More than 450 New York Army National Guard Soldiers of the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion - based in Yonkers, Orangeburg and Peekskill - will say goodbye to their families and depart for training at Fort Bliss, Texas, from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh on Sunday.
The soldiers are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan after their training. There are currently 1,800 members of the New York Army National Guard deployed in Afghanistan and Kuwait or training to deploy overseas.
In a farewell ceremony, the soldiers will be addressed by Major Gen. Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York, Brigadier Gen. Michael Swezey, commander of the 53rd Troop Command, and Mary Kavaney, assistant deputy secretary for Public Safety, representing Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At the conclusion of the ceremony the soldiers will move to a hangar at Stewart to wait for their transportation.
101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion
The 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion will deploy to Afghanistan in the fall to provide communications support to military units across that country using the state-of-the-art Warfighter Information Network-Tactical system that employs satellite technology to provide voice and data connections to military units.
The battalion, commanded by Col. Greg Dreisbach, has been preparing for deployment for the past two years. The soldiers just completed pre-mobilization training at Fort Drum in Watertown, NY, where they trained on basic warrior skills like tactical maneuver, land-navigation, and grenade throwing.
The battalion traces its history back to 1879 when a signal service was created as part of the New York National Guard's 11th Brigade, which was based in Brooklyn. In 1886 a Signal Corps unit of 19 Soldiers was formed as part of the New York National Guard's 1st Brigade.
The New York National Guard signal Soldiers saw their first service on state duty in August 1892 during a railroad strike in Buffalo when the Signal Corps detachments set up telegraph lines and used flags and oil lanterns so Guard units could communication with each other. Volunteers from the New York National Guard Signal Corps served in the Spanish American War, although the unit was not called up.
In 1916 the New York National Guard's 1st Battalion Signal Corps served at the Mexican border, and in 1917 the 102nd Field Signal Battalion deployed to France with the 27th Division.
In January 1941 the 101st Signal Battalion was mobilized for training. In June 1944 the battalion participated in the invasion of Saipan and then served in the Philippines and on Okinawa.
The 101st Signal Battalion was activated for the Korean War in 1950 and was the only National Guard signal corps unit to serve in Korea and received a Meritorious Unit Commendation and a Republic of the Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Along with providing communications service, 101st Signal Battalion Photographers took many of the photographs that were printed in the press back in the United States.
During the Berlin Crisis of 1961/62 the 101st Signal Battalion was stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. In 1970 the battalion was mobilized when federal postal workers went on strike and in 1979 the battalion served on state active duty when prison guards went on strike.
The 101st Signal Battalion was inactivated in 1994 but came back onto the roster of New York Army National Guard units in 2003 as the 101st Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
Since then the unit has participated in exercise in Germany, Romania, Bosnia and Moldova as well as in Angola. During the state's response to tropical storms Lee and Irene in 2011 the Soldiers provided assistance to citizens of the state.
While the unit as not deployed to combat since it's reactivation in 2004 many of its Soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq.