army civilians and contractors into an effective, cohesive and respected organization," he said.
"Never forget the incredible legacy of our great Army, the Signal Regiment, and the 54th. Never forget those that came before you. In so many ways, you are the unsung heroes of our digital age and along the way, you have made history."
Green commended his staff for their hard work in creating a successful and enjoyable anniversary celebration. "As the commander it did my heart proud to see everything come together," he said. "It was grand."