By Staff Sgt. Ty Stafford
FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from Company C, 35th Infantry Division with the Missouri National Guard used their annual training this year to hone real-world operational experience during a field support exercise for the III Corps headquarters at Fort Hood from June 3-22.
The joint exercise included III Corps, the 35th and other supporting units at Fort Hood.
Perched on top of the aptly-named Rattlesnake Hill, which overlooks Fort Hood, and several miles from the main body, the signal Soldiers in Company C took the opportunity to grow as a team and learn new skills.
Several of the Soldiers have only been in the Missouri National Guard for a year or so and drilled with their unit only a handful of times.
One Soldier, Pfc. Jonathan Sorrentino, of Bethany, Mo., was attending his first annual training exercise.
"I'm learning a lot working here, and we are all working really hard," Sorrentino said. "The leadership is really organized and we have an opportunity to train on other equipment."
Sorrentino and his teammates work on portable satellite and networking systems vital to the war fighters in the field.
"We work with the Satellite Transportable Terminal, the Joint Network Node and the High Capacity Line of Sight systems," said 1st Lt. Christopher Tompkins, a platoon leader with Company C.
These systems are used for command control of forces on the ground, reach back and range extension and voice, data and video lines of communications from the team to a forward element during operations.
The initial days of training began slowly, but the unit picked up speed along the way.
"From a cold start, it took about three days to actually install updates and troubleshoot any problems," Tompkins said. "But now we can haul all of our equipment out here in the morning and be set up in an hour."
With several new Soldiers in the unit, the senior leaders used the exercise as an opportunity to cross train their Soldiers on each piece of equipment to enhance their knowledge and create a more efficient team if a Soldier is lost or leaves the unit.
"I'm having a blast," said Pfc. Emily Bullin, of Farley, Mo., "I love learning and getting hands on and seeing how everything works. We are also learning how to work together more as a team."
Bullin, also attending her first annual training with the unit, received a coin from Maj. Gen. John E. Davoren, the 35th Infantry Division commander, for her hard work in the field.
From start to finish, signal elements are a vital component to any training and operations. The Soldiers of Company C proved just how vital they are to the 35th Infantry Division and the Missouri National Guard.
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