About 200 soldiers from the 57th Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, headed overseas Jan. 28, after a ceremony at the West Fort Hood Physical Fitness Center.

The soldiers of the 57th deployed to Afghanistan to conduct various communications support missions for combat units throughout the region in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion as a whole last deployed there in April 2009. In August 2011, Bravo Company also deployed to the same region and was followed by Charlie Company in February 2012.

As family members, friends and other soldiers gathered to show their support for the deploying unit, four soldiers received the added honor of being promoted from the rank of private first class to specialist right before the ceremony started.

Newly promoted Spc. Nathaniel Abbey, Alpha Company, was all smiles as the promotion orders were read. His spouse, Spc. Kellie Abbey, removed the old rank from his multi-camouflage Army Combat Uniform top, and placed the new specialist rank on for him.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Nathaniel Abbey said.

Of the soldiers deploying, there was an even mix of those who had deployed at least once before, and some that have never deployed at all. Deploying can be a nerve wracking experience, but holds a certain level of excitement for those on their first.

“I’m looking forward to the experience and leaving the country for the first time,” Abbey said. “Also hurrying back and seeing my son because my wife, Kellie, is pregnant.”

A four-time combat veteran, 1st Sgt. Marlin Jones, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, did not hesitate when he shared his feelings on what he was looking forward to for this deployment.

“Accomplishing the mission and bringing the soldiers back safely,” Jones said. “Coming back and saying we accomplished the mission for the 11th Signal Brigade.”

As the ceremony officially began, Lt. Col. Darlene Straub, battalion commander, recognized the hard work and dedication the soldiers and leadership of the unit have put into preparing for the deployment.

“You guys are trained, you’re ready, and we’re ready to make this mission happen,” Straub said.

Before the soldiers departed for the airfield, Col. James C. Parks III, brigade commander, wished them well and reiterated the faith he had in the soldiers.

“You are great soldiers,” Parks said. “This is a great time. You have a mission that you were trained for, and I know you will execute that mission to the best of your ability.”

With the ceremony coming to a conclusion, Parks shared some final thoughts with the soldiers of the battalion.

“Be safe,” he said. “Take care of each other and take care of yourselves, Lightning Warriors.”

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