As the oversized Mountain View charter bus pulled up to Fort Huachucaâ€™s Murr Community Center, a line of high-ranking leaders from the 11th Tactical Theater Signal Brigade and 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion lined the side of the sidewalk to the building. Every member of the leadership group present that day awaited the opening of the bus doors which would reveal the cargo onboard.
Approximately 20 Soldiers returned to the installation Friday after taking on a support mission in Honduras. The Soldiers were gone for more than 100 days, and were greeted by fellow Soldiers, friends and Family members awaiting their return home.
The Soldiers left on April 6 for a crucial mission in an effort to provide assistance to military forces in Honduras.
â€œWe were there to provide communication support for the National Guard from Missouri,â€ said Pfc. Logan Brewster, Company B, 40th ESB. We were down there helping them out while they helped the Honduran army and people.â€
The support the Soldiers of the 40th ESB provided was critical to the success of humanitarian efforts currently taking place in Honduras. These efforts include building public schools and health clinics that are sustained and operated by the citizens of Honduras. U.S. forces also provide veterinary and dental services as well as other projects that improve the overall Honduran infrastructure.
When the Soldiers first arrived in Honduras, their main priority was to set up their operating area. Navy engineers, or Seabees as they are commonly called, helped clear out their living areas and assisted in leveling the site so the 40th ESB Soldiers could lay out the fiber cables needed to help provide communication.
â€œThe section we were at â€¦ hadnâ€™t been used in years,â€ said Spc. Lawanda Tidwell, Company B, 40th ESB. â€œThe Seabees fortunately got there about three weeks before us and cleared everything out of the billets we slept in.â€
They cleared out trees, vines, the wildlife living in the buildings and set up bathrooms for the Soldiers to use, said Tidwell. â€œIt was nice coming into this situation with things already set up.â€
Embarking on a mission like this tested the skills of each Soldier in their respective military occupational specialty. Some Soldiers have never had to use their skills in a real-time, real-world situation like this, but they learned everything they could from the process.
â€œIt was definitely very educational,â€ said Pfc. Joel Glover, Company B, 40th ESB. â€œI got a lot of good experience with the equipment we worked with.â€
The lessons learned here cannot be taught in a garrison environment, he said.
The same holds true for Soldiers who are not far removed from the advanced individual training they received after Army basic training.
â€œI learned a lot doing my job because I havenâ€™t done it in a while,â€ said Spc. James Silvio, Company B, 40th ESB. â€œI was surprised about how much I remembered while I was there. You do it every day for three months, you get used to it, and it gets pretty easy.â€
Providing support during the mission in Honduras was rewarding for the Soldiers.
â€œI liked it,â€ said Tidwell. â€œIt was a new experience, and better than your average field training exercise at home because we were supporting someone that was doing something really big.â€
What the Seabees and other Soldiers did out there was great, said Tidwell. â€œIt was nice to be a part of that even if it was in a small support role,â€ she said.
The Soldiers of the 40th ESB feel good about their accomplishments, and have learned a lot along the way. These signal Soldiers stand ready to deploy anywhere their skills are required around the world, at any given time.
â€œWe had people in Honduras and we have people currently deployed in Afghanistan,â€ said Col. Patrick Dedham, commander, 11th Tactical Theater Signal Brigade. â€œAs our motto goes, â€˜The sun never sets on the Thunderbirds,â€™ and this â€˜welcome homeâ€™ is proof of that.â€