198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Departure Ceremony - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Departure Ceremony

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DOVER, Del. - Crowds filled the stands of the Delaware State University football stadium on Saturday, but not to watch a game or graduation ceremony. The Delaware National Guard held one of its larger departure ceremonies to honor its soldiers who will soon deploy.

Dover and Little Creek fire departments displayed the American Flag as music from Delaware State Police Pipes and Drums filled the air around 11 a.m. Saturday. Elected officials filed in and families of more than 250 members of the Delaware National Guard waved to their loved ones in a 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion departure ceremony.

"It's the first time my husband is getting deployed, so it's a change for us," says Rosanna Ladeh-Ahlidza of Dover. She says her husband, Koffi, will be deployed for about a year. "We don't really know what to expect, but we've been pretty sad that he's going to be gone for so long." 

The 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion has been around since the revolutionary days, but this is one of its largest single-unit deployments.

Lee Beauchamp, Sergeant 1st Class with Alpha Company 198 in Georgetown, has been with the National Guard for 19 years, but this is his first deployment. "We're going to be deploying to Southeast Asia with CENTCOM for operation Spartan Shield," he says. "We will be supporting units for satellite communication and communications for the battlefield."

Beachamp is originally from Salisbury. Specialist Lewis Barclay has moved around a lot but now too lives in Salisbury. "My mom was active Army. I was born in Fort Gordon Georgia."

This departure ceremony before he deploys to Kuwait means a lot to him. "It's my first deployment," he says. "I'm excited, a little nervous too." 

The ceremony means just as much to families, like the Ladeh-Ahlidza's, as it does to the soldiers. "He's helping us so that we can be strong and healthy," says Krystal-Rose about her father, Koffi.

The 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion makes up about twenty percent of the Delaware National Guard at 350 soldiers strong. This deployment is made up of soldiers from its three companies in Delaware as well as the Bravo company in South Carolina.


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