Detachment 6 of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) deploys for Mideast mission

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Story by SSG Ken Scar on 02/12/2017
A sobering reminder that the Army's obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan are not finished played out Sunday, Feb. 12 at the U.S. Army Reserve's 335th Signal Command (Theater) headquarters in East Point, Ga., as eighteen Soldiers with Detachment 6 formed up, said goodbye to their loved ones, and boarded a bus under a cloudy grey sky to begin the long journey overseas, where they will spend the next nine months providing signal support for Operation Freedom's Sentinel.

Family members and comrades watched through watery eyes as children gave their fathers lingering hugs and wives gave their husbands one last kiss goodbye. Soldiers know the hard truth that deployments are grueling on both ends.

Maj. Gen. Peter A. Bosse, commander of the 335th, spoke at a short ceremony before the bus drove away, and recognized the sacrifices being made by the real heroes in attendance the family members who stay behind and keep the faith and the fires burning.

"As the commanding general of the 335th I'm proud to be here today sending off this unit, and I'm thankful that so many were able to join us today particularly the family members," said Bosse. "Being away from [family] is one of the most difficult aspects of being a Soldier. You represent our most important resource in the Army. This is what it's all about going down range to do the mission that we've trained for. Without [you] it's simply not possible."

Det. 6's mission will take them across a wide area of operations, providing essential signals support to a variety of U.S. and allied units, said Maj. Christopher Nau the Det. 6 officer in charge.

"We'll be helping to maintain a secure communication over watch for the whole country," said Nau. "We'll be over there supporting the average Joe, and it will be a joint effort between us and our coalition allies."

Bosse echoed Nau's assessment, adding that the execution of their mission will effect every Soldier deployed in their area of operations.

"As Army Reservists, these Soldiers are part of the most capable, combat ready, and lethal reserve force in the history of the United States of America," said Bosse. "[They will] provide essential capabilities to the total force. They're going to be monitoring and providing superior network support for all the U.S. forces deployed throughout the area of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Without each of them, communication will stop. Their mission is vital to the success of every individual on the ground."

The Soldiers of Det. 6 stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a perfect formation at the front of the 335th's chalk white cinderblock drill hall throughout the ceremony, no doubt filled with all sorts of trepidations and maybe more than a small desire to just get this formality over with. Goodbyes are hard enough without drawing them out but the Army simply insists on recognizing sacrifices and accomplishments great and small. It's both one of the best and one of the most annoying things about being a Soldier.

Of course the ceremony did end, sooner than some would have liked, and it was time for Det. 6 to move out. After a round of last kisses and hugs, they boarded the bus and their friends and family fell back to wave them goodbye.

A contingent of motorcyclists with the Patriot Guard Riders of Georgia, engines growling and flags blowing, were waiting just outside the gate to escort the bus to the airport. It was a colorful, impressive sight as the they led the bus up the street, past the headquarters building, around the corner and out of sight.

Back on the headquarters steps the assembled chorus of friends and family gently lowered their waves goodbye as the bus engine faded into the distance. Children held tight to legs and spouses choked back tears in the new silence, fixing their gazes squarely nine months ahead.

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