A local high school served as the stage for a military sendoff this past weekend. On Saturday, April 2, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Michigan National Guard, addressed soldiers from the Michigan Army National Guard 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB) at Howell High School.
In two separate departure ceremonies, approximately 350 soldiers gathered with their families and invited guests at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base and Howell High School as they prepared to depart for their deployment to the Middle East.
“As our world yet again faces historic challenges, the Michigan National Guard is ready to support our nation as we continue to secure our safety through our presence overseas,” said Whitmer. “The Michiganders who serve our state and nation in uniform are the best of us. Their service and the sacrifices that their loved ones make keep us safe. They have our unwavering support as they embark on this new deployment, and we will continue supporting our military families here at home.”
The unit’s commander, Lt. Col. Samuel P. LaBara, said they will be operating under Operation Spartan Shield and fall in with U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). “We will be the backbone transmission for all network requirements and will enable uninterrupted mission command in CENTCOM, providing voice and data communications for units and operations within the region and contingency communications support,” he said.
This will be the first deployment for the 156th ESB which was established six years ago. Known by their slogan, ‘Nothing but Net’, the soldiers are anticipated to be deployed for up to a year.