A signal/communications element has been an integral part of the 29th Infantry Division since the 1920’s.
The 29th Signal Company, Special Troops, was organized and federally recognized in Norfolk, VA in 1924 with a strength of five officers and fifty-three men.
From 1924 to 2 February 1941, the 29th Signal Company supported the 29th Infantry Division with wire and radio communications. Up until 1934, the elements of the company were horse-drawn. The unit was still based in Norfolk, VA during this time.
On 3 February 1941, the 29th Signal Company, with a strength of six (6) officers and 129 enlisted soldiers, was called into active federal service along with the rest of the 29th Infantry Division. After training at Camp Meade, Maryland, the unit moved to Camp A.P Hill, Virginia, and then on to the First U.S. Army’s Carolina Maneuvers.
The unit trained in Camp Blanding and then moved to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, for transport to England. The advance party boarded the Queen Mary in September 1942 and the rest of the company boarded the Queen Elizabeth in October. For the next 20 months the Company trained for the D-Day invasion.
Landing on D-Day, 06 June 1944, the Company continued to provide wire and radio communications for the 29th Infantry Division for the duration of the War. It took part in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central Europe Campaigns. It was awarded four Bronze Battle Stars, one Bronze Arrow Head, and one Meritorious Unit Award.
On 1 March 1963, the 29th Infantry Division was reorganized under the ROAD (Reorganized Army Division) Concept. At that time, the 129th Signal Bn was organized and stationed as follows: HHC, Co A (Cmd Comm) and Co B (Fwd Comm) in Virginia, and Co C (Spt) in Maryland. That force structure remained in place until the deactivation of the 29th Infantry Division and all of its elements in 1968.
With the reactivation of the 29th Infantry Division (Light) in October 1985, the 129th Signal Bn was organized and stationed as follows: HHC at Pikesville, MD; Co A (-) (Cmd Comm) at Towson, with Detachments at Highfield and Cumberland, MD; Co B (-) (Fwd Comm) at Pikesville, MD, and one Fwd Area Sig Ctr Plt at Staunton, VA and one Fwd Area Sig Ctr Plt at Fort A.P. Hill, VA. The Mission of the Division Signal Battalion is to install, operate, and maintain all communications systems to support of division level functions, including command, control, intelligence, fire support, combat support, and combat service support. These systems include multichannel radio, telephone, tactical satellite, radio-teletype, and HF radio.
Company B in Pikesville was a direct descendent of the Headquarters, 54th Field Artillery Brigade, which then evolved into the HHB, 29th Divarty in World War 2. It then became 110th Service Company and then Company A, 58th Support Battalion. B Company carried all of the 29th Divarty’s campaign streamers from World War 2.
The 129th Signal Bn began the conversion from traditional/conventional communications systems to Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE ) in 1988 as part of an Army-wide program; that transition was completed in 1990. With the advent of MSE on the battlefield, individual communications equipment was fielded down to the individual soldier, the division signal battalion mission changed from a command-oriented switching system to an area-oriented system.
About 70 personnel from the 129th Signal Battalion deployed in September 2001 to Bosnia, as part of NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR 10).
The 129th Signal Battalion was deactivated as a battalion in 2004 due to mandated force structure changes and then reconstituted as a company part of the 29th Division Headquarters Battalion with elements in Pikesville, MD.
1. “Military.” 129th Signal Battalion (MSE). N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.
2. Balkoski, Joseph. The Maryland National Guard: A History of Maryland’s Military Forces, 1634-1991. Baltimore, MD: Guard, 1991. Print.
3. The Tradition Continues: A History of the Virginia National Guard. Richmond: Taylor Pub., 1987. Print.
4. Kutcher, John F., Sr. “129th Signal.” 10 Mar. 2014. E-mail.