March 26, 2016 –
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - Almost 300 Army Reserve soldiers said goodbye to friends and families Saturday during a deployment ceremony held here March 26, 2016. The soldiers make up the 392nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, which is headquartered in Gwenn Oaks, Md., and with companies stationed in Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Soldiers assigned to the 392nd ESB will be deploying to the Middle East after several months of training and preparation.
“Our job is to send teams of signal soldiers and their equipment to support communications — including voice, data and video — to locations throughout the Middle East,” said Maj. Matthew Bernoski, the 392nd ESB battalion operations officer.
“We’re the hub that powers the CPN (Command Post Node),” said Pfc. Aaron Pennix, a multichannel transmissions system operator and maintainer for the 392nd ESB. “My job is to connect to satellites in order to provide voice and data communications.”
The battalion is made up of many young soldiers who will gain technical and leadership experience during their time in theater.
“I believe our soldiers will be much better off when they come back,” Bernoski said. “They have the opportunity to earn technical certifications that can drastically improve their marketability in the civilian sector.”
“You can gain experience from anything,” said Spc. Robin Cochran, a signal soldier from Alpha Company. “I could get into the IT side of my job with the experience I will gain from the deployment.”
More than 500 family members and friends traveled from across the country to Fort Meade Saturday to attend the departure ceremony in support of their soldiers.
“I prefer to call it a ‘see you soon’ ceremony,” said Lt. Col. Carl Stahlman, the battalion commander of the 392nd ESB. “It’s really a chance for the leadership to thank the families. As much as the soldiers sacrifice, we can’t forget how much more their families sacrifice.”
Emotions ran high as soldiers and families spent a few final hours together.
“My family is excited for me, but sad too,” Cochran said. “It’s a change I needed. I’ve been doing the same thing since I graduated from college so deploying will be a nice change of pace.”
With home stations spread across multiple states, training and preparation can be a challenge for the battalion. The deployment ceremony marked one of the few times that the entire battalion had the opportunity to come together as a unit.
“The soldiers and companies gel and function better when working as a cohesive unit,” said Stahlman. “We only come together about ten times a year, so it’s amazing to see them execute their jobs so well.”
After leaving Fort Meade, soldiers were bussed to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to fly south to Fort Hood, Texas for the last phase of deployment preparation and training before heading overseas.
“Leading these soldiers into theater is one of the biggest privileges I’ll have in my life,” Stahlman said. “These soldiers are going to come back even more smart and amazing. They’ll be subject matter experts when we return.”
Remarks were given by Congressmen Dutch Ruppersberger, the U.S. Representative for Maryland's 2nd congressional district, Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Kemp, commanding general of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) based in East Point, Ga., and Col. William T. Peterson, Brigade Commander of the 359th Tactical Signal Brigade (Theater) based in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
News media representatives from The Baltimore Sun, WJZ-TV CBS Baltimore and WBFF Fox 45 Baltimore were also on site to capture the event and interview soldiers and their families.