Cape Gazette

Welcome Home Ceremony held for 198th Battalion

Dr. Jill Biden on hand to greet troops
May 01, 2014
Dan Kapitanic, retired U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and captain of the Patriot Guard Riders, salutes the returning troops of the 198th Battalion.

More than 300 soldiers were welcomed home by family and supporters of the troops at Delaware State University Stadium in Dover April 13.

The battalion, composed of Headquarters Company and Company C from Wilmington, and Company A from Georgetown, was scheduled for a 12-month active-duty tour. After successful completion of their missions in Afghanistan, the 198th sent soldiers home in four different phases. Some returned four to five months early. The 198th is also known as The First Regiment of the First State.  They are Delaware's oldest unit, with citizen soldiers serving in 36 battles and campaigns.

The Delaware National Guard hosted Dr. Jill Biden. Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney Carper attended and spoke to the troops of the 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, consisting of members of the Wilmington and Georgetown first regiment of Delaware.

In Afghanistan, the battalion provided communications including the support and management of four regional network control centers, theater-wide tactical communications support missions and enterprise-level help desk support. They also helped with deconstruction efforts that return many bases to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as U.S. forces prepare to eventually redeploy from Afghanistan.

"I will never get tired of welcoming home our soldiers," said Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general, Delaware National Guard. "The 198th performed admirably in their Afghan mission, and we are thrilled to have them all back home safely."

Charles Garrod, a Korean War veteran, stands for the opening prayer. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Family members, friends, scouts, and Patriot Guard Riders line up with the red, white and blue to welcome the 198th Battalion home. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Ed Pagan holds a flag during the ceremony for the 198th Battalion's return to Delaware. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
A Patriot Guard Riders captain stands at attention for the returning troops. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Unit C from Wilmington stands at attention during the ceremony. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Dover residents (l-r) Michael Little Jr., brother; Loretta Walls, aunt; Lisa Rossi, mother; and Riley McCallister, friend, are on hand to support SPC Nicholas Little. His wife and newborn were waiting at home. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Georgetown Unit Company A from Georgetown stands at rest during the ceremony. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Battalion Commander LTC James Benson receives the dismissal of the units from Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard. Staff Sgt. Derek Baust holds the colors of the battalion. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
A presentation to Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, from Battalion Commander LTC James Benson, left, and CSM Reginald Powers of a flag flown over the camp in Afghanistan was a highlight of the ceremony. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
The First Delaware Regiment, a group of retired Delaware Guardsmen, stands at rest during the ceremony. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Delaware National Guard adjutant general, congratulates the troops for a job well done and for the complete battalion's return. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Shown (l-r), Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Sen. Tom Carper, Dr. Jill Biden, Command Sgt. Maj. Reginald Powers, Battalion Commander James Benson, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney pause for a photograph. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Sen. Chris Coons discusses the programs in place for the returning soldiers. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Dr. Jill Biden mentions the father-and-son soldiers who were absent from the dinner table for holidays. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Rep. John Carney thanks the troops and families for their service. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
Sen. Tom Carper rouses the crowd in a wolf call, the trademark call of the 198th Battalion. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
The Delaware National Guard Band performs for the ceremony. (Photo by: Deny Howeth)
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