501st Signal Battalion
"Voice of the Eagle"
As a result of the tranformation of the 101st Airborne Division to the US Army's modular force structure, Signal Companies of the Division and Brigade Special Troops Battalions took over the role of the 501st Signal Battalion, which was subsequently inactivated.
The mission of the 501st Signal Battalion is to deploy in 36 hours, world-wide, to establish and sustain communications systems in support of the 101st airborne division (air assault) operations.
The 501st Signal Battalion, "The Voice of the Eagle", traces roots to World War I when it was constituted as the 626th Field Signal Battalion on 23 July 1918. On 24 June 1921, the Battalion was reconstituted as the 101st Signal Company. In August 1942, it was reorganized as the 101st Airborne Signal Company and activated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. During World War II, the 101st Airborne Signal Company supported operations throughout Germany, Belgium, France, and Holland, to include providing initial communications for the Division Headquarters during the D-Day invasion.
The 101st Airborne Signal Company was activated, inactivated, organized and redesigned six times, emerging finally as the Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Detachment, 501st Airborne Signal Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on 1 July 1956.
Two additional companies were added to the Battalion at this time, an Operations Company and an Installation Company. The Operations Company traced its lineage back to the 246th Signal Operation Company constituted on 11 May 1942. It was redesignated 15 March 1949 as the 516th Signal Company and inactivated on 31 July 1955. The Installation Company traced its lineage back to the 299th Signal Installation Company constituted on 8 December 1942. The unit was redesignated on 26 May 1945 as the 299th Signal Service Company and again on 16 February 1953 as the 299th Signal Company. It was inactivated on 27 June 1955.
On 25 April 1957 the 501st Airborne Signal Battalion was reorganized and redesignated as the 501st Signal Battalion, with the Operations and Installation Companies becoming Company A and Company B respectively.
In May 1965, the first elements of the 501st Signal Battalion began deployment to the Republic of Vietnam with the 1st Infantry Brigade. The remainder of the battalion deployed with the division in 1967 and returned with the Division Headquarters in 1972, having participated in a total of 12 campaigns, including offensive and counteroffensive.
In August 1990, the first elements of the battalion were deployed to Saudi Arabia. In September 1990, the remainder of the battalion followed and immediately installed and maintained communications for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The communications system began as base camp communications, then it evolved to form a Division Communication System which spanned over 1000 square miles and supported Air Assault, ground-and-air combat operations into Iraq. The battalion redeployed to Fort Campbell in April 1991.
In June 1992, the 501st Signal Battalion exchanged its equipment for a complete new digital communications system called Mobile Subscriber Equipment.
In August 1993, the Signal Battalion completed the fielding of SINCGARS radios. In September 1993, the 501st conducted an MSE node center sling load operation using CH-47 helicopters. This was the first time in Army history that a unit airlifted an entire node center.
By the end of the 1994, the Battalion reorganization was completed when Charlie Company added a Multi-channel Tactical Satellite Platoon.
Clad in desert camouflage uniforms and modern battle gear, soldiers today look nothing like they did in World War II. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) is slowly reviving the spirit of its lineage with the reinstatement of unit distinctive helmet emblems similar to those worn 60 years ago in Europe. The patch the troops will begin wearing on their kevlar helmets was worn during World War II. The lightning flash in the center of the box was added to reflect the technological enhancements essential to military communication. The 501st Signal Battalion joined the 101st's three infantry brigades in the resurrection of its World War II unit helmet patch in a late-September ceremony at the division's main command post in Mosul.
Elements of the 501st Signal Battalion deployed in support of elements of the 101st Airborne Division in 2001-2002 during the opening phases of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and in 2003 during the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2004 the entire Division returned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for a tranformation to the US Army's new modular force structure. Under the revised structure, each Brigade within the 101st Airborne Division would have a Special Troops Battalion (as well as a Division Special Troops Battalion for the entire 101st Airborne), which would include among other things a Signals Company. As a result the 501st Signal Battalion, which used to provide Signal Companies to the component elements of the 101st Airborne was inactivated.
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