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509th Signal Battalion

The mission of the 509th Signal Battalion is to plan, install, operate, maintain, and protect communications network as an extension of the GIG throughout Italy, Kosovo, Bosnia, Africa, and other specified locations to enable Army, Theater, Joint and Combined Force Warfighters.

Previously, the mission of the 509th Signal Battalion mission was to plan, direct and supervise strategic and sustaining base command, control, communications and computers (C4) for Southern European Task Force (SETAF), US European Command (EUCOM), and NATO headquarters and forces located in 9 separate facilities throughout central and northern Italy. It would provide strategic, tactical, and sustaining base services and C4 planning for the War Fighters, Department of Defense, SETAF, Federal Agencies, and NATO located throughout Italy. It would also serve as the SETAF G6 staff for war and contingency operational planning and, on order, deploy as JTF J6 staff for combat or contingency operations.

The 509th Signal Battalion was first constituted on 11 December 1944 in the Army of the United States as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 3906th Signal Service Battalion. It was activated on 17 January 1945 in France. The Battalion served in 2 campaigns during the Second World War: Rhineland and Central Europe. Deployed for occupation duties in Japan, the Battalion was inactivated on 31 August 1946 in the Ryukyu Islands.

The Battalion was redesignated on 27 June 1947 as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 509th Signal Service Battalion. It was activated on 20 July 1947 in Korea. The Battalion was inactivated on 25 January 1949 in Korea. The Battalion was redesignated on 8 January 1952 as Headquarters, 509th Signal Service Battalion, and allotted to the Regular Army. it was activated on 15 February 1952 at Camp San Luis Obispo, California. The Battalion was reorganized and redesignated on 12 March 1953 as Headquarters, 509th Signal Battalion before being inactivated on 3 December 1954 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

The Battalion was redesignated on 1 March 1963 as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 509th Signal Battalion. It was activated on 25 March 1963 at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

In February 1967, the Commander of US Forces in Vietnam, General William C. Westmoreland, organized a planning group to establish an Army Task Force to send to the northern I Corps area of Vietnam. General Westmoreland needed an infantry division, but realized that none would be arriving from the United States for some time. The decision was made to raise a division-size task force from assets already in Vietnam. Major General William B. Rosson headed up the planning group for this task force. This planning effort would ultimately turn into a multi-brigade force called Task Force Oregon, composed of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade; the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division; and the 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (replaced in August 1967 by the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division). General Rosson would become Task Force Oregon's first commander.

Task Force Oregon became an operational entity on 20 April 1967, when troops from the 196th Infantry Brigade landed at the Chu Lai Airstrip to conduct infantry operations around the base camp that would ultimately become the headquarters for Task Force Oregon. Personnel from the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division began search and destroy operations in the Southern Quang Ngai Province, and in May 1967, the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division arrived at Duc Pho conducting operations in the jungles west of Duc Pho. At one point, there was even an amphibious tractor platoon of Marines attached to the 196th Infantry Brigade.

Task Force Oregon's early operations included Malheur I and Malheur II, Hood River, Benton and Cook. In September 1967, Operation Wheeler was launched against elements of the 2nd North Vietnamese Division working the area northwest of Chu Lai.

Communications support for Task Force Oregon came from signal assets already within Vietnam, primarily from the 1st Signal Brigade. Contingency stocks and units of the 1st Signal Brigade were used to form a tactical signal unit that would ultimately become the divisional signal battalion for the 23rd Infantry Division (AMERICAL). The 1st Signal Brigade's 21st Signal Group provided the majority of the signal support to Task Force Oregon while it was in existence.

The Battalion headquarters came from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 509th Signal Battalion. The 459th Signal Battalion furnished its Company C and the 36th Signal Battalion provided its Company A. A reinforced platoon from the 167th Radio Relay Company was also part of the ad hoc battalion. The 3rd Brigade, 25th Division had its own signal support in the form of Company B (-), 125th Signal Battalion. The 196th Infantry Brigade received its support from the 156th Signal Platoon (Forward Area). Company B, 501st Signal Battalion, supported the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 509th Signal Battalion arrived in Vietnam by way of Fort Huachuca in September 1966. It deployed to Vietnam as a headquarters detachment only. It was initially based at An Khe, where it supported the An Khe area, as well as the 1st Cavalry Division with communications. In April 1967, the battalion headquarters moved to Chu Lai to begin support to Task Force Oregon. In September 1967, the 23rd Infantry Division (AMERICAL) was activated replacing Task Force Oregon. The 509th remained supporting this division-size force until its assets were used to form the AMERICAL Division's, 523rd Signal Battalion in January 1968. With the activation of the 523rd Signal Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 509th Signal Battalion was inactivated in Vietnam on 10 January 1968. It earned 2 campaign streamers for its efforts in Vietnam: Counteroffensive Phase II and Counteroffensive Phase III.

In December 1976, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 509th Signal Battalion returned to the active rolls of the Army, this time in Vicenza, Italy. There the Battalion was initially tasked with supporting the Southern Europe Task Force, as part of the 2nd Signal Brigade. It subsequently became part of the 7th Signal Battalion, before returning to the 2nd Signal Battalion by 2010.




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