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Aberdeen Proving Ground celebrates 152nd anniversary of the Signal Corps

June 14, 2012
By Mr. Robert Dimichele (CECOM)

Cake Cutting Ceremony
Photo Credit: By Bob DiMichele
Sgt. Christopher Freeman, of the Public Health Command, youngest Soldier present at the celebration of the Signal Corps' 152nd Birthday; Lt. Col. (Ret.) Ed Carnes, oldest Signal Regiment member present, Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell; and Command Sgt Maj. Kennis Dent cut the birthday cake for the celebration of the Signal Corps' 152nd Birthday at the luncheon hosted by the Aberdeen chapters of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Signal Corps Regimental Association at the Top of the Bay.

Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. (June 14, 2012) -- More than two hundred Soldiers, family members, civilian employees, retirees and industry representatives turned out for the celebration of the Signal Corps' 152nd birthday celebration here yesterday.

Hosted by the Aberdeen chapters of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the Signal Corps Regimental Association at the Top of the Bay, the event focused on tradition and partnering.

Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, took the opportunity of the Signal Corps' 152st anniversary to highlight the significance that the Signal Corps has played in the past and the vital role it plays in meeting the challenges of the modern battlefield. He also took time to recognize the Army's 237th birthday.

"So today join me in celebrating the 237th anniversary of our Army as well as the 152nd anniversary of our Signal Corps," Ferrell said. "We celebrate the strength of our Soldiers, civilians, contractors, families, and communities. Together we are the strength of the nation."

The Signal Corps traces its existence from June 21, 1860, when Congress authorized the appointment of one signal officer in the Army, and a War Department order carried the following assignment: "Signal Department Assistant Surgeon Albert J. Myer to be Signal Officer, with the rank of Major, June 27, 1860, to fill an original vacancy."

Albert James Myer, an Army doctor, developed the idea of a separate, trained professional military signal service. He proposed that the Army use his visual communications system called "wigwag" while serving as a medical officer in Texas in 1856. When the Army adopted his system June 21, 1860, the Signal Corps was born with Myer as the first and only Signal officer. Using flags for daytime signaling and a torch at night, wigwag was first tested in combat in June 1861 to direct the fire of a harbor battery against the Confederate positions opposite Fort Monroe, Va.

"For the past 152 years our Signal Corps has been ever watchful for the country," Ferrell emphasized. The regiment's motto, "Prot Patria Vigilans" means "Watchful for the Country." Ferrell said that Myer faced a number of challenges while he was trying to incorporate the new technology of wigwag into Army communications. "We face similar challenges today," he said. From telegraphs to tactical radios, from radios to radar, from establishing the national weather service to bouncing the first signal off of the moon, the Signal Corps has provided the country with vital services to meet the needs of the nation.

"The craft of our Signal Corps is more complex than ever," Ferrell explained. He said that communications-electronics systems such as WIN-T, Firefinder and the Distributed Common Ground System-Army have enabled the American Army to dominate the battlefield in the 21st Century.

Ferrell said that concepts such as the common operating environment and the joint information environment represent a significant cultural shift ahead for the Signal Corps. The common operating environment will enable industry by identifying the parameters within which Army applications and capabilities are designed and enable insertion of new technologies within specified architectures and standards. The joint information environment will establish a common information technology infrastructure.

Following long-standing tradition, Sgt. Christopher Freeman, a Soldier from the Public Health Command who was a member of the color guard at the celebration and Lt. Col. (ret) Ed Carnes, who was the oldest Signal Regiment member present, helped Ferrell and Command Sgt Maj. Kennis Dent cut the Signal Corps' birthday cake at the Top of the Bay to formally acknowledge the day.

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