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Signal troops receive a hero's welcome on Nevada soil

CARSON CITY -- The 422nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion concluded its successful year-long deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Sunday. The largest signal corps deployment in Nevada Guard history ended with a demobilization ceremony at the Mandalay Bay Resort for the southern Soldiers and the Nevada Air National Guard Base in Reno for the northern Soldiers on Jan. 15. The 422nd is comprised of about 325 Nevada Soldiers from across the state and more than 120 Soldiers from Arizona.

Approximately 1,000 family and friends in Las Vegas and an estimated crowd of 500 in Reno welcomed home the Guardsmen.

Governor Brian Sandoval spoke at the Las Vegas event and said the unit held special significance for him. A few days before he took office he saw the unit off at their deployment ceremonies and he also visited the unit in Afghanistan in 2011. "These events are perfect bookends of my first year in office," he said. "Today more than ever, home means Nevada."

Spc. Kelsi Washington of the 422nd deployed with her twin sister, Spc. Kamee Sills. Washington said the deployment was tough, but having family by her said made it easier. "It had its ups and downs like everything. But you work together and eat together and stay together and cry together," she said.

The 422nd was the first reserve component expeditionary signal battalion deployed to Afghanistan. The battalion's approximately 450 Soldiers set up forward operations at Kandahar Airfield and 40 other sites throughout Afghanistan. The 422nd Soldiers were responsible for engineering, installing and maintaining the largest tactical and strategic communication networks in the combat theater.

The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jeff Hansen, thanked the family and friends in the Las Vegas audience for their support. "Yours was the harder mission. Thank you for being the beacon we gravitated to a year ago when we began this deployment," he said.
The Nevada Guard currently has about 200 soldiers and airmen still deployed to southwest Asia in support of overseas contingency operations.