The 56th Signal Battalion is arrayed across the United States and Central and South America in direct support of U.S. Army South and U.S. Southern Command with the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment located at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Army Signal Activity in Miami, Florida, and smaller elements supporting in the Colombia MilGroup and JTF-Bravo in Honduras.
56th Signal Battalion History
Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 56th Signal Battalion, was first constituted on 18 October 1927 and allotted to the 4th U.S. Corps Area. On 1 February 1941, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the battalion was reactivated and spent the next seventeen months training in the United States. In accordance with signal doctrine of that time, units such as the 56th Signal Battalion were assigned the mission of providing communications for U.S. Army Corps Headquarters.
On 1 July 1942, the battalion embarked from New York aboard the transport ship "Argentina" en route to Northern Ireland. The battalion initially landed in Scotland on 12 July 1942 and remained there until 14 July 1942. From 15 July until 20 November 1944, the unit conducted training in Northern Ireland.
The 56th Signal Battalion arrived in England on 24 November 1942 and remained there for over eighteen months until 5 June 1944. While there, the battalion underwent additional training with the British Army Royal-School-of-Signals. This training assisted the battalion in establishing solid communications between American and British forces as they prepared to battle their way across Europe.
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, assigned to the Fifth U.S. Corps, the battalion participated in initial amphibious landings on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. During this period from 6 June 1944 through 8 May 1945, the 56th Signal Battalion supported combat operations in: France (from 6 June - 6 September 1944,) Belgium (from 9-11 September 1944,) Luxembourg (from 15-23 September 1944,) Belgium (from 4 October 1944 - 26 February 1945,) Germany (from 8 March - 7 May 1945,) and Czechoslovakia (from 8 May until Victory in Europe Day 1945). The 56th Signal Battalion was awarded battle streamers in recognition of participation in combat operations during the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe campaigns. The battalion was also awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for notable World War II service. On 24 February 1946, subsequent to the close of the war, after more than forty-three months in Europe, the battalion departed from LeHarve, France en route to New York City, aboard the ships "Elizabeth B. Stanton" and "Rockhill Victory." On 8 March 1946, at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, the battalion was inactivated for the second time.
On 20 September 1988, the battalion emerged at Corozal, in the Republic of Panama with the reorganization of U.S. Army Information Systems Command South into the 1109th Signal Brigade and the 1190th Signal Battalion (Provisional). This reorganization was necessary in order to facilitate a more streamlined command, control, and communications architecture needed to support United States Southern Command. During this period, the country of Panama was under the stranglehold of a military dictator, General Manuel Noriega. Operation JUST CAUSE, a joint military U.S. operation, was conducted in Panama from 20 December 1989 through 31 January 1990. JUST CAUSE removed General Noriega from power and returned order and democracy to Panama. The 1109th Signal Brigade and the 1190th Signal Battalion were awarded "Panama" battle streamers for their roles in supporting this campaign.
On 16 October 1991, the 1109th Signal Brigade was redesignated as the 106th Signal Brigade, and the 1190th Signal Battalion (Provisional) as the 56th Signal Battalion. From there, in Corozal, Panama, the 56th Signal Battalion provided vital strategic and sustaining base communications to organizations and installations of the United States Southern Command.
On 20 June 1997, the 106th Signal Brigade inactivated leaving in place only the 56th Signal Battalion. Two weeks prior to this date, the 154th Signal Battalion inactivated, leaving only one company to join the ranks of the 56th Signal Battalion. This made the 56th Signal Battalion the most unique signal battalion in the Army; one comprised of both tactical and strategic companies. That battalion was responsible for maintaining tactical and strategic communications in support of U.S. Army South , Joint Task Force-Panama, and other subordinate task forces.
On 18 June 1999, the battalion furled its colors in Panama and on 24 June 1999 unfurled its colors in Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. The battalion's mission in Panama was to provide long-haul, tactical, and base operations communications support to the U.S. Army South Headquarters as well as units deployed in the Central and South America. In 2003, upon the relocation of U.S. Army South to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the battalion established a detachment with U.S. Army South and relocated to its current home at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Currently, the 56th Signal Battalion is arrayed across the United States and Central and South America in direct support of U.S. Army South and U.S. Southern Command with the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment located at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Army Signal Activity in Miami, Florida, and smaller elements supporting in the Colombia MilGroup and JTF-Bravo in Honduras. It's higher headquarters, the 21st Signal Brigade, is located at Fort Detrick, Maryland.&