In 1901, Fred G. Miller founded Company G, Second Regiment, United Boys Brigade of America, in Pittsburgh, PA. Two years later it became a signal company and September 12, 1908 it became Company A, Signal Corps, Pennsylvania National Guard, with Miller its first company commander.
Cpt. Miller's company was activated for federal service with the 7th Division, P.N.G. on June 29, 1916 in response to the border incursions by the Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa. Now called the First Field Battalion, Signal Troops, Cpt. Miller and his organization served until January 18, 1917 on the Mexican border near El Paso, TX.
WWI: the103rd Field SignalBattalionWhen the First Field Battalion returned to Pennsylvania, it was deactivated, but not for long. On October 11, 1918 it was reactivated and redesignated as the 103rd Field Signal Battalion and comprised the main signal support organization for the 28th Infantry Division, P.N.G. Comprised of HQ and supply detachment, a radio company, a wire company, and an outpost company, the strength of the 103rd Signal Battalion was close to 500 personnel. After several months of training at Camp Hancock, GA, the battalion sailed for Europe aboard the British mail ship HMS Metgama, arriving in England May 31, 1918. Shortly afterward, it arrived in Calais, France, and prepared to participate in the campaigns of the A.E.F. on the Western Front. The 103rd Field Signal Battalion, with Major Fred Miller as battalion commander and Major Sidney A. Hagerling as the division signal officer, supported the 28th Division ably as it participated in the Second Battle of the Marne, the campaign against Fismes, the united Allied attacks on the Vesle River, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
With the First World War ending on November 11, 1918, the 103rd Field Signal Battalion spent several more months in France prior to its return to the United States, where it was again demobilized and deactivated on May 20, 1919 at Camp Dix, NJ.
After several years of reorganizational difficulties, LTC Sidney A. Haderling and Major Walter A. Hardie succeeded in forming a new organization, the 28th Signal Company, December 16, 1921, in Pittsburgh, PA. It was assigned to the 28th Division P.N.G. and, over the next 20 years, increased its strength and trained well, especially on the newest communication means - the radio.
WWII: the 28th Signal Company
On February 1941, the 28th Signal Company was inducted into federal service in anticipation of participation in World War II, which loomed heavily on the horizon. Participation was assured when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. For the next three years the 28th Signal Company trained for war. In July 1944, the training mission became a real-world mission as the Signal Company arrived in France at Normandy.During World War II, the 28th Signal Company supported the 28th Infantry Division as it moved from Normandy through Northern France, to Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. The battles of Schmidt, the Huertgen Forest, the Bulge, and the Colmar Pocket are well known to the men of the 28th Signal Company. After the war ended, the Signal Company returned to the United States and was deactivated at Camp Shelby, MS, October 27, 1945.August 1944 at Versailles in company of officiersof the 229thFA Bn.Participationof the28th Signal Companyin thedefenseof Wiltz:
On December 17th it had become apparent that the 110thIR forces in front of Wiltz would be unable to keep the advancing German forces from penetrating their sector, General Cota had ordered all rear echelon personnel who handled the division’s records to pack up those records, burn the mail, and move out of Wiltz as quickly as possible. All personnel who were not essential to the actual movement of the records would have to stay and help set up the defense of Wiltz. Helping them would be members of the Division Band, telephone linesmen 28thSC, paymasters, Headquarter/Special Troops, and anyone else from other units that could be rounded up. These special troops were organized into a provisional battalion under command of Lt.Col.Thomas L.Hoban, Commanding Officer, Special Troops, 28thID and Division Headquarters Commandant. Col.Hoban’s provisional battalion was moved into previous reconnoitered positions on the hills to the north, northeast, and east of Wiltz at about 1100 on the 17th. The men were just beginning to dig in when they were informed that a VIII Corps Engineer Battalion was on the way to take over the defense of Wiltz. The 44th Engineer Combat Battalion (Clarion J.Kjeldseth) arrived at Wiltz about 1800 hours.
Colonel Kjeldseth took over command of the defense of Wiltz from Colonel Hoban, and using the latter’s previously prepared plans for the defense of the city, deployed the 44thECB against the anticipated attack from the northeast. The provisional battalion was withdrawn to Wiltz and put in reserve, but on a 10-minute alert status. In addition, it was to send out patrols during night to the northwest, west, and southwest of Wiltz. Telephone linesmen 28thSC in action...(Picture re-enactment bloodybucket.be :left Alex Vossen / right Krist Goemaere)On December 18th a platoon from the 28thSC was deployed on the outskirts to cover the eastern approaches to the cityand to protect the right flank of the 44thECB. In the afternoon the telephone line between CP of the 110thIR at Allerborn and Division Headquarters at Wiltz had been cut by an enemy column. Shortly after an officer from 28thDSC had arrived on foot. He and his crew had started out in a jeep from Wiltz to search for the break in the line. They found the break; they also found the enemy column that was responsible for it. Their jeep was shot to pieces, and the SC Officer was the only one who had escaped… . The line being reestablished General Cota directed Hoban to defend Wiltz with a new Taskforce, composed of the provisional battalion and whatever un-attached men he could find in Wiltz, as long as possible and then to withdraw to Sibret where it would dig in and defend again. Wiltz, december 1944On December 19th it quickly became apparent that the provisional battalion could not be withdrawn as planned without causing a collapse of the Wiltz defenses and without giving away the American intentions of a further withdrawal. Therefor Col.Strickler, CO 110thIR, decided that the battalion should make no attempt to withdraw before nightfall and even then only on his orders. He got through on the radio to the Division Chief of Staff, Colonel Gibney, at the new Division Headquarters at Sibret. He acquainted Gibney with the desperate situation facing the troops still left in Wiltz. After hearing him out, Gibney told Strickler to keep the provisional battalion in Wiltz with his other forces as he would probably need all the troops he could find if he expected to evacuate Wiltz successfully. The situation began to look more and more hopeless as the afternoon of the 19th wore on. By late afternoon every effort to contact Division Headquarters had failed. The Signal Officer reported all wire lines out and all radio communication cut off because of jamming by the Germans. Since no orders could be received from DH at Sibret and the supply and ammunition routes from the rear had been cut, Col.Strickler decided there was nothing left to do but put the withdrawal plan into effect. That plan originally called for the Wiltz garrison to withdraw westward with the elements of the command group, accompanied by any available mechanized reconnaissance vehicles in the lead. They in turn were to be followed by the provisional battalion and the 44thECB. The available tanks were to act as a rear guard. Now that the Germans had encircled Wiltz, all commanders were instructed to make every effort to work their way back to Sibret. If orderly withdrawal proved impossible, the units were to break up into small groups and attempt to infiltrate the German lines. All equipment that could not be taken was to be destroyed. None was to be burned as that would disclose the evacuation of Wiltz to the Germans. Col.Strickler gave the order to move out “as soon as ready”. The bulk of the provisional battalion left Wiltz about 2200 hours the 19th and started southwest, riding on trucks, half-tracks, tank-destroyers, or anything that had wheels or treads and would run. Some “volunteers” of different units (28thMP, 28thSC, wounded and others…) stayed as a rear guard to give the illusion to the Germans that the defenses were still intact… . The convoy would be ambushed by the 5th Fallschirmjäger Division at Café Schumann crossroads. From there on some “survivors” from different units would reach Bastogne, some Sibret, others would never been seen again... .After WWII: the 28th Signal BattalionOn October 10, 1946, the 28th Signal Company was reorganized and federally recognized. In response to the Korean Conflict, it was again called to federal service on September 5, 1950, and sent to Germany after several years of training. The Signal Company was released from federal service on June 15, 1954 and reverted back to state control.
The 28th Signal Company became the 28th Signal Battalion June 1, 1959 at Pittsburgh. A previous company commander and divisional signal officer, Major Robert Croenweth, became the first battalion commander and set a new battalion on a training course aimed at professionalism, technical expertise and mission accomplishment.
Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the 28th Signal Battalion proved its worth, whether at annual training or when called to State Active Duty in response to some type of crisis. In 1968, the battalion was called upon for the riots in Pittsburgh which followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1974, the battalion patrolled the streets of Pennsylvania and provided a communications net during the violent independent truckers strike. It has been called out for winter storms, floods and tornadoes.
In November 1993 the battalion was issued new equipment. Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) is the Army standard equipment for corps and below. The fielding took place during a three-week annual training period at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA. This was a massive undertaking which required approximately two years of planning and two years of fielding and training. The Army contracted GTE to assist with all phases of the total package fielding.
Training year 1996 was an extremely busy and exciting year for the 28th Signal Battalion. Mobile subscriber communications support was provided to the 213th Area Support Group at the JRTC in Fort Polk, LA. Three annual training periods and the 28th Division Warfighter Exercise at Fort Leavenworth, KS, were supported by elements of the 28th Signal Battalion. This support consisted of both voice and data circuits, which proved to be very reliable and instrumental for the command and control of divisional elements. The Warfughter exercise was extremely successful. The 28th Division was the first division to use MSE at Ft. Leavenworth. Over 40 computers were installed and operational over three tactical local area networks. This was a result of coordination between the Signal Battalion and the 28th DISCOM LASSO section.
From 1997 to Training Year 2000, the battalion has supported numerous 28th Division exercises and deployments. CNR, MSE and automation support have all been brought to new levels. TY99 saw the battalion provide signal support to the 28th Infantry during operations "Desert Victory" and "Urgent Victory" in a V Corps Warfighter Exercise in Grafenwoehr, Germany. The support included automation support for 56 laptops, DNVTs, CNRs, commercial phones/faxes, secure commercial faxes, and VTC capabilities. The year culminated with a deployment to Fort Pickett, VA, where the battalion conducted intensive signal/survivability Lanes Training.HONORS& CITATIONS Meritorius Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer European Theater (28th Signal Company cited; GO 37, 28th Infantry Division, 18th April 1945).Luxembourg Croix de Guerre, Streamer Luxembourg (28th Signal Company cited; GO 43, 1950).Lineage :Organized 12 september 1908 in the Pennsylvania National Guard at Pittsburgh as Company A, Signal Corps.Redesignated 1 October 1912 as Field Company A, Signal Corps.Redesignated 14 february 1916 as the Wire Company, Field Battalion, Signal Troops.Mustered into Federal Service 29 June 1916 at Mount Gretna; mustered out of Federal Service 18 January 1917 as Company B, Field Battalion, Signal Troops.Mustered into Federal Service on 23 July 1917 at Pittsburgh as Company B, Field Battalion, Signal Corps; drafted into Federal Service 5 August 1917.Reorganized and redesignated 11 October 1917 as Company B, 103rd Field Signal Battalion, an element of the 28th Division.Demobilized 20 May 1919 at Camp Dix, New Jersey.Reorganized and federally recognized 16 December 1921 in the Pennsylvania National Guard at Pittsburgh as the 28th Signal Company and assigned to the 28th Division (later redesignated as the 28th Infantry Division (United States)).Inducted into Federal Service 17 February 1941 at Pittsburgh.Inactivated 27 October 1945 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.Reorganized and federally recognized 10 October at Pittsburgh.Ordered into Active Federal Service 5 September 1950 at Pittsburgh.(28th Signal Company (NGUS) organized and federally recognized 18 August 1953 at Pittsburgh)Released 15 June 1954 from Active Federal Service and reverted to state control; federal recognition concurrently withdrawn from the 28th Signal Company (NGUS).EXpanded, reorganized, and redesignated 1 June 1959 as the 28th Signal Battalion with Headquarters in Pittsburgh.Location of Headquarters changed 1 August 1961.Home Area: Southwestern Pennsylvania.Crest:
That for the regiments and separate battalions of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard: on a wreath of the colors or and gules a lion rampant guardant proper holding in dexter paw a naked scimitar argent kilted or and in sinister an escutcheon argent on a fess sable three plates.
The Unit's participation in the Champagne and Lorraine campaigns of World War I is symbolized by the grape leaf and cross on the red field. The wavy bend of blue and gold alludes to the Rhineland campaign of World War II. The upper field of gold, symbolic of special achievement, denotes the award of the Meritorius Unit Commendation for service in the European Theater. the red lion is adapted from the arms of Luxembourgand represents award of the Luxembourg Croix de Guerre. The blue lightning flash identifies the battalion's communication functions.
Monument 28th Signal Battalionat Boalsburg, PA, USACopyrightbloodybucket.be©2012