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DARMSTADT, Germany — Two Iraq deployments in fewer than three years kept members of the 578th Signal Company so busy, it seemed the Army couldn’t live without them.

But the company’s remaining 69 troops are going their separate ways after their unit was officially inactivated during a ceremony Wednesday. At full strength, the unit had 146 people.

Many of the unit’s soldiers were in both Iraq deployments, which were just 10 months apart, and have grown tight over the years. Almost a quarter of the troops had been together since signal school, and the 578th was the first unit they were assigned to.

After years together, some were sad to see the company become the latest victim of the Army’s force restructuring. But those same people also saw the inactivation as an opportunity to move on to better things.

Sgt. Jason Jacobsen, 23, from Oscoda, Mich., is looking forward to his move to Bamberg, Germany, where he will join a newly formed unit of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

“I’ve always wanted to go Airborne,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen was among more than a dozen of the unit’s soldiers who went through training together, and their unit’s demise means the end of a shared journey.

“I’m going to miss them a lot,” he said. “Even the people I didn’t go to school with. We’re a real tight-knit group of people.”

Spc. Conan Acevedo, 30, from Fairbanks, Alaska, was even more intense when describing his affection for the 578th. “I wouldn’t mind doing another tour with these people, you know. Three years with them, you get pretty attached.”

Acevedo deployed twice with the unit. He earned a Combat Action Badge during the unit’s second Iraq deployment when his convoy came under attack, and he found himself in a 30-minute nighttime firefight with insurgents. The insurgents fired from a stand of trees, but Acevedo and the rest of his convoy was stuck under a clear sky and a bright moon.

“They could pretty much see us, but we couldn’t see them,” he said. “They’re really bad shots, thank goodness.”

While deployed near Najaf, Iraq, Acevedo and another soldier ran the communication hub used by all U.S. troops based in the country’s south. He enjoyed connecting homesick troops with their families, but he’s not going to stay a signal soldier much longer, he said. He’ll be going to military intelligence school.

Acevedo said he ran across a lot of military intelligence agents in Iraq, and he liked how the agents got to deal with people one-on-one and always seemed to enjoy what they were doing.

“It’s just something new, you know. It’s a little change of pace.”

The 578th itself changed pace a number of times over the past six decades. Originally formed as a photographic company, it also served as a signal construction company before its reorganization as a signal company.


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