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35th Signal Brigade begins mission

Oct 5, 2009

By 1st Lt. Michael P. Crilley

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two back to back transfer of authority ceremonies were held for the 35th Signal Brigade and 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion assuming authority from the 261st Signal Brigade and the 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion at Camp Victory, Iraq on Sept. 19, 2009.

Guests in attendance witnessed the TOAs, which marked the last operation of the 261st Sig. Bde., a reserve unit from Smyrna, Del., and the 146th ESB, a National Guard unit from Jacksonville, Fla. in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 09-11.

The 35th Sig. Bde., from Fort Gordon, Ga., assumed authority of the largest tactical signal mission throughout Multi-National Corps - Iraq. The 35th Signal Brigade will be responsible for more than 40 sites spread across 17 provinces in Iraq. Brig. Gen. Scott E. Chambers and Command Sgt. Maj. Donald J. Catalon, commander and command sergeant major of Task Force Diamond, cased their colors ending their tour in Iraq.

The 261st colors will remain cased until the brigade returns to its home station in Delaware where they will be uncased signifying that the unit is once again ready to answer our nation's call. Then, Col. Marc D. Harris and Command Sgt. Maj. Angel J. Ramos, commander and command sergeant major of Task Force Lion, uncased the 35th Signal Brigade colors.

These colors will remain unfurled until the 35th Sig. Bde. is officially relieved from its responsibilities at the end of their tour of duty. The TOA ceremony for the battalions had Lt. Col. Matthew Johnson and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard F. Campbell, commander and command sergeant major of the 146th ESB, casing their colors, allowing Lt. Col. Peter J. Tragakis and Command Sgt. Maj. John F. McCarthy, commander and command sergeant major of the 67th ESB, to uncase their colors. The guest speaker for the 261st and 35th TOA was Brig. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, the deputy commanding general for Sustainment Multi-National Corps - Iraq, and she had some heart-felt things to say about the departing signal brigade.

"The state of Delaware has much to be proud of," she said, in reference to the successful maintenance of network operations the 261st Sig. Bde. performed.

Brown told those in attendance that she equally welcomes the 35th Sig. Bde. and believes they are trained and ready to assume the signal mission here in Iraq. After the deputy commander's speech, Chambers said that he is immensely proud of his Soldiers.

"It is truly humbling to see the civilian skills that Soldiers bring to the fight," said Chambers. He compares his experience to being a quarterback watching his team score a touchdown.

As much as he said he enjoyed his tour, Chambers said, "It's time for me to take these Blue Hens home." For his speech, Harris spoke proudly about accepting the mission and his role as commander of Task Force Lion.

The colonel went on to praise Task Force Diamond on a smooth transition and for going out of their way to welcome the incoming brigade. He then said to the audience, including Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, the commanding general of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, "The 35th Signal Brigade confidently stands ready to provide the network flexibility to achieve the [MNC-I] vision."

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