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67th Signal departs for desert rotation

Army News Service

Release Date: 1/7/2004

By Staff Sgt. Kelly McCargo

FORT GORDON, Ga. (Army News Service, Jan. 7, 2003) -- As choruses of people counted down the New Year, the tears streaming down some of their cheeks had little to do with enthusiasm for the year to come.

Many 93rd Signal Brigade families knew that 2004 would be an entire year without the comfort of their spouses, sons or daughters.

Two days into the New Year, Jan. 2, more than 500 friends and family members said farewell to the Soldiers of the 67th Signal Battalion during a departure ceremony at Fort Gordon's Alexander Hall at 1 p.m.

The 67th Sig. Bn. at Fort Gordon will deploy to the Central Command Area for one year as part of America's continued support of the war on terrorism. The 67th's mission will be to provide voice, video, and data services to customers located at various bases.

Representatives of the 67th Sig. Bn. stood stock-still at attention on the stage as Lt. Col. Paul LaDue, 67th Sig. Bn. commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Nicolino Parisi, rolled and cased the battalion's colors; officially declaring the battalion deployed.

"Today is another historic day for the 93rd Signal Brigade," Col. Nathaniel Smith, 93rd Sig. Bde.commander. "Today marks the culmination of four months of intensive training and the official deployment of the 67th Signal Battalion to defend this nation.

Augusta's Mayor, Bob Young, thanked the 67th Sig. Bn. Soldiers and presented them with Augusta's flag.

"They are true warriors and are prepared for this mission," Smith said. "They didn't attain their current readiness without the crucial support of their families, other soldiers within the brigade, and the Augusta community."

The ceremony was held a few days before the actual flights due to the uncertainty of the flight schedules.

"We're having the departure ceremony to give the families an opportunity to recognize these Soldiers before they leave," LaDue said. "The unit wanted to get all of the Soldiers and their families together in one place and do something special."

An emotional slide presentation profiled the amount of pre-deployment preparation that was required of the 67th Sig. Bn. Soldiers, with the support of the 56th Signal Battalion and 93rd Signal Brigade's Headquarters Company.

After the ceremony, red-rimmed eyes dotted the auditorium.

"Of course I'll miss having the man around the house-making sure the doors are locked, making sure you're safe," said April Mason.

April's husband, Spc. Joshua Mason, A Co., 67th Sig. Bn., was sad because he'll be leaving his wife and five-month old son, but said that he was prepared for the coming mission.

"I'll certainly miss my family very much, but it's definitely worth it," Mason said. "I joined the Army for a reason-to serve my country, and this is exactly what I'm doing."

The 67th Sig. Bn. will be replacing the 63rd Signal Battalion. The 63rd Sig. Bn. departed February 2003 and is scheduled to return to Fort Gordon next month.

The last elements of the 67th Sig. Bn. boarded the jet liner at Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field on a rain sodden evening. Family members stood by the airfield's gate entrance as loved ones ascended the stairs to the aircraft-the rain mixed with the tears that lingered after the ceremony.

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