Editor’s Note: This is the sixth essay in a 10-part Women’s History Month series entitled, Honoring Our Nation’s Women Veterans. In February, we asked readers to submit essays about their time in service or women who have served our country
I am Carrie Smith and I retired after 20 years of service, from March 1989 to March 2009. My career began at Fort Jackson South Carolina where I attended Basic Training. My Advanced Individual Training as a Switching System Operator occurred at Fort Gordon Georgia. I was trained to install, operate and maintain tactical manual and automatic switchboards. My first duty assignment was in support of I Corp 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington, where I was assigned to the 9th Signal Battalion. This is where I understood the true meaning of the phrase “If it ain’t raining, it ain’t training.” At Fort Lewis, weather conditions were never a factor. A year later, I was reassigned to McNair Kaserne in Höchst, Germany, a borough of Frankfurt in support of V Corp.
My assignment to Delta Company 32nd Signal Battalion of 22nd Signal Brigade began a new chapter in my Signal career. In December of 1990, the mission of the Battalion changed and it was re-organization as a Corps MSE Battalion, conducting a one hundred-percent swap-out of its equipment and retraining of all personnel. It was during this massive retraining effort that the Gulf War began. We did not miss a beat in our training; we simply upgraded our Threatcon level from Alpha to Delta and continued our mission to become 100 percent operationally trained while maintaining the security of the civilian population. My second assignment was to the 414th Signal Company NATO at Coleman Barracks in Mannheim, Germany. The unit deactivated, which led to my reassignment to the 141st Signal Battalion 1st Armored Division Wiesbaden Army Airfield. It was during this portion of my tour that I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, for a total of 15 months.
My most interesting assignment was 112th Signal Special Operation Signal Battalion where we provided operational and tactical communications for Joint Special Operations Task Force commanders in deliberate plans and crisis action operations in up to two theaters simultaneously. We provided Signal packages in support of both Army Special Operations Forces and 75th Ranger Regiment, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. At the conclusion of my tour at Fort Bragg, I commenced on my first of two tours to South Korea in support of the 8th Army, U.S. Forces Korea within the 1st Signal Brigade. My first assignment was to the Charlie Company 307th Signal Battalion at Camp Carroll, Korea. My second tour, which was several years later, was to the 251st Signal Detachment, Camp Coiner of the 41st Signal Battalion Yongsan, Korea. The first lead me to the top of many mountains while providing Line of Sight communication, while the second allow me to immerse myself into the local culture through various volunteer organizations. My career was good, especially as I was also able to mentor new recruits and officers into the Signal Corp traditions as an instructor at Fort Gordon, Georgia.